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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:31 05/11/2007
Journal Abstracts #279: May 11, 2007

Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies

Journal Name: Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies: March, 2007, Vol.19, No.1
Print ISSN: 0955-5803, Online ISSN: 1469-932X


'Newcomer' children in non-metropolitan public schools: the lack of state-sponsored support for children whose first language is not Japanese (pp1-21)
Chris Burgess (Tsuda College. Tokyo)
This article explores national government, local government and non-governmental responses to the growing presence of 'newcomer' children in the student population. Although most work in this area has tended to focus on urban areas with large concentrations of non-Japanese, these schools are, statistically, the exception rather than the rule. In an attempt to address this imbalance, this article focuses on 'newcomers' in a non-metropolitan, so-called 'rural' area of Japan, Yamagata in north-east Japan. In Yamagata, as in most of Japan, schools generally fail to qualify for government assistance such as the dispatch of special teachers. As a result, support tends to come not from inside but from outside the school. Often, volunteer organizations are the only source of support for 'newcomer' children in these areas. In this sense, Yamagata offers a snapshot of the ways local players have typically responded to the growing diversity of the student population.

Keywords: newcomers; newcomer children; Japanese education; homogeneity

Nozawa dorama: televisual authorship in the currents of suspense and desire (pp23-48)
Eva Tsai (National Taiwan Normal University)
This article offers an interpretation of the contribution of the recently deceased scriptwriter Nozawa Hisashi (1960-2004) to Japanese television production. Focusing on the recursive genre mixing in Nozawa's television serials from 1992 to 2002, this article develops the notion of 'televisual authorship' to better situate individual creators of television programs in wider cultural and social contexts. Mystery thrillers and marriage stories became the major generic currents in Nozawa's television serial dramas in a production context saturated with trendy love stories and also in a larger televisual atmosphere that questioned stabilizing forces in society, like the family. Committed to novelistic storytelling and socially grounded characterization, Nozawa transformed the traditional elements of crime and romance to underline love's pragmatic role in the pursuit of social justice. Unfortunately, this 'social message' may ultimately be lost in the information mode of Japanese televisual culture.

Keywords: Nozawa Hisashi; Japanese TV dramas; authorship; genres; romance; mystery thrillers

The conflicted individualism of Japanese college student volunteers (pp49-68)
Brady Cusick
This article examines how Japanese college students' motivation to volunteer reflects tension between public, relational and private identities in contemporary Japan. The article first explores the students' diverse motivations to become volunteers in a country where volunteering has not been a widespread social phenomenon, particularly among college students. It argues that Japanese college student volunteers are not primarily motivated to volunteer in order to strengthen Japanese communities or to help solve or alleviate contemporary social problems, despite discourse by both the state and civil society proponents that encourage, for different reasons, these kinds of motivations. Instead, many volunteers offer more individualistic and personal motivations to volunteer, such as the opportunity for self-discovery or the opportunity to make diverse friendships. This is often mediated, however, by the strong attachments volunteers often form with those they help and social conventions that stress the importance of relational bonds. However, their role as college students, in a liminal period lacking in strong institutional attachment in an increasingly individualistic contemporary Japan, leads them to place precedence on their own personal growth and individual interests. The opposition and integration of these two competing motivations help explain the uncertainty and ambiguity of their motivations to volunteer.

Keywords: Japan; volunteer; individualism; college student

Songs that cannot be sung: Hayashi Fusao's 'Album' and the political uses of literature during the early Showa years (pp )
Jeff E. Long (Department of History, Bloomsburg University. Pennsylvania)
In the fall of 1936 after publicly announcing his decision to withdraw from the proletarian literature movement, Hayashi Fusao (1903-75), one of Japan's best-known literati of the day, produced a decidedly 'proletarian' short story using literature to chronicle the lost voices of political dissent in early Showa Japan (1926-45). A study of Hayashi's 'Album' underscores the continued struggle of many literary men to convey their intellectual concerns in a time of rising militarism. It also challenges the usage of tenko as a conceptual means of comprehending the intellectual community's support of the government during the 1930s.

Keywords: militarism; tenko; Hayashi Fusao; 'Album'; Showa; nationalism; Marxism

Ethnography, borders and violence: reading between the lines in Sato Haruo's Demon Bird (pp89-110)
Robert Tierney (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
Sat Haruo traveled to Taiwan in 1920 and published the short story 'Demon Bird' (Macho) in the October 1923 issue of Chuo Koron. The narrator of 'Demon Bird' imitates the style of an ethnographic report to tell his civilized audience about a custom of scapegoating in an unnamed 'barbaric' society. He offers an interpretation of this custom and recounts a recent episode of persecution. By his literary indiscretions, he also discloses his own position within a colonial apparatus and underscores the connection between 'barbarism' at home and violence in the colonies. In the end, this narrative about a violent, 'barbaric' other is not what it appears to be. While the narrator of 'Demon Bird' sets the episode of persecution in a distant land, he also hints at an unspeakable atrocity fresh in the minds of his readers: the massacre of thousands of Korean residents of the Japanese capital during the Great Kanto Earthquake. This short story thus straddles the border of two genres (ethnography and fiction) and links two separate spaces (colony and metropolis) and times (narrative time and the time of writing). This hybrid text appeared at a time when criticism of Japan's colonial policies by liberal and reformist intellectuals was at its peak and epitomizes both the strength and the limitations of the liberalist critique of colonialism.

Keywords: Sato; Haruo; ethnography; Taiwan; colonialism; Great Kanto Earthquake; allegory

Performing the body in medieval Japanese narratives: Izumi Shikibu in Shasekishu (pp111-130)
Rajyashree Pandey (La Trobe University. Melbourne)
In a story about Izumi Shikibu in Muju Ichien's Shasekishu, Izumi visits a miko in order to regain the affections of her lover Fujiwara no Yasumasa. The miko performs certain rituals which involve lifting her skirt and exposing her pubic area. Asked to follow her example, Izumi blushes and recites a poem instead. Yasumasa's affection for her is restored and he takes her home with him. Using this tale as an exemplar, this article seeks to explore the profound transformation whereby the belief in the magical power of the female sexual organs in the ancient period was replaced by the ascendancy of poetry in the narratives of the medieval period. The obvious reading of this tale would be to see Izumi's reluctance to expose her pubic area as arising from a sense of modesty and prudery surrounding nudity, marking off the courtly class from the vulgar populace. This article seeks to problematize such readings and to re-think medieval attitudes to the body. It examines how and why affect and desire find their ideal expression through poetry rather than through the body in classical and medieval narratives and romances.

Keywords: sexuality; body; eroticism; poetry; Izumi Shikibu; medieval Japan

Japan Forum (2007)
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