By Jody O'Connor, International Student Advisor
On March 9, as part of International Women’s Day at CIIS, Dr. Kuniko Muramoto of Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto spoke on Women’s Social Circumstances in Modern Japan and the recent growth of the field of psychology in Japan. This cross-cultural view of clinical psychology marked another development in the CIIS-Ritsumeikan University exchange program.
Muramoto is a pioneer in the field of clinical psychology and has worked over the past 20 years with women and children who have suffered domestic and sexual violence in Japan. In 1987 she started group therapy in her home with a small group of neighborhood women with young children, back when Japan had no real language for domestic violence.
She also works as an activist and educator: She established a nonprofit organization called Feminist Lifecycle Institute, which educates the general Japanese population on the topic of domestic and sexual violence in Japan, and provides resources for women who have suffered from this trauma. She has worked to bring this subject to the attention of the Japanese government, which until 1995 did not recognize domestic or sexual violence as existing within its borders.
Despite Muramoto’s accomplishments, and those of other clinicians in Japan, the topic of abuse in Japanese culture is still taboo. Muramoto’s approach has been to continue to raise awareness with the general public while working on small support networks in local communities.
Muramoto currently is researching how patterns of abuse can be traced to historical events of mass trauma, such as World War II. On her visit to San Francisco Dr. Muramoto participated with CIIS faculty member Armand Volkas in a workshop entitled “Repairing the Broken Bridge: Japanese and Chinese Cultures Facing the Legacy of World War II.”
Volkas directs Healing the Wounds of History project, which he calls “a therapeutic approach in which theatre techniques are used to work with groups of participants from two cultures with a common legacy of violent conflict and historical trauma.”
Dr. Isac Takino, a Ritsumeikan professor of psychology who is studying in the Drama Therapy program this year, was one of a dozen people who attended Muramoto’s International Women’s Day lecture. First-year clinical psychology student Yurio Miyazawa volunteered to translate the lecture.