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Women and Politics in Japan: A Combined Analysis of Representation and Participation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Notwithstanding the country’s socio-economic advancement, Japanese women’s presence in politics lags far behind many less developed countries. They are politically silent as their demands hardly reach the centre of political decision-making. The purpose of this compilation thesis is to find answers to the following questions: why Japanese women’s political status remains low; how they tackle their under-representation; and what difficulties they face in their struggles for political involvement. Focusing both on their presence in legislatures and on their participatory activities within civil society, the thesis attempts to elucidate what impedes Japanese women from entering politics and the obstacles to their political activities. Specifically, the thesis attaches importance to the interplay between women’s representation and feminist movements; that is, women’s collective efforts to demand more women representatives are necessary to significantly improve their representation. The Japanese case demonstrates the inharmonious interplay between these two facets. It sheds light on a negative example, which illustrates that having only lukewarm women’s movements calling for more women representatives contributes to women’s on-going under-representation, which, in turn, discourages women from becoming more involved in these activities. Women’s representation plays a symbolic and substantive role in developing democracy. In other words, with a well-functioning democracy, all members of the political community share power equally. Throughout this compilation, it is suggested that the vicious cycle of under-representation and lukewarm feminist activism is not only detrimental to Japanese women but it also impedes Japanese democracy from progressing further. The thesis is composed of six parts. The first part, as the introduction, aims to give a theoretical framework to the thesis, theorizing the interplay between electoral representation and participatory activities and putting forward my approach in the thesis. The subsequent parts comprise five previously published articles. Although each article has been published separately in different journals, each of them includes Japanese case studies, as well as general perspectives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Political Science, Stockholm University , 2013. , 43 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in politics, ISSN 0346-6620 ; 155
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97529ISBN: 978-91-7447-833-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-97529DiVA: diva2:680145
Public defence
2014-01-29, Nordenskiöldssalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-01-07 Created: 2013-12-12 Last updated: 2013-12-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Reframing Civil Society from Gender Perspectives: A Model of a Multi-layered Seamless World
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reframing Civil Society from Gender Perspectives: A Model of a Multi-layered Seamless World
2012 (English)In: Journal of Civil Society, ISSN 1744-8689, E-ISSN 1744-8697, Vol. 8, no 2, 101-121 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article aims to reconceptualize civil society with a particular focus on gender perspectives. Civil society, an arena of social interaction often presumed capable of fostering the empowerment of citizens, is recognized as the basis for democratic politics. To feminists, however, civil society does not necessarily have such positive connotations. Although women have been actively involved in social movements and other kinds of voluntary activities, feminist scholars have paid little attention to these activities in the context of civil society. Some feminist theorists are explicitly critical of civil society. First of all, this article examines feminist criticisms of civil society. Feminists oppose clear-cut boundaries dividing the lifeworld into the private sphere, civil society, and the state. By highlighting the problems associated with these boundaries, I attempt to reframe the concept of civil society. My approach follows the work of Iris Young, who conceptualizes civil society as a collection of three porous, overlapping associative activities—private, civic, and political associations. Young's work not only transcends the problem of boundaries, but also addresses the ongoing debates between liberal and critical theorists. However, it leaves room for further examination: Should any of these boundaries be dissolved? Specifically, the question remains as to whether the family is divided from civil society. In addressing the question, I posit an alternative model comprising the family, the three associative activities, and state political institutions. These elements are intertwined such that their boundaries are effectively seamless. The proposed model offers a wider approach to civil society, shedding light on the interplay between civil society and everyday life as well as state political institutions. Throughout the article, I argue that gender perspectives contribute to how civil society should be conceptualized.

National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97523 (URN)
Available from: 2013-12-12 Created: 2013-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. Women and Representation in Japan: Causes of Political Inequality
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Women and Representation in Japan: Causes of Political Inequality
2010 (English)In: International feminist journal of politics, ISSN 1461-6742, E-ISSN 1468-4470, Vol. 12, no 2, 177-201 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Japan's high level of socio-economic advancement notwithstanding, the level of women's representation in Japan lags behind that in not only other advanced countries but also many developing countries. This article aims to elucidate the causes of the under-representation of women in Japan. Preceding studies suggest that multiple, intertwining factors have had a collective influence on the number of women representatives. Based on these studies, I highlight four factors which affect women's representation: the electoral system; socio-political culture; electoral quotas; and the activities and attitudes of women concerning their own representation. I discuss how these factors have influenced the under-representation of Japanese women, in effect demonstrating that all the above factors have had negative impacts. Among these, the most serious obstacle is women's lack of enthusiasm for a larger political presence, which is sustained by Japanese political culture and social customs. I argue that strong women's voices calling for more women representatives are the necessary basis for measures to improve the under-representation of women.

Keyword
electoral system; gender quotas; Japanese women; socio-political culture; under- representation
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97525 (URN)10.1080/14616741003665227 (DOI):000277569000003 ()
Available from: 2013-12-12 Created: 2013-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. Vitalizing Democracy at the Grassroots: A Contribution of Post-War Women’s Movements in Japan
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Vitalizing Democracy at the Grassroots: A Contribution of Post-War Women’s Movements in Japan
2008 (English)In: East Asia, ISSN 1096-6838, E-ISSN 1874-6284, Vol. 25, no 2, 115-143 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this paper is to elucidate the socio-political significance of women’s collective activities in Japan. I attempt to demonstrate that the Japanese women’s movements act as a role of democratic agency through their commitment to social reform and to changes in the political status quo. In the first three sections, I give an overview of Japanese women’s movements from the early post-war period to the present day, categorizing them into three types: the elite-initiated, second-wave feminist, and non-feminist participatory. Subsequently, I discuss the confrontation and reconciliation between feminists and non-feminists. In the final section, I examine what role the women’s movements play in socio-political reforms in terms of civil society discourse, and I conclude that the diversity of Japanese women’s movements has contributed to strengthening democracy at the grassroots.

National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97526 (URN)10.1007/s12140-007-9029-5 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-12-12 Created: 2013-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
4. Women’s Movements in Japan: the Intersection between Everyday Life and Politics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Women’s Movements in Japan: the Intersection between Everyday Life and Politics
2005 (English)In: Japan forum, ISSN 0955-5803, E-ISSN 1469-932X, Vol. 17, no 3, 311-333 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article discusses how women's movements in Japan function as political agents that change the political status quo. Japanese women's movements can be seen to comprise three groups: elite-initiated, feminist and non-feminist participatory. Despite differences in their outlook and attitudes, they share two common characteristics. First, their identities tend to be centred on motherhood. The language of motherhood has been a key idea behind Japanese women's mobilization. Second, their campaigns link women's demands with politics. Women's movements provide Japanese women, who are largely excluded from formal political processes, with an alternative channel for political participation. When they exercise practical influence on politics, they make effective use of channels both outside and inside formal political institutions, i.e. non-institutional and institutional channels. In the former case, the traditional style of Japan's policy-making makes political influence possible for the women. Use of institutional channels means electing female candidates to political office. Women's movement organizations provide those candidates with support for their election campaigns. It is clear that women's political involvement at the grassroots level has contributed not only to improving women's social conditions but also to developing a more democratic political system in Japan.

National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97527 (URN)10.1080/09555800500283810 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-12-12 Created: 2013-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
5. Making a Difference in Japanese Politics: Women Legislators Acting for Gender Equality
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Making a Difference in Japanese Politics: Women Legislators Acting for Gender Equality
2012 (English)In: Harvard Asia Quarterly, ISSN 1522-4147, Vol. 14, no 1-2, 25-34 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97528 (URN)
Available from: 2013-12-12 Created: 2013-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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