Chabujo, an abbreviation of Chabudai Gaeshi Jyoshi Action (ちゃぶ台返し女子アクション), is a grassroots feminist organisation based in Tokyo, Japan, using community organising to launch campaigns and tackle social issues. Our name translates to “Turn Over Table Ladies” in Japanese. Chabudai is a traditional Japanese table that is associated with an enraged father flipping it and scattering dinner—prepared carefully by the wife, who is also the one to clean up the mess. Our name primarily signifies the symbolic ‘flipping’ of patriarchy, as well as more generally the ‘flipping’ of oppressive structures and norms.
A group of women including Kanoko Kamata and Sachiko Osawa founded Chabujo in July 2015 with the aim to provide a space for women to share their experiences, express themselves, identify problems (‘personal is political’), and take action. In other words, to translate silence into words and action, as Audre Lorde puts it. Since then, we have started and been involved in a variety of events, campaigns, and activities.
What We’re Working on Now
Currently, we have two teams: one is working on raising awareness about the concept of ‘consent’ and sexual violence amongst university students in Japan, and the other is working on challenging restrictive gender roles in both workplace and at home. For the former project, we have university students launching campaigns at their own universities.
In 2017, we raised around $15,000 in two months through crowdfunding to create a ‘Sexual Consent Handbook’ for university students in Japan, in collaboration with a group of university students. We started distributing this in April 2018, and so far more than 20,000 handbooks have made their way into the hands of university students. We also hold consent workshops, and our members regularly speak about sexual violence, sexual harassment, and consent. Thanks to the incredible work of many people over the years, the topic of consent is increasingly becoming a part of public conversations, and various media outlets in Japan have covered our members and our work.
In April 2020, we received funding from JANIC to launch a year-long ‘Change Leader Programme’. In this programme, Chabujo works with university students interested in gender and feminism to support them to launch their own campaigns at their universities by training them in community organising. We also hold workshops and study groups on topics like feminism, gender, and social movements.
Major Campaigns & Actions
We launched ‘Change Leader Programme’ to train students in community organising so that they can launch their own campaigns at their universities.
We ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise around $15,000 to create and distribute ‘Sexual Consent Handbook’ for university students in Japan.
We were one of the organisers of the Believe Campaign, which succeeded in pushing for the reform of the archaic sex crime laws in Japan. You can read more about this campaign here. However, this reform is inadequate in many aspects, including the fact that the ‘assault and intimidation’ clause remains; and the focus is not on whether there was consent, but on whether the victim resisted. People are continuing to work to get this changed.
・We conducted ‘action research’, where we interviewed 65 women to shed light on their hopes and struggles.
・We co-organised ‘Girls Power Parade’ in Harajyuku with fourth wave feminist social art collective Tomorrow Girls Troop.
Media Coverage in English
‘Why Sex Crimes in Japan Go Unreported’, Tokyo Weekender, 8 June 2017
‘Reforming Japan’s Sex Crime Laws’, Women of Vision, NHK World, 30 August 2017
‘Getting the word out on sexual consent to university students in Tokyo’, The Japan Times, 16 June 2019
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