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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #221: January 6, 2006

Social Science Japan Journal

Journal Name: Social Science Japan Journal: October 2005, Vol. 8, No. 2

Print ISSN: 1369-1465, Online ISSN: 1468-2680

General Papers:

Making Farmers Conservative: Japanese Farmers, Land Reform and Socialism (pp175-195)
James BABB (Lecturer in Japanese politics in the Department of Politics, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Under the Allied Occupation, immediately after the end of Second World War, pent-up tenant farmer frustration was translated into substantial support for the Japan Socialist Party through the farmer union movement. This support was enhanced by the institutional mechanisms of the land reform process, particularly land reform committees (nochi iinkai), in which the Socialists played a predominant role. However, as the land reform process came to an end, the Socialists were unable to capture an emerging site of institutional influence over farmers, agricultural cooperatives (nokyo). This failure was due to Socialist fragmentation and competition for power in farmer unions with the Japan Communist Party and in the agricultural cooperatives with centrist conservative forces. The result was that the Socialists lost a key constituency that came to be dominated by the conservatives. Nonetheless, this conservatism of Japanese farmers was not due to inherent cultural orientations of the rural population nor was it simply a product of land reform. The transformation of farmers into a key pillar of conservative party support was the outcome of a political process.

Of Roots and Race: Discourses of Body and Place in Japanese Taiko Drumming (pp197-212)
Shawn BENDER (Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Lake Forest College)
This article examines the relationships among body, place, and identity in contemporary Japan through an analysis of the aesthetic discourse of taiko drumming. Employing the concept of habitus, the article focuses on the body as an important means through which discourses of national and local identity are constructed in Japan. On the one hand, taiko aesthetics invert a perceived sense of physical'inferiority' many Japanese feel towards foreigners by emphasizing the close connection between stereotypically Japanese bodies and Japanese culture. On the other hand, this same aesthetic discourse creates an opposition by which the inhabitants of Japan's rural periphery are imagined to embody a deeper relationship to local culture than cosmopolitan urbanites can ever achieve. Thus, while in the first place, a sense of national identity emerges out of the appeal to racial similarities, taiko aesthetics ultimately fragment this unity by emphasizing just as strongly rooted distinctions in regional differences.

    See, look at them clapping their hands, gazing up at the sky, smiling and singing (a non-Japanese song). Now look at us doing kygen. Our shoulders rigid and our legs tucked underneath us in seiza (formal sitting position). Our hands clenched, resting on our laps. Our eyes fixed on the earth beneath us. Our voices low and guttural. We drive our words into the dirt; we don't lift our hands up and smile at Heaven. Your god (kami) is in the sky, right? Our spirits are in the ground, you see. That's cultural difference (bunka ga chigau yo)...that's cultural difference.

    -assistant kygen instructor, Kodo Apprentice Program, contrasting two groups of apprentices

Growing Problems in the Local Public Finance System of Japan (pp213-238)
Sayuri SHIRAI (associate professor in the Faculty of Policy Management at Keio University)
The current system of local public finance evolved in the aftermath of World War II, and there is an increasingly prevalent view that the system is no longer functional. Under it, the central government has been responsible for monitoring local governments and assuring them of the finance for their shortage of revenue mainly through providing intergovernmental transfers. When the gap between local tax revenue and expenditure widened in the recessionary period of the 1990s, intergovernmental transfers expanded. These transfers have especially served local governments whose own resources were limited owing to geographically and economically unfavorable conditions. As it has become increasingly difficult to finance the growing gap solely by transfers, the central government has also allowed local governments to actively issue bonds and has supported such issues with guarantees, uniform issuing conditions, and secured finance from public funds. It is increasingly recognized that this system has induced local governments to spend excessively and unproductively, rather than encouraging them to voluntarily rationalize. This article identifies three types of dilemmas that stem from the present system and discusses recent reform efforts as well as the challenges presently faced by local governments.

The Political Process of Establishing the Mother-Child Protection Law in Prewar Japan (pp239-251)
Naoko TOMIE (Research Fellow at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, University of Tokyo)
This article examines the development of the concept of mother-child protection in prewar Japan through an analysis of the political process leading to the establishment of the Mother-Child Protection Law in 1937. The Mother-Child Protection Law had been proposed prior to 1920 as a system of relief for impoverished mothers and children, but only after Japan had entered into total war in the late 1930s did it finally come to fruition. During the war, the women's suffrage movement championed the legislative process by subordinating its original demands for the extension of the franchise in favor of the strategy of seeking participation in politics and administration through the exercise of existing political and civil rights. As a result, these women asserted that mother-child protection was not a form of poverty relief, but rather compensation from the state for fulfilling their public duty as mothers for raising the'future nation'. Through the establishment of mother-child protection, women's advance into the public sphere through their cooperation with state policy as well as the re-definition of the role of mother as part of the public sphere formed a two-prong ideological strategy for achieving women's citizenship.

Survey Articles:

The Japanese Service Industry: An International Comparison (pp253-266)
Patrik STRÖM (Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Department of Human and Economic Geography, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University in Sweden)
This survey essay examines the development and internationalization of the Japanese service sector. For this purpose, statistical data is analyzed together with a literature review. The Japanese service sector is smaller in contributions to gross domestic product (GDP) and employment share than the service sectors in other advanced economies. Limited research has been conducted to improve our knowledge of the Japanese service economy. The second part of the essay presents an overview of the current literature. It reveals the main service subsectors together with some of the difficulties associated with their internationalization. The study shows that the Japanese service sector has complex connections to the larger keiretsu groups, but that their international competitiveness is limited.

Social Science Japan Journal (2005)
Copyright©2005 by the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Tokyo.

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Posted with permission from the publisher.

Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications