Either domestic abuse against men is on the rise in Japan or more men are feeling emboldened to report in recent years.
The South China Morning Post reported last week that reports from men have increased in recent years, from 181 domestic violence complaints in 2014 to 1,571 such complaints in 2018. That increase comes as several men have been violently murdered in the country by women. From the Post:
On May 31, police in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, arrested 44-year-old Mika Masaoka on suspicion of murdering her husband, Kenichi. Masaoka told police that she lost her temper during an argument and stabbed him in the neck and chest with a kitchen knife.
In March, 43-year-old woman [sic] was arrested in the Tokyo suburb of Machida and charged with drugging her boyfriend and then stabbing him at least 10 times. Chinatsu Sato told police she was unhappy in her relationship with Tomio Arashi and had been planning to kill him for about a week.
That same month, a 65-year-old woman from Osaka Prefecture was charged with murder after she smothered her husband early one morning. Yoshiko Imaguchi said she killed her husband, 74, because she was stressed by his incessant complaining.
The Post suggested the increase in abuse was due to the patriarchal oppression against women in Japanese culture. A more likely explanation is that men are feeling more comfortable coming forward, or feel they need to in order to protect themselves.
The Post reported a survey of Japanese men in 2017 found the problem may be much higher than reports indicate. The survey found that 14.5% of male respondents said they had been abused by a domestic partner, an increase from the 10.8% who said the same in 2014 and the 8.1% who said as much in 2002.
Surveys, of course, aren’t a reliable source for statistics. They are simply based on what a person claims, and there is almost never any attempt to corroborate their claims. Women, especially in the U.S., tend to exaggerate interactions — and researchers provide broad and vague descriptions of actions that they then count as sexual abuse. The same could very likely be the case in Japan.
The survey also found that, just as is the case when women answer these questions, men said they didn’t report the abuse because it was not serious enough. Others didn’t think they would receive help and some suggested they were “partly to blame” for the incident.
This same survey found about a third of Japanese women claimed to have been abused by a male domestic partner.
Around the world, men struggle with domestic violence, yet their claims are often ignored. Western feminists get heated when violence against men at the hands of women is brought up, and Western media outlets tend to downplay or outright ignore the issue and focus instead on abuse suffered by women. When men do come forward with stories of abuse, they are often disbelieved, ridiculed, or accused of being the abuser themselves by the same people and media that advocate accusers be believed.