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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #129: March 10, 2004

Social Science Japan Journal

Journal Name: Social Science Japan Journal: October 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2

Print ISSN: 1369-1465, Online ISSN: 1468-2680

General Paper:

Faith and Practice: Bringing Religion, Music and Beethoven to Life in Soka Gakkai (pp 161-179)
Levi McLaughlin (The Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics of Kokugakuin University)
This paper presents research on the activities of a symphony orchestra organized by Soka Gakkai, Japan's largest new religious movement. Examples drawn from the author's experience as a musician and researcher within the group illustrate that the members' activities are a fusion of Buddhist practice, value inculcation and musical expression. The latter informs their religious experience, manifest on the one hand as Western musical elements infused into Buddhist chant, and on the other as a deep reverence for one particular composeróLudwig van Beethoven. Historical evidence and ethnographic case studies provide an explanation for this dynamic combination, and point to avenues of inquiry that can be undertaken by scholars researching Japanese new religious movements at the grass-roots level. Material drawn from fieldwork is in part analysed using typologies of new religions proposed by Japanese scholars. These models prove useful in describing general tendencies, but long-term participant observation reveals complexities of personal religious experience that do not necessarily conform to macro-level theory.

Getting Away with SleepóSocial and Cultural Aspects of Dozing in Parliament (pp 181-197)
Brigitte Steger (The Department of East Asian Studies, University of Vienna)
Starting from a series of articles on dozing parliamentarians in the Japanese weekly Shukan Hoseki, this paper elaborates on sleepóor more precisely, inemuri (napping; literally 'to be asleep while present')óduring public, observable working situations. First, work ethics and the meanings of diligence are discussed by analysing sleeping behaviour and the reasons provided for it. They reveal that one's commitment to a job in general is judged by the time and effort spent on it rather than by the efficiency and concentration with which it is pursued. Inemuri can be interpreted as the result of exhaustion from devotion to work and sacrificed nocturnal sleep and thus even as a subtle method of showing commitment to work. Secondly, the conceptual meaning of inemuri and its social significance is deduced from its literal meaning. As long as it does not endanger the social situation at hand, inemuri is culturally accepted as a subordinate involvement or an away (Erving Goffman) in Japanese society. The degree of acceptance, however, is influenced by the power relations between the persons involved since those relations largely determine who defines the situation as one where sleeping is or is not acceptable.

Educational Aspirations and the Warming-up/Cooling-down Process: A Comparative Study between Japan and South Korea (pp 199-220)
Nakamura Takayasu (Gunma University)
Stereotypical views of education in Japan have traditionally included an 'examination hell' among the key features of the system. However, two major modifications need to be made to that view. First, although competition for leading universities remains intense, overall entrance exams in Japan are not as competitive now as they used to be. This is because the declining birth rate is already feeding through to reduced numbers of candidates, while there has also been a marked increase in the number of higher education institutions and places for students. Secondly, the 'examination hell' is not only a feature of Japan, but may also be found in other East Asian countries, such as South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore. This paper focuses on Japan and South Korea and examines how the two systems go about 'warming-up' students' educational aspirations, and then 'cooling-down' those aspirations for those students who are unlikely to fulfil them. Some great differences emerge between these two 'diploma disease' societies of East Asia, and between the present-day Japanese educational system and its traditional image.

A Regulator's Dilemma and Two-level Games: Japan in the Politics of International Banking Regulation (pp 221-240)
Tamura Kentaro (The Climate Policy Project at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies)
Employing a two-level-game framework, this paper examines Japanese participation in the negotiation process leading up to the 1988 Basle Capital Accord. The argument made here is that the Japanese Ministry of Finance (MoF) simultaneously pursued different international and domestic goals; moreover, the ministry assessed the outcomes of these negotiations as successful at the time. On the one hand, the ministry's international goal was to preserve the international competitiveness of Japanese banks. To this end, the MoF won a concession from its foreign counterparts. On the other hand, its domestic goal was to introduce statutory capital adequacy rules, which the ministry had been unable to put in place owing to opposition from banks. This study marks a departure from existing accounts that (1) treat Japan as a unified front merely seeking to gain an international competitive advantage for Japanese banks; and/or (2) emphasize market pressure as a driving force behind participation in an international regulatory regime.

Social Science Japan Journal (2003)
Copyright ©2003 Oxford University Press

(This journal is available online at:
Posted with permission from the publisher.

Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications