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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #208: September 16, 2005

Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies

Journal Name: Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies: July, 2005, Vol.17, No.2
Print ISSN: 0955-5803, Online ISSN: 1469-932X


Prime-ministerial power in Japan: a re-examination (pp163-184)
Kensuke Takayasu
Prime ministers in Japan have often been regarded as 'weak' and 'reactive'. Constitutional and legal constraints on them have been emphasized as one of the significant reasons for this assessment. Administrative reforms in Japan, particularly in the late 1990s, sought to enhance the cabinet and co-ordination mechanisms in government and increase the formal power resources available to the prime minister. By looking into policy-making about two emergency bills during the oil crisis in 1973, this article examines Tanaka Kakuei's leadership as a case study of the Japanese prime minister's power in the executive branch. The case study reveals a range of routes in the core executive and departments through which the prime minister did intervene and play a key part in policy-making. The article concludes that the thesis which emphasizes the 'limited' formal power resources lacks support and that factors other than constitutional and legal power resources must be considered to explain the 'weakness' of prime-ministerial power in Japan, if such is the case.

Keywords: prime minister, core executive, administrative reforms, constitutional and legal power resources, Tanaka Kakuei, oil crisis

The aesthetics of speed and the illogicality of politics: Ishihara Shintarō's literary debut (pp185-211)
The mid-1950s literary debut of Ishihara Shintarō with his novel Season of the Sun (Taiyō no Kisetsu) marked a new interaction between Japanese mass culture and the historically dominant literary establishment. By skilfully mobilizing the emerging post-Occupation discourses of post-war film, literature, criticism and Cold War capitalist consumerism, Ishihara succeeded in creating a new emphasis on a youth culture divorced from the war responsibility debate. Ishihara's subsequent political career and his prominence as neo-conservative governor of Tokyo at the turn of the century also have their roots in his early literary activities.

Keywords: mass culture, Cold War, youth culture, masculinity, literary field, 1955 system

'For women, by women': women-only unions in Japan (pp213-230)
Low rates of union membership and lack of representation on union committees for women in contemporary union structures in Japan disguise the contributions women have made to the union movement. In exploring the development of women-only unions in Japan and the role they fulfil as women-only organizations, I argue that enterprise unions are exclusive and their weakened position vis--vis employers and the state combined with the androcentrism of their policies and practices have resulted in their failure to provide adequate and effective representation for women. It is therefore not surprising that women have created separate structures, including women-only unions, to address issues that existing unions have failed to address and to provide alternative forms of representation for women workers who are not organized by existing unions.

Keywords: women-only unions, women and unions, women and industrial activity, women and union activism

Shindō Kaneto's films Kuroneko and Onibaba: traditional and innovative manifestations of demonic embodiments (pp273-286)
Zvika Serper
Shindō Kaneto's films Kuroneko and Onibaba create original embodiments of a traditional Japanese ritualistic pattern of a human being vanquishing a demonic threat. In Kuroneko real female demonic creatures use a male's sexual desire to realize their revenge, but are eventually vanquished. At first glance this film appears to be merely a relatively superior example of the 'monstrous cat films' (kaibyō eiga), a very popular genre in the 1950s and 1960s, and one that only superficially reflected the more existential traditional meaning of the ritualistic demonic pattern. However, Shindō synergizes several narrative parts taken from the traditional theatre to create a unique and complex narrative for this film, which is not found as such in the traditional theatre. In Onibaba, Shindō innovatively explores the demonic pattern through one character who uses a certain element of this tradition as a disguise a plot device but then becomes inextricably drawn into the pattern itself: a female character uses a demonic mask in an attempt to prevent the uncontrollable sexual passion of another woman for a man whom she herself passionately desires, but she is gradually absorbed into the mask itself, and eventually vanquished. In both films Shindō uses traditional elements of space, mask, make-up, objects and movements.

Keywords: Kuroneko, Onibaba, Shindō Kaneto, Japanese cinema, 'ghost cat films' (kaibyō eiga)

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, as seen through the principles of classical Japanese literature and performing art (pp257-272)
Noriko T. Reider
This article offers an interpretation of Akira Kurosawa's film Dreams, which is composed of eight independent short episodes, as an integrated artifact into which are woven various principles of classical Japanese literature and performing art. Identifying in the film such techniques as principles of association and progression used in anthologies of classical Japanese poetry, the concept of design and background poems, the jo-ha-kyū progression of the medieval performing arts, as well as noh's role play, not only enhances appreciation of the film's aesthetics and Akira Kurosawa's indebtedness to traditional Japanese art but also demonstrates the remarkable continuation of such traditional principles in modern Japanese media.

Keywords: Akira Kurosawa, Japanese film, Dreams, principles of progression and association, jo-ha-kyū, noh

Japan Forum (2005)
Copyright ©2005 BAJS

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