White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

Academic Feminist Debates in Japan: Social, Political and Historical Contexts

Nonaka, Takako (2015) Academic Feminist Debates in Japan: Social, Political and Historical Contexts. PhD thesis, University of York.

[img] Text
THE COMBINED VERSION for Resubmission 7 THE FINAL 2016.pdf - Examined Thesis (PDF)
Restricted until 31 October 2021.

Request a copy


After Japan opened up to the world in the middle of the nineteenth century, the Meiji regime began to push for modernisation by importing technology from the West. Japan subsequently became the first non-Western developed country. Feminism in Japan developed under the influence of feminist ideas from the West, but also in response to local political and social conditions. The aim of this research is to identify the characteristics of feminism in Japan and to locate diverse feminist perspectives in their social, political and historical contexts. I interviewed twelve famous feminist researchers in Japan in order to identify how they perceived and evaluated Japanese feminisms as well as the impacts of Western feminist perspectives and the differences between the two. I also sought their views on the politics of nuclear power relating to the accident at Fukushima nuclear power station in March 2011. The particular characteristics of feminism in Japan that emerged were: Confucianism in East Asia; the ie (family) system; religious discrimination against women; ethnocentrism and heterosexism; and the bosei (motherhood) ideology. On the question of whether feminism in Japan is imported from the West, participants’ opinions were divided, depending mainly on their age. The differences between feminisms in Japan and in the West that stood out in my data were: the low interest of Japanese feminisms in reproductive health and rights; collectivism versus individualism; and attitudes towards imperialism. In relation to nuclear issues, participants discussed Japan’s self-image as a victim nation, the gendering of atomic issues, power symbolism, the weakness of eco-feminism and Japanese reluctance to accept responsibility. Throughout, the impact of Confucianism, the Emperor system, the ie system, bosei, Shintoism, Buddhism and the only atomic-bombed nation emerged as significant factors, clearly indicating that aspects of East Asian cultures and, more specifically, Japan’s history, politics and culture have influenced feminism. All these issues have a supportive connection with patriarchy and, what is more, they coil themselves around the Emperor issue. This indicates that feminism has engaged in a tough struggle against patriarchy, which is deeply ingrained in Japanese society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Women's Studies (York)
Depositing User: Ms Takako Nonaka
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2016 12:15
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2016 12:15
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/15424

Please use the 'Request a copy' link(s) above to request this thesis. This will be sent directly to someone who may authorise access.
You can contact us about this thesis. If you need to make a general enquiry, please see the Contact us page.

Actions (repository staff only: login required)