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    Sail Away

    Japan’s ‘Vagina Kayak’ Artist Fights On

    Megumi Igarashi is facing prosecution after sailing a kayak shaped like a vagina, and making vagina-themed art. In an exclusive interview, she says her determination to express herself and confront sexism will not waver.

    Megumi Igarashi is a Japanese artist who paddles her own canoe. Well, it’s more like a vagina kayak. Last July, Igarashi, 42, found herself in troubled waters when she crossed a Tokyo river in a two-meter long 3D printed kayak modeled after her own genitals.

    Although Igarashi completed this virgin voyage unscathed, she was arrested under Japanese obscenity law after she distributed the model of her vagina to fans who had crowdfunded the project.

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    Japan’s Hypocritical Vagiphobia

    Child porn was legal until a month ago in Japan, and you can still find vending machines selling soiled underwear. But a woman who wanted to make a vagina-shaped kayak is behind bars.

    Who knew a country notorious for selling used underwear in vending machines could be so prudish?

    Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi was arrested this week for distributing “obscene” design files to make 3-D-printed models of her vagina. Igarashi, who goes by the nom de art Rokudenashiko (“Good-For-Nothing-Girl”), was thrown behind bars after Japanese authorities intercepted emails of 3-D printed data of her genitalia, sent in an effort to crowdfund her most ambitious project to date: an oceangoing, vagina-shaped kayak, nicknamed the “pussy boat.” A Change.org petition calling for her release collected more than 15,000 signatures in one day.

  • Pool photo by Koji Sasahara

    Not a Vacay

    Caroline Kennedy Is Big in Japan

    President Obama has arrived in Tokyo amid the biggest Asian crisis since Vietnam. Caroline Kennedy has discovered that being ambassador to Japan is no longer an easy life.

    Less than a year after Senate confirmation of Caroline Kennedy, rising tensions between Japan and China have made her job one of the most important on the planet.

    Last November, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy rode in an ornate, horse-drawn carriage through the heart of Tokyo to Japan’s Imperial Palace. The new United States Ambassador to Japan, as dictated by tradition, presented her credentials to Emperor Akihito, Japan’s reigning monarch. (The previous day, she had presented herself to the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.)

  • Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP via Getty

    Don't Take it back

    Japan Stands by WWII Sex Slave Apology

    The Kono Statement went under review but will not be revised

    The Japanese government has refused to alter an apology issued in 1993 to the women who were forced to work as sex slaves in World War II military brothels. Chief cabinet security Yoshihide Suga confirmed that Prime Minster Shinzo Abe did not intend to amend the apology, known as the Kono Statement, which admits the Japanese military's indirect role in forcing "comfort women" to engage in sexual relations with Japanese soldiers. The Kono Statement came under review after nationalist lawmakers called the apology a smear campaign by South Korea, a former Japanese colony. Suga consequently created a panel to review the testimonies of 16 former sex slaves, a move sharply criticized by South Korea, home to many of the "comfort women." In response, the Japanese government said it had  "no intention to rethink the Kono Statement."  

  • John Moore/Getty


    Japan’s P.M. Promotes ‘Womenomics’

    “We must bridge this equality gap.”

    Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is praising “womenomics” as a policy for economic growth. He cites “womenomics”—the concept that if a nation taps into women’s economic potential, its economy will grow—as a prominent aspect of Japan’s anti-deflation, growth-promotion policies. “We must bridge this equality gap,” he stated, referring to the statistic that Japanese women earn, on average, 30.2 percent less than men. From increasing female employment to extending day care and nursing services, he hopes womenomics will further propel Japan’s economic growth and curb its declining birthrate. He promises to spend more than $3 billion in the next three years to further empowering women. When Abe addresses the United Nations on Tuesday, he will submit womenomics proposals for Japan, Africa, and beyond. 

  • Mary Altaffer/AP


    Japan To Get Ambassador Kennedy?

    Obama asks Caroline Kennedy to be its top diplomat in Tokyo, according to reports.

    Caroline Kennedy—JFK’s only surviving child and a top backer of Obama during both of his presidential campaigns—is reportedly being offered the ambassadorship to Japan. Kennedy has been legendarily private and has avoided running for public office in the past for “personal reasons,” as she noted when Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat in New York became available in 2009.

    However, a Democrat familiar with the discussions told CNN that the Obama administration has asked Kennedy to serve as ambassador and that she is currently being vetted for the gig. Kennedy was co-chair of Obama’s vice presidential search committee in 2008.