January 9, 2019 / 10:31 AM / a month ago

Japanese student rejects apology over university 'sex listing'

KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A Japanese university student on Wednesday rejected an apology by a magazine over a report on how easy it was to coax female undergraduates into having sex after her online petition objecting to the article went viral.

The weekly tabloid magazine, Spa!, caused outrage with an article in late December ranking five Japanese universities on how easy it was to persuade female students to have sex at drinking parties.

Kazuna Yamamoto, an international relations student at the International Christian University in Tokyo, posted an online petition protesting about the article that received over 40,000 signatures in six days.

The magazine apologized in the Japanese media over its “sensational language” but Yamamoto, 21, said she did not accept the gesture and wanted the article to be retracted.

“They are missing the point,” Yamamoto told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Tokyo.

“They are saying sorry for using misleading words but they are not apologizing for the main idea itself ... how they are treating women and objectifying women,” she said.

“In Japan objectifying and sexualizing women is still so normal that people don’t really understand why it is a problem.”

Yamamoto said she has now joined forces with five others to press for fair portrayal of women in Japanese media.

The magazine, which has a weekly circulation of about 108,000, said it was trying to highlight a trend where men pay female students to take part in drinking parties.

A representative from publisher Fusosha Publishing, owned by Fuji Media Holdings, said the magazine has “expressed apology” and was ready to meet with Yamamoto.

The latest controversy underscores Japan’s record on gender equality, which it lags well behind other developed nations, ranking 110 out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap report.

An investigation last year found a leading medical school in Japan cut women’s entrance test scores to keep them out and boost the number of male doctors, sparking protests.

Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org

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