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 mobilise people. 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. Using community organising, we bring people together to take actions on gender equality.
What We’re Working on Now
Currently, we have two teams: one is working on raising awareness about the concept of ‘consent’ 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 around 20,000 handbooks have made their way into the hands of university students. We also hold consent workshops, and Sachiko regularly speaks 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.
Major Campaigns & Actions
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 since the ‘assault and intimidation’ clause remains; 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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