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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #130: March 16, 2004

Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies

Journal Name: Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies: March, 2003, Vol.15, No.1
Print ISSN: 0955-5803, Online ISSN:1469-932X


A tale of two Japans: reform in a divided polity (pp33 - 53)
S. Javed Maswood (Griffith University, Brisbane), Yukio Sadahiro (University of Tokyo )
The Japanese economy has been in crisis for more than a decade and, during this time, fiscal and other measures have failed substantially to restore the bases for sustainable growth. There have been many suggestions that the relevant authorities in Japan resort to inflationary strategies to overcome deflationary pressures or undertake large-scale regulatory reform to remove some of the supply-side obstacles to growth. In 2001, Koizumi Jun'ichirl became Japan's Prime Minister and immediately promised extensive structural and regulatory reforms. Despite the known adverse social consequences of reforms, the Prime Minister enjoyed high popular support and this permitted some optimism that the reform agenda would be implemented. A year later, however, very little progress has been made and this article looks at the political obstacles to reform, in particular the electoral support base of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). We analyse the LDP's representative base and suggest that, as a party with strong rural representation, it is unlikely to assume the mantle of a reformist political party, despite strong popular support for Koizumi's promised 'reform revolution'.

Keywords: regulatory reform, Japanese politics, urban-rural divide, dual economy and politics, party realignment, economic crisis

The memory of the women's white faces: Japaneseness and the ideal image of women (pp55 - 79)
Mikiko Ashikari (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge)
During the Meiji period, the white face became the woman's face, whereas in the pre-modern period, certain men needed to put white powder on their faces every day. An examination of changes in clothing and fashion in relation to the Meiji state's policies on gender reveals that representations of the man's face and of the woman's face have been differently modernized and Westernized since the encounter with Western culture. The division by gender along the lines of Western clothing/unmade-up face/men and kimono/white face/women relates to the formation of a national identity in the course of the Japanese nationalist project. An ideal image of middle-class women became a symbol of tradition and native culture, and it still survives as such in contemporary Japan. A woman can experience and express Japaneseness through the representation of the ideal image of women by using the white face in public. There is a pivotal link between femininity and Japaneseness. This article explores both why it should be the ideal image of middle-class women that has come to represent tradition and national culture, and how the link between the representation of the ideal womanhood and of Japaneseness continues in contemporary Japan.

Keywords: gender, representation, Japaneseness, white face, middle-class women, social memory

Empress Jingˆ: a shamaness ruler in early Japan (pp81 - 98)
Chizuko T. Allen (University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Many post-war Japanese historians considered Empress Jingˆ, the mother and regent to Emperor kjin of the early fifth century, a mythical figure and treated the accounts of her life in Kojiki, Nihon shoki and Fudoki as the product of fabrication that mirrored the lives of empresses from later centuries. Their theories, however, were not only flawed but failed to address the extraordinary emphasis given to her achievement in the chronicles. The story of Jingˆ can reveal important political aspects of the formative Yamato polity because its basis, i.e. her seizure of power and expedition to Korea, developed very early and were recorded by the sixth century.
A careful examination of the story confirms the importance of shamaness-priestess rulers in the fourth century, a point which some historians and archaeologists have long suspected. Jingˆ is representative of a series of women who served as principal rulers in 'pair rule' and were known by the quasi-title Princess Oho tarashi. Her expedition to the kingdom of Silla suggests that these women played an important role in ushering in the age of intensive interactions with the Korean states. The story also indicates a gradual shift of power from female rulers to male rulers due to the latter's control of military affairs.

Keywords: Empress Jingū, Yamato, shamaness, priestess

This death in life: leprosy in Mishima Yukios Rail no terasu and beyond (pp99 - 123)
James Raeside (Keio University)
This article focuses on Mishima Yukio's late play Rail no terasu (The Terrace of the Leper King), concerning the construction of the Bayon temple at Angkor Wat by Jayavarman VII, rumoured to have been a leper. In Mishima's retelling, the king's leprosy grows with the raising of the temple, he becomes blind as it nears completion and dies just as the project is finally completed. The last scene of the play is a dialogue between the soul of the dying king and his youthful body in which the body says that the soul itself is leprosy, while it, the unsullied body, truly represents the timeless beauty of Bayon.
In this article I argue that Rail no terasu represents a more thorough working out of the theme of leprosy to be found in many other works by Mishima. Leprosy is particularly rich in signification. As a disfiguring disease, long thought incurable though not fatal, it can stand for corruption of both soul and body, for divine affliction and for divine election. As such, it is a particularly effective metaphorical vehicle for Mishima's work and for his constant interrogation of the themes of beauty and ugliness, desire and death.

Keywords: Bayon, disease, Japanese, leprosy, literature, Mishima

Rice for the masses: food policy and the adoption of imperial self-sufficiency in early twentieth-century Japan (pp125 - 146)
Penelope Francks (University of Leeds)
The adoption, following the Rice Riots of 1918, of a policy of 'imperial self-sufficiency' in rice is generally regarded as a triumph for Japan's ­industrial interests, securing as it did lower food prices for wage-earners, and as a major cause of the 'agricultural problem' of the inter-war years. However, when viewed against the background of developments in the rice market and in Japan's international trade in rice from 1890 onwards, it can also be seen as a response to, on the one hand, shifts in the pattern of food demand as consumers became better off and adopted 'urban' life-styles, and, on the other, the emergence of ­bureaucratic support for the protection of the small-scale, rice-cultivating farm household in Japan. In this light, what turned out to be a costly solution, in both the short and long terms, to the food supply problem of industrial Japan can be argued to have been less a 'defeat for agriculture' and more a compromise between industrial interests, consumer demand and the prevailing structure of ­agriculture.

Keywords: Japanese food policy, rice trade in the inter-war period, Japanese rice imports, Japanese Empire, Rice Riots

Japan Forum (2003)
Copyright ©2003 BAJS

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Posted with permission from the publisher.

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