Kana is a clinical psychologist, who draws upon hurtful experiences in her past to bring awareness to mental health and sexual abuse in Japan. On a dating site, Kana met her former partner, which started her journey as a pansexual woman. What is it, and how did it inform who she is today? Through her NPO and personal online channels, she fights for marriage equality and other LGBTQ+ issues, and is striving for an overall safer future for all people in her community.
Hi, I’m Mitarashi Kana.
I’m a clinical psychologist.
Thank you for having me.
Check out these 5 frames of love for me and for you.
I’m a clinical psychologist.
I usually work as a counselor, providing
therapy sessions to people.
I’m also Vice President of the NPO Mimosas.
It’s a platform that teaches about sexual consent as
well as providing resources for victims of sexual abuse.
Then there’s LGBTQ+.
I’m pansexual myself, so I openly share
my experiences with that online.
I have a major sweet tooth.
I’ll have cake for breakfast,
though I know it’s not healthy.
I participated in this symposium on harassment.
Please welcome our guest Mitarashi Kana, a clinical
psychologist. She will be guiding our conversation.
Today, I would like to take this opportunity to
openly discuss some sensitive moments in your life.
Things that might reopen some wounds or be painful.
If at any time you feel uncomfortable, grab some
snacks, walk around, and make yourself at home.
You can join the conversation without any pressure.
I was in a girls’ high school.
It became so normal for our morning conversations to be
about one of us getting molested in the train or on the street.
It was like, “Well, this is just how it is.” But it’s totally wrong.
The teachers and the grown-ups should teach
that we all have the right to protect ourselves.
Being molested isn’t normal.
Awareness should be taught in school.
When I visited my boyfriend’s family last year,
his little brother almost sexually assaulted me.
Afterward, I just pretended nothing happened.
I was a guest, so I had to behave.
I didn’t want to be troublesome
nor come between the family.
I couldn’t speak out.
Everyone blames themselves.
You never know when you’re suddenly
going to be assaulted.
When things are too difficult to comprehend,
we humans get incredibly stressed.
We do what it takes to find any rhyme or
reason to what happened to us.
The easiest answer is, “It was my fault.”
And to blame ourselves.
It’s so important to remind society that
it’s not the victims who cause the assault.
She’s like a sanctuary.
She listened to every word,
and I felt so safe.
I’m so grateful.
- Hi, come in.
This is the Tokyo office for the International
and Psychological Support Association.
When we say “mental health,” we think of
psychiatry, psychology, and counseling.
In psychiatry and psychology, a patient will talk to
their doctor and get a diagnosis for treatment.
But in counseling, it doesn’t matter
what kind of problems you have.
It can be relationship woes,
or trouble at work, etc.
We don’t discriminate on big or small issues.
You can have a counseling session at any time.
Compared to other countries, it’s still not common
for people to take mental health seriously in Japan.
Whenever someone needs therapy, they feel
it’s the end of the world.
Or that something bad is gonna happen
to them in the counselor’s room.
There’s still a huge bias against
mental health care in our society.
Almost 1 out of 5 people have
mental health problems in Japan.
But only 1 out of 30 people are
seeking any kind of professional help.
Source: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 2017 I became interested in psychology because
I had gone through my own mental crisis.
When I was a junior in university,
a friend of mine got schizophrenia.
That friend would always come to me to talk.
But I felt I couldn’t do enough to help them.
So, I decided to attend a master’s program to
become a certified clinical psychologist.
Kana started to post about mental
health care on social media in 2017.
Stop comparing your pain to others.
And don’t feel that your life has no worth.
I know it’s a challenge to be nice to yourself.
Take the time to find what works best for you.
You’ve saved lives, including mine.
Thank you so much.
I’ve been drowning in my mental sickness.
Your kind words made me cry.
You’ve helped me to overcome my struggles.
I’m so thankful, I can’t find the words.
Nowadays, many licensed psychologists share
their knowledge on the internet.
But in 2017 when I first started, no one else was doing it.
When people are seriously suffering from mental
sickness, they can’t even stand up.
They just look at their phones all day in bed.
The most important thing is to make
sure that as they surf the web, they find factual and helpful information.
I wanted to be a bridge to connect
people to specialized counseling.
That’s why I started posting
on social media so much.
I work wherever people are.
My practice is everywhere, from social media,
through a PC monitor, or in person.
Anywhere that people are,
is where my attention is.
Today I am focusing on my NPO, Mimosas.
Mimosas is a platform overseen by psychologists, lawyers, and
specialists to provide resources for sexual consent and abuse victims.
People who experience abuse don’t
know where to go or what to do.
There isn’t enough information for them in Japan.
I thought it would be helpful to have a platform
to summarize important information.
Mimosas was established in 2020,
together with Hikita, the CEO.
I could open up to Kana, telling her
all about my struggles.
She was never surprised or taken aback.
When I talked about starting NPO Mimosas,
she said, “Let’s do it together.” Good morning.
A dating app company wanted to
make a sexual consent platform.
The Mimosas team joined as supervisors.
We didn’t discuss sexual consent
when we were in school.
That’s why we don’t know what
it means to agree or not.
In my opinion, “Let’s do it”
sounds a bit too unnatural.
Both of us need to make the mood.
If we just say, “Let’s do it,” or
“OK” then it’s not so romantic.
If it’s just the two of us it means that both
are agreeing to being in that situation, right?
I think all words and actions lead up to consent.
I have to say, just being the two of you
doesn’t mean she’s giving consent.
There’s no “yes” or “no” in a place.
Sexual consent begins before
you start touching each other.
People think that getting consent is always
the man’s responsibility but it’s not true.
It can be done by any person who wants to
have a sexual encounter with the other.
In March 2022, Mimosas crowdfunded a booklet to bring sexual
consent and sexual assault awareness to junior high and high schools.
The stereotype is that sexual assault is something
that happens to adults by strangers, like when they’re walking alone at night.
But it can happen anytime, and
to teens and kids, too.
As the victims are so young, they’re not
able to recognize it as abuse.
Therefore, we felt it was necessary to publish
a booklet to bring awareness to students.
I was sexually abused when I was in
The person who did it was an older boy
in the neighborhood.
We played a version of roughhousing.
But he called it “playing dogs”.
It was supposed to be just for fun.
So, to me, that’s what “playing” was.
He acted like he was taking care of me.
It gave me an odd feeling I couldn’t shake.
But I couldn’t understand it was sexual abuse.
Then, when I was in university, I had a class
talking about abuse cases.
I was like, “Wait, isn’t that
what happened to me?” So, I finally processed what was
going on in my past.
Usually, we lose the ability to be straightforward
and genuine as society wears us down.
But Kana doesn’t at all.
She shows us it’s OK to question
society and fight on.
She’s a wild animal, for sure.
So, being around her makes me want to try harder.
To me, the Mimosas team is...
Hold on, I’m getting emotional.
They are my hope, my life in Japan.
I don’t believe I can change society
or save people by my words alone.
I’m just focused on making it easier for those within
my reach to open up to me and ask for advice.
It’s not a big thing, it’s step-by-step.
When I help one person, they might help another, and it could be a domino effect
for change in society.
That’s why solving small issues
can have great meaning.
My fellows are my allies,
to build up the future with.
After six years, I separated from my partner Miki.
One of the reasons we split up was that in the eyes
of society, we’d never be accepted as “family.” Even though everyone’s love is
valued the same, gay or straight.