chapter  6
Japan
Pages 39

Despite the fact that legislative changes imposed by the occupation of 1945-52 swept away the juridical foundations of sexual discrimination in Japan, the Japanese state has since been extremely reluctant to incorporate international norms of sexual non-discrimination. The most significant impediment to norm diffusion has been the gender-biased corporate identity of the state, which was politically reconstituted in the postoccupation period as a traditional patrilineal nation in which the Japanese family system (ie) is the locus of social stability and strength. Vestiges of the family system established in the Meiji period (1868-1912) survived the Allied occupation, and during the 1950s and 1960s the Japanese state introduced a series of gender-reinforcing policies explicitly aimed at eroding occupation reforms and reviving traditional social gender divisions. Discursively, the state revived the pre-Second World War mantra ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ and waxed lyrical about the proper traditional authority of the paterfamilias. This vision of restoring the traditional Japanese family system was embedded in the national security, taxation and employment policy systems. The deeply patrilineal corporate state identity constructed in the immediate post-occupation period proved decidedly resilient and continues to present a formidable obstacle to the diffusion of international norms of sexual non-discrimination.