East Asia

Comforting The Nation: ‘Comfort Women,’ the Politics of Apology and the Workings of Gender


Park, You-Me. 2000. “Comforting The Nation: ‘Comfort Women,’ the Politics of Apology and the Workings of Gender.” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 2 (2): 199–211. doi:10.1080/136980100427315.

Author: You-Me Park


International politics always operates and is imagined in a gendered manner, especially in matters related to symbolic gestures and spectacles such as the declaration of war, the ritual of surrender, the signing of treaties, or the offer and acceptance of apologies. Therefore, our reading of these events has to be performed with a sustained and rigorous interest in gender: we need to ask how a masculine national image is constructed and guarded in these rituals; how the conflicts among various forms of masculinity are negotiated; how the 'common sense' derived from these gendered rituals affects the real lives of real people on a daily basis. In this essay, [Park] examine[s] the issues of masculine national identity and gendered violence in the context of the controversy around the apologies offered (or not offered) to former 'comfort women,' women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese Imperial Army during the Pacific War. By investigating the 'common sense' and underlying assumptions that shape the language around the issues of apologies and compensation for former comfort women, [Park] explore[s] how 'male sexual needs' are imagined; who is rendered deserving of the state protection and who is not; who is dispensable and who is not. [Park] argue[s] that, unless we rigorously examine the language representing and interpreting this particular part of history, we end up reinscribing violent patriarchal assumptions, which made possible the practice of comfort women in the first place. In those instances, the apology can be the biggest insult to those women who silently bore the burden of their sexuality and their female bodies, which are by definition guilty according to Confucian thoughts, for half a century.

Keywords: comfort women, apology, Japanese imperialism, international politics, Asian women's fund, violence, expendability

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Nationalism, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Sexuality Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan

Year: 2000

The Shame of Hwang v. Japan: How the International Community Has Failed Asia's 'Comfort Women'


Ahmed, Afreen R. 2004. “The Shame of Hwang v. Japan: How the International Community Has Failed Asia's 'Comfort Women.'” Texas Journal of Women & the Law 14 (1): 1-121.

Author: Afreen R. Ahmed


In 1897, the Japanese intellectual Uchimura Kanzo wrote in an essay entitled "National Repentance," but it was not until 1937 that Japan began greatly expanding its officially sanctioned and closely regulated "comfort system" for the sexual gratification of the Japanese soldiers as they waged war throughout East Asia and the Pacific. The states parties to the treaty included some whose nationals had been enslaved as "comfort women" - Indonesia, the Netherlands, and the Philippines - but the treaty contained no mention of the victims of rape, forced prostitution, or sexual slavery. Japan has argued that during the war, neither slavery nor wartime rape was proscribed by conventional or customary international law. The sexual enslavement of the "comfort women" during World War II was, without a doubt, a violation of the customary international law regarding slavery and slavery-like practices. Documents subsequent to Hague IV confirm that rape and forced prostitution were considered violations of the customary international law of war. On the one hand, both Japanese and Allied military cultures regarded rape as an acceptable side effect of war; on the other hand, the post-war Asian cultures regarded the rape victim as socially unacceptable, partly to blame for her victimization, and nothing more than a source of shame.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, International Law, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, SV against Women Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan

Year: 2004

Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation


Mayer, Tamar, ed. 2000. Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation. New York: Routlege.

Author: Tamar Mayer


This book provides a unique social science reading on the construction of nation, gender and sexuality and on the interactions among them. It includes international case studies from Indonesia, Ireland, former Yugoslavia, Liberia, Sri Lanka, Australia, the USA, Turkey, China, India and the Caribbean. The contributors offer both the masculine and feminine perspective, exposing how nations are comprised of sexed bodies, and exploring the gender ironies of nationalism and how sexuality plays a key role in nation building and in sustaining national identity.

The contributors conclude that control over access to the benefits of belonging to the nation is invariably gendered; nationalism becomes the language through which sexual control and repression is justified masculine prowess is expressed and exercised. Whilst it is men who claim the prerogatives of nation and nation building it is, for the most part, women who actually accept the obligation of nation and nation building. (Amazon)

Topics: Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Nationalism, Sexuality Regions: Africa, MENA, West Africa, Caribbean countries, North America, Asia, East Asia, Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Balkans, Southern Europe, Western Europe, Oceania Countries: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Liberia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, United States of America, Yugoslavia (former)

Year: 2000

Gender and ICTs for Development: A Global Sourcebook


Odame, Helen Hambly, Guihuan Li, Minori Terada, Blythe McKay, Mercy Wambui, and Nancy Muturi. 2005. Gender and ICTs for Development: A Global Sourcebook. Amsterdam: KIT (Royal Tropical Institute); Oxfam GB.

Authors: Helen Hambly Odame, Guihuan Li, Minori Terada, Blythe McKay, Mercy Wambui, Nancy Muturi


Around the world information and communication technologies (ICTs) have changed the lives of individuals, organizations and indeed, entire nations. This book is a collection of case studies about women and their communities in developing countries, and how they have been influenced by ICTs. ICTs can have profound implications for women and men in terms of employment, education, health, environmental sustainability and community development.

Women want information and engage in communication that will improve their livelihoods and help them achieve their human rights. This represents a formidable challenge to all societies in today's world, and especially to developing countries. Due to systemic gender biases in ICTs and their applications, women are far more likely than men to experience discrimination in the information society. Women are not giving up on ICTs. On the contrary, even resource-poor and non-literate women and their organizations are aware of the power of information technologies and communication processes and, if given the opportunity to do so, will use them to advance their basic needs and strategic interests.

Five case studies illustrate the different contexts facing gender and ICTs for development, including e-commerce in Bhutan, entrepreneurship by women workers in China, post-war communication using radio and ICTs in Sierra Leone, sustainable fisheries production in Ghana, and information exchange related to HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. An extensive annotated bibliography of the international literature on Gender and ICTs for development, rural development in particular, and relevant web resources, complement the papers.

Topics: Development, Gender, Women, Infrastructure, Information & Communication Technologies Regions: Africa, West Africa, Americas, Caribbean countries, Asia, East Asia, South Asia Countries: Barbados, Bhutan, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Trinidad & Tobago

Year: 2005

Engendering Genre: Gender and Nationalism in China Men and The Woman Warrior


Nishime, LeiLani. 1995. “Engendering Genre: Gender and Nationalism in China Men and The Woman Warrior.” MELUS 20 (1): 67–82.

Author: LeiLani Nishime

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Men, Nationalism Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: China

Year: 1995

Woman's Place in Japan's Great Depression: Reflections on the Moral Economy of Deflation


Metzler, Mark. 2004. “Woman’s Place in Japan’s Great Depression: Reflections on the Moral Economy of Deflation.” The Journal of Japanese Studies 30 (2): 315–52.

Author: Mark Metzler


There is a characteristic moral economy of delflation, and it can be traced with clarity in teh case of Japan's long deflation of the 1920s. Deflation emerged as an issue in 1919 and reached an extreme in 1929 - 31, when the Hamaguchi Osachi cabinet adopted the depression-inducing policy of restoring the yen to gold convertability at its old prewar value. To support its deflation policy, the cabinet launched an extraordinary campaign to induce households to reduce their consumption. Consumption was a specifically gendered conception, and women's place as subjects and as objects of consumption became the symbolic center of a historic confrontation between orthodox "monetarist" and novel "Keysian" ideas.

Keywords: Gender, women, economic development

Topics: Economies, Gender, Women, Governance Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan

Year: 2004

Vitalizing Democracy at the Grassroots: A Contribution of Post-War Women’s Movements in Japan


Eto, Mikiko. 2008. “Vitalizing Democracy at the Grassroots: A Contribution of Post-War Women’s Movements in Japan.” East Asia Journal 25: 115–43.

Author: Mikiko Eto


The purpose of this paper is to elucidate the socio-political significance of women’s collective activities in Japan. I attempt to demonstrate that the Japanese women’s movements act as a role of democratic agency through their commitment to social reform and to changes in the political status quo. In the first three sections, I give an overview of Japanese women’s movements from the early post-war period to the present day, categorizing them into three types: the elite-initiated, second-wave feminist, and non-feminist participatory. Subsequently, I discuss the confrontation and reconciliation between feminists and non-feminists. In the final section, I examine what role the women’s movements play in socio-political reforms in terms of civil society discourse, and I conclude that the diversity of Japanese women’s movements has contributed to strengthening democracy at the grassroots.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Political Participation Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan

Year: 2008

Women and Local Power in India and China: Revisiting the Ghosts of Manu and Confucius


Mohanty, Bidyut. 2007. “Women and Local Power in India and China: Revisiting the Ghosts of Manu and Confucius.” In Grass-Roots Democracy in India and China: The Right to Participate, edited by Manoranjan Mohanty, George Mathew, Richard Baum, and Ma Rong, 293-319. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Author: Bidyut Mohanty

Topics: Gender, Women, Governance, Political Participation, Religion Regions: Asia, East Asia, South Asia Countries: China, India

Year: 2007

The Gender of Nationalism: Competing Masculinities in Meiji Japan


Karlin, Jason G. 2002. “The Gender of Nationalism: Competing Masculinities in Meiji Japan.” Journal of Japanese Studies 28 (1): 41-77.,/span>

Author: Jason G. Karlin


This essay examines gender symbolism in competing representations of nationalism in Meiji Japan. Through an analysis of contesting images of masculinity, it reveals how questions of national identity were articulated in the idiom of gender. In response to the perceived threat of the feminization of culture represented by the intensification of consumption, fashion, and artifice, a vigorous masculinity asserted itself that rejected Western materialism and instead extolled notions of primitivism, national spirit, and imperialism. These two opposing representations of masculinity, a "masculinized" and "feminized" masculinity, each constituted differing responses to the problem of modernity.

Topics: Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Nationalism Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan

Year: 2002


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