Popular Democracy in Japan
How Gender and Community Are Changing Modern Electoral Politics
Publication Year: 2011
Popular Democracy in Japan examines a puzzle in Japanese politics: Why do Japanese women turn out to vote at rates higher than men? On the basis of in-depth fieldwork in various parts of the country, Sherry L. Martin argues that the exclusion of women from a full range of opportunities in public life provokes many of them to seek alternative outlets for self-expression. They have options that include a wide variety of study, hobby, and lifelong learning groups-a feature of Japanese civic life that the Ministry of Education encourages.
Women who participate in these alternative spaces for learning tend, Martin finds, to examine the political conditions that have pushed them there. Her research suggests that study group participation increases women's confidence in using various types of political participation (including voting) to pressure political elites for a more inclusive form of democracy. Considerable overlap between the narratives that emerge from women's groups and a survey of national public opinion identifies these groups as crucial sites for crafting and circulating public discourses about politics. Martin shows how the interplay between public opinion and institutional change has given rise to bottom-up changes in electoral politics that culminated in the 2009 Democratic Party of Japan victory in the House of Representatives election.
Published by: Cornell University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Tables and Figures
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This book is the product of a long and transformative journey. Along the path to its completion, I have been intellectually challenged, materi-ally supported, and emotionally sustained by an expanding network of colleagues, friends, and family. I am most heavily indebted to the many Japanese women I interviewed for this project and the people who led me ...
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Introduction: Why Don’t They Stay Home?
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On August 30, 2009, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan suffered a dramatic defeat in the national House of Representatives election. This much-anticipated outcome was nearly three decades in the making. Wide-ranging political, administrative, and economic reforms and rapid demo-graphic changes should have brought about the party’s ouster long before ...
1. The Political Distance between Citizens and Elites
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Nearly a decade after a short-lived eight-party coalition government unseated the LDP to reform the electoral rules of the House of Representa-tives in 1993–1994, Japanese voters remained deeply dissatisfi ed with na-tional politics. The public mood shifted dramatically in the aftermath of the DPJ’s August 2009 victory and the long-awaited alteration in government ...
2. New Styles of Political Leadership and Community Mobilization
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My image is that politics is a world where people’s voices cannot be heard. I can’t support any parties because I don’t understand what each party Elections are meaningless because I can’t fi nd any candidates I can trust to exhibit strong leadership to make Japan a better place. I envy nations like the U.S., with a system that allows people to directly ...
3. National Attitudes and Local Action: Changing the Center from the Periphery
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One-party dominance in national politics has propelled voters to seek new opportunities to infl uence politics at the local level. Local political entrepreneurs—independent politicians, citizen activists, and emerging nonprofi t organizations, among others—have worked to widen existing channels of interest articulation, while administrative reforms have created ...
4. Politically Excluded “Commoners”: A Gendered Pathway to Participation
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National politics is far removed from everyday voters. This chapter sharpens the focus on Japanese women voters, a segment of the electorate that raises a theoretical and empirical puzzle. As a group, Japanese women face institutional, structural, and cultural constraints that conventionally depress political participation. These conditions have arguably contributed ...
5. Gender and “Communities of Practice”: Escaping the Regulatory Boundaries of Formal Education
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For my entire education, from elementary school through college, I was never interested in things that I was forced to study. . . . I began to enjoy studying only after I had made it through the educational system and became a so-called “member of society.” If something interested me, and I could study it at my own pace, I was reasonably effi cient at acquiring knowledge....
Conclusion: Engendering Knowledge and Political Action
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On the afternoon of February 29, 2008, approximately two hundred people marched by Osaka’s prefectural assembly building to protest the planned closing of the Dawn Center, one of Japan’s leading public institu-tions devoted to promoting gender equality. The demonstration was or-ganized by the We Love the Dawn Center Association, founded earlier in ...
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Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2011