People took to the streets across Japan on March 8 to celebrate International Women's Day, while many of this year's marches also called for peace following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Women's March Tokyo has been held since 2017, organized by a committee of residents involved in gender equality initiatives. According to the committee, some 300 people joined this year's rally in the capital's Shibuya Ward. Participants marched while chanting slogans including, "We're against war," and, "We do not tolerate violence and discrimination," and holding signs including ones that read, "We are against all violence," and, "Diversity in decision-making."
Sumire Hamada, a 37-year-old committee member, told the Mainichi Shimbun, "Even when people use the gender equality slogan, there is still a gender gap in pay and other aspects of life, and the situation has become worse during the coronavirus pandemic. We want politicians and those with power to make a serious effort on these issues."
Furthermore, the committee said it had prepared anti-war slogans to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine. "In times of war, people don't get respect as individuals. We are also against war," Hamada said.
At the Women's March in Nagoya's Naka Ward, some rallygoers raised signs praying for the Ukrainian people and calling for peace, along with placards protesting the gender gap in pay and employment conditions.
The Nagoya rally was held by women's support group Safety Net Aichi of Women (SNAW) under this year's theme of "We are here!" Representative Hazuki Fujiwara explained, "The coronavirus pandemic is taking a direct toll on women, and is driving them into a corner both economically and mentally. The underlying cause is (gender) disparity."
One 72-year-old woman at the rally and holding a sign reading, "Peace in Ukraine," told the Mainichi Shimbun, "Humans are no longer humans during war, and women and children suffer greatly. I came because I thought I have to share this message."
About 100 people from citizens' groups and labor organizations in Fukuoka Prefecture took to the streets in the city of Fukuoka's Tenjin downtown area, taking turns with a loudspeaker. They called out to people who were returning home, saying things such as, "If we consider (gender disparity) not just a women's problem, but a problem for everyone, society will become a comfortable place to live."
Mayumi Hirahara, a 69-year-old member of a women's group based in the prefectural city of Chikushino, touched on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and called out, "I absolutely oppose violence. Women and children are the first to suffer."
(Japanese original by Miyuki Fujisawa, Tokyo Digital News Center, Atsuko Ota, Nagoya News Center, and Yuki Imano, Kyushu News Department)