TV & Radio
159 Legal Statutes Unfairly Discriminate Based on Gender
By Chung Ah-young
Staff Reporter - Korea Times 2006/01/11
A total of 159 legal statutes have been found to be discriminatory in terms of gender, according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
The ministry Wednesday released a survey of clauses that discriminate on the basis of gender in 17 chapters of current laws. The survey was conducted by the Korean Women's Development Institute.
According to the ministry, the civil law includes the articles concerning marriage that allows men to get married at the age of 18 or older, but women at the age of 16 or older, indicating gender inequality.
``Setting the marriage age for women earlier than for men is the result of a traditional belief that women are supposed to get married at an earlier age, running counter to gender equality assured by the Constitution,'' a ministry official said.
He said that other advanced countries such as the United States adopt one legal marriage age for both men and women.
The ministry also pointed out that the law regulating sexual harassment or rape only protects women not men who are sexually assaulted by a man, thus not allowing a male offender against a man to be charged with a rape.
Under the criminal law, those who convicted of sexually harassing women will be subject to prison terms of more than three years.
Without a proper legal standard for a man-on-man rape, male offenders are charged with only ``forcible harassment,'' not rape.
The official said that many men, for example those doing their military service or in prison experience sexual harassment by other men.
``Under the current law, men are deprived of the right to protect their sexual integrity from violence. Regardless of gender, all of the victims suffer from both mental and physical pain,'' he said.
Laws concerning physical disability arbitrarily favor women. A man with scars on his face is considered to be not as debilitated as a woman with similar scars.
The ministry said facial scars should be regarded equally regardless of sex.
The ministry said that it will revise the provisions in cooperation with the relevant government agencies for a couple of years to improve gender equality.
The New York Times
Fairness in the Alito Hearings
Published: January 11, 2006
Judge Samuel Alito Jr.'s confirmation process has barely begun, and his supporters are already complaining that it has been unfair. There have certainly been troubling aspects to this hearing, but so far they have been in Judge Alito's favor. The news that federal judges intend to testify in support of his nomination is both unusual and unfortunate, as are reports that a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee may have helped prepare Judge Alito for the hearings. So are some comments by Senator Arlen Specter, the committee chairman, who seems to be using his position to spin things Judge Alito's way.
Senator Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, has invited seven current and former federal judges, led by Judge Edward Becker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, to testify for Judge Alito. It is extraordinary for judges to thrust themselves into a controversial Supreme Court nomination in this way, a move that could reasonably be construed as a partisan gesture. The judges will be doing harm to the federal bench.
Their planned testimony does not appear to violate judicial canons, but it brushes up against them. Canon 2B of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges says that judges should not testify voluntarily as character witnesses. The official commentary warns that serving as a character witness "injects the prestige of the judicial office into the proceeding" and "may be misunderstood to be an official testimonial."
The canons allow judges to give their opinions about judicial nominees when directly asked by an appropriate body. But by taking sides in a highly partisan political fight, the judges will be causing many of the ills the canons warn against. Their testimony's greatest value will almost certainly not stem from the facts the judges provide, but from the prestige they hold as members of the federal judiciary.
Ethics rules aside, Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, says the judges are making "an awful decision as a matter of policy." In future confirmation battles, both sides will no doubt try to line up judges to testify just to keep things even. Judge Becker and his colleagues are beginning a process of politicizing the federal judiciary that all of us will most likely come to regret.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who serves on the Judiciary Committee, joined a session at the White House last week to prepare Judge Alito for the hearings. (Senator Graham concedes that he spoke with Judge Alito in the White House's executive offices, but denies that their conversation was to help prepare the judge.) This report casts doubt on Senator Graham's ability to exercise his committee duties impartially.
Securing the judges' testimony is not Senator Specter's only unfortunate move. When he questioned Judge Alito yesterday about Roe v. Wade, he seemed to be working harder than the nominee himself to make the answers come out in a politically palatable form.
And after the first day's proceedings, Senator Specter criticized the Democratic senators' opening statements, and laid out a false standard for how Judge Alito should be evaluated. "I think it is important that the American people who are viewing these hearings understand that what is being said by the senators doesn't constitute evidence," Senator Specter said, adding, "The evidence comes from Judge Alito."
It would no doubt help Judge Alito if the Senate were somehow required to consider only his testimony during these particular hearings. But senators have the right to consider his full record of legal opinions and statements about the law - and to read them into The Congressional Record. Senator Specter has accused the Democrats of acting as if the hearings are a trial, but he is the one who has tried to apply rules of evidence that may apply in court, but don't in the Senate.
From the moment Judge Alito was nominated, his supporters have tried to present him as a victim of everything from special interest groups to anti-Italian bias. Judge Alito has strong support from the White House, and from the party that controls the Senate. The biggest concern in these proceedings is not whether they will be fair to him, but whether they will be fair to the American people, who will have to live with the results.
INEQUALITY AT THE WORKPLACE: Height, weight and other 'gender-neutral' hiring conditions under scrutiny
By MIEKO TAKENOBU, The Asahi Shimbun
If a woman is denied a job because she is short, or if she is not promoted because she works part time, is that sexual discrimination?
Most employers would say "no." They say those conditions apply to men and women equally.
But in fact, women in general are shorter than men, and more women work part time. If proposed revisions to the Equal Employment Opportunity Law are approved by the Diet this year, employers will be prohibited from applying such apparently gender-neutral conditions when dealing with employees.
The labor ministry's initial draft proposal, issued in November, said such "indirect discrimination"--not just outright sexual discrimination--should be banned under the law.
The revisions would bar employers from applying conditions that would hurt one group--men or women--
more than the other. Exceptions would be made when the nature of the job would justify the conditions.
The government, under pressure to conform with U.N. sexual discrimination guidelines, is keen to get the legislation up quickly. But the proposed revisions triggered a heated debate, dividing women's groups, labor unions and employers.
If the ban is put in place, companies would be prohibited from requiring that applicants for a career-track position be willing to be transferred anywhere across the nation, when in fact many career employees remain in one office. Such a condition would likely discourage women from applying.
Indirect discrimination is also seen in the practice of awarding family allowances only to the "head of a household" as listed in the residents registry. This practice disqualifies most women from receiving the benefits.
Shizuko Koedo, a member of the Working Women's Network, says the ban on indirect discrimination, already in place in many developed nations, has long been an "earnest wish" of all working women here.
"The equal opportunity law has banned (outright) sexual discrimination, but indirect discrimination has been a loophole," says Koedo, whose group supports women suing their employers for discrimination.
"As a result, women are often assigned to clerical-job tracks or part-time positions that are left out of the promotion ladder. It has led to a still wider gap between men and women."
Even in management, some people have come out in favor of the revisions.
A 54-year-old official in charge of corporate social responsibility at a major chemical maker says Japan must move with the times.
"It is essential to swiftly get accustomed to international standards in view of crisis management, for example, in a sex discrimination suit (at an overseas branch)," the official said.
However, most business leaders were wary of the proposal.
In November, when the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare handed the draft revisions to a panel on equal employment opportunity of the Labor Policy Council, it drew strong opposition from panel members representing business.
"This is a very tough proposal that we could never accept," one said.
One business operator said the proposed ban "would invite confusion as it constitutes interference into the rights of management."
Employers argued that such a broad notion of indirect discrimination, once written into law, could be misused. That concern was especially strong among small and mid-sized businesses.
Nobunori Ishizaki, an attorney well-versed in corporate labor management, said traditional male dominance in corporate life is behind the employers' opposition.
"Japanese companies have operated on the assumption that the male head of a family is the breadwinner," he said. "As a result, the ratios of women in management decision-making positions and women on the regular payroll are extremely small."
Businesses would struggle to cope with a ban that would strike at the roots of corporate culture, Ishizaki said. Instead, it would be better to wait until low birthrates and a shrinking labor market make women indispensible. Then the ban will be more effective, he said.
Even labor unions had a gripe with the draft.
They complained that the proposed revision may be too specific. The ministry planned to provide a list of examples of prohibited practices, which may ultimately be included in a ministry ordinance. If the ordinance spells out exactly what is not allowed, labor officials argue, then businesses will have a free hand to do whatever is not on the list.
Attorney Yoko Kuroiwa, a member of the Labor Lawyers Association of Japan, shared the concern. The law may in fact hurt women's chances of winning indirect discrimination cases.
"The law initially did not ban employing men and women for different tracks, and women suing their employers lost in one case after another just for that reason," she said.
"It could end up a repetition of that mistake."
The Labor Policy Council apparently heeded the employers' concerns. In late December, the council came out with a set of recommendations that listed only limited examples of indirect discrimination to be banned under the law.
Businesses would be barred from setting height, weight and physicial strength criteria for employment unless they are justifiable requirements for the job. They also would not be allowed to require readiness to transfer anywhere across the nation for career-track positions or to requre records of transfer as conditions for promotion.
The ministry plans to introduce a revision bill at the regular Diet session to open this month.
The government is under pressure to move quickly. In 2003, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women recommended that Japan try to end indirect discrimination. This year the government must report on its progress.
In a lecture on the issue in Osaka in November, Hanna Beate Schopp-Schilling, vice chair of the committee, urged the government to press the issue, despite the opposition from businesses.
Mutsuko Asakura, a professor of labor law at Waseda University's graduate school, says that low birthrates make it all the more vital for Japan to move quickly. In the long run, the changes would benefit both men and women because businesses would be forced to become more accommodating to parents.
"If indirect discrimination is banned, long work hours and other conditions that do not allow women to take care of their children would become illegal," she said.
"To resolve the problem, all male-oriented standards must be thoroughly reviewed.
"Because of this age of low birthrates, which requires both men and women to engage in child-care while having a job, forming provisions on indirect discrimination is all the more important," Asakura said.(IHT/Asahi: January 11,2006)
TV draws young Japanese to ancient profession
By Julian Ryall
Tue Jan 10, 6:39 AM ET Reuters/Hollywood Reporter
Once seen as the last resort of desperate young Japanese women, the profession of hostessing has undergone an image makeover, thanks to two TV series that portray the modern-day "willow world," as hostessing is dubbed, as exciting and fun -- as well as a lucrative career choice.
TV Tokyo's "Joou, Queen of the Girls" is titillating late-night viewers with its tales of endless Champagne, expensive cars and a lifestyle that few can dream of, picking up in October where "Dangerous Sister" left off the previous month on Fuji TV.
And while it is the deep pockets of the patrons that is attracting the female viewers, males are tuning in for the weekly dose of nudity the show provides.
"There are definitely a lot more young women who don't fit the usual image of hostesses coming into our club at the end of the day," says Johnny Kumagai, a male host who works at Club Ai in Tokyo's Kabukicho district -- a favorite haunt of off-duty hostesses. "Many of them are very well-educated and from good middle-class backgrounds, but they seem very excited to be doing that line of work."
A scout for some of the city's clubs notes that part-time workers and female university students are flocking to apply for jobs as nightclub hostesses in places like Roppongi, Ginza and Ueno, three of Tokyo's busiest entertainment districts.
"It is almost becoming 'fashionable' to be a hostess," says Miyuki, a former bar hostess from Yokohama who did not offer her full name. "I worked in a bar, pouring drinks, singing karaoke and talking to customers, for about two years, and I found it quite interesting."
But Miyuki warns young women contemplating making a career of it to consider the downside.
"Yes, some parts of the shows are true to life, but mostly the story lines have been dreamed up for TV," she says. "I'm not saying it's a bad job to do for a while, but it's not the best career a woman can have."
In the same way as their geisha predecessors entertained men, Japan's hostesses earn about YEN5,000 ($50) an hour making small talk with weary salarymen at the end of the working day, keeping their whisky glasses full and lighting their cigarettes. The other job requirement is to be able to fend off the wandering hands of inebriated customers.
Young women want to follow in the fictional footsteps of "Joou, Queen of the Girls"' Aya Fujisaki, played by Hiromi Kitazawa, whose comfortable life at a top university is shattered when her father's company goes bankrupt. To repay his debts and remain a student, she takes an evening job in a bar and sets her sights on becoming the top hostess.
TV Tokyo spokesman Yuri Kuniyasu says, "We believe it is proving popular because of the story line, the setting and scenes that are probably more sexy than those usually shown on television here."
The 40-minute show starts shortly after midnight on Saturday mornings, and in its early weeks was attracting about 912,000 households. It now regularly tops 1 million. "Dangerous Sister" fared even better, with a peak viewing figure of 3.58 million households.
Some fear the impact on the nation's morals is deep.
"Young people are often very easily influenced by what they see on TV, and this may very well turn out to be just a brief flirtation with the job," says Makoto Watanabe, a lecturer in media and communications at Hokkaido University. "Hopefully, they will see enough of the unpleasant side to convince them to look for something better pretty quickly."
Sony targets gay and lesbian audience
Dan Glaister in Los Angeles
Thursday January 12, 2006
I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor is bound to make it. So too, perhaps, will the more discordant tones of Yoko Ono's club hit, Walking on Thin Ice. But you can count on Barbra Streisand being there. Sony Music announced the launch of a label dedicated to supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered artists.
Music With a Twist, a joint venture with Wilderness Media and Entertainment, will feature artists who have crossover appeal, and also plans to release compilations aimed at gay and lesbian audiences. "We're looking to sign artists who make great hit music that can have mass appeal regardless of genre," said Matt Farber, president of Wilderness. "There have been independent gay and lesbian labels before, but nothing that has the clout of Sony. We can mine all the great music within the Sony archives and beyond."
The disposable income of the estimated 30 million gay men and women in the US is thought to be more than $300bn (£170bn). Mr Farber points to the mainstream success of television series such as Queer Eye and Will and Grace as an indication that gay artists can reach a mass audience.
He likens the commercial appeal of gay artists to other niche markets such as African-American and Hispanic music. "Beyoncé may be African-American but she sells way beyond her core," he said. "Media and entertainment brands are now being created for the gay and lesbian audience following the success of brands for other minorities."
Wilderness is at the forefront of that trend. In June last year it launched Logo, the gay and lesbian network run by MTV that reaches 20m American homes. This weekend the company is also launching a national radio show called Twist, which will target gay and "gay adjacent" audiences with a mix of music, celebrity interviews, entertainment reports, lifestyle advice and news.
The first release from Music With a Twist will be a compilation in June to coincide with National Gay Pride Month.
Music Label Formed to Push Gay Artists
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: January 11, 2006
Sony Music Label Group and the founder of the Logo cable channel said yesterday that they had struck a partnership to create a record label aimed at developing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender recording artists.
The label, to be called Music With a Twist, plans to release a series of compilation CD's featuring hits from established artists and music from emerging gay acts, said Matt Farber, who started Logo and is president of Wilderness Media & Entertainment, a company focused on gay and lesbian-oriented business ventures.
The label has not yet signed any of its own artists, Mr. Farber said, but is scouting for those who seek to make their sexual orientation part of their identity from the onset of their career.
Sony Music Label Group, a unit of the music giant Sony BMG Music Entertainment, will also be a leading sponsor of Wilderness Media's new syndicated gay and lesbian radio program, Twist. The program is to be introduced Jan. 14 and 15 on music stations in major markets, including WPLJ-FM in New York, and online.
Sony Music launches gay label
Tue Jan 10, 2006 7:38 PM ET
By Sue Zeidler
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The recording industry is coming out of the closet.
Sony Music on Tuesday said it was launching the first major music label dedicated to nurturing lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gendered artists.
The label, Music with a Twist, is a joint venture with Wilderness Media & Entertainment, the company led by Matt Farber, who founded Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks' new gay and lesbian channel LOGO, which is available in an estimated 20 million homes.
The label also comes as Wilderness Media plans this weekend to launch a syndicated national radio show called Twist targeting the gay and "gay-adjacent" communities, debuting on FM stations and the Web.
The weekly two-hour radio show will feature music, celebrity interviews, entertainment reports and relationship and lifestyle advice and news in a "morning show" format.
"It's an idea whose time has come," Farber told Reuters, referring to the expansion of gay-themed media properties.
"Only now are media and entertainment brands being created for the gay and lesbian audience following the success of brands for other minorities," he said.
Farber noted that the success of brands dedicated to the African American and Hispanic audiences have also helped talent in these communities cross over well beyond their core audiences.
Likewise, Music With a Twist's roster will feature gay artists who have mass appeal and hit potential across all musical genres. The label will collaborate with Sony Music's other U.S. labels and divisions, including Columbia Records Group, Epic Records, Sony Nashville and Sony Urban Music.
Sony Music is part of Sony BMG, a joint venture of Sony Corp and Bertelsmann AG.
The label also plans to release various compilations geared toward gay and bisexual audiences, as well as music fans everywhere, featuring hit songs by established artists that have been embraced by gay, bisexual and trans-gendered audiences as well as tracks from emerging gay artists.
The first of these compilations will be released in June 2006 during National Gay Pride Month.
アリート最高裁判事候補「憲法適用、戦時下も変わらず」 (日本経済 2006/01/11)
Yahoo! News Full Coverage - Supreme Court
New Jersey lawmakers pass two gay rights bills
Tue Jan 10, 2006 09:15 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Jersey lawmakers voted to give same-sex couples the same rights as married couples regarding inheritance and funeral arrangements and to extend gay couples' access to health benefits in the public sector.
The two bills were passed overwhelmingly in the state legislature on Monday and will now be sent to Gov. Richard Codey, who is expected to sign both.
New Jersey is one of several U.S. states that already offer same-sex couples some legal rights as partners, though it stops short of allowing gay marriage, which became a socially divisive issue across America during the 2004 presidential election campaign.
One of the bills passed on Monday sets out same-sex couples' rights to inheritance and funeral arrangements while the other deals with health benefits for partners of employees of county and municipal governments, school boards and county colleges.
Voters in 13 states have approved constitutional amendments in the past year-and-a-half declaring their laws would recognize marriage only between a man and woman.
Vermont and Connecticut recognize same-sex civil unions while Massachusetts has legalized gay marriage.
韓国：人権ＮＡＰ勧告案確定 SRSに国民健康保険負担 1
Human rights plan sparks controversy (Korea Herald 2006/01/11)
A presidential advisory panel's proposal to better protect human rights is stirring new controversy as the main opposition party and business groups oppose what they call "ideologically biased and politically motivated" guidelines.
The National Human Rights Commission on Monday announced a set of policy recommendations that touched upon highly contentious issues including the National Security Law, political activities of public servants and teachers, and labor rights for nonregular workers.
Under an international convention in 1993, the Korean government is required to submit its action plan for improving human rights to the United Nations by June. The government is supposed to implement the guidelines over a period of five years from 2007.
The ruling Uri Party yesterday pledged support for the panel's draft in the course of formulating new human rights policies.
"Enhancing the nation's human rights should be one of our priorities. The panel has suggested the principles and direction that the nation should follow on human right issues," said Rep. Jun Byung-hun of the Uri Party.
But the opposition Grand National Party sharply criticized the action plan for supporting left-leaning groups and the incumbent government in a number of contentious issues.
"It is regrettable that the commission is approaching the universal issue of human rights from their biased perspective," said Rep. Lim Tae-hee of the GNP.
"I doubt whether the commission is entitled to address human rights in this nation while remaining silent on human right abuses in North Korea," he said.
A business lobby also expressed concern about the proposed expansion of labor rights of nonregular workers.
The panel proposed the government set up measures for nonregular workers including removing wage gaps between regular workers and temporary employees and guaranteeing labor rights for short-term contract workers.
The Korea Employers Federation demanded the panel reconsider the proposal saying that such measures would increase the burden of cost for businesses and will thus negatively affect the national economy.
In the report titled "National Action Plan," the commission advised the government to grant teachers and public servants freedom to engage in political activities.
Currently, school teachers and government officials are banned from joining political parties and conducting election campaigns. Progressive teachers called for the abolition of the law but the nation's highest court supported the prohibition as constitutional.
Conservative groups criticized that the panel is risking damaging the political neutrality of public servants and teachers.
"If teachers' political activities are allowed, that may result in teachers influencing their students with their political views," said Choi Dae-kyu, an official of the organizing committee of the Liberal Teachers' Union, a new union to be established in March in opposition to the left-leaning progressive teacher's union, Jeongyojo.
Jeongyojo, or the Korean Teachers and Education Workers' Union, has recently been incurring public criticism for practicing ideologically biased education.
The government also worries that the public servants' union with a 140,000 strong membership, the largest of any single unions in Korea, may emerge as a formidable force if public servants are allowed to engage in political activities.
The once unlawful public workers' union will be legalized this year.
The human rights body also recommended the government abolish the anticommunist law, drawing an instant protest from the main opposition Grand National Party.
The ruling and opposition parties have long been at odds over the draconian National Security Law.
The ruling Uri Party has been trying to scrap or dramatically revise the law which was often used to repress democratic activists by military dictators in the past. But the GNP is firmly against the move, saying the law is the "last fortress of national security."
The panel also recommends that health insurance apply to sex change operations and employers be prohibited from discriminating against job-seekers who are HIV-positive or carrying the hepatitis B virus.
The human rights watchdog said such concerns will be eased as society changes over time while the nation introduces such measures gradually.
"The commission acknowledges that some of the issues touched on are thorny issues. But this would be a groundbreaking point in efforts to improve the nation's human rights situation," said Kwak No-hyun, president of the commission.
By Cho Chung-un