Major research on Japanese civil society characterizes it as chronically weak and penetrated by the state, based on national level measures and comparisons with the contemporary United States. However a vast array of civil society organizations cannot be captured with this approach and remains invisible. Many of these organizations trace their roots to the social movements of the 1960s. I contend that civic participation in these conflicts shaped an alternative civil society in Japan, with characteristic organizational features and institutional practices that persist today. They are quite visible if you know where to look and can recognize their signatures.
Dr. Patricia G. Steinhoff is professor of Sociology at the University
of Hawaii at Manoa. Currently she is a visiting professor at the
Institute for Social Science, University of Tokyo
Her research focuses on social movements and Japan. Recent publications include: Bestor, Theodore, Patricia G. Steinhoff, and Victoria Lyon-Bestor, eds., Doing Fieldwork in Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003; Steinhoff, Patricia G., “Kidnapped Japanese in North Korea: The New Left Connection” Journal of Japanese Studies Winter, 2004; and Steinhoff, Patricia G., “Radical Outcasts versus Three Kinds of Police: Constructing Limits in Japanese Anti-Emperor Protest” Qualitative Sociology , fall, 2006.