Police in a Pod’s episode 8 has further delved into the topic of not just simply tackling police-related endeavors but also focused on the current state of gender equality in Japan, including treatment of women in their professional roles, in this case – police officers.
The subject of gender equality has been touched lightly by the series in earlier episodes, including in episode 2 where a man demands a male police officer since for him, “women police officers get nowhere”. It is worth saying the least that despite the contemporary society in Japan, it still lags behind its overall gender equality score. According to the International Monetary Fund, Japan ranks 110 out of 149 in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Gender Gap Index, a very low rank for a first-world country and a member of the G7.
In that IMF report, it stated some of the reasons why women aren’t still treated the same way as men in the workforce. Majority of them work unstable jobs, that are often part-time or contractual, and there is an overall resistance from males to give up “traditional roles” to women, and this includes police work.
Such treatment was manifested in the first part of the episode titled Rampage of Justice, where we see the high-handed attitude of fellow police officer Shikine. For the most part, his attitude was, to say the least, intimidating. For starters, he berates Fuji for being on the field most of the time and asking why she can’t be in the office more often, because ‘women should stay in offices for fewer worries’.
It is funny that Shikine goes on this sexist tirade against his female colleagues when Fuji and Kawai have proven themselves to be worthy of being in the police force. And is actually reflected now more than ever in Japan’s police force. In 2021, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD) appointed Yoshie Suzuki as its chief of the Ueno Police Station, making her the first-ever female among the city’s police department to be appointed to a senior superintendent.
There was this hilarious yet striking scene in the first part of episode 8 where Fuji paved the way to pacify the Minamoto/Yamada duo against a mafia group, all for a cigarette butt thrown on the street. And while Fuji used her calm demeanor to split the group, Shikine is on the corner, horror-stricken with the remarks the mafia boss told him. This reminds me of the sensitive issue between the police-yakuza relationship in Japan, which in recent years has been cracked down on, deteriorating the so-called ‘cozy’ relationship between them.
Meanwhile, the second part title Musclehead shows how Kawai, despite in the past episodes seemingly exuding that rookie and unhelpful energy, showed her calm demeanor to pacify a woman who is making accusations that the male police officers are about to rape her. This was just in time for their deputy chief to arrive on the scene and control the situation.
There is this hilarious yet stereotypical scene when Kawai mentions that the deputy chief, being a martial arts recruit, can even be promoted to a higher position. Sadly, the stereotype for these types of men, known as ‘muscleheads’, has been almost the same: having the physical strength but not having intelligence. Although, it should be worth noting that the Japanese police force has long been known to rarely use handguns in their criminal pursuit, and instead practice Taiho-jutsu or the art of arrest involving self-defense skills, including martial arts.
To sum it up, another thought-provoking episode from Police in a Pod, and I am hopeful that it once again shines light to more socially important questions from Japan. And also: can’t wait for another episode with Fuji’s wits and Kawai’s determination to go into play once again. You can watch Police in a Pod on Funimation, Muse Asia, and Bilibili, and if you liked the series don’t forget to vote for it in our weekly poll.
All images via Muse Asia.
© Miko Yasu, Kodansha/Hakozume Production Committee