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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #234: May 12, 2006

Social Science Japan Journal

Journal Name: Social Science Japan Journal: April 2006, Vol. 9, No. 1

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

General Papers:

Storming the Castle: The Battle for Postal Reform in Japan (pp1-18)
Patricia L. MACLACHLAN (Associate Professor of Asian Studies and Government at the University of Texas at Austin)
This article explores the ideas and power struggles that have shaped the ongoing battle to privatize the Japanese postal services. For years, a coalition of commissioned postmasters, postal workers, bureaucrats and politicians resisted postal reform in part by appealing to the 'traditional values' symbolized by the state-run system and playing to the fears of ordinary citizens. Against this backdrop, Koizumi struggled to win the public over to his vision of a privatized postal system and, more broadly, a political economy based on free market principles. Koizumi was ultimately successful in passing his postal privatization bills in October 2005 not because he had won the ideological battle for the hearts and minds of the general public but because he managed to marginalize his opponents by changing the political and electoral rules of the game. Now, Koizumi faces renewed pressures from his opponents to dilute the market-oriented dimensions of the new postal regime as the government prepares to implement the privatization legislation.

Checking the Center: Popular Referenda in Japan (pp19-31)
Chieko NUMATA (Adjunct instructor at the Temple University, Japan Campus in Tokyo)
Local governments of many countries have adopted popular referendum and allow their citizens to directly vote on specific laws enacted by the legislature. In Japan, however, popular referenda are heavily restricted and assume the form of indirect referenda because even when a sufficient number of signatures are filed, a proposal is first sent to the legislature, which may approve or reject the proposed measures. Moreover, in Japan, referenda are used merely as advisory tools, and legislatures are not bound by the result of the vote. Such stringent legislative control seems to render popular referenda ineffectual and defeats the purpose of direct legislation. Despite various restrictions, however, the number of both petitions and popular referenda has been increasing since the late 1970s. This increased use of referenda is in part because citizens consider popular referendum as the most useful means to express their views on important issues of public policy and in part because local legislatures consider it a new and effective tool for challenging the central government.

Japanese Feminism and Commercialized Sex: The Union of Militarism and Prohibitionism (pp33-50)
Yuki FUJIME (Associate Professor in the Department of International Studies at Osaka University of Foreign Languages)
This essay examines the relationship between US policy toward commercialized sex, known as the 'American Plan', and postwar Japan's prohibitionism in the context of changes in the global management of commercialized sex over the course of the 20th century, and reconsiders the meaning of prohibitionism for feminism. It draws on the existing literature on prostitution from Japan and abroad, the publications of the International Abolitionist Federation (IAF), and the records of local governments, among other sources. In the first section of this essay, it examines the details of the American Plan, which constitutes the United States's first clear institutionalization of prohibitionism during World War I. In the following two sections, it turns to the influence of the American Plan on the reorganization of the Japanese prostitution system during the Occupation era, and the participation of Japanese feminists in that process. Finally, the essay concludes by problematizing the affinities between the system of prostitution prevention and the US-Japan security alliance.

'The Inner and the Outer Domain': Sexuality and the Nation-State in Japanese Feminist Historiography (pp51-72)
Andrea GERMER (Research Fellow at the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ Tokyo))
'The inner and the outer domain' are the key terms of a model by Partha Chatterjee, with which he theorizes the conceptualization of colonial and postcolonial histories: The inner domain refers to the concept of the nation and the outer domain to the concept of the colonial or postcolonial state. Taking on this theoretical distinction, this article analyzes feminist historiographies of 1950s through 1970s Japan, namely the works of Takamure Itsue and Yamazaki Tomoko that deal with the categories of sexuality and the nation-state. I argue that both authors dealt with the sexual politics at work in premodern and modern Japan, and were theorizing history from a position that would nowadays be called postcolonial, depicting women and children as victims of sexual exploitation in a framework of domestic Japanese or international trafficking in Asia.

Survey Articles:

The Vanishing Killer: Japan's Postwar Homicide Decline (pp )
David T. JOHNSON (Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawai'i)
Despite claims about the 'collapse' of public safety in Japan, the country has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world. Moreover, Japan's homicide rate has fallen about 80% in the last 50 years. A decline of this magnitude has not been observed in any other nation. The proximate cause of the decrease is young Japanese males, who now commit one-tenth as many homicides as their counterparts did in 1955. This article describes postwar Japan's homicide decline and critically examines two attempts to explain it. The conclusion connects homicide to suicide, a second form of lethal violence. Notwithstanding Japan's low homicide rate, its total rate of lethal violence (homicide + suicide) exceeds lethal violence rates in other industrialized nations.

From Mothers of the Nation to Global Civil Society: The Changing Role of the Japanese Women's Movement in Globalization (pp91-102)
Ilse LENZ (Professor specializing in gender, feminism and politics and gender and work at the Faculty of Social Science and serves as an adjunct in the Faculty of East Asian Studies of the Ruhr-Universitšt Bochum)
Historically, modern women's movements have developed in the context of the nation. In Japan, the radical 'lib' movement after 1970 criticized the image of national hegemonial femininity centered on the mother and housewife behind the 'export production front' and transcended national representations of femininity and gender. In the early 1990s, the women's movements underwent four further changes: they turned from 'women's issues' to the gender concept, developed an international orientation and networks, intensified knowledge politics in preparation for the coming information society, and engaged in advocating political and legal change. These changes are critical dimensions of the transformation and internationalization of this social movement. From mothers of the nation, Japanese women activists have moved on to become citizens both in the regional and in the global context.

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