In this presentation I will examine the ideologies and activities of members in Japan’s women’s nationalistic groups. Nihon Josei no Kai (Japan Women’s Group) and Tatenaosō Nippon Josei Juku (Rebuild Japan: Women’s School) are the two main women’s nationalistic groups in contemporary Japan. Both were founded in the early 2000s. Both tend to praise pre-war Japan (especially Meiji-era Japan) and its conservative social order and morality, including its gender norms. Activists in these groups attempt to influence public policies and the political process alike. They strive for their conservative ideals to be adopted in the political sphere. The main question to be asked in this research is why these women are being active political participants when, at the same time, they are upholding conservative gender norms in which women are primarily defined as mothers and wives who stay home and take care of their families. Furthermore, their active political participation is interesting to study against the backdrop of contemporary Japan’s political culture with the women’s level of political participation being lower than that of men, and a general political apathy being widespread among citizens. Instead of offering definitive arguments, I will present some possible answers to my research questions. I will describe who these nationalist women and women’s groups are, what their ideals and arguments are, and what kind of activism they engage in. This presentation is based on data I have collected so far through interviews of activists, participant observation within one of the aforementioned women’s groups, and archival research.
Kimiko Osawa is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is currently a visiting researcher at Tokyo University’s Institute for Social Science on a grant by the Matsushita International Foundation.