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Eric J. Cunningham

Introduction Japan’s verticality—its predominance of steep, forested hills and mountains—makes for a topsy-turvy hydrologic landscape. Waterways cut through the country’s mountainous interior in a netlike series of shallow, fast-running streams and

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Chinichi Arai

Despite modernization of the Japanese school system after 1872, this period was marked by the war in East Asia and nationalism focusing on the emperor, whereby the imperial rescript of 1890 defined the core of national education. Following defeat in the Second World War, Japan reformed its education system in accordance with a policy geared towards peace and democracy in line with the United Nations. However, following the peace treaty of 1951 and renewed economic development during the Cold War, the conservative power bloc revised history textbooks in accordance with nationalist ideology. Many teachers, historians and trade unions resisted this tendency, and in 1982 neighboring countries in East Asia protested against the Japanese government for justifying past aggression in history textbooks. As a result, descriptions of wartime misdeeds committed by the Japanese army found their way into textbooks after 1997. Although the ethnocentric history textbook for Japanese secondary schools was published and passed government screening in 2001, there is now a trend towards bilateral or multilateral teaching materials between Japan, South Korea, and China. Two bilateral and one multilateral work have been published so far, which constitute the basis for future trials toward publishing a common textbook.

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Ryôta Nishino

This article examines how middle school history textbooks published between 1951 and 1995 explain the origins of the Japanese as an ethnic group (minzoku). The analysis shows that despite the relatively long period from which the sample of textbooks was taken, these texts continue to emphasize two categories of Japanese identity: a biologically heterogeneous people through prehistoric immigration and a unified language. Building on the latter theme, the textbooks continued to treat the innovation of the kana as a quintessential development underlying the Japanese cultural achievement. The analysis reveals that the narrative tone shifted from being emotive in the early 1950s texts to somewhat muted in later decades.

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Rachel Kurian and Chihiro Uchiyama

This article argues that the social quality approach can be usefully applied to studying “models of elderly care“ that enhance the wellbeing of the elderly and empower them to participate in social activities. Examining three cases in Japan and another three cases in e Netherlands, the study identifies actors, institutions and processes that have provided services for the elderly, highlighting the importance of history and culture in influencing the “social“ of the elderly. The article deals with a range of opportunities and possibilities for optimizing care for the elderly, both as individuals and as a group, through promoting their social inclusion, social cohesion, socio-economic security and social empowerment. Grounded in community networks, as well as in social and intergenerational interaction, these “models“ demonstrate how care-givers, including nurses and family members, are also empowered in these processes. These discussions, reflecting empirical reality and conceptual insights, provide the basis of sustainable welfare policies that improve the social quality of the elderly.

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Joshua Hotaka Roth

Many Japanese workers in lower-paying positions were drawn to the growing trucking sector in the 1950s and 1960s, characterized by contingency and the thrill of risk and reward, in contrast to the stasis of lifetime employment guarantees emerging in other sectors of the economy. The gamified reward structure in trucking, however, led to a spike in traffic accidents and a backlash against “kamikaze trucks.” Only after regulations and enforcement limited the most dangerous kinds of incentives did meaningful forms of play emerge at work from the bottom up, rather than the stultified forms imposed by businesses from the top down.

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Anthony Rausch

This article examines the impact of contemporary higher education policy at a rural university in Japan. Hirosaki University, although a national university with an attached medical school, is far from the centre of academia in Japan, with a comparatively low ranking among national universities in Japan, and severe budget constraints. The policies that influence the trajectory of the university simultaneously illustrate two dimensions. On the one hand, they reflect global trends of neoliberal higher educational governance as these unfold in a leading nation-state within Asia. On the other hand, they show how policies originating within central government ministries and dictated by population and budget dynamics yield a highly localised outcome that forces a peripheral university to concentrate its efforts predominantly in its own community.

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Yoshiko Nozaki and Mark Selden

Japan's right-wing nationalists have launched three major attacks on school textbooks over the second half of the twentieth century. Centered on the treatment of colonialism and war, the attacks surfaced in 1955, the late 1970s, and the mid-1990s. This article examines three moments in light of Japanese domestic as well as regional and global political contexts to gain insight into the persistent problem of the Pacific War in historical memory and its refraction in textbook treatments. There are striking similarities as well as critical di erences in the ways the attacks on textbooks recurred and in the conditions of political instability.

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Anne Allison

Emerging from the defeat of the Second World War, Japan shifted its national lens from empire building abroad to productivity and prosperity at home. Organized around a particular form of sociality and capitalist economics, citizens worked hard for 'myhomeism' - the attachments (of men at the workplace, women to the household, children to school) that fuelled fast-growth economics and rising consumerism. In the last two decades of economic decline and more irregular employment, the 'nestling' of family and corporate capitalism has begun to unravel. In the 'lost decade' of the 1990s, many young Japanese assumed the ranks of what activist Karin Amamiya calls the 'precariat' - those precariously un(der)employed, unable to assume the social citizenship of my-homeism, and existentially bereft. How are people not only surviving hard times but also remaking their ties of social connectedness and their calculus of human worth?

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Hamlet and the 47 Ronin

Did Shakespeare Read Chushingura?

Graham Holderness

‘Shakespeare must have read Chushingura’ . —Harue Tsutsumi, Kanadehon Hamlet In the unlikely event that he had been able to read Japanese, Shakespeare could not of course have ‘read Chushingura ’, an 18th century puppet play based on

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Corporal Punishment in Japan

One Path to Positive Anthropological Activism

Aaron L. Miller

anthropologist, and by sharing my experiences researching the controversial issue of corporal punishment in Japan. Based on these experiences, I believe that the field of anthropology will fade into the shadows of irrelevance unless we can find a way to interpret