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Gender and Law in the Japanese Imperium

Gender and Law in the Japanese Imperium

Susan L. Burns
Barbara J. Brooks
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Gender and Law in the Japanese Imperium
    Book Description:

    Beginning in the nineteenth century, law as practice, discourse, and ideology became a powerful means of reordering gender relations in modern nation-states and their colonies around the world. This volume puts developments in Japan and its empire in dialogue with this global phenomenon. Arguing against the popular stereotype of Japan as a non-litigious society, an international group of contributors from Japan, Taiwan, Germany, and the U.S., explores how in Japan and its colonies, as elsewhere in the modern world, law became a fundamental means of creating and regulating gendered subjects and social norms in the period from the 1870s to the 1950s. Rather than viewing legal discourse and the courts merely as technologies of state control, the authors suggest that they were subject to negotiation, interpretation, and contestation at every level of their formulation and deployment. With this as a shared starting point, they explore key issues such reproductive and human rights, sexuality, prostitution, gender and criminality, and the formation of the modern conceptions of family and conjugality, and use these issues to complicate our understanding of the impact of civil, criminal, and administrative laws upon the lives of both Japanese citizens and colonial subjects. The result is a powerful rethinking of not only gender and law, but also the relationships between the state and civil society, the metropole and the colonies, and Japan and the West.Collectively, the essays offer a new framework for the history of gender in modern Japan and revise our understanding of both law and gender in an era shaped by modernization, nation and empire-building, war, occupation, and decolonization. With its broad chronological time span and compelling and yet accessible writing,Gender and Law in the Japanese Imperiumwill be a powerful addition to any course on modern Japanese history and of interest to readers concerned with gender, society, and law in other parts of the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-3919-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Note on East Asian Names and Terms
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    Susan L. Burns

    Beginning in the nineteenth century, law as practice, discourse, and ideology became a powerful means of reordering gender relations in modern nation-states and their colonies around the world. In France, the Civil Code of 1804 and the Napoleonic Code of 1810 ended a remarkable period of legal experimentation in gender equality that followed the revolution. As modern patriarchy was instantiated in law, there were new restrictions on access to birth control and increased penalties for abortion, while men who declined to marry their pregnant sexual partners or abandoned their families faced criminal prosecution.¹ In the United States, even in the...

  6. Part I Prostitution, Law, and Human Rights

    • CHAPTER 1 The Maria Luz Incident: Personal Rights and International Justice for Chinese Coolies and Japanese Prostitutes
      (pp. 21-47)
      Douglas Howland

      For its handling of theMaria Luzincident in 1872, Japan received international acclaim as a humanitarian supporter of international law. The case concerned the Peruvian transport of Chinese coolies on theMaria Luzinto the Japanese port of Yokohama, and invited the participation of Japan in international efforts to suppress the coolie trade. Japan freed the coolies on board theMaria Luz, but in their defense of Peru’s practice of shipping Chinese coolies, Peru’s legal representatives pointed out that indentured prostitution in Japan was an equivalent practice. Since Japan allowed domestic indentured prostitution, how could it disallow Chinese coolie...

    • CHAPTER 2 Disputing Rights: The Debate over Anti-Prostitution Legislation in 1950s Japan
      (pp. 48-78)
      Sally A. Hastings

      When the Prostitution Prevention Law was enacted on May 21, 1956, the press hailed the legislation as a triumph for the cause of human rights in Japan. TheAsahicelebrated Japan’s entry into the company of progressive nations, in which “prostitution should vanish just as slavery did.”¹ TheNippon Timesdescribed the passage of the bill in the upper chamber as “a momentous day in the history of Japan,” an event that removed the stigma of association with legal prostitution.² An editorial in the same paper proclaimed, “A new sense of moral conscience has been born in Japan,” bestowing credit...

  7. Part II Crime, Punishment, and Gender

    • CHAPTER 3 Gender in the Arena of the Courts: The Prosecution of Abortion and Infanticide in Early Meiji Japan
      (pp. 81-108)
      Susan L. Burns

      In 1949 Japan became the first country in the world to legalize abortion based upon socioeconomic grounds, a legislative innovation that Tiana Norgren has described as “a marked departure from international norms.”¹ But the legalization of abortion was also a remarkable departure from almost eight decades of Japanese criminal law. The first modern law on abortion went into effect in 1873 when the law code known as the Amended Criminal Regulations (Kaitei ritsurei) was promulgated. Article 114 of this code made it a crime both to procure an abortion for oneself and to encourage or aid another person in procuring...

    • CHAPTER 4 Adultery and Gender Equality in Modern Japan, 1868–1948
      (pp. 109-135)
      Harald Fuess

      This chapter examines how Japanese developed, applied, and contested adultery laws in the period between 1868 and 1948. Perhaps more than any other legislation, laws on adultery were explicitly phrased in gendered terms that clearly differentiated the actions of a husband from those of a wife. This sort of distinction was not unique to Japan, but Japanese adultery laws were created, maintained, and justified at the same time that similar regulations were being criticized and abolished in Western Europe, so these laws offer a particularly useful way to explore how and to what degree the formation of the Japanese legal...

    • CHAPTER 5 Of Pity and Poison: Imprisoning Women in Modern Japan
      (pp. 136-158)
      Daniel Botsman

      Although the “revisionist” scholars who rekindled widespread interest in the history of punishment in the 1970s were largely oblivious to questions of gender, the decades since have seen the publication of a series of important studies (all by women) that call attention to the way in which the punishment of men and women has differed significantly in various Western societies.¹ Unfortunately, the same trend has not been apparent in Japan, where, with the exception of a few valuable but short essays by prison historian Shigematsu Kazuyoshi, the history of women’s prisons and the punishment of women have been almost entirely...

    • CHAPTER 6 Burning Down the House: Gender and Jury in a Tokyo Courtroom, 1928
      (pp. 159-186)
      Darryl Flaherty

      Who was Yamafuji Kanko? This was the riddle that the daily papers presented to their readers on the occasion of the “Yamafuji Kanko Arson Trial” or “Kanko Jury Trial.” Taken separately, attempted arson, female criminality, or the defendant’s beauty did not win front-page coverage in the TokyoAsahi shinbun. Yet in 1928 these factors, combined with the convening of the imperial capital’s first jury, made Yamafuji Kanko, aged twenty-one, more than front-page news. Yamafuji Kanko’s jury trial created a legal context in which male jurors, justices, procurators, attorneys, along with men and women in the general public measured and judged...

  8. Part III Colonial Law and the Problem of the Family

    • CHAPTER 7 Sim-pua under the Colonial Gaze: Gender, “Old Customs,” and the Law in Taiwan under Japanese Imperialism
      (pp. 189-218)
      Chen Chao-ju

      Chinese women crippled by bound feet. Indian widows committing suttee on their husbands’ funeral pyres. Women’s subordination has long been treated as a core element of Asian tradition and viewed as a sign of Asian backwardness. The representation of Asian women as victims bound by tradition is part of the ideological construction of Western superiority and Asian inferiority. So is the representation of Asian legal traditions as “lagging” or deficient. What legal historian Teemu Ruskola identifies as legal Orientalism—the ways in which “the Orient” as well as “the West” have been co-produced through the rhetoric of law—has informed...

    • CHAPTER 8 Japanese Colonialism, Gender, and Household Registration: Legal Reconstruction of Boundaries
      (pp. 219-239)
      Barbara J. Brooks

      The workings of power have always been at the center of the study of colonialism in its diverse manifestations. Much scholarly attention has recently addressed divisions between colonizer and colonized, both within colonial and metropolitan spaces, as a means of better grasping the nature of colonial rule and the culture of colonialism. In an important essay, Ann Stoler and Frederick Cooper call attention to the study of “the relationship between knowledge and rule” and “how a grammar of difference was continuously and vigilantly crafted” by empires that rhetorically claimed clear categories separating colonized from metropolitan subjects, while at the same...

    • CHAPTER 9 A New Perspective on the “Name-Changing Policy” in Korea
      (pp. 240-266)
      Matsutani Motokazu

      The “name-changing policy” (sōshi kaimei) that forced Koreans to adopt Japanese names has been known as the most oppressive Japanese colonial policy in Korea. According to a standard textbook, “the forced assimilation policy of the 1930s reached its apex on the eve of the outbreak of the wider war in the Pacific…. A year earlier, however, the Japanese had struck at the most personal, and perhaps the most cherished, source of Korean identity, family and personal names. The Name Order promulgated in late 1939 ‘graciously allowed’ all Koreans to change their names to Japanese-style surnames and given names.”¹

      This conventional...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 267-290)
  10. Contributors
    (pp. 291-294)
  11. Index
    (pp. 295-301)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 302-303)