JAPAN TIMES • 1 October 1991


Women Fight Makers of Debasing Games

By BRIAN COVERT
REGIONAL CORRESPONDENT

OSAKA — Sexual debasement is no fun and games, say some local women. And they are out to prove it by broadening their protest of major Japanese toy companies.

The 34,000-member Sakai City Women’s Organization is targeting Takara Co.’s card game “Ningen no Kuzu” (“Human Trash”), in which players buy and sell women.

“The first time I saw this game, I recognized it as the Japanese mentality” toward women, said Ayako Yamaguchi, chairwoman of the group. “That is why I got so angry.”

The organization recently contacted the United Nations and affiliated women’s groups in the U.S. about the game.

“Our protest against such an inhumane problem is considered a hysterical reaction in Japanese society,” said Yamaguchi, also a Sakai Municipal Assembly member. “So we decided to rely on foreign pressure.”

The rules of “Human Trash” call for players to buy and sell photographic cards of Japanese women labeled with numbers indicating the amount of men they have slept with.

A bar hostess, for example, is worth eight points, while a “nice girl” from a good home offers no points. An “OL” (office lady) is valued somewhere in between.

The winner is the first player to get rid of all his cards.

Special “AIDS” cards allow players to change blood types, while other penalty cards marked “Dekichatta!” mean a player loses a turn for getting a girl pregnant.

The women’s group began the protest of the two-year-old game in August, when it wrote a letter to Takara President Yasuta Sato.

The only response came from a lawyer representing Takara, reportedly reminding the women’s group to “be careful to keep the company’s trust.”

“The company expects you not to misunderstand the connotations” of the game, wrote Tokyo attorney Akira Gokita.

Both Gokita and company spokesman Shigeru Kondo claim the name “Human Trash” refers to abusive men — not women — and that the game “satirizes men’s sense of values.”

The protest is a “misunderstanding” by the women’s group, said Kondo, adding that the company had “no intention of (degrading) women.”

Yamaguchi said her group has firm support from the U.S.-based National Women’s Studies Association, and is awaiting a reply to its Aug. 11 letters to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the International Women’s Tribune Center in New York.

Sales of “Human Trash” are estimated at about 70,000 units (at ¥1,500) and around 18,000 units for the companion game “Human Trash: Snicker-Snicker.”

Takara spokesman Kondo said production of the games ceased last November and the company is now considering how to deal with any games remaining on store shelves.

The company defends the “Human Trash” games as gag gifts that “do not attempt to portray reality.”

“That’s just Takara’s excuse for having a bad corporate culture,” said Yamaguchi. “There is simply no excuse.”

The group’s next target is the Yanezawa toy company, which markets a card game called “Kono Ko Dare no Ko” (“Whose Kid is This?”).

According to the rules, players try to match illegitimate children with their sexually promiscuous fathers and mothers on the basis of physical features, such as race and blood type.

Yamaguchi said the local women plan to continue their protests until they are satisfied the issues of sexual slave trading and debasing are addressed as human rights issues by Japan’s most popular toy makers.

These kinds of games are just the symptoms of much deeper sexual biases among men that remain in all aspects of Japanese life, Yamaguchi said. “I just hope this mentality (of disgracing women) is not copied by other countries in their quest to be superpowers.”

( © Japan Times 1991)