Human Rights

Back to listNov 27, 2012

IOP Greets 50th Anniversary with Lecture Series on Women

Dr. WiderDr. Sarah Wider engaging in dialogue with an audience member in Miyagi (Oct. 9)

The Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) commemorated the 50th anniversary of its founding with a series of four lectures exploring the general topic of women in modern society. Speakers focused on current issues confronting women in Japan, such as the declining birthrate, aging society and the rebuilding of communities in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. The series ran from September through November.

On September 10, Dr. Kaku Sechiyama, professor of Gender Studies and East Asian studies at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, spoke about Japan's declining birthrate and aging society from the perspective of gender and gender equality. Speaking at the Nippon Seinenkan in Tokyo, he stressed the need for both men and women to have equal access to the workforce and share the responsibility of raising children and caring for the elderly.

On October 9, Dr. Sarah Wider, professor of English and Women's Studies at Colgate University and former president of the Emerson Society, spoke on the power of language at the Sendai International Center in Tohoku's Miyagi Prefecture. Addressing an audience largely comprised of women, Dr. Wider highlighted the power of words to ignite hope and bring people together, especially in the case of women supporting one another during the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. Miyagi Prefecture was one of the areas hit hardest by the earthquake and tsunami.

Dr. HiguchiDr. Keiko Higuchi (Nov. 6)

Keiko Higuchi, emeritus professor of Women's Studies, Family Relations and Aged Society Theory at Tokyo Kasei University, gave a lecture at the Nippon Seinenkan on November 6. She talked about lifestyle differences between men and women as they age, factors contributing to Japan's low birthrate and how the relative peace and affluence of modern Japanese society since World War II has contributed to increased life expectancy among Japanese people. Dr. Higuchi is a longtime critic and writer and currently serves as representative secretary general of the Tokyo-based NPO, the Women's Association for the Better Aging Society.

Concluding the series was a lecture on women's perspectives on international cooperation by Yukie Osa, professor of Human Security Studies at Rikkyo University, held at the Nippon Seinenkan on November 27. She highlighted the issues confronting women affected by war and natural disasters and their efforts in finding constructive solutions in these situations.

The IOP was founded by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda in 1962.

[Adapted from articles in the September 11, October 10, November 7 and November 28, 2012, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]