I used to take it for granted that this newspaper’s “Tensei Jingo” (Vox Populi, Vox Dei) column was always penned by middle-aged males--collectively referred to as “ojisan” in Japanese.

In an essay illustrator Miri Masuda once contributed to The Asahi Shibun, she envisioned “Tensei Jingo no Hito” (Vox Populi, Vox Dei Person) as someone clad in a linen shirt and swinging in a hammock in a secret chamber on the top floor of The Asahi Shimbun building. And I’m pretty certain that in her mind, that individual was an ojisan.

In fact, all 15 authors since the end of World War II have been men. And for that, I understand that Asahi sometimes came under criticism for preaching gender equality but not practising it inhouse.

So, when I was tapped to become the first woman to pen this column, I felt something like, “Well, that took a while, didn’t it?”

Anyway, starting today, three new writers will be taking turns--two ojisan and one “obasan” (middle-aged female).

Since we all differ considerably in background as well as personality, the topics we choose will obviously vary.

What can I bring to my readers? After thinking hard, I flashed back to scenes in the Australian Outback, where I drove extensively while I was a correspondent Down Under.

Kangaroos would suddenly leap out of the bushes and wombats lumbered and shuffled in the fog.

I was being constantly scolded by my local guide to lower my headlights and not to step on the brake. But I was indescribably happy, thinking how life was just as full of unknowns as the Outback.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in her address to the U.N. General Assembly four years ago: “I never, ever grew up as a young woman believing that my gender would stand in the way of doing anything I wanted.” That, she elaborated, was because she was the third female prime minister (of New Zealand), not the first.

Her relaxed stance owed to a solid foundation build up by her predecessors.

My pace will probably be slow as the first woman assigned to this job. But I would like to start walking forward for those who will come after me.

And I imagine I will be tossed by the waves of words, so to speak, in a corner of a large office on a lower floor of the Asahi building.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 1

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.

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VOX POPULI: Greetings dear readers as first woman writer of this column

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01.10.2022

I used to take it for granted that this newspaper’s “Tensei Jingo” (Vox Populi, Vox Dei) column was always penned by middle-aged males--collectively referred to as “ojisan” in Japanese.

In an essay illustrator Miri Masuda once contributed to The Asahi Shibun, she envisioned “Tensei Jingo no Hito” (Vox Populi, Vox Dei Person) as someone clad in a linen shirt and swinging in a hammock in a secret chamber on the top floor of The Asahi Shimbun building. And I’m pretty certain that in her mind, that individual was an ojisan.

In fact, all 15 authors since the end of World War II have been men. And for that, I understand that Asahi........

© The Asahi Shimbun


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