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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #219: December 12, 2005

Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies

Journal Name: Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies: November, 2005, Vol.17, No.3
Print ISSN: 0955-5803, Online ISSN: 1469-932X


Reporting the 2001 textbook and Yasukuni Shrine controversies: Japanese war memory and commemoration in the British media (pp287-309)
Philip Seaton
In the summer of 2001 there were two major controversies concerning Japanese memory and commemoration of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific: a textbook controversy triggered by the nationalist group, the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform (Tsukurukai) and a row triggered by Prime Minister Koizumi's worship at Yasukuni Shrine. This article presents a critique of how the two controversies were reported in the British quality media. It argues that the British media's reportage was a representative example of the 'orthodox' interpretation of Japanese war memory. By focusing on 'newsworthy' controversies, the stance of the Japanese government and diplomatic confrontation between Japan and China/South Korea, the British media's reportage presented a largely stereotypical and biased version of Japanese war memory that under-represented its complexity and contested nature. The media's reportage is critiqued using the theoretical frameworks of media theory, war memory theory and orientalism, as well as Japanese accounts of the crises.

Keywords: Pacific War, Japan, textbooks, Yasukuni Shrine, war memory, stereotyping

Women's movements in Japan: the intersection between everyday life and politics (pp311-333)
Mikiko Eto
This article discusses how women's movements in Japan function as political agents that change the political status quo. Japanese women's movements can be seen to comprise three groups: elite-initiated, feminist and non-feminist participatory. Despite differences in their outlook and attitudes, they share two common characteristics. First, their identities tend to be centred on motherhood. The language of motherhood has been a key idea behind Japanese women's mobilization. Second, their campaigns link women's demands with politics. Women's movements provide Japanese women, who are largely excluded from formal political processes, with an alternative channel for political participation. When they exercise practical influence on politics, they make effective use of channels both outside and inside formal political institutions, i.e. non-institutional and institutional channels. In the former case, the traditional style of Japan's policy-making makes political influence possible for the women. Use of institutional channels means electing female candidates to political office. Women's movement organizations provide those candidates with support for their election campaigns. It is clear that women's political involvement at the grassroots level has contributed not only to improving women's social conditions but also to developing a more democratic political system in Japan.

Keywords: feminist, non-feminist, motherhood, political agent, grassroots, democracy

Amakudari as a signal: possible malfunctioning of the amakudari practice under the limited deposit insurance system (pp335-345)
Akihito Asano and Takaharu Eto
We analyse the amakudari practice in Japan focussing on the banking industry where officials from the regulatory authority obtain post-retirement jobs in private banks. A theoretical model is developed to investigate a new role that amakudari might play following the introduction of limited deposit insurance in 2005. It is generally expected that changing deposit insurance from full to limited will discipline Japanese banks' risk-taking behaviour because depositors will start monitoring their banks. However, our game-theoretic analysis suggests the possibility that this disciplinary effect could be reversed by the new role that amakudari may play. We assume that depositors are unsure about banks' riskiness and infer their riskiness from observing whether or not they hire amakudari officials, i.e. these amakudari officials play a crucial role as a signal to depositors. This signal, however, might malfunction. We show that, in order to create more post-retirement employment opportunities for their officials, the regulatory authority may weaken prudential regulation. Ironically and unexpectedly, the introduction of limited deposit insurance may make the whole banking industry riskier.

Keywords: amakudari, signalling, Japanese banking system

'Shinto' and Japanese popular religion: case studies of multi-variant practice from Kyushu and Okinawa (pp347-367)
James Huntley Grayson
The concept of multi-variant practices and beliefs as being characteristic of the shrines associated with Japanese popular religion is explored through an examination of four shrines in Kyushu and Okinawa. None of these shrines, even those which are formally associated with the Association of Shinto Shrines, evinces the characteristics of 'Shinto' practice which the Association claims is typical of Shinto. How are we to account for these differences? Insight is provided through an examination of the original function and subsequent history of these four 'non-mainstream' shrines. Comparison of the history and practice of these shrines with similar shrines in Korea illustrates the importance of researching both locally and comparatively to draw out the unique features of each shrine. Before scholars can accept broad generalizations about popular Japanese religious practice, or about 'Shinto', anthropological research – in addition to historical and textual research – should be carried out on the practices and traditions of individual, local shrines. Examination of empirical data drawn from numerous case studies will enable scholars to have a clearer idea of actual religious practice in Japan, regional variations, and similarities and differences with practices in neighbouring nations.

Keywords: Shinto, popular religion, Mikato Shrine, Hiki Shrine, Tamayama Shrine, Tsukishiro-no-miya Shrine

Scratch the surface, film the face: obsession with the depth and seduction of the surface in Abe Kōbō's The Face of Another (pp )
Atsuko Sakaki
I expose the ambiguous relationship between the seduction of the surface and the obsession with the depth in the three versions of The Face of Another—the film, the screenplay, and the novel—by looking at functions and effects of the face, not to compare these registers but to see the way they cross-reference each other in order to form themselves. I first examine references to film in the novel and show how analogous film and the face are to each other in the reconfiguration of the binary between the substance and the surface. I then discuss cinematic modifications of two significant negotiations of the man with the face of another, with the doctor and with the wife, which suggests the genre's unique position vis-ŕ-vis Western metaphysics. Finally, I sketch gender-bending with respect to the artificial face, complicating the depth/surface dialectic that has traditionally been ascribed to the woman. The dichotomy between the surface and the substance reveals itself in this story of obsession with the face, and in the medium of film that projects images onto the surface.

Keywords: Japanese film, Japanese fiction, depth/surface dialectic, seduction, interpretation, Abe Kōbō

The nature of violence in Fukasaku Kinji's Jingi naki tatakai (War without a code of honor) (pp389-406)
Richard Torrance
This article focuses on the role of violence in Fukasaku Jinji's Jingi naki tatakai (War without a code of honor) series (1973–4). It reviews the formalistic way in which violence was presented in pre-1973 yakuza films and contrasts this with Fukasaku's cinematic style, which broke all the rules of the genre. Fukasaku opted for a highly realistic, documentary approach. This documentary style is examined by considering the prison memoirs of a yakuza gang member and other sources upon which the films were based and then by providing examples of the manner in which Fukasaku translated these written materials into cinematic images. It is argued that, for Fukasaku, the world of the yakuza is only a microcosm of the broader society and international order of the post-war period, in which violence lacks moral significance and exists without heroes. The continued relevance of these films in the light of current events is noted.

Keywords: Fukasaku Kinji, yakuza, Japanese film, post-war Japanese society, violence in film

The frozen soul: sin and forgiveness in Miura Ayako's Freezing Point (pp407-429)
Philip Gabriel
Miura Ayako (1922–99) rose from obscurity to literary stardom on the basis of her first novel, Hyōten, published serially in 1964–5, and became in the process not only one of Japan's best-selling novelists but also one of its leading Christian voices. Hyōten (Freezing point), one of the best-known and most widely read novels of the past few decades, follows the travails of one family in Hokkaido as they struggle with marital infidelity, death, deception and betrayal, and was written to illustrate the Christian notion of original sin. It fails fully to address this notion, however, with the intended religious theme muted in favor of achieving success as a serialized novel. The novel thus raises interesting questions regarding the nature of so-called 'evangelistic literature' and the continuing debate in Japan over the relationship between 'pure' and 'popular' literature. This article argues that it is only in the sequel to Hyōten, Zoku Hyōten (serialized from 1970 to 1971), that Miura, now firmly established as a Christian novelist, returned to the characters and situations in her first novel and adequately depicted the religious themes of sin and forgiveness.

Keywords: Miura Ayako, Christian literature, original sin, forgiveness, popular literature

Japan Forum (2005)
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