Japan’s military battles its own male-dominated culture

Japan’s military battles its own male-dominated culture

18 July 2016

Author: Sabine Frühstück, University of California at Santa Barbara

On 4 November 2014, Lieutenant-Colonel Chizu Kurita of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force became the first Japanese military officer to be attached to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) headquarters in Brussels. As advisor to the NATO Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security in the office of the Secretary General, she has been primarily advising the body on the how to better integrate a ‘gender perspective’ into its policies and activities.

Kurita’s role in Brussels is a politically important gesture, but it also draws attention to the troubled condition of gender integration — or ‘gender mainstreaming’, as the Japanese administration puts it — in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF). Tellingly, Kurita herself is one of only a handful of high-ranking female officers.

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