Category Archives: World Saving

Please Support EMA Japan’s Campaign for Same-Sex Marriage Rights & Sign their Petition!

emaLast week the good people at Japan Today were kind enough to publish a profile piece I wrote on the Equal Marriage Alliance of Japan (EMA Japan for short). Founded in February of this year, EMA Japan is the only NPO advocating solely for legal same-sex marriages in Japan. Unfortunately, same-sex marriage is still illegal in Japan, so EMA are running a petition that aims to put pressure on politicians of all parties to support a change in the law.

I would urge you to sign that petition: LINK.

My article was the result of a lengthy interview with EMA’s President Kazu Terada, and Vice President Jeffrey Trambley. In the finished piece I tried to emphasize how denying a minority of people their spousal rights impacts negatively both practically and profoundly both on individual lives and on society at large. Here is a clip :

…the spousal rights denied to same-sex couples are many. To name but a few, same-sex couples cannot benefit from the tax deductions and inheritance rights that are due to married couples. They cannot apply for joint housing loans. In a medical emergency, a same-sex partner cannot make decisions on behalf of their loved one, and perhaps most upsetting of all, in the event of death, a same-sex partner has no legal entitlement to attend the funeral.

But beyond these legal rights and benefits, Terada believes that marriage equality would bring social validation to the whole LGBT community. “The social meaning of the right to marry could be the most important benefit. When legal discrimination ended in Denmark, society became much more open. There were fewer instances of bullying in schools because the new law sent a message of tolerance and acceptance. Parents of those with homosexual children didn’t have to worry about their future. They could be confident that their children would be treated fairly before society and the law.”

Trambley adds, “I think of closeted people working in Japanese companies and those that cannot come out to their families. It’s hard for them that they can’t be themselves. Even if a person doesn’t want to get married, to have an easier time being yourself in society, this is a major benefit of marriage equality.”

You can read the full article here: New NPO brings same-sex marriage equality into Japanese public debate.

My interview with Kazu and Jeffrey covered a lot of ground, but of course I was not able to include everything within the parameters of the Japan Today article. On a blog though, you can do what you like. So here is part of our original conversation, where we discuss how the lack of overt discrimination in Japan, paradoxically leads to a lack of action on LGBT rights…

emalogo

DK: How much of the opposition to same sex marriage is tied in with traditional ideas about marriage and family?

KAZU: The situation in Japan is that we don’t see so much opposition to the idea of same sex marriage. The problem is more indifference. The problem is not staunch opposition per se, but the intrinsic indifference in society.

DK: Do you think a lack of outright discrimination against the LGBT community, has also led to a lack of awareness about the legal issues facing same sex couples?

KAZU: Yes, absolutely. And this is why European countries were able to achieve same sex marriage earlier. Because of outright discrimination, like Stonewall in New York in the 1969 and other cases of discrimination in Denmark in 1973, the LGBT communities were moved to action.

JEFFREY: So without a galvanizing event, it is a challenge to get people to think about the issue seriously and educate, not only the LGBT community, but society at large, that inequalities exist.

DK: Much of the Japanese media seems to treat gay identity as a source of amusement. Do you think this has helped to create an atmosphere of indifference? How should this change and what role should the media play in the future?

JEFFREY: The popularity of such celebrities such as Matsuko Deluxe shows that the media generally accepts sexual minorities only in a humorous way. Unfortunately, the existence of such celebrities and talento can lead some to assume that all gay men like to dress up as women, whereas this is a very small minority. The media does not highlight the more mainstream gay or lesbian members. Rather than indifference, the media has created a mistaken image of the LGBT community.

KAZU: First, the media itself should take up more mainstream gay and lesbian people in their stories – present a more balanced image of LGBT members of society, not just the comic portrayals. If you look at the dramas in the US and UK these days, there is more diversity in casts, often including gay, lesbians and transgender roles, portrayed in a realistic way.

JEFFREY: Yes, the diversity in American dramas and sitcoms has grown tremendously in recent years. A recent Amazon TV drama called Transparent, features the story of a transgender man in his 50s how he came out to his adult children and wife. This kind of story at present does not exist in the Japanese media portfolio. In America, the buzzword of diversity is everywhere, especially in the major networks. Americans want to see TV that reflects the society in which they live. In Japan, LGBT members exist in society, but they are as of yet not represented on the TV we watch here, other than these caricatures that are presently shown.

DK: How much popular and political support is there for marriage equality?

KAZU: We have been pleasantly surprised to find many politicians quite supportive of equal marriage. In fact, EMA has met with several prominent politicians in both the ruling and opposition parties and progress is being made towards bringing the issue forward in the Diet. The opposition parties, especially the liberal-leaning DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan), are beginning to see that in order to get back into power, supporting a platform of diversity including marriage equality, could be vital to facilitating their return to power.

JEFFREY: With the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, Japan should strive to be a leader in human rights in Asia. We see the marriage equality issue as a human rights one. The Olympics and Paralympics are a huge opportunity for Japan to create a legacy of openness and acceptance. Especially after the negative press Russian received when its anti-gay laws were put into force, Japan should see the 2020 games as a chance to show the world the true meaning of omotenashi.

*********************************************************************

I believe that in a fair and just society people should be allowed to live with and legally marry whoever they love, regardless of their gender. Denying people the legal right to marry is a form of discrimination, and an insidious one that has far-reaching effects on our society and in some ways harms us all.  Please add your voice to the EMA Japan petition here: http://emajapan.org/donate/advocate

You can also find EMA Japan at the following links. Sign up, spread the word and don’t be indifferent.
http://emajapan.org/
https://www.facebook.com/NPOEMAJAPAN
https://twitter.com/emajapan2013

REBELDOM 31st EDITION 〜尊芯塾 × DAM (from Palestine) @ Club Metro

This event at Club Metro on Thursday October 9th features the award-winning Slingshot Hip Hop film, a short discussion about current conditions in Gaza & the West Bank, and a rocking live performance by DAM, Palestine’s first and foremost hiphop group.
RebeldomDate: Thursday October 9th 2014
Part 1

19:00: Doors Open
19:30 Movie: Slingshot Hip Hop
21:00 -21:30: Discussion

Part 2
22:30:
REBEL SOUNDS:DAM (from Palestine) / RITTO (from 琉球) / 志人 / STINKY SCIZA (BONG BROS.) / DR.HASEGAWA
/ DAICHI (BASED ON KYOTO) / LIVING DEAD (UGRR)
/ FReECOol (SOUL POT RECORDS / HUMANMUSIC)
/ DJ PLANT (尊芯塾)
REBEL CALLIGRAPHY:柿沼鬼山
FOOD:ZAM ZAM

Tickets for Part 1 OR Part 2: 2000 yen for advance tickets / 2500 yen on the door
Tickets for Part 1 AND Part 2: 3000 yen
All tickets include one drink.
Order advance tickets here: ticket[at]metro.ne.jp
Access: Club Metro sits beside the Kamo river on Kawabata Dori, below cafe etw and above Marutamachi Station. Take Exit 2 from the station to find it. Here is a map: http://www.metro.ne.jp/access/index.html
Check this page for details: http://www.metro.ne.jp/schedule/2014/10/09/index.html

Rebeldom reverse

Help Send a Bright Young Tibetan, Tsewang Phuntsok, to University

The following is from Kyoto blogger Heenali Patel,

Hello everyone!

I’d like to introduce you to somebody who has meant a great deal to me for almost 7 years. His name is Tsewang Phuntsok.

Tsewang

Tsewang Phuntsok has “dreams of bettering the lot of his family, ambition, and a generous heart to match” – Click on the picture to help him go to University.

Tsewang was a 12 year old student at the school I volunteered at, in Nepal back in 2008. His family comes from a small village in Tibet- he was sent to live in Kathmandu in the hope that it would give him a better life.

Unfortunately, his life in Kathmandu was anything but better. The school where he lived was poor, dirty and managed by a corrupt individual who siphoned any funds from sponsors into his personal bank account.

I remember feeling utterly shocked to see all 100 students or so, sleeping in cramped spaces, infested with insects and rats. They had no clothes but for their tattered school uniforms- many didn’t even have shoes. I even knew a little girl who took to wearing a cardboard box. Illness and infection was common, and despite the best efforts of the cook, meals were often nothing more than porridge.

Yet, the children were bright, always happy to play- and always happy to learn. Many had a thirst for education that I’d never seen in the UK. One of these students was Tsewang- he had dreams of bettering the lot of his family, ambition, and a generous heart to match. We became friends very quickly- by the time I left Nepal, I thought of him as a brother. Me and my mum Vina Patel promised to help him pursue his education.

After I left, there was an outbreak of tuberculosis at the school. I don’t know how many of the children I had played with survived. In an act of total bravery- the likes of which I’ve never seen from any other 13 year old- Tsewang ran away from the school. With our promise to support him, he found a new school that gave him what the other could not- a decent chance at life.

My mum and I have supported Tsewang through his education for almost 7 years. Far from the undernourished child that I knew, he has grown into a strong young man- though his heart remains as beatiful as the day I met him.

Now, I’ll get to the point. Tsewang’s dream is to become a marine captain. He needs to train at the Nepal Institute of Maritime Studies in order to do this. But his fees are too much for us to pay entirely. His parents have sold what little land they own in the mountains- but even then, this only covers half the cost.

So now I’m going to try putting Tsewang’s education into the hands of all my friends, family and any other genourous soul who want to change someones life for the better.

I need to raise £2000 for Tsewang’s university fees- this will cover him for his full course, including an apprenticeship that will secure a regular paying job for him in the future. PLEASE HELP ME! :) Any amount would be appreciated so much- this isn’t just helping any anonymous charity- but helping a young man who I have known and loved for a very long time!

Thank you so much!

Thank you Heenali! Well, £2000 doesn’t seem like such a difficult target. I’m sure if a few big-hearted Deep Kyotoites chip in, even just a little bit, it will go a long way to setting Tsewang on the road to a brighter future. Whaddya think?

Please add your donations at: http://www.gofundme.com/bu6824

See also Heenali Patel’s site: The Japan Philes

To Boldly Go – TEDxKyoto x George Takei & Patrick Linehan

This picture by Minori Murata

This picture by Minori Murata

Once again I have to congratulate Jay Klaphake and his TEDxKyoto team of volunteers for organizing a splendid event at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies today!

It was a delight to see Patrick Linehan speak here again, this time on the effect his last speech at TEDxKyoto has had on his life and also on the lives of others. In September he told us to embrace the qualities that make us different and celebrate them. Today he told us how he is now often recognized by people who have seen this talk, and how they tell him how much they have been encouraged by it. One young lady told him he had inspired her to come out to her parents. Another young man was inspired to embrace his transgender identity. As before Mr. Linehan’s speech was characterised by its warmth and gentle humour and left us all feeling highly motivated.

George Takei then took the stage and told us of his family’s terrible experiences during and immediately after World War 2. Rounded up into internment camps at the outbreak of the war for simply being Japanese-American, they lost everything, and after enduring the hardships of the camps they had to start again after the war was over from the poorest conditions. Despite these hardships however, young George Takei was inspired by his own father’s fervent belief in democracy and by those young Japanese-Americans who despite the discrimination they faced at home signed up to defend democracy and bravely fought in the European theater of war. In particular he told us of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, the most decorated regiment in the history of the US army. In an especially memorable story, he told us of one battle where they helped to break the Gothic Line, the last major line of German Defense in the latter stages of the war. To break the line of defense, the 442nd regiment scaled a sheer cliff under cover of night and launched a surprise attack the following day. Many soldiers fell to their deaths while attempting to climb that cliff – but George told us, even as they fell they did not cry out, for they did not want to give their comrades’ position away. They fell silently. Continue reading

Mount Ogura Rubbish Clearance – A Call for Volunteers

From Stephen Gill of conservation group People Together for Mt. Ogura (PTO):

5月18日(日曜日):不法投棄撤去作業
18 May (Sun) Rubbish clearance

image

今回は、保津川や清滝川を見下ろすところに不法投棄されたゴミを片付けます。ボランティアのご参加、よろしくお願いいたします。

We need volunteers to help clear rubbish from oak forest along Rokucho Pass (Ogurayama), Kyoto. The Pass overlooks both Hozu and Kiyotaki Rivers.

持ち物:お弁当、飲み物、汗を拭くタオルなど
Bring: packed lunch, drink, small towel

服装:滑りにくい靴、汚れても構わない服
Wear: clothes that you can get dirty, and strong, preferably waterproof shoes or boots

集合:JR嵯峨嵐山駅改札口前に9時40分。9時45分出発
Rendezvous : JR Saga-Arashiyama ticket barrier by 9:40. Depart 9:45

お問い合わせ:ギルheelstone@gmail.comまで日本語か英語のメールを下さい
Enquiries: Gill <heelstone@gmail.com> or tel. 075 865 2773.

当日の連絡先:090 3289 4399(前田)080 5334 0990 (ギル)
Mobile phones on the day: 090 3289 4399 (Maeda); 080 5334 0990 (Gill)

次の作業日は竹林整備6月1日(日)です。The next PTO workday will be bamboo grove maintenance on Jun. 1 (Sun.)

不法投棄撤去作業日は11月16日(日)です!The next rubbish clearance day on Mt. Ogura will be Nov. 16 (Sun.)

See also: People Together for Mt. Ogura – The Poets’ Mountain

Three years ago today…

On this day of remembrance, I would like to share with you some simple memories of March 11th that have taken me three years to properly digest. I was far removed from the disaster then, but of course the events of the day made a big impression on me. I remember clearly where I was, what was on my mind and those who were about me. I remember most of all their grace, their kindness and their courtesy.

Three years ago today, when disaster struck north-eastern Japan, my girlfriend and I were safely snoozing on a train in Wakayama. On our way back to Kyoto, or so we thought, we had spent the day previous at a hot-spring resort in Katsuura. A sleepy little fishing village, I had been struck on arrival by the markedly unfriendly stares of the locals and their gruff responses when we asked for directions. Most atypical for Japan I thought, especially in a small country town where people are usually extremely friendly. But then I realised that just two stops away by train was Taiji cove: the frontline in an increasingly intransigent face-off between angry animal rights activists and equally stubborn dolphin hunters. As most of those activists were foreign, I imagined my presence might be treated with suspicion by local fishermen who felt their lifestyle to be under siege.

We were in fact deep in the heart of whaling country. A signboard in the bay advertised boat tours to watch the whales, whereas the hotel shop’s refrigerators laden with meat in varicolored cuts, encouraged us to eat them or take some home as souvenirs. Viewing these I considered the gap in mutual understanding between those who would consider this the norm, and those who would reel back in horror and disgust. Clearly this was not a problem to resolve on a single day trip however. I fled to the hotel’s ocean-side hot spring baths and spent the afternoon, gazing at the Pacific, letting my mind drift away on the waves.
Continue reading

Buddhism after the Tsunami – Free Movie Screening at Chion-in

buddhism afterFrom Souls of Zen via Jean Downey:

“We are delighted to announce that Chion-in, the head temple of Jodo (Pure Land) Buddhism in Japan will show Buddhism after the Tsunami this March in Kyoto!”

From Ten Thousand Things: Souls of Zen – Buddhism, Ancestors, and the 2011 Tsunami in Japan follows the “greatest religious mobilization in Japan´s postwar history.” Filmed from March to December 2011, the documentary by Tim Graf, a graduate student at Tohoku University, and director/cinematographer Jakob Montrasio  explored  the everyday lives of Buddhist professionals in the disaster zone, and Japan’s tradition of ancestor veneration in the wake of 3/11, focusing on Soto Zen and Jodo Pure Land Buddhism.

13 March 2014 @ 13:30
14 March 2014 @ 13:30
15 March 2014 @ 16:30

Chion-in Wajun Kaikan, B2 Floor, Wajun Hall
Free and open to the public!
Details in Japanese at the LINK

Buddhism after the Tsunami – The Souls of Zen 3/11 Japan Special (Classroom Edition) – Trailer from Tim Graf on Vimeo.

See also: Souls of Zen

Ant-Nuclear Protest Demo & March in Kyoto; Saturday March 8th

“No one can guarantee the safety of nuclear power stations in an earthquake-prone country. They are unnecessary and have proved to be a disaster. Demonstrate this Saturday in Kyoto against the prospect of nuclear restart? The march begins around 2:45 from Maruyama Park.” – Stephen Gill

no nukes

Date: Saturday 8th March 2014
Place: Maruyama Park
Schedule: From 12:00 pm  – “Free Action” – A kind of mini-festival by the famous weeping cherry tree of Maruyama Park with art, goods, possibly some cosplay (!) & various performances.
1.00 pm – People will begin to gather for the main demonstration at the outdoor stage in Maruyma Park
1.30 – 2:45 – Speeches by representatives of various groups representing Fukushima refugees, Fukushima children and those taking legal action on behalf of Fukushima residents.
+ a performance from protest schoolgirl group, 制服向上委員会 (Uniform Advancement Committee?)
*After all the speeches and performances are finished there will be a march as far as Kyoto City Hall.
Please check this site for details of this event in Japanese: http://nonukeskyoto.jimdo.com/

As for the girl group, I think I prefer punk for protest music myself, but this being Japan, there is no escaping the endless “kawaii”… The song is called ダッ!ダッ!脱・原発の歌 which means “Abandon! Abandon! Abandon Nuclear Power Song”.

Philippine Typhoon Recovery Charity Concert in Fukuchiyama

Thanks to Eric Hawkinson for spreading the word about this. Here’s a charity show up in Fukuchiyama in the north of Kyoto Prefecture.
ShowforaCause
Date: March 9th from 7pm
Location: 福知山厚生会館 (Fukuchiyama Kousei Kaikan)
Address: 京都府 福知山市 字中ノ(西中ノ町)170-5
Tel: 0773-22-4955
Here is a MAP.

会場収入はフィリピン被災地に送金します
All proceeds go to benefit the Philippines typhoon recovery effort

出演 ・ Appearances by
高橋カツ
TOMOKO
Raffy Pacifico
佐野正二
安倍健治
GEBOKIN
チキンズキッチン
Asuka & Gebo
大西史一
衣川龍次
Patricia Jordan
Denise Sawyer
橋下英樹
and more!

開演 19:00 開場 18:30
Show starts at 7:00pm, doors open at 6:30pm

前売 ・in advance: ¥800
当日 ・at the door: ¥1000
中高生 ・JHS/HS students: ¥500
小学生以下 ・12 and under: FREE

チケットは下記のお店で取り扱っております。
Advance tickets are available at the businesses listed below.
* ㈱三字屋楽器店
* サリーズキッチンマーガ
* まいまい堂
* 光陽堂楽器

主催 ・Sponsored by
FIGM (福知山国際音楽団) * JCF (JETクリスチャン・フェローシップ)

後援 ・ Supported by
京都府北部国際交流協会 * JICA関西国際センター * 京都府 * 福知山市 * 福知山市教育委員会 * 成美大学 * 福知山観光協会 * NPO法人舞鶴国際交流協会 * 京丹後市国際交流協会 * 宮津市国際交流会 * まいまい堂 * ㈱三字屋楽器店 *サリーズキッチンマーガ * 光陽堂楽器

Cooks4Cooks Charity Party at Tadg’s Sunday 15th December 2013

cooks4cooks

COOKING UP FUN AND FUNDS IN KYOTO
A special Xmas charity party in aid of friends in West Bengal, India
All Welcome!!!!!!
but please bring baked goods to sell!!
Join us on Sunday 15 December 2013
at Tadg’s Irish Restaurant & Bar
1.00 pm ~ 6.00 pm
(visit: www.tadgs.com for directions) Continue reading