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ASIAN STUDIES CONFERENCE JAPAN

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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181





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Summer 2000 ASCJ Conference Details

23. Individual Paper Session: Trajectories of Change in China and Japan  

Chair: Michael Watson, Meiji Gakuin University, editor, PMJS

 Paper 1:   Hasegawa Eiko, Josai International University. "Colonized Bodies and the Construction of the Nationhood in Modern Japan"

    In this paper, I will look at the role of the state in establishing and reinforcing the control over women's sexuality and reproduction in modern Japan. I argue that women played a crucial role in the construction of the modern Japanese nation and its family-state ideology. The ideological relegation of women to domestic spheres in the patriarchal family was central to the consolidation of the state power. Moreover, the ideology of "good wife, wise mother" had a lasting impact on the definition of the ideal womanhood and continued to emphasize the importance of motherhood as a woman's primary role.  The emphasis on the ideal womanhood in modern Japan had deep repercussions on the treatment of Asian women in colonies with the consolidation of the Japanese state power and its expansionist policies towards other Asian countries. In particular, the system of comfort women was an integral part of Japanese colonialism. The exploitation of Asian women's sexuality epitomizes the intersections of sexist and racist ideologies in the processes of militarization and colonization. The issue of the comfort women suggests that Japan's foreign relations with Asia was connected with the exploitation of women's bodies and sexuality.   In this context, I will explore how Asian women's bodies were colonized and sexualized in the period between 1890s and 1990s. Also, the colonial gaze of Japanese women into Asian women will be examined in relation to their complicity with the patriarchal state.

 Paper 2:   Mary Reisel, Tel Aviv University. "Japanese High Fashion and the Reconstruction of Gender"

    High fashion has only recently entered the academic world as an important cultural component which deserves observation and serious analysis. Changes in fashion and popular styles often indicate a deep hidden need of a society to make meaningful changes in basic concepts such as the perception of the body, femininity, masculinity, sexual identity etc. This paper will concentrated on contemporary Japanese high fashion and the way Japanese designers try to reconstruct body image through their designs in an attempt to change the gender status in Japan. By fashion I refer to everything related to the body - make-up, perfume, hairstyle, tattoos, etc. - and not only to clothes since all external aspects which serve to cover the physical body have an important meaning which goes far beyond clothing. The paper will present the works of Kawakubo Rei and Issey Miyake who are key figures in the field of high fashion and have already won world-wide recognition as artists and not only as fashion designers. The two declare publicly their purpose is to create new styles which will change the perception of femininity and masculinity, release the body from its strains and accepted boundaries and set it free and by that change the structure of interpersonal relations. Their success in Japan and throughout the world indicates they touch an important need or desire which is not restricted to Japan. The main questions which will be raised in this presentation relate to what is the new gender image they aspire to create, in what ways is this new image different from the old traditional one, and how well have they succeeded in their task in Japan and elsewhere.

 Paper 3:  Robert Efird, University of Washington / Kanagawa University. "History, Family, and Identity:  The 'Multicultural Coexistence' of  Chinese Returnees in Japan"

     Since the 1980s, the resettlement of Indochinese refugees and the large-scale repatriation of so-called "war orphans" (zanryu koji) and their families have precipitated a host of challenges to Japanese communities which have been the foci of these new influxes. The numerous difficulties attendant upon the integration of non-Japanese in schools and local life have resulted in the emergence of new organizations and policy initiatives, both administrative and non-governmental. My paper is based on fieldwork with a non-governmental organization (NGO) that has been active in a prefectural-run housing development for low-income residents in Kanagawa Prefecture. This residential area has one of the highest concentrations of new immigrants in all of Japan, but has been ill-served by local officials who have left the task of remedial Japanese-language instruction and multi-lingual consultation to organizations such as the NGO in question. In addition to profiling the various actors, motivations, and conflicts involved in the community's machizukuri initiatives, my paper is specifically concerned with the problems surrounding Japanese language acquisition and the simultaneous maintenance of immigrants' native languages and cultural characteristics.  

Paper 4) Zeng Ying, International Christian University "Chinese Schools: Reflecting the Changes in Chinese American Communities"

Chinese American communities have come a long way from the old Chinatown image. In the past, scholarship focused on the Chinatowns. They were readily identifiable, mostly homogeneous communities. Today Chinese American communities can no longer be simply represented by Chinatowns, though Chinatowns continue to exist. Chinese Americans today represent numerous different communities with different language, cultural, and political backgrounds. This paper will demonstrate the changing nature of Chinese American communities through an examination of Chinese Schools. The changing purpose and format of these schools reflects the changing make-up of the Chinese American communities and the concomitant changing needs of the communities.

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