Jan 28 2007

Resistance is futile

Hakuo Yanagisawa, former finance minister, now Borg King

I just had to add this guy to my collection. I allude, of course, to Japan’s health minister, pronouncing on the crisis of falling birth rates:

“Because the number of birth-giving machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask for is for them to do their best per head,” he said.
He added: “Although it may not be so appropriate to call them machines.”

Obviously the world’s parliaments are crammed to the rafters with zombie politicians who sit around muttering this kind of misogyny-as-public-policy crap into each other’s hairy ears all day long. What’s unusual is when one of them escapes the protective custody of his wranglers long enough to provide the unsuspecting citizenry an unguarded glimpse of the actual dominant male agenda. Which we now see is a scheme to assimilate all female devices into the Japanese Womb-Borg.

You know, I’ve pretty much had it up to here with state-sponsored claims on private internal organs. No one will ever know a moment’s peace until uteruses become politically irrelevant.


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  1. PhysioProf

    I like how he sort of vaguely recognized after he said it how completely fucked up it was to refer to women as “birth giving machines and devices”.

  2. Coathangrrr

    I thought that was really weird, because he simply said that we shouldn’t *call* them that, while clearly still thinking that that was the case.


  3. Professor Zero

    Well this is really ignorant of me but I thought population reduction was supposed to be good? That Japan had tiny houses because there wasn’t enough space, which was one reason why people *really* thought twice about having that extra child?

    I read the article. They need more young people because without workers they will not be able to fund pensions: well, what about international aid? Now that we have globalization and everything, what about worldwide, not nation-bound, pension resources? And: what about their pension system in general? Could there be some other way to do it, so that it isn’t based on who will be working in the future? I don’t know but it seems that the unwillingness to question capitalism and the nation state is fueling this fear of falling birth rate, and … since of course women ‘should’ be having more children, that’s the solution then, not something else.


  4. PhysioProf

    Incidentally, I really like how the title of this page in my browser is “Resistance is futile at I Blame the Patriarchy”.

  5. wren

    Is there a chance this is a translation issue? Tiny chance? Tiny? Please?

    Because otherwise I need to go bleach my brain. This is disgusting.

    Not that “a limited number of organs that are able to give birth” would be much better, but, yeah.

  6. norbizness

    Watching 21 hours a day of anime can’t be helping either, although I never remembered a cyborg from a post-apocalyptic future with shrimp forks for arms.

  7. Rosie

    How do you know if you are a device or a machine? And why is it better to be called a device? There probably is some sort of translation issue or just an issue with Japanese English…but not so bad that he didn’t realize he needed to correct himself. At least on the machine part…device is evidently acceptable.

  8. roamaround

    “I’ve pretty much had it up to here with state-sponsored claims on private internal organs.”

    I feel that way every time I see one of those official bulletins posted in bars warning pregnant women that alcohol harms fetuses. I feel like plastering them over with bulletins warning that alcohol frequently makes men violent and dangerous.

    You all are too kind. Yanagisawa meant just what it says. It’s refreshing in a way that it’s so brutally honest.

  9. Ron Sullivan

    To roamaround: YES!! And they couldn’t be too damned difficult to print out in the same fonts and colors as the originals. Omigawd, where’s my wheatpaste jar?

    B’but, b’but — he didn’t really say that, did he? Did he? Oh please. Oh yeucch. It’d be disgusting even if the “machines” bit turned out to be some translation goof.

  10. SusanM

    No one will ever know a moment’s peace until uteruses become politically irrelevant.
    I really think it bugs the crap out of men with this mentality that many women choose not to have children. That the girls thought it through and decided, “Nope!” How could that beeeee? It does not compute.

  11. sheanight

    The ‘state’ never expresses men just what to do with their infantesimal ‘devices’. So vicious would be the call, if it were requested for all males in Japan to jizz into cups at the local sperm bank for the good of the country.

  12. thebewilderness

    testing, testing, the spamulator persists in refusing to accept 11 as the sum of 5 and 6. We will now find out if it agrees that 17 is the sum of 10 and 7.

  13. thebewilderness

    On the next attempt the spamulator denied that the sum of 10 and 7 os seventeen, even though it agreed a mere moment ago. Reminds me of my ex.

    I think this man simply baldly stated what so many promoters of the patriarchy attempt to frame in terms less bold.
    Nothing chaps the ass of the patriarchy to the degree that failure to control the means of production does. Nothing.

  14. Joolya

    How can the uterus be politically irrelevent when entire bodies of the proletariate are not politically irrelevent? If we ever did liberate reporduction from the tyrrany of the body, I bet the Man would just co-opt the newfangled ex vivo uteri to produce more little workers and drones, Brave New World style, and the vicious cycle would continue.
    I both can and cannot believe that dude said that.

  15. Jamila Akil

    All I can say is this: you are dangerous with the ability to manipulate pictures. That photo sums everything up.

  16. Antelope

    I just want to point out that the last paragraph says the Prime Minister is thinking just maybe the way to increase the birth rate is to increase funding for child care services.

    This reflects some ability to comprehend that the “machines” may be making rational decisions – which is far more than I can say for our gov’t in the U.S. – heck, to be regarded as a machine would be a huge promotion for American women, because at least machines are logical (outside of the anime world & Twisty’s spamulator, that is).

  17. PhysioProf

    In re Spamulator: I have noticed that if you give a wrong answer, then the page locks up and won’t accept a correct answer until you leave the page and clear the browser cache.

  18. Hattie

    Hey, they can just import half of China to wipe their bums when they get old. Kind of like what we’ve done with Mexico.

  19. kate

    Just what I was thinking Antelope, when I read that last line. Apparently guilt and shame are not considered workable policies like they are in America.

  20. Scratchy888

    “Machine” might be somehow a compliment in Japan, considering how hard they work. Even in the west– at least in Perth — it is considered highly appropriate to criticise and condemn workers for not being machine-like enough. Human error, spontaneity, or horizontal affiliations which do not involve a direct dynamic of dominance and submission, are all considered to render the worker immoral by making it less machine-like.

  21. roamaround

    “I thought population reduction was supposed to be good?”

    Right, Professor Zero. It is, except when you want to dominate the world with your own progeny a la (le?) patriarchy. Many European nation states are making the same noises about population. It’s not really about practical issues like providing services for the elderly. Just can’t let those Chinese and Indians win the global game by having more people/production units!

    Japanese culture is extremely adept at using shame as a control mechanism, but social services are better than in the US. Different social contract. Respect for women, as machines or otherwise, isn’t in big supply anywhere I know of.

  22. ChapstickAddict

    I can’t say I’m surprised. Isn’t this the same country with used schoolgirl panty vending machines? It’s only a matter of time until they add a coin slot to the uterus, I’m sure.

  23. SusanM

    It looks as if the blaming is going to have to start at a cellular level, when the sperm are whipping the egg:


    It’s interesting how no one wants to fund research on any new contraceptive methods now. I wonder why that is?

  24. Sophie

    It is not a translation mistake at all.

    Japan prime minister has ‘disciplined’ his colleague :

    I guess ‘disciplined’ means saying : ‘never say that aloud, you bastard’… in a more polite way.

    Japan strong xenophobic tendency prevents the country from importing workforce. Hence the requirement for more production of the national machines.
    But on the contrary, I think that Japan population trends might make it one of the only countries having a slight chance to adapt to fossil fuel exhaustion and climate change. Not so many people to feed, ability to retreat away from the coast… maybe.

    Overpopulation of the planet is among the biggest threat we face, but patriarchies have got their heads deep in the sand (to be polite) concerning this one.

  25. mistermorgan

    Translation issue? Who cares?

    Believing it’s your god-ordained right to instruct women to knuckle-down and make more children would go pretty much hand in hand with regarding them as (and calling them) ‘birth-giving machines’. The belief begets the choice of words.

    I think his views would actually have been more revolting if he’d had a PR rep look over the remark and tell him ‘say, maybe you should stick with the more acceptable ‘baby-making womyn’. At least the complete lack of tact showed him to be simply a dense and misogynistic oaf of a man, rather than the kind of calculating politiker who phrases his ideas kindly, in hope of having people think the subjugation of women is a good thing.

    We need a Species 8472 in here, stat.

  26. Rain

    As mistermorgan mentions above, he is just a “misogynistic oaf,” but unfortunately, that’s all there is in Japanese politics.

    There was a clip of the leader of the Social Democratic Party (a woman) saying “(the fact that) he only apologized for using ‘inappropriate words’ shows that he has no idea what we are angry about,” and she’s absolutely right.

    Had to delurk for this. I’m ashamed to be a citizen of this country. I feel nothing but apathy and resignation for the non-religious, uber-nationalistic slant of the patriarchy here.

  27. hedonistic

    Norbizness, have you ever seen a pregnant anime character? I haven’t.

    Maybe Japanese anime artists can just draw more people?

    Sorry, haven’t had my coffee yet.

  28. Orange

    Hattie, are you mad? China won’t send their young people to Japan. The Chinese society is aging as well (one-child policy, anyone?), and they’ll be in the same boat.

    My birth-giving machine and/or device is out of order. Can the GE repairman help with that?

  29. Hattie

    Well maybe the Phillipines then. There are a lot of illegal Chinese immigrants in Japan, though, I understand.

  30. Lexia

    Now, now – he doesn’t just consider women machines. There’s also the cattle reference:

    “all we can ask for is for them to do their best *per head*>”

  31. Lalock

    And now it seems that if the machine breaks down, medical science can get it back up and running:

    First U.S. Uterus Transplant Plan

    After all, what use is broken machinery? We gotta get those uteri back on line at all costs.

  32. emjaybee

    If there were no more uteruses, they’d find something else to patriarchalize. Or they’d simply restrict the number of fake uteri and only white male dudes would own any.

  33. Mandos

    If there were no more uteruses, they’d find something else to patriarchalize. Or they’d simply restrict the number of fake uteri and only white male dudes would own any.

    Or the patriarchs might be less likely to be male.

  34. mistermorgan

    Yep Rain, Fukushima is spot on about this guy. Somehow ‘misogynistic oaf’ seems fairly charitable a label. She also gives Japanese politics the kind of solid feminist push that Australia’s needs right now. The closest thing we have to an SDP is the Greens, and you’re lucky if they mention women outside those generic policy outlines on their website.

    On an unrelated not, I just ate a slice of peach that still had the sticker on it, thereby ruining my morning.

  35. Christopher

    This obsession with having more and more children honestly baffles me.

    I mean, it’s not like the human species is in danger of going extinct, and given that we have finite resources, the fewer people there are, the more resources each individual can have.

    I mean, yes, there are also issues of efficiency; a large group of people can proccess resources in ways that a small group can’t.

    But we first-worlders live in a highly mechanised society; our robot overlords allow us to work much more efficiently then our ancestors.

    Not to mention that if you have a society that, in order to survive, has to make each succeding generation larger then the last, there’re clearly going to be ome serious sustainability issues at some point.

    It seems to me that it’s best to account for these kinds of things before mother nature takes over and straightens things out in her usual way, ie by causing a whole lot of death.

    Of course we can’t forget that racism plays a big part, too. Gotta outbreed the other guys.

    It’s a little like Risk, now that I think about it.

  36. Orange

    Christopher, countries with low birth rates are mainly freaking out about how they’re going to support all the retired people who seem to be multiplying like rabbits. It might be more efficient to kill off the old people rather than fretting about breeding enough young people to financially support a gazillion retirees. The problem is, not enough people offer up their own parents or grandparents for the Retired Population Diminishment Program.

  37. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    In the U.S., I am constantly reminded that I *chose* to have children–like it’s a completely unreasonable thing for an educated woman to do. Frequently, but not always, this reasoning justifies my current state of unemployability.

    Our aging society needs children who will pay taxes and provide for the previous generation. My husband and I have replaced only ourselves–we have 2 children.

    So, when will I get some support for rearing the next generation of good citizens? I’ll settle for lack of animosity. Our society can hardly be considered family-friendly, although American women are spared the insult of being reproduction devices (at least direclty for now).

  38. Medea

    Scratchy888, you’ve bought into the propaganda. Japanese people do not work hard- they work long hours, but are highly inefficient and get crap-all done.

    The reason why they need more babies is because half the population doesn’t work. Or are underemployed. The US set up a tax system in Japan during Occupation which means that working wives are penalized heavily by higher taxes. Once a woman quits, that’s it. They might go back as a part-time worker, but will never again have responisbility. It’s almost ingenious- a lifetime supply of educated and experienced workers who accept extremely low pay. Except all these people who aren’t working or are only working part-time to avoid paying taxes, pension, and health are still going to be a drain on Japan’s tax, health, and pension systems for 50 or 60 years after their husbands have retired!

    Sorry- bitterness at being the only working mother I know in this dog-forsaken country. And I haven’t even spawned yet.

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