[Temple ICAS Book Talk] Beyond the Gender Gap in Japan

Robert  Dujarric's picture
May 30, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Japanese History / Studies, Social History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Date:Thursday, May 30, 2019
Time:7:00 - 9:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Venue:Temple University, Japan Campus, Azabu Hall, 1F Parliament
Mito Akiyoshi (Senshu University), Kumiko Nemoto (Kyoto University of Foreign Studies), Gill Steel (Doshisha University), Hiroko Takeda (Nagoya University), and Yuki Tsuji (Tokai University)
Moderator:Robert Dujarric, Director of ICAS
Admission:Free. Open to the public.
* Registration is encouraged, but not required.


Beyond the Gender Gap in Japan (Gill Steel, ed. University of Michigan Press, 2019) asks, why do Japanese women enjoy a high sense of well-being in a context of inequality? This volume brings together researchers from across the social sciences to investigate this question. The authors analyze women’s values and the lived experiences at home, in the family, at work, in their leisure time, and in politics and policy-making. Their research shows that the state and firms have blurred “the public” and “the private” in postwar Japan, constraining individuals’ lives, and reveals the uneven pace of change across areas of social and political life. Yet, despite these constraints, diversification in how people live and how they manage their lives is evident, demonstrating the various ways that people are adapting to ‘constrained choice.’ The research also shows the various ways that women are exercising voice and agency, contributing to their sense of well-being. Covering a significant breadth of material, the book presents comprehensive findings that use a variety of research methods—public opinion surveys, in-depth interviews, a life history, and participant observation—and, in doing so, look beyond Japan’s perennially low rankings in gender equality indices to demonstrate the diversity underneath, questioning some of the stereotypical assumptions about women in Japan.


Gill Steel is Professor in political science at Doshisha University. She earned a Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Chicago. Before arriving at Doshisha she taught widely in Japanese universities, most recently at the University of Tokyo. In addition to journal articles, her publications include Changing Politics in Japan with Ikuo Kabashima (Cornell University Press, 2008) and co-editing Gendai Nihon Shakai no Kenryoku Kozo [Power Structures in Contemporary Japanese Society] (Kitohji Shobo, 2018) with Asano Masahiko. She is currently pursuing two main research projects. The first is on voting preferences in Britain, Japan, and the United States. And the second project examines why young Japanese people are disengaged from politics.


Mito Akiyoshi is Professor of Sociology at Senshu University. She has written on technology and inequality, and recently coauthored “What Determines the Perception of Fairness Regarding Household Division of Labor between Spouses?” (with Mayumi Nakamura, PLoS ONE 10 (7): e0132608). She worked for NTT Data as a systems engineer before undertaking graduate study at the University of Chicago, where her doctoral dissertation was about the diffusion of the Internet in Japan. She is currently conducting research on public engagement issues regarding the siting of a nuclear waste disposal facility.

Kumiko Nemoto is Professor in the Department of Global Affairs at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. Her research focuses on gender, family, work, and organization in Japan and the United States. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin after finishing her BA and MA at Hitotsubashi University in Japan. She taught a variety of sociology courses on gender, work, and Japan as a tenured associate professor at Western Kentucky University. She is the author of Too Few Women at the Top: The Persistence of Inequality in Japan (Cornell University Press, 2016) and Racing Romance: Love, Power, and Desire among Asian American/White Couples (Rutgers University Press, 2009).

Hiroko Takeda is Professor of Political Analysis at the Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University. Prior to taking up the current post, she completed her PhD at the University of Sheffield, and taught at Cardiff University, the University of Sheffield and the University of Tokyo. She specializes in political sociology and her research interests include gender and politics/political economy in Japan and East Asia, biopolitics and governance, and political discourse analysis. Her publications include The Political Economy of Reproduction in Japan: Between Nation-State and Everyday Life (RoutledgeCurzon, 2005); ‘National Solidarity of Food Insecurity: Food Practice and Nationalism in Post-3/11 Japan’ (in Andreas Niehaus and Tine Walravens (eds) Feeding Japan: the Cultural and Political Issues of Dependency and Risk, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, pp. 475-505; ‘Between Reproduction and Production: Womenomics and the Japanese Government’s Approach to Women and Gender Policies’ (in The Journal of Gender Studies, 21, 2018, pp. 49-69).

Yuki Tsuji is Associate Professor of Political Sociology at the School of Political Science and Economics, Tokai University. Her research interests focus on gender politics in Japan, including the politics of welfare state restructuring, the political representation of women, and care and family policies. She published Kazoku-syugi Fukushi Regi’mu no Saihen to Jendâ Seiji (Restructuring of the Familialist Welfare Regime and Gender Politics) (2012). Her publications in English include “Explaining the Increase in Female Mayors: Gender-Segregated Employment and Pathways to Local Political Leadership” in the Social Science Japan Journal, 20(1): 37–57, 2017, and “Re-imagined intimate relations: elder and child care in Japan since the 1990s” in Feminist Ethics and Social Policy: Towards a New Global Economy of Care, edited by Rianne Mahon and Fiona Robinson, UBC Press, 2011.


Contact Info: 
Robert Dujarric
Director, Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies
Temple University Japan Campus
Contact Email: