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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #206: August 26, 2005

Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies

Journal Name: Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies: March, 2005, Vol.17, No.1
Print ISSN: 0955-5803, Online ISSN: 1469-932X


Characteristics of popular movements in nineteenth-century Japan: riots during the second Chōshū War (pp1 - 24)
The Tokugawa Bakufu ordered a second military expedition against Chōshū in 1865, and war broke out in 1866. Rioting occurred during wartime in the villages within Iwami Province as well as Buzen Province's Kokura han, which became a frontline for the attack on Chōshū from Kyushu. Due to the restricted sale and hoarding of rice because of war, rice prices, as well as those of other goods, rose suddenly in all areas of the country and frequent rioting erupted. Such popular violent movements are known as yonaoshi ikki (social reform uprisings) or yonaoshi sōdō (social reform riots).Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century popular movements have been interpreted in various ways. Sasaki Junnosuke's yonaoshi jōkyōron (a theory of the conditions of social reform), first advocated in the late 1960s,1 has met with various criticisms, yet there is still no counter-theory which can be said to replace it. The following study reconsiders Sasaki's yonaoshi jōkyōron and proposes a new line of research, a necessity in the study of popular movements.

Keywords: yonaoshi, uchikowashi, riots, Bakumatsu, modernity, popular movements

The Indian merchants of Kobe and Japan's trade expansion into Southeast Asia before the Asian-Pacific War (pp25 - 48)
Studies of modern Asian economic history were hitherto carried out by scholars who took a traditional Eurocentric approach and emphasized economic relations between Asian countries and the West. However, since the early 1990s there have been growing numbers of economic historians who are critical of that approach and who attach greater importance to the role of intra-Asian trade in the economic development of Japan and other Asian countries. In this article I examine Japan's trade expansion into Southeast Asia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with particular reference to British Malaya. In contrast to trade between Japan and the West, which was mostly in the hands of Western merchants, Japan–Asia trade was controlled mainly by such Asian merchants as overseas Chinese and Indians at least until the First World War. I focus on the Indian merchants of Kobe, who were particularly active in Japan's burgeoning textile trade.

Keywords: intra-Asian trade, Japanese textiles, Southeast Asia, Indian merchants, Kobe, Yokohama

The Association of New Women and its contribution to the Japanese women's movement (pp49 - 68)
This article is an assessment of the Shin Fujin Kyōkai (the Association of New Women), a women's political organization founded by the leading Japanese feminists Hiratsuka Raichō, Ichikawa Fusae and Oku Mumeo in 1919. It surveys the main objectives, activities and membership of the Association. The contents and characteristics of its magazine, Josei Dōmei (Women's League), will be also investigated. The article explores how the political and social climate of its period contributed to the foundation of the Association and how it was greeted by the public and press. The tactics, strategy and development of the Association's parliamentary campaigning and lobbying will be discussed together with the Association's limitations and its achievements in bettering the social, political and legal position of women. This article compares the Association with the Seitō Society, and also makes further comparisons between the Association and other contemporary Japanese and Western women's associations. It evaluates the impact the Association's activities had both on society and on the women's movement, and finally assesses the Association's key role in the history of the Japanese women's movement.

Keywords: Hiratsuka Raichō, Ichikawa Fusae, Oku Mumeo, Seitō, the Association of New Women, the Police Security Law, the Seitō Society, Women's League

Chūshingura and the Japanese studio system (pp69 - 86)
This article locates the Chūshingura narrative within the studio system as the story chosen for all-star studio celebration productions to mark special events (kinen eiga), and examines the narrative's relation to the studio star system. The main question addressed is: how have established narrative conventions of the drama been manipulated to remain fresh to each viewing generation? Here I take a structuralist approach which argues against the view that scarcity of historical information about the incident has ensured its malleability and therefore popularity. Instead, I argue that Chūshingura has become, in filmic discourse, a 'memorial meta-text'. Repetition has ensured that, contained within the audience memory, there is a set of expectations and essential elements of predictability. Thus for any given film version of Chūshingura to be an economic success (i.e. be popular) there has to be a balance between novelty and repetition. I argue that this is achieved through the tension between a rigidly pre-prescribed plot structure and the similarly rigid dictates of star persona, and that it is this dynamic that produces the vitality of film productions and ensures the continued popularity of the drama. This leads to such further questions as how does Chūshingura function politically within the Japanese studio star system and, relatedly, to what extent are character types within the drama dictated to by actors' star personas? And, finally, what is the relationship between star image and history?

Keywords: studio system, star persona, Takakura Ken, Tsugawa Masahiko, Bandō Tsumasaburō, memorial meta-text

Toward the rebirth of the Japanese economy and its corporate system (pp87 - 106)
It is widely agreed that the Japanese economy has experienced the following three phases since the early 1970s: (1) 'success' from the oil crisis to the mid-1980s; (2) a 'bubble economy' from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s; and (3) 'failure' since the early 1990s. This article, however, suggests that the production system has remained 'successful' throughout the three phases, while the financial system has been a consistent 'failure'. If we accept the conclusion that the true nature of the crisis facing Japan in the 1990s was a crisis of the financial system, and that the production system remained sound during that period, the prescription for curing the crisis is simple: reform of the financial system and maintenance of the production system. At the very least, the following four actions are crucial for the rebirth of the Japanese economy and its corporate system: skill-building in equity finance by both businesses and banks,overcoming the 'investment suppression mechanism' which came into effect after the oil crisis,shifting to an enterprise strategy combining product power with services in order to increase revenues, andbuilding an economically rational international division of labor with East Asian economies and enterprises.

Keywords: 'lost decade', financial system, production system, bad loans, equity finance, 'investment suppression mechanism'

Changing egalitarianism? Attitudes regarding income and gender equality in contemporary Japan (pp107 - 131)
Attitudes concerning social equality in Japan have two completely different sides. An equal income distribution is far more strongly supported in Japan than in any other advanced industrialized nation, but support for gender equality regarding family roles and the labor market is clearly weaker than in Western societies. However, in recent years, the appropriate level of income inequality has become a public issue in Japan and support for traditional gender divisions of labor in the family, with women confined to the role of housewife and mother, is weakening. This article tries to gain some further insight into the evaluation of equality in contemporary Japan on the basis of structured, problem-centred interviews with young elite university graduates who joined foreign-affiliated companies (FACs), which have experienced a sudden surge in popularity as employers among top university graduates in the second half of the 1990s. The case of FACs and their boom is of special interest regarding income and gender equality attitudes, as FACs are said to have far more performance-related pay and a different promotion system, as well as to offer much better career possibilities for women in comparison to Japanese firms.

Keywords: social equality, income distribution, gender roles, value change, foreign-affiliated companies

Japan, the West, and the whaling issue: understanding the Japanese side (pp133 - 163)
This article examines the current dispute over whaling from the perspective of Japan, a country that is fiercely protective of its right to whale. It outlines the key role played by transnational environmental actors in defining and instituting an international norm of anti-whaling, symbolized in the passage of the moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982. This signalled a rejection of previously held attitudes towards the use of whales as natural resources and the embracing of a protectionist, hands-off approach. Support for this new stance however was not forthcoming from pro-whaling states Japan, Norway and Iceland.

By analysing Japan's original objection to the moratorium, its later compliance and its commitment to the resumption of limited commercial whaling, this article outlines the principles that underpin Japan's whaling policy. While the Japanese government views the whaling dispute as a threat to resource security and also a danger to inter-state respect for differences in custom and cuisine, the need to be perceived as a responsible member of international society exercises a major influence on the formation of Japan's whaling policy, conditioning its rule compliance and prohibiting the independent action pursued by other pro-whaling states. Recent developments in the whaling dispute, however, may be enough to dislodge Japan's commitment to the moratorium, which would impact upon the legitimacy of the International Whaling Commission itself.

Keywords: Japanese whaling, international norms, rule compliance, environmental movements, international legitimacy

Japan Forum (2005)
Copyright ©2005 BAJS

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