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Public Lecture Slides (5.30.19) Beyond the Gender Gap in Japan - "'Life' as a Political Agenda"


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Speaker: Hiroko Takeda, Professor of Political Analysis at the Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University

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Public Lecture Slides (5.30.19) Beyond the Gender Gap in Japan - "'Life' as a Political Agenda"

  1. 1. ‘Life’ as a Political Agenda Book Talk: Beyond the Gender Gap in Japan Temple University, Tokyo 30 May 2019 Hiroko TAKEDA Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University
  2. 2. Life as a Political Agenda ‘No matter what it takes, [the government will] protect the Japanese people’s lives and everyday lives at all costs’ … 014/0701kaiken.html
  3. 3. Life as a Political Agenda
  4. 4. Life as a Political Agenda • ’Everyday life’: increasingly focused as a political agenda by both the government and opposition parties in recent years • Part of popular political vocabularies • DPJ: ‘Everyday Life Renovation’ and ‘Japanese People’s Everyday Lives First’ • ‘Everyday Life’ Party: defectors from the DPJ • LDP: ‘replacing the DPJ which destroyed Japanese people’s everyday lives, we, the LDP, are going to steadily solve the problems and claim back safe and secure everyday life.(LDP: 2012:15)
  5. 5. Life as a Political Agenda Theoretical discussions… • Liberalism: a rigorous line between the public and the private • qualitative transformation of politics in the post-cold war context: life style, identity, de-materialist concerns, non-institutional, civic politics • ‘Life politics’ (Giddens 1991; Giddens 1994) & ‘Risk Society’ (Beck 1992) • ‘Lively Politics’ (Shinohara 1985) • relationship between the governing system (for example, the state) & individuals • governmentality: Foucault to Rose (1996; 1999) • individuals are encouraged to foster and manage their subjectivities in an optimized way that fits ‘rationality’ of liberal capitalism • everyday life: integral part of the governing system & liberal capitalism
  6. 6. Life as a Political Agenda • ‘Revolting subject’ (Tyler 2013) • agents to articulate ‘a third place’ beyond the dichotomy of ‘normativity’ and ‘abjection’ • the shift of the cognitive and emotional framework to understand the social and political positioning in everyday life • R Williams’s discussion (1961 [2011]) on the role of communication • communication=‘the claim to live’ • to live: to interact with others to encourage them to accept our claim to do so • ‘the offering, reception and comparison of new meanings’ sometimes lead ‘to the tensions and achievements of growth and change’ • to shift extant logics of the governing and envision an alternative way to conduct it • ‘everyday utopias’ (Cooper 2014)
  7. 7. Governing & Revolting in Japan • The governmentalization of the state since the late 19th Century • to organize and take care of their lives and everyday lives in a particular manner (= a good worker/consumer/gendered family member) • good wife/wise mother • family-planning • Everyday life as a site of revolting • those who voice their dissents against the governing based on daily experiences and feelings, and demands institutional and policy change to envision an alternative way to organize everyday life • esp. women • the politics of 生活者 (Takabatake, 1996; Amano, 2012) From a pamphlet of the New Life Movement in the 1950s
  8. 8. The Politics of Everyday Life: in the 1980s and 1990s • The Everyday Life Giant 5-Year Plan: Towards Coexistence with the Global Society (1992) • to present a vision to guide economic policy-making in the globalized, post-cold war period • to render Japanese people fully appreciative of the country’s high degree of economic development • to switch the focus of policy-making more towards ordinary citizens/consumers : ‘lifestyle’ • to introduce political measures to reduce working hours to enable Japanese people to enjoy their everyday lives • ‘In particular, in order for women to be fully active in society, it is necessary to review social institutions, habits and practices such as the fixed division of labour between men and women and realize a type of society in which men and women co-participate (danjo kyoudou sankaku-gata no shakai) ’ the politics of gender equality in the mid-late 1990s Policy-making in the 1980s
  9. 9. The Politics of Everyday Life: in the 1980s and 1990s • Nine reports submitted by a private policy study group organized under Prime Minister Ōhira Masayoshi (1980) • a series of proposals for future policy-making which included the introduction of political measures to improve housing and reduce working hours • ‘Enhancing the Foundation of the Household’ • the means to reinforce the foundation of household : the expansion of women’s active social participation • ‘the creation of a diverse society which is open to women’ • ‘the promotion of gender equality (danjo byōdō) in employment and at the workplace for women, on the basis of their competency and will’ • support for child-rearing & education conducted by father and mother & ‘the need to improve the maternity leave system and to guarantee a smooth return to work for women’ • expansion of women’s social participation & employment opportunity (‘Economic Management in an Age of Culture’ ) • summarized as representing the family household in which individuals are appropriately positioned, productively exercising their assigned roles, while autonomously striving to lead a happy and vibrant family life • governmentality in a transient period (towards the double-income family model in the 2000s)
  10. 10. The Politics of Everyday Life: in the 1980s and 1990s • The evolvement of ‘lively politics’ • an alternative form of politics to the conventional type that prioritizes the logics of economic development and interest politics • a countervailing political force to party politics dominated by the LDP • women: positioned as the main driving force (by male academics…) • from ‘privatism’ or ‘me-ism’ to participatory politics • some political achievements: electoral success at the national and local levels • the vision of ‘everyday life’ of ‘lively politics’ • community safety and town planning via children’s education and elderly care to food safety and environmental protection • the sustainment and/or improvement of the quality of everyday life • the questioning of more fundamental structural problems, such as the ways in which production relations and pay structures are organized or the way in which gender relations operate within the family
  11. 11. The Politics of Everyday Life: in the 1980s and 1990s The word ‘politics’ should be something that supports our daily life. Yet, for whatever reasons, the term is not associated with everyday life. I think that this separates woman from politics. I would argue that by attaching politics firmly to everyday life, we can make our life more comfortable. (Fukushi, 1987, p. 52) When women are empowered as citizens and they are striving to radically and fundamentally transform the industrial structure through the exercise of an alternative working style by engaging in the workers’ collectives, would men be asked how they, as human-beings, would like to be, vis-à-vis such women? (Fujimura, 1987, p. 47)
  12. 12. Summary and Further Thought • déjà vu • the national government took the position of the protector of ‘everyday life’ and, in so doing, presented its people with governmental ideas of how they should organize and take care of their lives and everyday lives • state political intervention was countered by those who challenged the governing, in some cases by posing radical questions and in others by demanding cosmetic institutional/policy measures to maintain and/or improve the quality of everyday life. • the focus of political negotiations between the governing and those who challenged the governing: a question of how ‘everyday life’ could/should be envisioned • neoliberal institutional reform: more pressures on individuals as the primary agent to organize and manage their everyday lives
  13. 13. Summary and Further Thought • Further points to be explored… • the political context of the post-cold war period: in effect, defining ‘life’ as a political agenda that goes beyond ideological conflicts • ‘political’ function of academic discourses • the politics of ‘life’ needs to be released from the discursive framework imposed in the 1980s and 1990s and regain its multifaceted meanings • electoral system: prioritizes the single-member constituency system