The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 45. 2014       

November 10, 2014

New Articles

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As the merits of Abe Shinzō's "shining women society" policy are being questioned in Japanese media following the speedy resignations of two central female cabinet members, Stephanie Assmann looks at the current state of gender equality in Japan. Drawing a distinction between the letter of the law and its implementation, she assesses the effectiveness of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law of 1986 and its revisions through both global statistics and studies of specific cases, arguing that a shift towards a sincere acknowledgement of gender equality is essential to bring about actual change.

In a rather less visible part of Japanese society, Sabine Frühstück examines the position of women in the Self-Defense Forces. Invoking Miriam Silverberg's analysis of the "modern girl" of the early Shōwa period, she sees the SDF as presenting a liberation from social constraints for many contemporary Japanese women who choose military service, despite their continued presentation by the SDF and depiction in popular culture, feminized, infantilized and sexualized.

As Japan and the United States continue to struggle diplomatically with China and Russia, Mongolia is attempting to position itself to take advantage of deepening Sino-Russian economic relations. A summit this past September among leaders of the three nations, reports Mongolia expert Alicia Campi, was the culmination of an intense push in diplomatic action on the part of Mongolian president Tsakhia Elbegdorj to take a more active role in expanding economic relationships beyond simply providing raw materials to China. This, she argues, may present new market alternatives to Chinese provision of goods for other east Asian economies, including Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

Okinawa approaches a gubernatorial election this Sunday, and the issue of Henoko as the relocation site for the Futenma base is again the main point of contention. With the current governor Nakaima Hirokazu trailing Naha mayor Onaga Takeshi in polls,  Maki Sunagawa and Daniel Broudy demonstrate how the prefectural government has attempted to sell the Henoko plan to residents. They illustrate how the government is emphasizing the danger of the Futenma base, while ignoring environmental concerns about Henoko, presenting the acceptance of the new base as the final (and only) solution to the military base problem, ultimately linked to a brighter future for Okinawa.
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