A Path Toward Gender Equality: State Feminism in Japan by Yoshie Kobayashi

By Yoshie Kobayashi

This dissertation is the 1st research of country feminism in a non-western kingdom kingdom, concentrating on the actions and roles of the Women's Bureau of the Ministry of work in post-World battle II Japan.

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Also, this study of State Feminism in Japan shows that whether equality policy has any relation with the women’s policy Hernes defined depends upon how the concept of equality is defined. The obscure term ‘equality’ has generated a variety of definition and caused intense debates on equality-versus-difference among feminists in the United States over discussions of objectives and strategies of the feminist movement (MacKinnon 1989; Scott 1988). There has been also much debate on equality-versus-difference in Japan among Japanese feminists and between women bureaucrats and feminists in the political decision-making processes for the equal employment laws.

Through examining the four factors, I attempt to examine the validity of the hypothesis by analyzing how the women’s bureau set the equal opportunity laws (the 1986 and 1999 EEOL) as the political agenda, formulated the content, and enacted them in spite of oppositions from not only political and business male elites but also female activists. At the beginning, I examine organizational characteristics of the state agency for women through historical analysis. Then, the background of the emergence of the 1986 EEOL and the activities of the women’s bureau in the political decision-making processes for the 1986 and 1999 EEOL are examined based on these three hypotheses.

2 For the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers (SCAP), improvement of Japanese women’s social status was one of the measures used to democratize Japanese political, economic, and social systems. This was deemed necessary because the prewar militant political system was attributed to the patriarchal Japanese social system, in which women’s legal status had been subordinated to the male head in their kinship family (Kaneko 1995; Mackie 1995; Pharr 1986; Uemura 1990). 5 The amendment was enacted the next month and granted women’s suffrage to Japanese women for the first time in Japanese political history.

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