Rape Culture in Japan and GACKT Fans

Rape culture is an international issue. From India to the United States to Canada to Egypt, reports of brutal rape and murder of women have surfaced to show that in a so-called modern enlightened era women still face the threat of violent assault. Japan, albeit a country with relatively low crime rates, doesn’t escape this issue either.

Right now, there’s a minority of GACKT fans enraged over the recent news about GACKT’s alleged crime. According to “Oh No They Didn’t!” the story from the tabloid magazing FLASH claims:

“The victim is a 27 year old woman, who will be referred to as “Ms. A”. In September 2011, GACKT visited the cabaret club (kyabakura) where Ms. A was an employee. He stayed for about an hour and would leave around after 3 am. Since it was late, GACKT offered to bring Ms. A home. She declined, stating that her home was quite close to the club. Despite this, he forced her into his car….He grabbed Ms. A by her hair, slapped her face and forced her to do things against her will.”

Whether or not GACKT did commit this crime is beside the point. The problem is quite a few of GACKT’s fans are fueling their anger at the wrong person.

These horrifying little gems can be found scattered all over comment sections on various news sites:

“How can it be rape if it’s GACKT? No one could say no to him!”

“I’d let GACKT rape me!”

“I’d brag about it if GACKT did this to me!”

via YouTube

via YouTube

These kinds of statements are a big part of rape culture and the misconceptions surrounding rape as a crime. Rape isn’t about sex; it’s about power. Many people think of rapists as strange stalkers of the night that are desperate for sex, but that’s not the truth of the matter. It’s about taking away control from the victim and asserting dominance. Rape takes away all consent from one person for the pleasure of another. It’s not an experience to “brag” about, and whether or not GACKT has thousands of willing partners doesn’t matter. Even if only one time a woman said no and he said yes, then that makes him a rapist.

Such rape myths still exist in cultures on an international scale.  Japan, along with many other countries, still clings to old fashioned ways of thinking about what constitutes sexual assault. Chisa Fujioka of Reuters reported in May 2007  that “Contrary to the law, there is still a widespread belief that only assaults by strangers can be defined as rape.” Even though the study previously mentioned, and others, show that rape victims generally know their attackers before they’re assaulted.

However, this group of GACKT fans is a product of societal viewpoints on rape. Fujioka reported, “Activists and lawyers say that sentiment toward rape victims remains chilly in a society where many feel the woman may have led the man on, she is lying, or that she could have fought back.” Most of the GACKT fans who show their support generally call the woman a liar either through at least implications or at most in big caps lock accusations.

Also, Ms. A- the name given in FLASH for the alleged victim- works as a hostess in a club. Several fans latched onto this tidbit of information in order to question her legitimacy.

“Isn’t it her job to sleep with people?”

“It can’t be rape if she was PAID to do it.”

GAckt fan idiocy 1 (2)

via YouTube

First of all, a hostess is not automatically a prostitute. Even if she was a prostitute, if she said, “No.” or didn’t give consent to anything that might’ve happened to her that night then it’s RAPE, end of discussion. Lastly, Ms. A’s character shouldn’t be under question due to her job. She’s a woman with the same rights as any teacher, doctor, or what have you. As such, she should be treated with the same respect as any of these women deserve, not looked down upon because she works in a bar. She is still a human being with the same fundamental rights all human beings share.

Much like in America, there’s a shame factor around rape that prevents many Japanese women from coming forward, mainly because so many victims blame themselves for what happened. Only as many as 11% of rapes in Japan will be reported, which means about 89% of rapes go unreported. In Japan, rape is a crime that requires a ‘formal complaint’ by a victim before an investigation or prosecution can occur. Many cases end up being settled out of court, and rapists go free. Everything stays quiet so as not to “make a fuss” and bring shame on the woman, which is the wrong mindset. In my opinion, a part of the shame to come forward to issue a complaint is due to statements like the GACKT fans’ claiming the woman’s chosen occupation puts her in some way to blame for her rape.

Now, other people have stepped up to the plate to demand why Ms. A “waited so long” before reporting the rape:

“Isn’t it strange that she waited two years before reporting the rape?”

“Please! There’s no evidence. She made sure of that when she didn’t report it right away.”

“Why wait so long? That’s rather suspicious….”

via aramatheydidn't!

via aramatheydidn’t!

I got even more pissed off when even GACKT said in his idiotic, temper tantrum throwing LINE post:

“In the end, if it was true, that I committed a crime and imprisoned and raped her that year, then wouldn’t have the police taken any action before already?”

No, GACKT, it’s actually more common for women not to report rape. Karryn Cartelle reported about an assault at the Yokosuka U.S. Navy Base. In her article Cartelle said:

“In 2006, Japan’s Gender Equality Bureau released a study titled “Violence Between Men and Women.” Of the 1,578 female respondents, 7.2% said they had been raped ‘at least once.’ Sixty-seven percent of these rapes were perpetrated by someone the victim ‘knew well,’ and 19% by someone they had ‘seen before.’ Only 5.3% of the victims reported the crime to the police — around 6 people out of 114 cases. Of those who remained silent, nearly 40% said they didn’t step forward because they were ’embarrassed.'”

It doesn’t help that even certain politicians seem to be on the side against rape victims. Recently, nationalist Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto spoke about the comfort women issue in Japan. Hashimoto said, “For soldiers who risked their lives in circumstances where bullets are flying around like rain and wind, if you want them to get some rest, a comfort women system was necessary. That’s clear to anyone.” By calling rape and brutal assaults on women “necessary,” Hashimoto essentially tells all women that he puts their welfare as his last priority, that in his  twisted view women do not have the same basic human rights as men. For this to come from a man who is a part of the governing body of Japan, it must make victims of assault even less inclined to come forward to report assault knowing that their own government doesn’t support them.

Fortunately, the majority of opinions on Hashimoto’s statements were quite vocal in their displeasure. The Abe Cabinet refuses to support him, which I think is the right move on its part. However, the damage dealt with this statement is huge, and I hope that Abe will show that he finds such women rights issues to be of great importance.

Japan has taken strides to change the system when it comes to rape. Legislation since 2004 allows women to seek restraining orders against husbands who are not only physically abusive, but who inflict sexual abuse, including forced sex. In court cases for rape, women can now be accompanied by a counselor and victims of sexual assault or rape can also testify from outside the courtroom through a video link. In 2000, Japan also scrapped a rule that had prevented victims of sex crimes from launching a criminal case if six months had lapsed since identifying the suspect — a limit victims’ groups had fought for years to change.

Also, it is comforting that the majority GACKT fans don’t attack Ms. A, instead only trying to draw support for their idol. To be fair to GACKT, the story was published in a tabloid, not exactly the most legit of media sources. Also, during September of 2011, GACKT spent some time in Canada on a fan club tour followed closely by a huge YFCz tour in Japan, so many fans place their doubts on when exactly GACKT could’ve had free time between all the interviews, shows, and recordings (as Graffiti was released that month as well). However, according to the FLASH article via translation on “Oh No They Didn’t!”:

“Ms. A has reported all of this to the police, and at the end of last month, the police headquarters in Shinjuku accepted her charges of “rape” and “forced acts of obscenity” against GACKT. In her file of complaint, there is her report of the event, photos of her bruises and torn clothes that are included. If you consider the report that was handed to the police, there is probably no way that you can consider this whole situation as nonsense.”

Support for women like Ms. A is hard to find, and I think that’s a grave oversight on the part of Japanese system. Although the Shinjuku police have taken her case, I think she has a long and terrible road ahead of her.

I wish for Ms. A and other victims of sexual assault to know that you are not alone. Stay strong and keep fighting.

Advice for victims of assault in Japan:

*Get immediate medical care and document everything. You will need as much evidence as possible, so it’s recommended that victims of assault in Japan go to the hospital before the police, as other victims have not been allowed to receive medical attention until after hours of questioning.

*Inform your embassy or consulate. They will often prove to be a great support. If possible, take an embassy officer or friend with you when going to the police to file a complaint.

*Seek guidance from people who have been there. Contact a support group like Warriors Japan (www.myspace.com/warriors_japan) or Lamplighters Japan (www.thelamplighters.org).

If you are a woman living in Japan and require help due to sexual assault, or if you have a loved one who was a victim, here are some helpful contacts:

Asia-Japan Women’s Research Center
To learn more about this gender equality advocacy group, see http://www.ajwrc.org (Japanese and English).

Tokyo English Life Line
Call 03-5774-0992 for English support daily 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Or see http://www.telljp.com for more information.

Tokyo Rape Crisis Center
Though English information is available on their website (www.tokyo-rcc.org), counseling services are currently in Japanese only, Wed 6-9 p.m. and Sat 3-6 p.m.

Warriors Japan
An organization founded  in May 2002, the aim of it is to create a 24-hour rape crisis center. The support group seeks volunteer advocates, translators and interpreters, as well as sponsors and donations. Email warriors.japan@gmail.com for more information.

Be aware that the process to justice is not an easy road, but don’t let it deter you from trying to get it. All women deserve to have their day in court against their attacker. At the same time, if you feel the system won’t help your case, I still urge you to seek help from medical facilities and to get in contact with rape crisis counselors. Don’t stay silent. Talk to someone about what happened so you can move forward in your life and not stay trapped in that memory (or in even worse scenarios, memories). And remember you are never at fault for your rape no matter what the media, courts, or anyone else says. No means no; yes means yes.

The fight against rape culture is real. May we all get to a future where rape is the fault of the rapist and not his/her victim.


 

UPDATE: Gackt was found not guilty of the crime of rape. However, the comment section is just full of disgusting examples of even more rape culture at work.

via マジで!? MAJI DE!?

via マジで!? MAJI DE!?

Not to mention my own comment section is now full of the same nonsense, but regardless Gackt is free to do as he pleases. According to some sources, Miss A apparently attempted to blackmail Gackt before resorting to going to a tabloid in order to shame him into giving her money. Gackt vehemently denies the rape, but does claim they went home together. In other words, it’s a “He Says, She Says” scenario, one Miss A can’t win due to the fact she tried to blackmail him.

Therefore, the charges have been dropped. Gackt fans, rejoice. Even though I’m not a fan of the G-chan any longer, I hope this makes you happy.

As to the possibility of this being a false rape allegation, Miss A and those like her should realize that the consequences of such an act make it even harder for activists trying to turn the tables on rape apologists. People who attempt to use the justice system for petty shit like revenge for someone cheating on them or for some cash payout have made it all the harder for true victims to come forward with their stories. The damage dealt by a false rape claim can be extremely hard to recover from, as in it can completely ruin the life of a person who never even committed a crime in the first place. Even though rape allegations are rare and only make up about 4% of rape claims, it’s still too many. Stop trying to use this horrific crime as some twisted way to get ahead or get famous.

To the true survivors of rape, I want you to know that even though this is a story that ends on a sour note, I believe that your story does deserve to be heard. Don’t allow what one person does ruin your fight for justice if you wish to pursue one. I and others in the blog-o-sphere support you.