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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #145: June 23, 2004

Social Science Japan Journal

Journal Name: Social Science Japan Journal: April 2004, Vol. 7, No. 1

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

General Papers:

Alienated, Independent and Female: Lessons from the Japanese Electorate (pp 1-19)
Sherry L. Martin (Postdoctoral associate in the Department of Government at Cornell University)
Analyses of past national election studies have categorized male independents as alienated and strategic, while women independents are apolitical and apathetic. These same analyses led to a wide acceptance of the strong relationship between resource mobilization and changes in political attitudes and voting behaviour. This paper revisits this early characterization of women voters to assess the extent to which increased access to education and economic resources since the late 1970s has narrowed the gap between men and women, producing equal rates of men and women independents who are alienated and strategic. This effort is of particular importance given the increasing pool of unaffiliated voters within the Japanese electorate, with the proportion of women who are unaffiliated exceeding that of men. My research reveals that resources do not explain as much of the variation in political attitudes in the late 1990s as they did 20 years earlier. This finding demands that we re-evaluate widely accepted predictors of women's voting behaviour to offer explanations for why our observed outcome departs from what theory would lead us to expect. More immediately, attitudes held by this important segment of the electorate highlight important strategic choices for Japanese parties.

Dual Governance: The Contemporary Politics of Posts and Telecommunications in Japan (pp 21-39)
Eiji Kawabata (Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and the School of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma)
The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) has jurisdiction over two policy areas which are significant in contemporary Japanese politics—telecommunications and postal business. In pursuing policy-making in these areas, the MPT has had distinctive policy goals which have produced dual governance. In its operation of postal businesses, the MPT has played an old-guard role by protecting inefficient and intrusive government operations and opposing reform attempts. In the telecommunications arena, particularly in its promotion of the Internet, the MPT has played the role of a vanguard, taking on the telecommunications giant NTT. I explain this dual governance by highlighting an important sectoral divide in the Japanese economy which separates it into developmental and distributive sectors. The MPT operation of postal businesses is an integral part of the distributive sector; thus the MPT needs to protect the current system of postal businesses. In contrast, telecommunications is part of the developmental sector and is thus a policy area in which the MPT tries to wield greater influence over private-sector activities through vanguard policy-making.

From the Communitarian Ideal to the Public Sphere: The Making of Foreigners' Assemblies in Kawasaki City and Kanagawa Prefecture (pp 41-60)
Seung-Mi Han (Assistant Professor of Japanese Studies and Anthropology at the Graduate School of International Studies, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea)
Since the mid-1990s, several Japanese cities have responded to the gradual increase in their non-Japanese populations by setting up 'foreigners' assemblies' —venues in which representative foreigners, generally appointed by local officials and civilian representatives, can come together to discuss the social, economic, and cultural challenges of life in Japan. These bodies have no administrative power, but serve as advisory panels to local governments. This paper uses ethnographic studies of two such bodies—those of Kanagawa prefecture and Kawasaki city—to ascertain their role in contemporary Japanese society. I find that they have powerful relevance to three hotly debated issues: internationalization, local empowerment, and the development of civil society in Japan.

You Are Your House: The Construction and Continuity of Family and Identity Using Yago in a Japanese Suburban Farming Community (pp 61-81)
Christopher S. Thompson (Assistant Professor of Japanese Language and Culture in the Department of Linguistics at Ohio University)
This paper examines the persistent use of yago, or house names, in one small agricultural township in northeastern Japan. In Towa-cho, yago help differentiate local households by facilitating for families a distinctive identity and a historical continuity that helps them address change. One might have expected modernization to have rendered yago obsolete. But to the contrary, ethnographic observation in Twa-ch reveals that yago serve a myriad functions that are making their use more popular than ever. By analysing the history, development and contemporary use of yago in this suburban Iwate prefecture farm community, this paper explains how house names help local residents to contest the anomie and social fragmentation that has become a part of their post-modern lifestyle.

East Asian Monetary Integration: Destined to Fail? (pp 83-102)
Yeongseop Rhee (Professor of economics at the Sookmyung University in Seoul, Korea)
This paper examines the economic and political economic conditions for East Asian monetary integration, with a focus on Japan's role in order to explain why East Asia is faltering in forming a regional monetary bloc. My evaluation of economic conditions in terms of self-containment of a regional economy, optimum currency area criteria (micro-economic efficiency and macro-economic stability), and seignorage revenue suggests that East Asian countries seem to be as well suited as EU countries for monetary integration. However, significant political barriers remain in East Asia. Besides rivalry between Japan and China and the lasting influence of the US in the region, Japan's ambiguous and burden-avoiding attitude towards East Asian monetary integration adds a further barrier to the process.

Survey Articles:

The Formation and Transformation of the Japanese System of Transition from School to Work (pp 103-115)
Honda Yuki (Associate professor specializing in the sociology of education at the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, University of Tokyo)
The Japanese system of transition from school to work has attracted much attention abroad and has often been praised for its efficiency. The reality of both its formation in the past and its transformation at present, however, seems not to be reported accurately in other countries. This examination of the processes of the formation and transformation of the Japanese transition system will demonstrate that the apparent efficiency of the system has been the product of several historical factors. Moreover, the drawbacks of this system are becoming increasingly apparent amid the recent, drastic changes in Japanese society. The aim of this paper is to describe the process of formation in the 1960s and the subsequent transformation in the 1990s of the Japanese system of transition from school to work in order to reveal the limits of its supposed efficiency.

Social Science Japan Journal (2004)
Copyright©2004 by the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Tokyo.

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