Japan: Suzuyo Takazato

Suzuyo Takazato is a driving force behind the crucial question posed to the present militarized global security system: for whom does the military provide security?

— Suzuyo Takazato

Suzuyo Takazato (born 1940) is a long-time feminist peace activist who has analyzed the interplay between sexism and militarism from the experiences of women in Okinawa. Her work has inspired global feminist peace movements for structural understanding of violence against women. Suzuyo helped create Okinawa's first rape crisis center to provide hotline and face-to-face counseling to victims of sexual violence, and in 1995, Suzuyo's activism led to a large-scale protest by people of Okinawa against US military bases.

In the early 1980s, while Suzuyo was working closely with female victims of sexual violence and women working in the sex industry, she encountered many barriers to protecting them and ensuring their basic human rights. Realizing that the efforts of social workers alone were not enough to change institutions, she decided to run for Naha city assembly. She won, and served four terms, focusing on such areas as the rights of women, children, and people with disabilities, demilitarization, environmental safety, and food safety. In 1995, she attended the 4th World Conference of Women held in China. She was the president of the Okinawa delegation, and organized a workshop entitled "Military: Structural Violence and Women." There, she and other delegates explained their gender analysis of violence against women by the US military stationed in Okinawa. Upon their return to Okinawa, the delegates learned of yet another occurrence of sexual assault by US soldiers against a minor. Suzuyo was a driving force behind the protest to express the women's deep anger, deciding "enough is enough". She and other feminists organized sit-ins, demanding that the Japanese government take effective measures to stop the violence by US soldiers. The reluctant response of the Japanese government, combined with the US military's nominal apologies, incited the women to strengthen their movement. As a result, in November 1995, Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence (OWAAMV) was established to connect the various women's networks that had been working on women's rights and peace issues. Since then, OWAAMV women have worked to define sexual violence against women by US soldiers as both a peace and a security issue. They began compiling a chronology of sexual crimes committed by US soldiers since 1945. New information is added periodically, and the chronology is now in its 7th edition.

Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence East Asia-US-Puerto Rico Women's Network against Militarism