According to the 1999 Basic Law for a Gender-equal Society (Danjo kyōdō sankaku shakai kihon-hō), it is a “top-priority task in determining the framework of 21st-century Japan” to realise a gender-equal society. This society is to be built not only by the Japanese government, but also by Japan’s 47 prefectures as well as each and every municipality. Although policy-makers on the national, prefectural and local levels formulated numerous measures in this realm, the process of policy implementation seems to proceed only slowly.
This presentation focuses on the implementation of gender equality measures by highlighting the role of the prefectural gender equality sections (danjo kyōdō sankaku ka). These sections are supposed to pursue own efforts for implementing a gender-equal society, while also coordinating the overall policy progress within the prefecture. Following an approach of choosing most different case studies, I will introduce the numerous patterns of political participation in the process of policy implementation observed in the gender equality sections in the prefectures of Nagasaki (low ranking on Gender Empowerment Measure [GEM] Index) and Shiga (high ranking on GEM Index). My study is based on qualitative interviews, which I conducted for a doctoral dissertation project during field research trips to those prefectures in 2008. Of special interest are the gender equality sections’ strategies of interaction with other political actors in the prefectures, such as towns and municipalities, administrative departments and sections, and civil society organisations. It will be argued that differences in the strategies of interaction between political actors are a highly important factor in determining the degree of success of policy implementation.
Phoebe S. Holdgrün is a PhD candidate of Modern Japanese Studies at Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf, Germany. She is currently Doctoral Research Fellow at the German Institute for Japanese Studies.