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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 13:57 06/18/2007
Journal Abstracts #284: June 18, 2007

The Journal of Japanese Studies

Journal Name: The Journal of Japanese Studies: Winter 2007, Vol. 33, No. 1


The Political Economy of Postwar Family Policy in Japan:
Economic Imperatives and Electoral Incentives

In recent years, Japanese family policy has shifted from policies that reinforce traditional gender roles to policies that enable women to balance work and family. This article focuses on the political economy of maternity leave, parental leave, and childcare policy in the postwar period prior to changes in the 1990s. The analysis reveals that while traditional views of women's caregiving roles dominated the political agenda, they were subject to a more flexible interpretation when the economic needs of the family or society warranted it. Specifically, labor shortages, the demand for female labor, and the electoral fortunes of the Liberal Democratic Party were key factors driving the expansion of publicly funded childcare and leave legislation.

Microfirms and Industrial Districts in Japan:
The Dynamics of the Arita Ceramic-ware Industry in the Twentieth Century

Interpretations of the structure and dynamics of Japanese small firms and industrial districts have diverged widely in recent years. This article focuses on the relatively neglected area of microfirms in traditional consumer goods industries (jiba sangyō). A case study of the Arita ceramic tableware industry makes possible a detailed historical examination of the social, technical, and personal dilemmas of such a local cluster. It accounts for the success and recent problems of the industry and also explores issues such as the local roots of craft and innovation, sociocultural traditions of trust and cooperation, and the crucial relations between producers and distribution networks.

Darkness Transformed:
Illness in the Work of Kajii Motojirō

Illness is a useful metaphor to understand Kajii Motojirō's place in the intellectual context of his times. His stay at a hot-spring resort for 16 months due to tuberculosis-related problems represented a kind of quarantine from the cultural and literary center of Tokyo. On the other hand, his illness provided a form of empowerment, opening links to other socially and politically marginalized groups. He found echoes to his own literary approach in Charles Baudelaire's melancholic modernist writings. As he approached death, Kajii articulated a concept of darkness that attempted to go beyond definitions of both life and death.

"Self-responsibility" and the Nature of the Postwar Japanese State:
Risk through the Looking Glass

This article examines the relationship between the postwar Japanese state and the citizen by focusing on how the state has deployed the discourse of "self-responsibility" in recalibrating the citizen's exposure to external and internal risks. In the context of a more pro-active military role and the pressures of globalization, the citizen is increasingly being required to mediate a range of risks. The article develops this argument by analyzing the Japanese state's response to the exposure of citizens to external risks in the war in Iraq and internal risks in the employment market following the bursting of the "bubble economy."


Securing Japan: The Current Discourse
A new debate over grand strategy is underway in Japan-but its terms are familiar. Like their nineteenth- and twentieth-century predecessors, Japanese security planners choose between economic and military instruments, between hard and soft power, among alliance partners, and for or against construction of multilateral security regimes. The revisionists who came to power in the early 2000s may supplant the Yoshida Doctrine with one of their own. Many are critical of the U.S. alliance and eager to achieve greater sovereignty, but few advocate a complete break. All agree that a nondemocratic China is inimical to Japanese interests. The "middle power" road-amended to allow a fuller hedge against Chinese power and American decline-is in the offing.

Volume 33, Number 1 (Winter 2007)
©2007 Society for Japanese Studies

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