From the Isis International archives

In the Isis International Bulletin no. 6, 1977/1978, we published this letter from the newly formed Asian Women's Liberation of Japan.

In their first newsletter published in May 1977, the Asian Women's Liberation of Japan writes:

"In summer 1974, nearly one hundred women met in Tokyo to form a new women's group entirely independent from any established (male-dominated) or Western-oriented women's liberation movement. Some members are Christian concerned about the suffering of Asian people today; some are active in the protest movement against Kisaeng tourism (tens of thousands of Japanese male tourists visit Korea each year to play out their sexual fantasies with young Korean women called Kisaeng), and others are working for the protection of civil rights of minorities in Japan such as Korean and Chinese residents who are discriminated against within our society. Several women have been activists in the movement for the release of political prisoners in Korea and other Asian countries, and some women are particularly committed to the anti-pollution movement in Japan as well as the movement to stop the export of pollution-producing factories by Japanese firms to other parts of Asia.

When we first met, we realized that we had virtually no information on the situation of women in Asia- how they live, what kind of oppression and exploitation they experience as women and how they are struggling. Thus as a first step, we started a series of study meetings in an attempt to remedy our lack of knowledge.

On the first of March in 1977, seven of us (staff member of a Christian organization, journalists, painter, medical works, secretary) published "our Declaration, Asia and Women's Liberation" to express our determination to strengthen our movement. We are now convinced that our liberation can not be realized at the sacrifice of other Asian women or without learning from their courageous struggle.

In search of true solidarity with Asian women, we are engaged in various activities to expose the oppressive systems under which they are suffering and the role of Japan in supporting those systems. Our three main tasks are as follows:

Firstly, to resist Japanese economic aggression in Asian countries. We want to make far-reaching investigations on how Japanese overseas business activities exploit Asian, especially women workers, and to accuse the guilty Japanese companies.

Secondly, to condemn sexual exploitation- prostitution tourism- by Japanese male tourists who are now flocking to South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand and other Asian countries. We can not forgive the shameful deeds being done by our countrymen, recalling with a deep sense of guilt how during World War II, Japanese militarist armies forcibly took hundreds of thousands of Korean girls to the battlefields of China and Southeast Asia as prostitutes. We will not allow Asian women again to be dehumanized as sex objects by Japanese men.

Thirdly, to fight against political oppression. We can not ignore the facts that the dictatorships in South Korea and other Asian nations which imprison and torture freedom fighters are economically and politically supported by the Japanese government and Japanese corporations. It is our duty to demand the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience and to give whatever support we can to their families.

We are collecting information, making appeals, holding meetings, and publishing newsletters. It is our sincere hope that this small newsletter will serve as a means to strengthen links among women who are concerned and committed in their respective struggles for liberation.

TOMIYAMA Taeko, YUASA Rei, MATSUI Yayori, YAMAGUCHI Akiko, ANDO Misako, GOTO Misako, KAJI etsuko

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