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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #181: January 7, 2005

The Journal of Japanese Studies

Journal Name: The Journal of Japanese Studies: Summer 2004, Vol. 30, No. 2


Post Office Politics in Modern Japan:
The Postmasters, Iron Triangles, and the Limits of Reform

This essay seeks to explain the political power of the commissioned postmasters in the context of their participation in one of postwar Japan's most enduring iron triangles. I show how the postmasters have evolved into an electoral ally of the Liberal Democratic Party and how their relationship with national bureaucrats complements that partnership. These political and bureaucratic linkages have enabled the postmasters to prevent significant reform of the postal system. To assess the implications of post office politics for Japanese politics more broadly, I explore the postmasters' evolution, processes contributing to the institutionalization of the triangular alliance in the postal services sector, the postmasters' electoral activities, and the alliance's impact on Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's recent efforts to privatize postal services.

Woman's Place in Japan's Great Depression:
Reflections on the Moral Economy of Deflation

There is a characteristic moral economy of deflation, and it can be traced with clarity in the case of Japan's long deflation of the 1920s. Deflation emerged as an issue in 1919 and reached an extreme in 1929-31, when the Hamaguchi Osachi cabinet adopted the depression-inducing policy of restoring the yen to gold convertibility at its old prewar value. To support its deflation policy, the cabinet launched an extraordinary campaign to induce households to reduce their consumption. Consumption was a specifically gendered conception, and women's place as subjects and as objects of consumption became the symbolic center of a historic confrontation between orthodox "monetarist" and novel "Keynesian" ideas.

Happiness Foreclosed: Sentimentalism, the Suffering Heroine, and Social Critique in Higuchi Ichiyo's "Jusan'ya"
Sentimentalism is often viewed as a conservative mode of literary imagination, whereby an author occludes social problems with tears. I demonstrate that at least in the case of Higuchi Ichiyo's "Jusan'ya" (Thirteenth night, 1895), the story of a woman who is persuaded by her family not to divorce her husband, sentimentalism can be read differently. In this essay, I make use of historicist reading strategies in order to show how a classical rhetoric pressed into the service of sentimentality is dialogically engaged with an emergent ideology of the bourgeois nuclear family and how the text can be read as a concerted critique of that ideology.

Bukatsudo: The Educational Role of Japanese School Clubs
Bukatsudo (extracurricular school clubs) are a longstanding feature of Japanese secondary education. These "communities of practice" employ a model of learning akin to apprenticeship, stressing imitation and repetition while socializing students into values and behavior demanded in adult society, notably in terms of a hierarchy of seniors (senpai) and juniors (kohai). In sports clubs, values associated with "spiritual education" (seishin kyoiku) are often prominent. Club participation promotes school order, aided by ritual, routine, and the often intense emotional attachment and group spirit engendered in club activities. Understanding bukatsudo illuminates the nature of order, selfhood, human development, and learning in Japan.

Volume 30, Number 2 (Summer 2004)
©2004 Society for Japanese Studies

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Posted with permission from the publisher.

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