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Managing Women: Disciplining Labor in Modern Japan

Elyssa Faison
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnkvd
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  • Book Info
    Managing Women
    Book Description:

    At the turn of the twentieth century, Japan embarked on a mission to modernize its society and industry. For the first time, young Japanese women were persuaded to leave their families and enter the factory.Managing Womenfocuses on Japan's interwar textile industry, examining how factory managers, social reformers, and the state created visions of a specifically Japanese femininity. Faison finds that female factory workers were constructed as "women" rather than as "workers" and that this womanly ideal was used to develop labor-management practices, inculcate moral and civic values, and develop a strategy for containing union activities and strikes. In an integrated analysis of gender ideology and ideologies of nationalism and ethnicity, Faison shows how this discourse on women's wage work both produced and reflected anxieties about women's social roles in modern Japan.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93418-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction: Women or Workers?
    (pp. 1-7)

    “What is bringing about the destruction of the family system is the growth of industry together with the expansion of spheres of women’s professional work.”¹ This remark by social commentator Kawada Shirō in 1924 indicates some of the anxieties produced by increases in women’s wage work in Japan since the turn of the twentieth century. At a time when industrial labor was regarded as potentially the most volatile of Japan’s “social problems,” female labor in particular threatened to undermine a newly imagined national moral order based on the family system.

    This book examines the labor-management practices that grew out of...

  6. CHAPTER 1 From Home Work to Corporate Paternalism: Women’s Work in Japan’s Early Industrial Age
    (pp. 8-26)

    When the Meiji state oversaw the opening of Japan’s first government run textile mill in 1872, its leaders had already decided that female labor would propel the early stages of Japan’s industrial revolution. The government’s part in initiating industrial development by funding and operating the Tomioka Silk Filature in Gunma Prefecture, and the strong role the state would play throughout the Meiji period (1868– 1912) in directing the growth of capitalist institutions, ensured that the growth of industry could never be separated from the fortunes of the nation.¹ If the industrialtechnologiesof the Meiji period reflected the goals of...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Keeping “Idle Youngsters” Out of Trouble: Japan’s 1929 Abolition of Night Work and the Problem of Free Time
    (pp. 27-50)

    In 1929 the last of the provisions of Japan’s Factory Law (passed eighteen years earlier) went into effect after years of delays and deferments. Beginning that July, women and children under the age of twelve could no longer legally engage in work between the hours of 10:00 P.M. and 5:00 A.M. The abolition of night work prompted heated debates among factory managers about “proper use” of the increased “free time” (yoka zenyō) created by the new regulations. The problem of free time had been discussed before 1929, but after the end of night work it became a critical issue for...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Cultivation Groups and the Japanese Factory: Producing Workers, Gendering Subjects
    (pp. 51-80)

    Attempts by cotton-and silk-spinning companies to cultivate a particular kind of female worker closely paralleled efforts by other state and nonstate actors to mold different demographic groups into appropriately gendered loyal imperial subjects. Social reformers sought to educate women, abolish prostitution, and contain juvenile delinquency, while a host of organizations worked to reform the countryside.¹ The project of disciplining female factory workers involved the intersection of all of these concerns. Largely undereducated and hailing from rural and often impoverished villages, female workers were also perceived to be dangerously close to falling into prostitution or other forms of social delinquency. To...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Sex, Strikes, and Solidarity: Tōyō Muslin and the Labor Unrest of 1930
    (pp. 81-106)

    In August 1929—exactly one month after the prohibition on night work went into effect—Tatewaki Sadayo opened the Workers’ School for Women (Rōdō Jojuku) in the Kameido district of Tokyo. The school would become an important training ground for many women who would take leading roles in a strike at Tōyō Muslin in September of 1930. Just as corporate policies were being redirected toward a focus on individual worker discipline through educational efforts aimed at “cultivation,” workers at Tōyō Muslin were similarly realizing that the battle against the forces of capital would involve the intellectual, political, and bodily disciplining...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Colonial Labor: The Disciplinary Power of Ethnicity
    (pp. 107-136)

    By the 1920s an increasing number of nonethnically Japanese women, in particular Koreans and Okinawans, began to take jobs in Japanese factories. Employers, the state, and nonstate entities—including mutual aid and welfare organizations, such as the Sōaikai for Koreans in Japan—developed strategies of ethnic differentiation aimed at preventing labor unrest and maintaining social stability. The use of ethnic difference as a way to manage colonial female labor within the textile factories had as its central purpose the prevention of labor actions against the companies. Even so, it grew out of larger discourses of national belonging that framed the...

  11. Epilogue: Managing Women in Wartime and Beyond
    (pp. 137-162)

    The period between World War I and the Manchurian Incident of 1931 that marked the outbreak of hostilities between Japan and China was the most crucial in the formation of industrial discourses about class, race, gender, and the nation. The 1920s saw attempts to rationalize industry in which managers sought to cultivate an efficient and docile workforce by promoting a strong consciousness of womanhood in its female workers. Many of the elements of the paternalist policies adopted to this end emphasized women’s role as future wives and mothers; offered educational opportunities in the domestic arts, home economics, and etiquette; and...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 163-202)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-220)
  14. Index
    (pp. 221-227)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 228-228)