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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #216: November 21, 2005

The Journal of Japanese Studies

Journal Name: The Journal of Japanese Studies: Summer 2005, Vol. 31, No. 2


Where Tradition Meets Change:
Japan's Agricultural Politics in Transition

Japanese agricultural politics is transiting from an old to a new model, one that reflects broader changes in Japan's political economy. Those changes include a rebalancing of electoral power away from rural interests, the emergence of forces working for political and economic reform, the buttressing of executive power at the expense of the customary policymaking apparatus, and the ascendancy of a prime minister whose policy agenda is antithetical to the very foundations on which traditional power structures have rested. So far, however, the impact on farm policy has been modest. Vestiges of the old system continue to complicate the outlook for agricultural reform.

Criminals or Victims?
The Politics of Illegal Foreigners in Japan

Public opinion over illegal foreigners in Japan is highly contested. Some political leaders construct negative images of illegal foreigners as criminals, while activists portray them as victims. These activists provide an alternative source of information about the conditions of illegal foreigners and are an important counterweight to official Japan's more prejudiced activities. Consequently, Japanese attitudes toward illegal foreigners during the 1990s were mixed, with an increasing association of illegal foreigners and criminality and a rise in the perception of them as victims deprived of basic rights. Renewed efforts from state actors have further incited xenophobic attitudes toward illegal foreigners.

The Bloodstained Doll:
Violence and the Gift in Wartime Japan

During 1936-45, women throughout the Japanese Empire made countless female figures and sent them in imonbukuro (comfort bags) to military personnel. Incorporating elements of amulets, Bodhisattva images, hitogata (ancient protective figures), and Western-style dolls, these masukotto (mascots) or imon ningyō (comfort dolls) took on shifting ideological and ritual functions. Initially, they helped domesticate colonial landscapes and bind conventional soldiers to the female-coded mythic Japanese homeland. Late in the war, when taken by tokkōtai (Special Attack Corps, or "kamikaze") pilots on fatal missions, the dolls had increasingly conjugal and sacrificial associations, foreshadowing their ambiguous deployments in postwar memorial, display, and political projects.

Progress and Love Marriage:
Rereading Tanizaki Jun'ichirō's Chijin no ai

This article examines Tanizaki Jun'ichirō's Chijin no ai (A fool's love, 1924-25) and its conversation with the prominent cultural discourses of its time. I focus particularly on the ideas presented by writers such as Hiratsuka Raichō and Kuriyagawa Hakuson regarding "love marriage" (ren'ai kekkon), a practice idealized as both a marker for an advanced nation and a site enabling individuals to "progress" and heighten their characters (jinkaku). The novel parodically rewrites and actively reexamines these discourses in relation to contemporary values such as self-cultivation (shūyō) and cultural knowledge (kyōkō), asking what "progress" means within the rapidly changing social landscape of the 1920s.

Volume 31, Number 2 (Summer 2005)
©2005 Society for Japanese Studies

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Posted with permission from the publisher.

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