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Making a Moral Society Cover

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Making a Moral Society

Ethics and the State in Meiji Japan

Richard M. Reitan

This innovative study of ethics in Meiji Japan (1868–1912) explores the intense struggle to define a common morality for the emerging nation-state. In the Social Darwinist atmosphere of the time, the Japanese state sought to quell uprisings and overcome social disruptions so as to produce national unity and defend its sovereignty against Western encroachment. Morality became a crucial means to attain these aims. Moral prescriptions for re-ordering the population came from all segments of society, including Buddhist, Christian, and Confucian apologists; literary figures and artists; advocates of natural rights; anarchists; and women defending nontraditional gender roles. Each envisioned a unity grounded in its own moral perspective. It was in this tumultuous atmosphere that the academic discipline of ethics (rinrigaku) emerged—not as a value-neutral, objective form of inquiry as its practitioners claimed, but a state-sponsored program with its own agenda.

After examining the broad moral space of "civilization," Richard Reitan turns to the dominant moral theories of early Meiji and the underlying epistemology that shaped and authorized them. He considers the fluidity of moral subjectivity (the constantly shifting nature of norms to which we are subject and how we apprehend, resist, or practice them) by juxtaposing rinrigaku texts with moral writings by religious apologists. By the beginning of the 1890s, moral philosophers in Japan were moving away from the empiricism and utilitarianism of the prior decade and beginning to place "spirit" at the center of ethical inquiry. This shift is explored through the works of two thinkers, Inoue Tetsujiro (1856–1944) and Nakashima Rikizo (1858–1918), the first chair of ethics at Tokyo Imperial University. Finally, Reitan takes a detailed look at the national morality movement (kokumin dotoku) and its close association with the state before concluding with an outline of some conceptual linkages between the Meiji and later periods.

With its highly original thesis, clear and sound methodology, and fluid prose, Making a Moral Society will be welcomed by scholars and students of both Japanese intellectual history and ethics in general.

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The Man Who Saved Kabuki Cover

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The Man Who Saved Kabuki

Faubion Bowers and Theatre Censorship in Occupied Japan

Okamoto Shiro

As part of its program to promote democracy in Japan after World War II, the American Occupation, headed by General Douglas MacArthur, undertook to enforce rigid censorship policies aimed at eliminating all traces of feudal thought in media and entertainment, including kabuki. Faubion Bowers (1917-1999), who served as personal aide and interpreter to MacArthur during the Occupation, was appalled by the censorship policies and anticipated the extinction of a great theatrical art. He used his position in the Occupation administration and his knowledge of Japanese theatre in his tireless campaign to save kabuki. Largely through Bowers's efforts, censorship of kabuki had for the most part been eliminated by the time he left Japan in 1948. Although Bowers is at the center of the story, this lively and skillfully adapted translation from the original Japanese treats a critical period in the long history of kabuki as it was affected by a single individual who had a commanding influence over it. It offers fascinating and little-known details about Occupation censorship politics and kabuki performance while providing yet another perspective on the history of an enduring Japanese art form.

Media and Politics in Japan Cover

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Media and Politics in Japan

Susan J. & Ellis S. KraussPharr

Japan is one of the most media-saturated societies in the world. The circulations of its "big five" national newspapers dwarf those of any major American newspaper. Its public service broadcasting agency, NHK, is second only to the BBC in size. And it has a full range of commercial television stations, high-brow and low-brow magazines, and a large anti-mainstream media and mini-media. Japanese elites rate the mass media as the most influential group in Japanese society. But what role do they play in political life? Whose interests do the media serve? Are the media mainly servants of the state, or are they watchdogs on behalf of the public? And what effects do the media have on the political beliefs and behavior of ordinary Japanese people? These questions are the focus of this collection of essays by leading political scientists, sociologists, social psychologists, and journalists. Japan's unique kisha (press) club system, its powerful media business organizations, the uses of the media by Japan's wily bureaucrats, and the role of the media in everything from political scandals to shaping public opinion, are among the many subjects of this insightful and provocative book.

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The Men in My Country

Marilyn Abildskov

In the early 1990s, at the watershed age of thirty, Marilyn Abildskov decided she needed to start over. She accepted an offer to move from Utah to Matsumoto, Japan, to teach English to junior high school students. “All I knew is that I had to get away and when I stared at my name on the Japanese contract, the squiggles of katakana, my name typed in English sturdily beneath, I liked how it looked. As if it—as if I—were translated, transformed, emerging now as someone new.”

The Men in My Country is the story of an American woman living and loving in Japan. Satisfied at first to observe her exotic surroundings, the woman falls in love with the place, with the light, with the curve of a river, with the smell of bonfires during obon, with blue and white porcelain dishes, with pencil boxes, and with small origami birds. Later, struggling for a deeper connection—“I wanted the country under my skin”—Abildskov meets the three men who will be part of her transformation and the one man with whom she will fall deeply in love.

A travel memoir offering an artful depiction of a very real place, The Men in My Country also covers the terrain of a complex emotional journey, tracing a geography of the heart, showing how we move to be moved, how in losing ourselves in a foreign place we can become dangerously—and gloriously—undone.

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The Moneylenders of Late Medieval Kyoto

Suzanne Gay

The Moneylenders of Late Medieval Kyoto examines the large community of sake brewer-moneylenders in Japan's capital city, focusing on their rise to prominence from the mid-1300s to 1550. Their guild tie to overlords, notably the great monastery Enryakuji, was forged early in the medieval period, giving them a protected monopoly and allowing them to flourish. Demand for credit was strong in medieval Kyoto, and brewers profitably recirculated capital for loans. As the medieval period progressed, the brewer-lenders came into their own. While maintaining overlord ties, they engaged in activities that brought them into close contact with every segment of Kyoto's population. The more socially prominent brewers served as tax agents for religious institutions, the shogunate, and the imperial court, and were actively involved in a range of cultural pursuits including tea and linked verse. Although the merchants themselves left only the faintest record, Suzanne Gay has fully and convincingly depicted this important group of medieval commoners.

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Monumenta Nipponica

Vol. 60 (2005) through current issue

Monumenta Nipponica was founded in 1938 by Sophia University, Tokyo, to provide a common platform for scholars throughout the world to present their research on Japanese culture, history, literature, and society. One of the oldest and most highly regarded English-language journals in the Asian studies field, it is known not only for articles of original scholarship and timely book reviews, but also for authoritative translations of a wide range of Japanese historical and literary sources. Previously published four times a year, since 2008 the journal has appeared semiannually, in May and November.

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New Policies for New Residents

Immigrants, Advocacy, and Governance in Japan and Beyond

by Deborah J. Milly

In recent decades, many countries have experienced both a rapid increase of in-migration of foreign nationals and a large-scale devolution of governance to the local level. The result has been new government policies to promote the social inclusion of recently arrived residents. In New Policies for New Residents, Deborah J. Milly focuses on the intersection of these trends in Japan. Despite the country's history of restrictive immigration policies, some Japanese favor a more accepting approach to immigrants. Policies supportive of foreign residents could help attract immigrants as the country adjusts to labor market conditions and a looming demographic crisis. As well, local citizen engagement is producing more inclusive approaches to community.

Milly compares the policy discussions and outcomes in Japan with those in South Korea and in two similarly challenged Mediterranean nations, Italy and Spain. All four are recent countries of immigration, and all undertook major policy innovations for immigrants by the 2000s. In Japan and Spain, local NGO-local government collaboration has influenced national policy through the advocacy of local governments. South Korea and Italy included NGO advocates as policy actors and partners at the national level far earlier as they responded to new immigration, producing policy changes that fueled local networks of governance and advocacy. In all these cases, Milly finds, nongovernmental advocacy groups have the power to shape local governance and affect national policy, though in different way.

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Noon at Five O'Clock

The Short Stories of Arthur Yap

Arthur Yap

The volume marks the recovery and first combined publication of the stories of Arthur Yap, one of Singapore's most accomplished and important writers. A hitherto neglected facet of Yap’s opus, his eight short stories are deceptive in their simplicity, housing within their sparse prose a complex engagement with Singapore society that he wrote in and within. With his signature minimalistic style, Yap simultaneously perplexes readers with stories of seemingly plotless ambiguity, yet draws them in with familiar characters playing out situations that still resonate in twenty-first century Singapore today. Angus Whitehead’s introduction highlights literary nuances in the stories and frames the stories within the wider backdrop of social change of Singapore at the time of Yap’s writing. The meticulous critical apparatus make this book of interest to not only the general reader but also students of Singapore and Southeast Asian literature in English.

The Okinawan Diaspora in Japan Cover

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The Okinawan Diaspora in Japan

Crossing the Borders Within

Steve Rabson

The experiences of Okinawans in mainland Japan, like those of migrant minorities elsewhere, derive from a legacy of colonialism, war, and alien rule. Okinawans have long coped with a society in which differences are often considered “strange” or “wrong,” and with a central government that has imposed a mono-cultural standard in education, publicly priding itself on the nation’s mythical “homogeneity.” They have felt strong pressures to assimilate by adopting mainland Japanese culture and concealing or discarding their own. Recently, however, a growing pride in roots has inspired more Okinawan migrants and their descendants to embrace their own history and culture and to speak out against inequities. Their experiences, like those of minorities in other countries, have opened them to an acute and illuminating perspective, given voice in personal testimony, literature, and song.

Although much has been written on Okinawan emigration abroad, this is the first book in English to consider the Okinawan diaspora in Japan. It is based on a wide variety of secondary and primary sources, including interviews conducted by the author in the greater Osaka area over a two-year period. The work begins with the experiences of women who worked in Osaka’s spinning factories in the early twentieth century, covers the years of the Pacific War and the prolonged U.S. military occupation of Okinawa, and finally treats the period following Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972. Throughout, it examines the impact of government and corporate policies, along with popular attitudes, for a compelling account of the Okinawan diaspora in the context of contemporary Japan’s struggle to acknowledge its multiethnic society.

The Okinawan Diaspora in Japan will find a ready audience among students of contemporary Japanese history and East Asian societies, as well as general readers interested in Okinawans and other minorities living in Japan.

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Passages to Modernity

Motherhood, Childhood and Social Reform in Early Twentieth Century Japan

Kathleen S. Uno

Contemporary Japanese women are often presented as devoted full-time wives and mothers. At the extreme, they are stereotyped as "education mothers" (kyoiku mama), completely dedicated to the academic success of their children. Children of working mothers are pitied; day-care users, both children and mothers, are faintly disparaged for their inadequate home lives; hired babysitters are virtually unknown. Yet historical evidence reveals a strikingly different picture of Japanese motherhood and childcare at the beginning of the twentieth century. In contrast to today, child tending by non-maternal caregivers was widely accepted at all levels of Japanese society. Day-care centers flourished, and there was virtually no expectation of exclusive maternal care of children, even infants. The patterns of the formation of modern Japanese attitudes toward motherhood, childhood, child-rearing, and home life become visible as this study traces the early twentieth-century rise of Japanese day-care centers, institutions established by middle-class philanthropists and reformers to provide for the physical well-being and mental and moral development of urban lower-class preschool children. Day-care gained broad support in turn-of-the-century Japan for several reasons. For one, day-care did not clash with widely accepted norms of child care. A second factor was the perception of public and private policymakers that day-care held the promise of social and national progress through economic and moral betterment of the urban lower classes. Finally, day-care offered working mothers the opportunity to earn a better livelihood with fewer worries about their children. In spite of emerging notions that total devotion to child-rearing was a woman's highest calling, Japanese nationalism, a signal force in the genesis of the modern Japanese state, economy, and middle-class culture, fed a deep wellspring of support for day-care and fostered significant reshaping of motherhood, childhood, home life, and view of the urban lower classes. Passages to Modernity is an important and original contribution to our understanding of the institutional and ideological reach of the early twentieth-century state and the contested emergence of a striking new discourse about woman as domestic caregiver and homemaker.

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