On 17th-20th January, the 19th Korea-Japan Youth Conference was held in Seoul, South Korea. This conference is a grassroots exchange program, co-hosted between the YWCA of Korea and the YWCA of Japan since 1993, where young people under 30 years old from Korea and Japan spend 4 days together, learning about and discussing various issues shared between the two countries.
The theme for this year was “Misogyny and #Metoo Movement in Korea and Japan- Towards Solidarity of Women in East Asia”. During the program, the 39 participants: listened to a keynote speech by a speaker from Korea Women’s Hotline, exchanged reports on the situation in their respective countries surrounding misogyny, made traditional Korean crafts together, visited Gender Equality Library “Yeogi” the War and Women’s Human Rights Museum and Korea YWCA’s History Museum ”Ije”, explored the city of Seoul finding various manifestations of misogyny, and finally discussed and decided together joint actions for the future.
Thanks to the coordination by the YWCA of Korea which hosted this year’s program, it was a unique space for learning together and from each other, building friendship, and working together to create a movement for change.
From a voice of a participant from Japan:
“From this Conference, I realized for the first time that the “Comfort Women” issue (sexual slavery by Japanese military during WWII) was a form of sexual violence, as well as a structural violence.[…] I felt that my struggle against powerful forces in Japan is in parallel with the struggles of the former Comfort Women, and felt deeply empowered by them. […] While studying feminism in Japan, I had felt I was a victim from misogyny; however, in this conference, I realized the side of my country as the perpetrator, and the need for me to face this reality. […] As well as the necessity to learn from history, I also felt that our generation has a unique possibility of exchanging dialogue and building peace.”
YWCA of Japan’s participation to the 19th Korea- Japan Youth Conference was supported by Ohdake Foundation.