- 20 May 18
The referendum on the 8th Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland takes place on Friday, May 25th. During the final week of the campaign, Hot Press is bringing you Home for Yes , a series of interviews with Irish emigrants scattered around the globe, who are returning to their native soil to Vote Yes. From Japan to Canada, England to America, we meet the heroes, who are travelling from far and wide in the name of social and political change. We salute them, and wish them Bon Voyage. See you in Ireland!
Kicking us off in the series is Clara Kumagai, 29, Tokyo, Japan
How long have you lived in Japan?
I moved to Tokyo in October 2017. I was asked to teach a term in a University over here, and I’m half Japanese, so everything just seemed to align! That being said, I don’t actually speak Japanese, so I’m over here trying to learn!
How does Ireland compare?
I’m from Galway, and I think it may literally be the farthest away from Tokyo that you can get. It’s really different: the language, the scale of the city. You know that big scramble crossing in Shibuya? I think the population of my town crosses that in about half an hour!
Have you always been Pro - Choice?
Being pro-choice was not something I had ever really considered when I was in a Catholic primary and secondary school. When I think back, we were never given any sex education, but had religion classes a few times a week. When I was about 15, I remember we had a religion class about abortion: it was full of gory details and graphic imagery, but never mentioned the woman. I didn’t have the opportunity to think about abortion in any other way; the other side just wasn’t presented. As I grew up, I thought about it more and following the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012, it became so present and urgent. This is when I truly realised that the 8th Amendment was something that could kill me.
Why are you coming home to vote in the referendum?
Well, first of all, I’m very lucky and privileged that I can afford a plane ticket to come home and that I could get the time off work, which is something that many women struggle with in Ireland when confronted with a crisis pregnancy. As a teacher in a feminist women's university, I’m surrounded by really smart and engaged young women all the time. Part of what I do is try to encourage them to do whatever they want with their lives, so I think that it would be hypocritical of me to not return to help Irish women, and myself, gain control over our lives. I just know deep down that it is my duty to come back. It is something that I must do.
For the duration of the campaign, Hot Press will feature more emigrants on their journey home - stay tuned for more interviews with emigrants on their long journey home to Repeal the 8th!