|In the summer of 1997, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government conducted
a survey on violence against women, focusing on the real state of domestic violence
and people's attitudes about it. The metropolitan government polled 4,500 women
and men aged 20 to 64 in Tokyo, with 62.6% responding.
According to the report, which was released last May, 33.0% of the 1,553 women
responding said they had been physically abused. They reported, among other things,
being pushed, grabbed, pinched, poked, and slapped either once or repeatedly.
These experiences existed regardless of women's age, educational level or income.
For instance, 7.0% of women whose annual income was less than a million yen, 7.1%
of women with incomes of 2 to 4 million yen, and 6.5% of women with income more
than 7 million yen reported being abused. This was also regardless of their partnres'
age, educational level, or income.
From 2 to 5% of the women who responded suffered serious abuse such as being beaten
until they were unable to stand up, being choked, or being forced by their partners
to have sex against their will through use of threats or violence. Emotional abuse
such as being ignored, having thier relationships with friends watched, and having
telephone calls monitored were reported by 55.9% of the women.
The survey also included interviews of 52 women who agreed to talk about their
experiences and interviews with representatives from various public offices, including
a welfare office, a private shelter, the police and a hospital. One fact revealed
was that less than 3% of abused women consulted any sort of public office. The
interviews also revealed many problems faced by public offices helping abused
women, all serious and all requiring immediate examination. They include the small
scale of the role played by governmental offices in dealing with domestic violence,
defects in the legal system, a lack of understanding of domestic violence among
people working in governmental offices, and a lack of networking by these offices.
Of concern is that the Japanese legal aid subsidy per capita is very low compared
with other countries. An equivalent of 3,595 yen per capita is spent for legal
aid in England annually, 169 yen for the USA, 326 yen for Germany, 15 yen for
Korea, and 2 yen for Japan. In addition, the interviews also showed that women
don't have clear understanding of what being a victim means. The whole society
should be made aware of this issue in order to foster mutual understanding about
This statistical survey was the first survey on domestic violence in Japan based
on census data, and so has a great deal of validity. We expect that this survey
will have significant influence on society. I would like to add that we cannot
forget that a domestic violence survey conducted by a private women's group in
1992 also strongly affected society, with some members of that group included
by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government on the most recent survey committee. The
effects, in Japan, of the world-wide movement opposing violence against women
are not small, especially since the World Human Rights Conference in 1993 and
the Beijing World Women's Conference in 1995.