Gender-related social policy

Authored by: Hiroko Takeda

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics

Print publication date:  February  2011
Online publication date:  February  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415551373
eBook ISBN: 9780203829875
Adobe ISBN: 9781136818387


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“Gender” is rendered “jendā” in Japanese using katakana notation, signifying that it is a term originating in a foreign language (English, in this case). Words often adapt and take on local meanings when they travel abroad. The clamor of connotations surrounding the term “jendā” in Japan in the 2000s may hence require some explanation to the Anglophone audiences, in particular, when we discuss “gender” in relation to “social policy.” According to Ueno Chizuko, the term “jendā” was first introduced into Japan in the 1980s through the translation of Gender by Ivan Illich (1983) and eventually became common vocabulary among feminist and social science scholars (Ueno 1996: 23–24). Still, the academic understanding of the term gender in today’s Japan is heavily influenced by poststructuralist discussions such as Judith Butler’s Gender Troubles (1990; 1999) that posit “gender” as a social construct that prescribes our knowledge regarding “femininity” and “masculinity” as well as sexualities, and in so doing, exercising political power to set a multitude of boundaries in society.

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