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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #213: October 28, 2005

Japanese Studies

Journal Name: Japanese Studies: September 2005, Vol. 25, No. 2
ISSN: 1037-1397 (Paper), 1469-9338 (Online)


Multinationalizing the multicultural: The commodification of 'ordinary foreign residents' in a Japanese TV talk show (pp103-118)
Koichi Iwabuchi (Waseda University)
This paper analyses the representation of foreign residents in Japan in the popular television variety show Kokoga hen dayo nihonjin (This Is So Bizarre, You Japanese). It discusses ways in which the increasing presence and visibility of foreign residents in the Japanese public space enhances the commercial value of 'ordinariness'. In this process the boundaries between 'us' and 'them-within-us' are sharply re-demarcated in an international framework and the intensifying multicultural situation is subtly turned into a multinational media spectacle, in a way in which the national imagined community is not fundamentally displaced.

Nation, state, empire and war: Problems of liberalism in modern Japanese history and beyond (pp119-140)
Tomoko Akami (Australian National University)
Liberalism in Japan before 1945 has been understood to be problematic because of its disposition to embrace elitism, nationalism and imperialism. These problems are often argued to have been caused by particular Japanese impediments, such as its history, customs, culture and system, and accordingly it is suggested that a 'proper' development of liberalism as seen in the 'West' did not occur in Japan. This essay argues that these problems are in fact problems inherent in the internal logic of liberalism in the modern period, and especially in the age of mass-based democracy and of empire. It argues so by expanding the thesis of Berlin on liberty of 1958, and examining the notion of 'positive liberty' in particular. The essay argues that the Japanese case articulates an often-neglected and problematic aspect of the discourse of liberalism, and concludes that this aspect needs to be seriously taken into account in an exploration of a critical alternative to currently dominant neo-liberal visions and institutions.

Defamiliarising the postwar: The enigma of Oda Makoto (pp141-158)
Roman Rosenbaum (University of Sydney)
Oda Makoto is known in contemporary Japanese society as a prolific novelist, fierce social critic and controversial political activist. After travelling extensively throughout America and East Asia Oda's seminal travel narratives broke Japanese postwar isolationism and reinvented the postwar conceptualisation of the journey. As one of the intellectual founding fathers of the Beheiren movement Oda was an outspoken social critic in the 1960s and 1970s whose legacy of civil disobedience is currently more valid than ever before. This paper demonstrates that Oda is one of the few counter-hegemonic voices that speak out against revisionist national tendencies found in postwar Japanese discourse. Oda employs techniques of estrangement to reconceptualise established cultural tropes such as the mythology of Hiroshima, the higaisha discourse and indigenous Korean alterity. Oda's unravelling of discursive formations is explored through an analysis of three works: Nan demo mite yarō (1961), Hiroshima (1981) and Gyokusai (1999).

A literate tiger: 'Sangetsuki' (Tiger-Poet) and the tragedy of discordance (pp159-168)
Rie Kido Askew (Monash University)
This paper examines Nakajima Atsushi's celebrated short novel about transformation, 'Sangetsuki' ('Tiger-Poet'). I describe Nakajima's view of literacy and how this view is reflected in 'Sangetsuki'. For Nakajima, literacy is the fruit of knowledge: once eaten, one can never return to one's original state of happiness. In Nakajima's world, to be literate means to experience agony, which is made even more acute when the inner literate mentality is contained within an outer oral appearance. The tragedy of 'Sangetsuki' lies not in the transformation of the hero from literate to oral, but in the incompleteness of the transformation; the hero retains his human mentality even after his physical appearance has been transformed. I also discuss 'Sangetsuki' in relation to the Gothic novel. It has been said that 'Sangetsuki' is Nakajima's version of 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. However, if we focus on the issue of literacy, it has much more in common with Frankenstein. For the monster in Frankenstein and the hero in 'Sangetsuki' share the same suffering: the agony of literacy and the tragedy of discordance.

The conundrum of Japanese editorials: Polarized, diversified and homogeneous (pp169-185)
Keizo Nanri (University of Sydney)
This paper analyzes Japanese newspaper editorials on the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York to test the validity of the three major assumptions of current critical scholarship. Are Japanese newspaper editorials homogeneous; polarized into a majority Left and a minority Right; or diversified within the framework of this political opposition? The results suggest that all three are partially correct.

Farmers' attitudes towards sustainable agriculture in Japan (pp187-202)
Simón Pedro Izcara Palacios (Tamaulipas University, Mexico)
In Japan, the need to proceed towards a more sustainable agriculture appears to be a common goal for the Ministry of Agriculture and farmers' organizations. However, agricultural policy aiming at a more sustainable agriculture will only be successful if it corresponds to farmers' values and convictions. Accordingly, the correspondence of young farmers' values and convictions with a new model of sustainable agriculture can help Japanese agriculture move towards sustainability. Nevertheless, mature and elderly farmers (the bulk of the farming sector), concerned principally with agricultural productivity, are more reluctant to redirect farming practices by taking ecological considerations into account. This paper, based on a qualitative methodology, examines the integration of the environment into Japanese agricultural policy, and goes on to analyse Asahikawa farmers' attitudes towards sustainable agriculture.

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