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Society Report 9/16/95

When my wife ... and I first arrived in Japan, we paid a visit [to] a small "mom and pop" [convenience] store across the street. In front was a magazine rack full of comic books. Curious, [my wife] pulled one out and we opened it up, only to be burned by a very graphic illustration of a man giving a woman oral sex. This was a comic book? We panicked and left quickly.

On another day, I returned to the office from lunch break early to find several men sitting in front of my computer, drinking canned tea and viewing the latest in "Playboy on the Internet." Trying to avoid my own eyes getting burned, I switched to another machine. However, I could not ignore or forget the looks on their faces and the tones of their voices as they continued gawking throughout the rest of their lunch break. This was the first time I had ever returned from lunch break early.

Then the women came in. "This ought to be interesting," I thought, expecting to see the viewing program shut down and everyone scramble around to look innocent. But to my surprise, no one moved. The women, who had perfect knowledge of what was going on, said and did absolutely nothing. When the bell rang, most of the men returned to their seats, but one stayed on for about a half hour longer, right into working time! Finally, a woman began teasing him, saying "Hey, get back to work!" and he ... eventually snapped out of his trance.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a meeting between my jichou and a couple of representatives from other companies. The purpose of this meeting was to convince the other companies of benefits they could receive if they teamed up with us in establishing a permanent Internet connection. As my jichou explained several practical business-related benefits of the Internet, throughout his discussion he made a continual selling point of the fact that pornography also is available on the Internet. I noticed smug, boyish grins on their faces as he drew specific attention to Penthouse and Playboy. They all seemed to enjoy the conversation very much.

These are just typical examples of the rampant influence pornography has among the men in Japan. If you visit Japan and do not care for it, then you must exercise extreme prudence in where you look and where you go, because it is never hard to find.

The fact that pornography is so prevalent, in addition to the fact that it is used so shamelessly, is also a good indicator that women have a much lower status than men in Japan. Indeed, as of yet, I have never been exposed to any pornography directed towards women. The status of women in Japan will be the topic of a later society report.