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The Tenmu Dynasty, 650–800
Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan is an ambitious and ground-breaking study that offers a new understanding of a formative stage in the development of the Japanese state. The late seventh and eighth centuries were a time of momentous change in Japan, much of it brought about by the short-lived Tenmu dynasty. Two new capital cities, a bureaucratic state led by an imperial ruler, and Chinese-style law codes were just a few of the innovations instituted by the new regime. Herman Ooms presents both a wide-ranging and fine-grained examination of the power struggles, symbolic manipulations, new mythological constructs, and historical revisions that both defined and propelled these changes. In addition to a vast amount of research in Japanese sources, the author draws on a wealth of sinological scholarship in English, German, and French to illuminate the politics and symbolics of the time. An important feature of the book is the way it opens up early Japanese history to considerations of continental influences. Rulers and ritual specialists drew on several religious and ritual idioms, including Daoism, Buddhism, yin-yang hermeneutics, and kami worship, to articulate and justify their innovations. In looking at the religious symbols that were deployed in support of the state, Ooms gives special attention to the Daoist dimensions of the new political symbolics as well as to the crucial contributions made by successive generations of "immigrants" from the Korean peninsula. From the beginning, a "liturgical state" sought to co-opt factions and clans (uji) as participants in the new polity with the emperor acting as both a symbolic mediator and a silent partner. In contrast to the traditional interpretation of the Kojiki mythology as providing a vertical legitimation of a Sun lineage of rulers, an argument is presented for the importance of a lateral dimension of interdependency as a key structural element in the mythological narrative. An enlightening line of interpretation woven into the author’s analysis centers on purity. This eminently politico-ritual value central to Chinese Daoism and Buddhism was used by Tenmu as the emblematic expression of his regime and new political power. The concept of purity was most fully realized in the world of the Saiô princess in Ise and was later used by Ise ritualists to defend themselves against Buddhist rivals. At the end of the Tenmu dynasty, it was widely believed that avenging spirits were the principal source of danger and pollution, notions understood here as statements about the bloody political battles that were waged in Tenmu court circles. The Tenmu dynasty began and ended in bloodshed and was marked throughout by instability and upheaval. Constant succession struggles between two branches of the royal line and a few outside lineages generated a host of plots, uprisings, murders, and accusations of black magic. This aspect of the period gets full treatment in fascinatingly detailed narratives, which the author skillfully alternates with his trademark structural analysis. Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan is a boldly imaginative, carefully and extensively researched, and richly textured history that will reward reading by Japan specialists and students in several disciplines as well as by scholars with an interest in the role of religious symbolism in state formation.
Labor Market Reform in Japan and Korea
The past several decades have seen widespread reform of labor markets across advanced industrial countries, but most of the existing research on job security, wage bargaining, and social protection is based on the experience of the United States and Western Europe. In Inequality in the Workplace, Jiyeoun Song focuses on South Korea and Japan, which have advanced labor market reform and confronted the rapid rise of a split in labor markets between protected regular workers and underprotected and underpaid nonregular workers. The two countries have implemented very different strategies in response to the pressure to increase labor market flexibility during economic downturns. Japanese policy makers, Song finds, have relaxed the rules and regulations governing employment and working conditions for part-time, temporary, and fixed-term contract employees while retaining extensive protections for full-time permanent workers. In Korea, by contrast, politicians have weakened employment protections for all categories of workers.
In her comprehensive survey of the politics of labor market reform in East Asia, Song argues that institutional features of the labor market shape the national trajectory of reform. More specifically, she shows how the institutional characteristics of the employment protection system and industrial relations, including the size and strength of labor unions, determine the choice between liberalization for the nonregular workforce and liberalization for all as well as the degree of labor market inequality in the process of reform.
A Sociopolitical Analysis
In order to ensure its absolute authority, the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal (1946–1948), the Japanese counterpart of the Nuremberg Trial, adopted a three-tier structure for its interpreting: Japanese nationals interpreted the proceedings, second-generation Japanese-Americans monitored the interpreting, and Caucasian U.S. military officers arbitrated the disputes. The first extensive study on the subject in English, this book explores the historical and political contexts of the trial as well as the social and cultural backgrounds of the linguists through trial transcripts in English and Japanese, archival documents and recordings, and interviews with those who were involved in the interpreting. In addition to a detailed account of the interpreting, the book examines the reasons for the three-tier system, how the interpreting procedures were established over the course of the trial, and the unique difficulties faced by the Japanese-American monitors. This original case study of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal illuminates how complex issues such as trust, power, control and race affect interpreting at international tribunals in times of conflict.
Soft Power in Regional Diplomacy
In international relations today, influence is as essential as military and economic might. Consequently, leaders promote favorable images of the state in order to attract allies and win support for their policies. Jing Sun, an expert on international relations and a former journalist, refers to such soft power campaigns as "charm offensives." Sun focuses on the competition between China and Japan for the allegiance of South Korea, Taiwan, and other states in the region. He finds that, instead of adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, the Chinese and the Japanese deploy customized charm campaigns for each target state, taking into consideration the target's culture, international position, and political values. He then evaluates the effectiveness of individual campaigns from the perspective of the target state, on the basis of public opinion polls, media coverage, and the response from state leaders. A deep, comparative study, Japan and China as Charm Rivals enriches our understanding of soft power by revealing deliberate image campaign efforts and offering a method for assessing the effectiveness of such charm offensives.
The Environmental Context of a Global Power
Japan at Nature’s Edge is a timely collection of essays that explores the relationship between Japan’s history, culture, and physical environment. It greatly expands the focus of previous work on Japanese modernization by examining Japan’s role in global environmental transformation and how Japanese ideas have shaped bodies and landscapes over the centuries. Given the global and immediate nature of Earth’s environmental crisis, a predicament highlighted by Japan’s March 2011 disaster, it brings a sense of urgency to the study of Japan and its global connections.
The work is an environmental history in the broadest sense of the term because it contains writing by environmental anthropologists, a legendary Japanese economist, and scholars of Japanese literature and culture. The editors have brought together an unparalleled assemblage of some of the finest scholars in the field who, rather than treat Japan in isolation or as a unique cultural community, seek to connect Japan to global environmental currents such as whaling, world fisheries, mountaineering and science, mining and industrial pollution, and relations with nonhuman animals.
The contributors assert the importance of the environment in understanding Japan’s history and propose a new balance between nature and culture, one weighted much more heavily on the side of natural legacies. Ideas and culture do shape the natural world, because it, like the poetry of Heian aristocrats, has become a relic of history. This approach does not discount culture. Instead, it suggests that the Japanese experience of nature, like that of all human beings, is a complex and intimate negotiation between the physical and cultural worlds.
Contributors: Daniel P. Aldrich, Jakobina Arch, Andrew Bernstein, Philip C. Brown, Timothy S. George, Jeffrey E. Hanes, David L. Howell, Federico Marcon, Christine L. Marran, Ian Jared Miller, Micah Muscolino, Ken’ichi Miyamoto, Sara B. Pritchard, Julia Adeney Thomas, Karen Thornber, William M. Tsutsui, Brett L. Walker, Takehiro Watanabe.
Ian Jared Miller teaches modern Japanese history at Harvard University. Julia Adeney Thomas is associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. Brett L. Walker is Regents Professor at Montana State University, Bozeman.
A Social and Economic History
Japan to 1600 surveys Japanese historical development from the first evidence of human habitation in the archipelago to the consolidation of political power under the Tokugawa shogunate at the beginning of the seventeenth century. It is unique among introductory texts for its focus on developments that impacted all social classes rather than the privileged and powerful few. In accessible language punctuated with lively and interesting examples, William Wayne Farris weaves together major economic and social themes. The book focuses on continuity and change in social and economic structures and experiences, but it by no means ignores the political and cultural. Most chapters begin with an outline of political developments, and cultural phenomena—particularly religious beliefs—are also taken into account. In addition, Japan to 1600 addresses the growing connectedness between residents of the archipelago and the rest of the world. Farris describes how the early inhabitants of the islands moved from a forager mode of subsistence to a more predominantly agrarian base, supplemented by sophisticated industries and an advanced commercial economy. He reveals how the transition to farming took place over many centuries as people moved back and forth from settled agriculture to older forager-collector regimes in response to ecological, political, and personal factors. Economics influenced demographics, and, as the population expanded, the class structure became increasingly complex and occupational specialization and status divisions more intricate. Along with this came trends toward more tightly knit corporate organizations (village, city, market, family), and classes of servants, slaves, and outcastes formed. In reflecting the diversity of traditional Japan’s economy and society, Japan to 1600 is well suited for both undergraduate and graduate courses and will be a welcome introduction to Japan’s early history for scholars and students of other disciplines and regions.
Economics in Everyday Life
This collection of twenty-six essays furnishes concise explanations of everyday Japanese life in simplified economic terms. They begin with such questions as, Do Japanese live better than Americans? Why don't Japanese workers claim all their overtime? Why don't Japanese use personal checking accounts? Why do Japanese give and receive so many gifts? The essays are written in non-technical, accessible language intended for the undergraduate or advanced placement high school student taking an economics course or studying Japan in a social science course. The general reader will find the book a fascinating compendium of facts on Japanese culture and daily life.
For nearly three decades Japanese Culture has garnered high praise as an accurate and well-written introduction to Japanese history and culture. This widely used undergraduate text is now available in a new edition. Thoroughly updated, the fourth edition includes expanded sections on numerous topics, among which are samurai values, Zen Buddhism, the tea ceremony, Confucianism in the Tokugawa period, the story of the forty-seven ronin, Mito scholarship in the early nineteenth century, and mass culture and comics in contemporary times.
The self serves as a universally available, effective, and indispensable filter for making sense of the chaos of the world. In her latest book, Takie Lebra attempts a new understanding of the Japanese self through her unique use of cultural logic. She begins by presenting and elaborating on two models ("opposition logic" and "contingency logic") to examine concepts of self, Japanese and otherwise. Guided by these, she delves into the three layers of the Japanese self, focusing first on the social layer as located in four "zones"—omote (front), uchi (interior), ura (back), and soto (exterior)—and its shifts from zone to zone. New light is shed on these familiar linguistic and spatial categories by introducing the dimension of civility. The book expands the discussion in relation to larger constructions of the inner and cosmological self. Unlike the social self, which views itself in relation to the "other," the inner layer involves a reflexivity in which self communicates with self. While the social self engages in dialogue or trialogue, the inner self communicates through monologue or soliloquy. The cosmological layer, which centers around transcendental beliefs and fantasies, is examined and the analysis supplemented with comments on aesthetics. Throughout, Lebra applies her methodology to dozens of Japanese examples and makes relevant comparisons with North American culture and notions of self. Finally, she provides a spirited analysis of critiques of Nihonjinron to reinforce the relevancy of Japanese studies. This volume is the culmination of decades of thinking on self and social relations by one of the most influential scholars in the field. It will prove highly instructive to Japanese and non-Japanese readers alike in a range of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, and social psychology
In this first synthetic, comprehensive survey of Japanese sports in English, the authors are attentive to the complex and fascinating interaction of traditional and modern elements. In the course of tracing the emergence and development of sumo, the martial arts, and other traditional sports from their origins to the present, they demonstrate that some cherished "ancient" traditions were, in fact, invented less than a century ago. They also register their skepticism about the use of the samurai tradition to explain Japan's success in sports. Special attention is given to Meiji-era Japan's frequently ambivalent adoption and adaptation of European and American sports--a particularly telling example of Japan's love-hate relationship with the West. The book goes on the describe the history of physical education in the school system, the emergence of amateur and professional leagues, the involvement of business and the media in sports promotion, and Japan's participation in the Olympics.