Announcing the Winners of the ISS/OUP Prize (with free online access)

The editors of Social Science Japan Journal, here at the Institute of Social Science (ISS), University of Tokyo, have joined forces with Oxford University Press, the publisher of SSJJ, to establish the ISS/OUP Prize. The prize, now in its seventh year, is awarded to the authors of what the Editorial Board judges to be the best paper published in SSJJ each year. The prize is valued at 50,000 yen, plus a free year's subscription to SSJJ and £50 worth of OUP books. With the author's consent, the winning paper will be translated into Japanese and published in Shakai Kagaku Kenkyu (The Journal of Social Science), ISS's Japanese-language journal.

Selection of the winning article lies with the Editorial Board, with written opinions taken from members of SSJJ’s International Advisory Board and the External Editorial Board. Our aim is to identify the general paper that makes the biggest contribution each year to research on modern Japan. The three main criteria are (1) originality of research theme; (2) excellence of theoretical framework and empirical data; and (3) contribution to future studies in the field.

For free access to the ISS/Oxford prize winning articles, click on the links below. The winners of the ISS/OUP Prize are:

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SHOGO TAKEGAWA for his paper,

'Liberal Preferences and Conservative Policies: The Puzzling Size of Japan's Welfare State,'

published in SSJJ Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 53-67.

Comments from the Editorial Board

Takegawa’s article addresses a central question in contemporary Japanese society and politics: whither the welfare state? As Japan’s population ages and shrinks, spending on pensions and health care increases at the same time that the number of active workers declines. Continuing economic weakness creates new demands for expenditures on unemployment, retraining, and family assistance while further undermining tax revenues.

In the face of these enduring dilemmas, Takegawa highlights a crucial puzzle: surveys show that Japanese respondents support the current welfare state and if anything want to see it expanded, and yet (at least until the 2009 House of Councillors election), Japanese voters have routinely supported parties and policies dedicated to restraining if not cutting back welfare spending in order to avoid increasing the burden placed on Japan's sluggish economy by taxes and social welfare contributions.

To address this puzzle and tease out what the Japanese people really want, Takegawa carries out a logistic regression analysis of a series of polls he and colleagues at the University of Tokyo's Department of Sociology have conducted since the late 1990s, particularly the Social Policy and Social Consciousness Survey (SPSC) of April 2000 and the Welfare and Equity Attitude Survey (WEAS) conducted in November 2005, supplemented by additional polls carried out by Japan's Cabinet and the Asahi Shinbun newspaper. It might seem plausible that likely beneficiaries, such as women and people with lower incomes, would express the strongest support for increased spending on public welfare, but that is not what Takegawa finds. Rather, support for a 'high benefit/high tax' model is higher among men, the well-educated, people in white-collar occupations, and those in their prime working years or just beyond (ages 30-69). While current Japanese policy is overwhelmingly focused on the elderly, respondents also support spending on areas such as the environment, public safety and education (perhaps surprisingly, support for unemployment programs is relatively limited).

What accounts for this apparent anomaly? Takegawa highlights the suspicion respondents hold toward the Japanese political system, a distrust rooted in the fact that of all leading industrialized countries, Japan devotes the lowest share of welfare spending to the poorest quintile of the population. Poorer respondents do support the idea of redistributing income if both progressive taxation and welfare spending are included, but they fear that they will pay higher taxes without receiving greater benefits. With the rise to power of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) amid intensified budget woes, debates over tax burdens and social welfare benefits have only gained in intensity. Takegawa's theoretically informed empirical research provides critical information for navigating these debates.

We feel fortunate that SSJJ was able to introduce this outstanding research originally submitted in Japanese. We hope to continue our mission of introducing important Japanese language scholarship to our international readership, even while encouraging outstanding submissions from outside of Japan.

The Editorial Board of Social Science Japan Journal is pleased to award the ninth annual ISS/OUP Prize to Shogo Takegawa. We warmly congratulate him for this accomplishment. With SSJJ 's inclusion in the Social Science Citation index and JSTOR, we hope that all researchers in the field of Japanese Studies, especially young scholars, will submit their most promising papers to SSJJ for consideration in next year's prize competition.

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KIYOSHI HASEGAWA for his paper,

'Law and Community in Japan: The Role of Legal Rules in Suburban Neighborhoods,'

published in SSJJ Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 71-99.

Comments from the Editorial Board

Hasegawa's article aims to understand how the legal system functions to help preserve hospitable residential environments in suburban Japan. While residential districts in Japan are often chaotic due to inadequate zoning rules, residents in some areas do attempt to preserve and improve their living environments. In the process of preserving adequate dwelling environments, residents often engage in disputes and conflicts with developers and neighbors. Previous work has pointed to a lack of civil litigation in the event of dispute settlement in Japan. Hasegawa's research, however, focuses on how disputes are solved in the community everyday. It does not simply ask whether an issue goes to court or not, but asks whether and how legal procedures are employed and enforced. He shows the importance of legal rules and law enforcement by the residents of the community.

His data come from interviews with government officials and residents, as well as a questionnaire survey of the boards of homeowners associations. Based on these sources, Hasegawa discusses in detail eight cases of dispute resolution regarding residential environments in the Yokohama area, suburban Tokyo. These cases offer rich examples of a variety of types and consequences of dispute resolution. Four cases involved developers, while in the other four cases the adverse parties were neighbors (a store owner and resident landowners). The outcomes range from lawsuits to agreements to change plans, and the process for reaching each outcome differed.

The article casts new light on the old debate about whether Japan is a 'non-litigious' society where disputes are settled outside courts without utilizing legal rules. Hasegawa shows that even though the rate of litigation has been low in Japan, and his survey of the boards of homeowners association indicates the extremely low occurrence of lawsuits, these do not necessarily imply that Japanese people do not rely on legal rules and do not engage in disputes from a legal point of view. On the contrary, what the detailed case studies indicate is that landowners create, enforce and utilize building agreements, which are regulations concerning land use and building, validated by the municipalities. Legalistic ideas underpin the building agreements and out-of-court settlements. It is true that only one of his eight cases resulted in a lawsuit, but Hasegawa argues that this is not the result of the people's non-litigious mindset. Other cases clearly show that residents do take legal rules into account in solving disputes even though they ultimately settle their disputes through negotiations outside of courthouses. Residents are fully aware of their legal rights, and in Hasegawa's cases they always referred to legal rules in the process of dispute resolution. In summary, Hasegawa's article makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of the working of law in everyday Japanese society.

Hasagawa's research was submitted to our journal in English, but his publications in Japanese were already considered landmark in Japanese legal studies. We feel fortunate that SSJJ was able to introduce this important research originally written in Japanese, and help to fill in the gap in Japanese studies outside of Japan. We hope to continue our mission of introducing important Japanese-language scholarship to our international readership.

The Editorial Board of SSJJ is pleased to award the eighth annual ISS/OUP Prize to Kiyoshi Hasegawa. We warmly congratulate him for this accomplishment. With SSJJ's inclusion in the Social Science Citation index, we hope that all researchers in the field of Japanese Studies, especially young scholars, submit their best papers to SSJJ for consideration in next year's prize competition.

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YOUNG KIM for her paper,

'Personnel Management Reforms in Japanese Supermarkets: The Positional Warfare and Limited Assimilation of Conversational Communities,'

published in SSJJ Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 183-199.

Comments from the Editorial Board

Kim's article analyzes the changes in personnel management policies in the Japanese retailing industry, focusing on the micropolitics of the workplace. Today there is an increased reliance on part-time employees in the Japanese supermarket industry, and new policies have been introduced to incorporate part-time employees into the main workforce both in volume and substance, in order to reduce labor costs. Kim claims that the strategic actions of unorganized part-time employees partly underlie the changes in personnel management policies, which have in turn affected the labor conditions of the employees. The new personnel policies, which advocate treatment based on working conditions rather than employment arrangements, attempt to transform part-time employees into the core workforce, while offering less favorable treatment than regular employees who engage in the same kind of work.

Kim's analysis stands out for her coherent argument and her rich ethnographic research. Kim's investigation has a clear methodological edge over many other studies of human resource management, through the vast number of ground-level ethnographic observations she gathered. Her analysis of the exercise of power in workplaces based on her fieldwork questions much of the earlier 'wisdom' about the role and status of part-time workers in the retailing industry. Part-time workers are described neither as satisfied workers who voluntarily choose to work shorter hours nor as the victims of gender discrimination in the workplace. Instead, under the new personnel management policies, part-timers can expect to improve their positions with increased skills and ability, but their treatment will never equal that of regular employees. In other words, there is a limit to the assimilation of part-time workers into the mainstream workforce. In addition, new personnel policies which provide preferential treatment to employees who are able to accept workplace transfers have resulted in reinforcing the gender-based status differentiation, by disadvantaging female employees with family responsibilities who are not as mobile as their male counterparts.

Kim's research was originally submitted to our journal in Japanese, like last year's award-winning article by Hasegawa Tamako, and was translated into English after it was accepted for publication. We feel that the publication of these papers, originally written in Japanese, helps to fill a gap in Japanese studies abroad. We hope to continue our mission of introducing important Japanese-language scholarship to our international readership.

The Editorial Board of Social Science Japan Journal is pleased to award the seventh annual ISS/OUP Prize to Young Kim. We warmly congratulate her for this accomplishment. We also hope that all social science researchers in the field of Japanese Studies, especially young scholars, submit their best papers to SSJJ for publication, and consideration for next year's prize. The recent inclusion of SSJJ in the Social Science Citation Index is an additional incentive for such submissions.

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HASEGAWA TAMAKO for her paper,

'Equality of Opportunity or Employment Quotas? - A Comparison of Japanese and American Employment Policies for the Disabled,'

published in SSJJ Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 41-57.

Comments from the Editorial Board

Hasegawa's article provides a careful comparison of two very different systems of employment policies towards people with disabilities: one adopted in Japan and the other in the United States. The US system is based on the notion of the equality of opportunity, rooted in anti-discrimination laws. The US system prohibits discrimination against the disabled and mandates that employers provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. In contrast, the Japanese system is based on the employment quota. This system distinguishes people with disabilities from those without disabilities, mandates that employers hire a certain ratio of people with disabilities, and imposes disabled employment levies on employers who fail to achieve the designated quota. The Japanese and the US systems, therefore, occupy two polar ends of the spectrum with regard to employment policies for the disabled.

Hasegawa highlights the defining characteristics of the two systems. The lack of the notion of equal employment opportunities prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in Japan results in underpayment of the disabled and a stigma about people with disabilities as lesser workers. On the other hand, thanks to clear-cut quota criteria, the Japanese system has had a certain amount of success in boosting the rate of employment among people with disabilities. The US system ensures remedies against discrimination and flexible responses and accommodations. However, it lacks precise standards of disabilities, concrete definitions of discrimination, and levels of reasonable accommodation, leaving uncertainty until the court ultimately makes decision.

The article is outstanding in the clarity of its exposition in contrasting two different systems, in the discussion of the historical development of the Japanese system, and in the evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of the two systems. The conclusion offers enlightening proposals for the possibility of integrating the two systems. 'What is important is that, in synthesizing the equality of opportunity and employment quota approaches, Japan must seek out ways to modify each approach in an attempt to overcome their respective problems' (p. 55).

Hasegawa's piece represents the first paper in the field of law to be awarded the ISS/OUP Prize. The editorial board is proud of the diversity of the specializations in social science fields published in SSJJ. The article also represents the second time our prize was granted to a paper that was originally submitted to our journal in Japanese; we arranged to have the paper translated into English at the time of publication. We feel that the publications of these papers, originally written in Japanese, help to fill the gap in Japanese studies abroad. We hope to continue our mission of introducing important Japanese-language scholarship to our international readership.

Based on these assessments, the Editorial Board of Social Science Japan Journal is pleased to award the sixth annual ISS/OUP Prize to Hasegawa Tamako. We warmly congratulate her for this accomplishment. We also hope that all researchers in the field of Japanese Studies, especially young scholars, submit their best papers to SSJJ for consideration in next year's prize competition.

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FUJIME YUKI for her paper,

'Japanese Feminism and Commercialized Sex: The Union of Militarism and Prohibitionism,'

published in SSJJ Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 33-50.

Comments from the Editorial Board

This year is the first time our prize has been granted to a paper that was originally submitted to our journal in Japanese; we arranged to have the paper translated into English at the time of publication. Although Professor Fujime has already written extensively on the theme of prostitution in Japan, including her important book Sei no Rekishigaku (The Historiography of Sex) (Tokyo: Fuji Shuppan, 1998), her work is little known outside of Japan. We hope that one of the missions of our journal will be to continue to bring important Japanese-language scholarship to the attention of international readers.

The importance of this paper extends beyond the scope of modern Japan, by highlighting the close connection between militarism and the policy of prohibitionism towards prostitution, which has implications not only for the expansion of US military bases worldwide but also for human trafficking and the exploitation of people as prostitutes. While many, including mainstream feminists, are inclined toward prohibiting the sale of sexual services as a moral and social responsibility, Fujime meticulously investigates the consequences of the prohibitionist framework. By evaluating the prohibitionist approach of US policy known as the 'American Plan', which is rooted in protecting military personnel from sexually transmitted diseases, Fujime criticizes the resulting criminalization of female prostitutes, who become the victims of sexual violence and sexual exploitation. The logic of prohibitionism punishes women by making criminals out of prostitutes, while tolerating the purchase of sexual services. Finally, as Fujime writes, '[p]rohibiting prostitution only puts women in a weaker position; it does not eliminate the sale of sex nor act as an obstacle to the purchase of sexual services' (p. 39).

By drawing on numerous historical sources, including the publications of the International Abolitionist Federation, the records of local governments, and the writings of feminists and other abolitionist groups, Fujime builds a sophisticated argument that reveals much about the history of prostitution in modern Japan. First, she shows how the influence of the 'American Plan' affected the Japanese prostitution system during the Occupation period and structured the legal status of women in the postwar period. By making women's sale of their sexual services a crime, the mandate to regulate public health-by forcing any woman suspected of engaging in prostitution to undergo medical examination-gave the military the right to exercise power over women. Through the analysis of several incidents, Fujime shows that numerous women, many not prostitutes, were arrested on the mere suspicion of prostitution and deprived of their civil rights, while the military personnel who purchased sexual services were protected. Second, she demonstrates that Japanese feminists and women's groups cooperated with the occupation forces in the mission of prohibiting prostitution. Consistent with the logic of prohibitionism that places the onus on women, '[t]he criticisms of women's groups were directed not at the occupation forces but at the women who "lured" soldiers into prostitution' (p. 41 ). The Prostitution Prevention Law of 1956 that was championed by these women's groups has not only failed to curb the growth of the sex industry, but has perpetuated the criminalization of women. Fujime concludes her paper by calling for feminists to 'rid themselves of prohibitionism' (p. 48).

The Editorial Board of Social Science Japan Journal is pleased to award the fifth annual ISS/OUP Prize to Fujime Yuki, and congratulates her for this accomplishment. We encourage all researchers in the field of Japanese Studies, especially young scholars, to submit their best papers to SSJJ for consideration in next year's prize competition.

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HANS MARTIN KRÄMER for his paper,

'Just Who Reversed the Course? The Red Purge in Higher Education during the Occupation of Japan,'

published in SSJJ Vol. 8 No.1, pp. 1-18.

Comments from the Editorial Board

Krämer's article exemplifies the best in historical scholarship by combining rigorous research using primary sources with a fresh perspective on an important but neglected aspect of the history of the Allied Occupation. The topic of the article deals with the dismissals of teaching staff who were alleged to be Communists in Japanese higher education - the incidents known as the 'red purge' at universities between 1947 and 1950. Firings of the alleged Communist faculty are often cited as an example of a 'reverse course' in Allied Occupation policy. However, this article argues that the 'red purge' at universities did not directly reflect changes in occupation policy but rather came at the initiative of Japanese sources. Previous research tends to overemphasize the rhetoric of anti-Communism by GHQ from 1949 onwards while ignoring the role played by the Japanese national government and university administrators. The author argues that the view of 'a reverse course directed from Washington' does not adequately describe the events and processes that took place in Japanese higher education under the Allied Occupation.

Krämer analyzes in detail the process through which the red purge at universities was introduced into Japan and shows that the historical origin of the purge can be traced back to the beginning of the Occupation, rather than to changes in occupation policy. Furthermore, he documents that responsibility for the actual implementation of the purge did not rest solely in the hands of the Allied Occupation. Japanese government officials and university administrators were crucial in deciding who would be purged. Krämer provides quantitative evidence showing the total number of accused and purged at universities, and describes two case studies of red purge victims. The overall figures demonstrate that not all the accused were actually dismissed. Personal and institutional standing of the university influenced the outcome of the purge, and these results suggest that the purge emerged from a process of negotiations and interactions among the parties involved, rather than a unilateral order from the top. Old universities were less likely to implement the purging process of those who were accused than new-system universities, which were upgraded to the status of university after 1945. Krämer examines two examples of actual cases of dismissal: a lecturer at Hirosaki Higher School (later Hirosaki University) dismissed in 1947 and a professor at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine dismissed in 1949. Historical documents regarding these two cases indicate that the Occupation authorities were not directly involved in the decision-making process regarding these dismissals.

This article makes an important contribution to historical scholarship by questioning the common assumption that the red purge was directed by the Allied Occupation forces. Through an analysis of case studies of the red purge in higher education from Kyoto and Aomori prefecture, the author shows that the implementation of policy is just as important as its formulation. It is also original in examining the incidents that took place in non-major universities and are thus less well known to the Japanese audience.

For these reasons, the Editorial Board of Social Science Japan Journal is pleased to award the fourth annual ISS/OUP Prize to Hans Martin Krämer. We warmly congratulate him for this accomplishment. We also hope that all scholars, especially young researchers, in the field of Japanese Studies submit their best papers to SSJJ for consideration in next year's prize competition.

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KEIKO HIRATA for her paper,

'Beached Whales: Examining Japan's Rejection of an International Norm,'

published in SSJJ Vol. 7 No.2, pp. 177-197.

Comments from the Editorial Board

Hirata's paper is a fascinating examination of the issue of international norm diffusion through the analysis of Japan's refusal to comply with the international anti-whaling norm centered on the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Regime theory, which views the mechanism of international politics from a utilitarian perspective, is divided between 'neo-realism' and 'neo-liberal institutionalism'. Even though the US, as a hegemon in the enforcement of international anti-whaling regime through the IWC, is Japan's single most important ally, it has been unsuccessful in compelling Japan to abandon whaling. Japan's rejection of this international norm thus goes against its own rational interests. Moreover, despite what some 'constructivists' argue, the IWC has been unsuccessful in pressuring Japan to conform to international norms through transnational advocacy networks (such as Greenpeace). Hirata shows that both regime theory and constructivist type system-level analyses fail to explain Japanese whaling. Instead, she argues that domestic rather than international institutions matter in the process of norm compliance.

Hirata demonstrates the importance of domestic factors in preventing international norm diffusion by focusing attention on the role of cultural structures and political institutions. According to Hirata, a pre-existing cultural structure rooted in Japan's long history as a whale-eating culture has contributed to a struggle between 'meat-eating' and 'fish-eating' cultures (Japan has a cultural tradition of perceiving whales as a kind of fish). In addition, Hirata emphasizes the importance of Japan's domestic political structure, which is characterized by a highly centralized bureaucratic system that engages in top-down policymaking. In particular, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), which has jurisdiction over whaling, excludes others from shaping Japanese policy. Hirata notes that anti-whaling NGOs, despite their international support, have been unable to influence Japanese policy or achieve a close relationship with the bureaucracy since the decision-making mechanism is so highly centralized with the MAFF leadership.

This paper provides a unique perspective on the issue of 'anti-whaling' norm diffusion through its careful analysis of the interplay between international politics and domestic structures. It is exceptional is its use of diverse materials to examine not only Japan's relationship to the IWC, but the numerous domestic actors-such as the bureaucracy, politicians, industry, and NGOs-who have shaped and contested Japan's whaling practice. As the author demonstrates, an understanding of Japan's position on the anti-whaling norm requires an analysis that goes beyond the rational choice of self-interested states to include careful consideration of the domestic cultural structure. For the above reasons, the Editorial Board of Social Science Japan Journal is pleased to award the third annual ISS/OUP Prize to Keiko Hirata. We warmly congratulate her and encourage all scholars in the field of Japanese Studies to submit their best papers to SSJJ for consideration in next year's prize round.


PETER HILL for his paper,

'Heisei Yakuza: Burst Bubble and Botaiho,'

published in SSJJ Vol. 6 No.1, pp. 1-18.

Comments from the Editorial Board

There is a great deal of interest in the topic of yakuza around the world. Here in Japan, however, it is extremely rare to find serious scholarship devoted to this important social phenomenon. Instead, the study of organized crime has been left to newspapers, weekly magazines, and books of reportage. Indeed, one could argue that this is a theme where foreign researchers have made a greater contribution than Japanese ones. This paper by Peter Hill, along with his monograph, The Japanese Mafia: Yakuza, Law and the State (Oxford University Press, 2003) represents the very latest research on contemporary yakuza. The large number of readers visiting the SSJJ website to view this paper is eloquently demonstrates the strong demand for English-language scholarship on this topic.

Yakuza did very well for themselves during the years of the Bubble Economy, when booming markets in land, stocks, and commodities brought a host of lucrative business opportunities. As Hill points out, however, the gangs suffered a double punch in the early years of the Heisei Era (1989-present)-the collapse of the Bubble Economy, followed shortly by the introduction of the Organized Crime Countermeasures Law (Boryokudan Taisaku Ho; known informally as the Botaiho) in 1992. Hill's paper details the impact of these two events on yakuza and discusses how the gangs responded to the challenge posed by this sudden chilling of the environment.On the recession, Hill shows how the biggest blow to the yakuza came in the loss of income related to speculative dealing in Japan's inflated real-estate market. However, he finds that the gangs acted with some ingenuity to find substitute businesses, such as debt collecting, obstruction of auctions, and bankruptcy management. As for the new law, this was both a material and a psychological blow to the yakuza. Previous legal measures had proscribed some yakuza activities, but without formally outlawing the gangs themselves, and there had always been plenty of loopholes. Now for the first time the gangs were officially designated as a social evil.Hill documents how the yakuza response to the burst bubble and Botaiho played out through the 1990s. Membership declined in the course of the decade, and a growing portion of overall membership became concentrated in the three biggest syndicates-the Yamaguchi-gumi, Inagawa-kai, and Sumiyoshi-kai. There was a strengthening of strategic cooperation among gangs in each syndicate, an increase in the level of violence accompanying gang activities, and a growing involvement in illegal activities such as dealing in amphetamines and other drugs. Hill finds that the net outcome of these developments has been a form of convergence, in which yakuza have become increasingly similar to underworld gangs in other countries.

The Editorial Board decided to award the prize to Peter Hill because his paper boldly addresses an important but under-analyzed aspect of Japanese society and succeeds in showing how yakuza organization evolved during the 1990s in relation to broader socio-economic trends. The Botaiho is a significant piece of legislation that is not as well known as it deserves to be outside Japan, and Hill shows with admirable clarity how the new law took shape and how the yakuza responded to it. The board was also impressed by the comparative approach adopted, in which the Botaiho was skillfully compared with legislation against organized crime in America and Europe. Last but not least, we note that Hill's research methods were not restricted to the reading of secondary sources: they included ethnographic fieldwork with yakuza, a delicate enterprise that inevitably entails a degree of personal stress and possibly even physical danger. We applaud his courage and skill in undertaking this difficult project with such impressive results. For the above reasons, the Editorial Board of Social Science Japan Journal is delighted to award the second ISS/OUP Prize to Peter Hill. We warmly congratulate him and encourage all academics in the field of Japanese Studies to submit their best papers to SSJJ for consideration in next year's prize round.


KAREN NAKAMURA for her paper,

'Resistance and Co-optation:the Japanese Federation of the Deaf and its Relations with State Power,'

published in SSJJ Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 17-35.

Comments from the Editorial Board

This paper examines the relationships formed between citizens' groups and the state bureaucracy within the framework of civil law, and how those relationships affect social change. Nakamura pursues this theoretical issue through a detailed case study of the Japan Federation of the Deaf (JFD; founded 1948) and the activities of its prefecture-level associations.

Japanese welfare groups can form stable relations with the central government, and gain access to public funding for projects contracted to them by the government (itaku jigyo), if they 'adopt incorporated status' (hojinka). From the government point of view, this arrangement has the merit of creating posts in the incorporated bodies to which government officials may be sent after their retirement (amakudari). As well as providing jobs for bureaucratic old boys, this practice enables the government to strengthen its day-to-day surveillance of the welfare organization and ensure that its policies are implemented at ground level.Thus at first glance the institutions of incorporated status and contract projects appear to be a functional channel for maintaining mutually advantageous relations between central government and citizens' groups.

But Nakamura's paper reveals another, more conflictual aspect to these institutions. The central government may use the dispensation of contract projects as a form of patronage, enforcing obedience to its own policies and sometimes favouring one citizens' group over another active in the same field in the name of madoguchi ipponka (creating a one-stop shop for people seeking welfare assistance). She shows how the JFD has deliberately selected the most weakly regulated of the various forms of incorporation, becoming a zaidan hojin or 'incorporated foundation,' rather than a shadan hojin ('incorporated association') or shakai fukushi hojin ('incorporated social welfare organization'). This status enables the JFD to retain a large degree of independence, with its own, non-amakudari, management, albeit at the cost of reduced access to contract project funding. Meanwhile human resources and project management are largely outsourced to prefectural associations constituted separately from the national JFD, many of them with different forms of incorporated status. The paper brilliantly uses the example of the JFD to illustrate the dynamic relationship between a central bureaucracy attempting to impose its authority throughout society, and centres of resistance engaged in a subtle balancing act between maintenance of independence and access to public funding.

This is a highly original piece of research. Social activism among deaf and hearing-impaired people in Japan has received little academic attention hitherto, and this paper sheds light on this important and under-studied topic while also locating the JFD's activities in relation to broader government welfare policy on disability issues. Prior research in the field of social welfare by Frank Upham, Robert Pekkanen and others has generally been carried out within paradigms of political science or jurisprudence, but this paper breaks new ground by applying the research techniques of social anthropology, with carefully observed fieldwork and interviews forming the principal data source. We note that Karen Nakamura is a young scholar with an exciting career in front of her. We hope that in her case, and in general, the award of the ISS/OUP Prize will not only acknowledge excellent work done, but also encourage further groundbreaking research.

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