Do women's movements and state-level women's ministries or bureaus influence national-level policy making about issues related to women's issues? At the very least, there is substantial disagreement about this question in Japan, as several recent works by political scientists and sociologists come to very different conclusions in their assessments of the influence of women's groups and the Gender Equality Bureau. This paper reviews those arguments, then uses evidence about the policy making process to argue that exponents of "state feminism" exaggerate or miscast the influence of women's groups Japan.
Patricia Boling is a scholar of women's studies and political science from Purdue University in the United States. She has written about public-private distinctions in the United States (and in Japan), and has edited a book on reproductive technologies and the ethical and political issues they raise. Recently she has been working on a comparative study of family support policies in four countries, Japan, the United States, France and Germany, with the primary focus on Japan, where she has spent several years living and doing research.