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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #227: February 17, 2006

Japanese Studies

Journal Name: Japanese Studies: December 2005, Vol. 25, No. 3
ISSN: 1037-1397 (Paper), 1469-9338 (Online)


Constitutional revision and Japanese Religions (pp235-247)
Helen Hardacre (Harvard University)
This study examines the role of religious organizations in the process of constitutional revision in Japan. Sōka Gakkai has influenced Kōmeitō's position on article 9, preventing the LDP from inscribing 'collective self-defense' into its draft for a new constitution. Since the LDP's desire to make that change was its main goal in undertaking constitutional revision at this time in the first place, Sōka Gakkai and Kōmeitō have significantly influenced the political process. In a second case, the Association of Shinto Shrines and its political arm Shinto Seiji Renmei strongly favor the LDP move to revise article 24 to eliminate specification of 'the essential equality of the sexes', but in spite of that support, the LDP has so far been unable to overcome the opposition of Kōmeitō and the Democratic Party of Japan.

The challenge of language and communication in twenty-first century Japan (pp249-256)
Kumiko Torikai (Graduate School of Intercultural Communication, Rikkyo University, Japan)
This paper analyzes issues of language and communication in Japan in national language policies. It offers a brief overview of historical aspects of language and communication in Japan, including the part played by interpreters and translators who helped modernize the country, then reviews national language policy in today's Japan, considering new trends in English language education as well as the national language (kokugo). The issue of loan words is presented to extrapolate influence of English on the Japanese language. Third, the social reality of language in present day Japan is discussed. Finally, some challenges facing twenty-first century Japan will be addressed, in terms of language, communication and culture.

Configuring bodies: Self-identity in the works of Kaneshiro Kazuki and Yan Sogiru (pp257-269)
Noboru Tomonari (Carleton College, USA)
Kaneshiro Kazuki and Yan Sogiru are zainichi writers of popular fiction. This paper discusses aspects of the body and masculinity in their stories. Physical prowess forms the core of their characters; a belief in violence as a form of self-expression and the nucleus of identity. In Kaneshiro's works, the body becomes a means by which the protagonists can connect themselves to other people and to society at large. The body of the protagonist of Yan's work, Chi to hone (Blood and Bone), is both a means of self-protection and of intimidation. Yan argues that the repressive aspects of Japanese society can be criticized by exposing bodies that have been damaged and neglected. The tropes of the body in these two writers serve as a counter-gesture against the hegemonic discourses that undermine the minorities living in Japan.

Learning strategies employed by Chinese-background learners in learning Japanese vocabulary (pp271-286)
Toshihito Kato (University of New South Wales)
The major objective of this study is to investigate whether Chinese-background learners (CBLs) use effective strategies to learn Japanese kanji words. How do these learners use their L1 knowledge in memorising and guessing Japanese kanji words? Five native Chinese speakers enrolled in a beginner Japanese course at an Australian university were asked to take a kanji writing test, and were interviewed individually immediately after it. The findings are as follows: (1) it is an effective strategy to use the Chinese meaning and sound that comes with the orthography in memorising Japanese kanji words; (2) in memorising Japanese kanji words, the degree of orthographical similarity between Japanese and Chinese is not always directly proportional to the difficulty of memorisation; and (3) the semantic aspect of lexical information is more important and more frequently used than the phonetic when CBLs guess Japanese kanji words. These findings indicate that CBLs associate Japanese kanji words with the Chinese to effectively memorise and guess kanji words. CBLs tend to assist memorisation by making various kinds of associations even for those words which do not share orthography with Chinese.

Bridging the gaps: New views of Japanese colonialism, 19311945 (pp287-299)
Sandra Wilson (Murdoch University)
Recent writing in English shows a range of new approaches to and interpretations of Japanese colonialism between 1931 and 1945. Earlier bodies of work tended to focus on the aims, strategies and structures of Japanese rule throughout the empire, especially the formal empire. Newer studies have not abandoned these concerns, especially in relation to geographical areas, notably Manchuria, that have only just begun to emerge or re-emerge in English-language writing on Japanese colonial practice. At the same time, however, there is now much greater recognition among historians of Japan that the colonial relationship is shaped by the colonised as well as the colonisers; that life in the metropolis itself is affected deeply by its colonies; and that mainstream studies of modern Japanese history should include Japan's formal and informal colonies as a matter of course. In this essay I identify three major trends in works that have appeared in the last five years or so: a spurt of interest in Manchuria and other areas of northern China, a reconsideration of the major stages of empire, and an expanded understanding of what constituted colonialism and who participated in it.

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