Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sachiyo Iwase, a facilitator at Aware in Tokyo — the Japan Association of Batterers’ Intervention Programs, founded by Noriko Yamaguchi — spoke with Takehiko Kambayashi of The Washington Times about dating violence and Aware’s program. In Japan, women are most often the victims of domestic and dating violence. Japan has no law to penalize batterers


Question: What is dating violence?

Answer: It is physical and psychological abuse that occurs between dating partners, most of whom are young. That includes verbal abuse and sexual abuse. For example, women are forced to watch porn films and view magazines or to engage in sexual intercourse. Some men refuse to use condoms. Our experts very often go to middle schools, high schools and universities to talk about dating violence and how to prevent it.

Abusers use various ways to attempt to exert their power and control their victims. Some men check and read text messages their partner received on a cell phone. They want to know if there are any messages from other men. One man told his girlfriend to send him the text message “I love you” on a cell phone every three minutes. Some abusers repeatedly demean their victims, for instance by insulting or ridiculing their partner’s clothes or hairstyle.

Q: What makes them violent?

A: Once a man has had sex with someone, he thinks of her as “his property,” so he becomes excessively jealous and possessive. Japan also has a gender bias against women, due to the system of patriarchy. Besides, violence against women is widely portrayed on Japanese television and in the movies. One can easily buy a pornography magazine at a convenience store. There is also violence at home.

Q: What does your organization offer to batterers?

A: We offer batterers the same program as the one in California: We use various study materials, and abusers discuss topics like the effect of porn magazines and films on their wife and children, the effect of domestic violence on their children, and the meaning of “masculinity.”

Q: Can batterers change?

A: It depends, but most of them at least stop their physical violence against their wife. Their hardest part is to show sympathy toward their partner and be willing to support their partner’s life. Wives are regarded by many Japanese as servants of their husbands.

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