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From Women’s Studies to Queer Studies: bending epistemology

Aline Henninger
Translated by Karen Grimwade

Abstracts

In the decades following the emergence of what are now called queer studies, LGBT studies and lesbian and gay studies, Japan has seen a flourishing production of scholarship exploring gender, whether cross-disciplinary or hailing from the fields of history, sociology and literature. Analysing the origins of these new fields of inquiry will provide a clear understanding of the concept of gender, how it is used within academic circles and how the LGBTQ viewpoints irrigating certain feminist and activist movements were shaped. In turn, this will reveal the links between gender, LGBT and queer studies, and how gender studies is linked to the history of Japanese feminism.

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Original release: Aline Henninger, « Des recherches sur la question féminine aux études queer : un tournant épistémologique », Cipango, 22, 2015, 109-155. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cipango/2784 ; DOI : https://doi.org/​10.4000/​cipango.2784.

  • 1 Ehara Yumiko 江原由美子, Feminizumu ronsō: nanajū nendai kara kyūjū nendai eフェミニズム論争-70年代から90年代へ [Femin (...)
  • 2 Georges Canguilhem, Études d’histoire et de philosophie des sciences [Studies in the History and P (...)
  • 3 Ludwik Fleck, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, translated by Frederick Bradley and Th (...)
  • 4 Laure Bereni, Sébastien Chauvin, Alexandre Jaunait and Anne Revillard, Introduction aux études de (...)

1Gender studies emerged as part of an epistemological break brought about by critical challenges to the idea of a natural link between sex, gender and heterosexuality.1 In Japan, the categories of “man” and “woman”, as well as the sexual norm, were deconstructed in the early 1990s, imposing a challenging new complexity on academic thought. Just as in other disciplines and fields of inquiry, this epistemological break was part of a wider history – that of the social sciences – and is inextricably linked to the specific context in which knowledge is produced. With the history of science having already questioned the conditions surrounding its search for truth,2 epistemology shows us that knowledge production is inescapably influenced by the heuristic biases of the era – of which gender is one – whether in the natural sciences or the social sciences.3 In fact, gender studies have highlighted just how bound up science is with sex determination, yet the field has also shown a capacity for reflection by explaining its own path to institutionalisation within an essentially androcentric branch of knowledge.4

  • 5 It is possible to separate gay studies (gei sutadīzu ゲイ・スタディーズ) and lesbian studies (rezubian suta (...)
  • 6 The terms “queer perspective” (kuia no shiten kara クイアの視点から) and “queer theory” (kuia riron クイア理論) (...)
  • 7 “Trans” can refer both to transsexuals (who generally transition physically to a particular sex vi (...)

2This paper aims to draw on this perspective to look back at the sociogenesis of gender studies (jendā sutadīzu ジェンダー・スタディーズ), lesbian and gay studies (gei/rezubian sutadīzu ゲイ/レズビアン・スタディーズ5) and queer studies (kuia sutadīzu クイア・スタディーズ6) in Japan. Before we go any further, these new fields require some further explanation. The term “gender studies” refers to a corpus of multidisciplinary works exploring and harnessing the concept of gender (jendā ジェンダー), defined as the system that produces a hierarchical binary of the sexes (men/women) and of the values and representations associated with them (masculine/feminine). Gender studies was institutionalised in the United States in the 1980s, and in the rest of the world, including Japan, in the 1990s. This in turn led to the emergence of lesbian and gay studies, which has denaturalised the concepts of masculine and feminine and questioned the links between heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality. These categories are grouped under the acronym LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender7) to refer to non-heterosexual sexualities and practices, which are explored within the field of LGBT studies. As for queer studies, this field emerged during the 1990s, precisely as part of an effort to move away from the categories of male/female and LGBT. Research in this area emphasises how gender identities are not so clearly compartmentalised and how it is impossible to define sexualities in the face of heteronormativity, since each has its own contradictions and incoherencies.

  • 8 This term is borrowed from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, whose book Epistemology of the Closet, published (...)

3In this paper I will demonstrate how scholarship in these fields is part of an intellectual history that is closely linked to Japanese social history, and how it reflects a wider challenge to scientific knowledge that has been underway since the 1960s. I will also examine the links between gender studies, lesbian and gay studies and queer studies in North America. After importing and appropriating the concepts, Japanese feminists, LGBT activists and scholars further developed these intellectual tools as a means of undertaking reflection in their own language and exploring issues specific to Japan. Retracing this epistemology of the Japanese closet8 means establishing the genealogy of the various concepts and attempting to understand how these sources of new knowledge managed to define and establish themselves as an academic field. In parallel, Japanese feminism was carving out its own independent path – from the early debates on the woman question to the emergence of queer studies – in a constantly evolving activist context, implying a complex new relationship between theory, everyday practice and feminist activism.

  • 9 Ōta Tomomi, “Devenir écrivain/devenir femme/devenir soi : l’écriture et l’amour dans les textes li (...)
  • 10 Marion Saucier, “Le débat dans Seitô entre Itô Noe et Yamakawa [Aoyama] Kikue sur la prostitution, (...)
  • 11 Isabelle Konuma, “L’avortement dans Seitô : la formation de l’espace décisionnel des femmes” [Abor (...)

4To achieve my objectives, I will discuss the various epistemological breaks, linking them to the historical context in which social movements and structures appeared. The early days of Japanese feminism saw the emergence of a branch of knowledge that debated the status of women. This “research on the woman question” (fujin mondai kenkyū) focused in particular on women’s suffrage, girls’ education, women’s writing9, motherhood, family, prostitution10 and abortion11. Much later on, in the 1970s, these themes were picked up once again by scholars in the field of women’s studies (joseigaku). Gender studies, which appeared in the 1990s, overturned this tradition of focusing solely on the female condition. Henceforth, it was the relationships between men and women that were analysed. Sexuality did not escape the spotlight and its denaturalisation by scholars has given rise to new fields of study, namely lesbian and gay studies and queer studies.

A first wave of feminism: research on the woman question

  • 12 Although both terms exist, the version using the suffix -gaku (jendāgaku ジェンダー学) is much more comm (...)

5The field of gender studies (jendā sutadīzu ジェンダー・スタディーズ or jendāgaku ジェンダー学12 as it is more commonly called in Japanese) emerged in the 1990s. However, earlier reflections on the status of women did occur in the form of “research on the woman question” (fujin mondai kenkyū 婦人問題研究) and “women’s studies” (joseigaku 女性学), though these fields have neither the same focus of study nor the same history. I will attempt to retrace more than a century of feminist movements and feminist thought in Japan in order to illustrate how gender relations have been systematised as an academic discipline.

  • 13 Christian Galan and Emmanuel Lozerand, eds., La Famille japonaise moderne (1868-1926). Discours et (...)
  • 14 Claire Dodane, “Femmes écrivains des années 1910 : amour, féminisme et indépendance” [Women Writer (...)
  • 15 Christine Lévy, “Introduction”, in Genre et modernité au Japon. La revue Seitô et la femme nouvell (...)
  • 16 Ibid. 13-14.
  • 17 Claire Dodane, “L’écriture féminine dans le Japon moderne”, in La Famille japonaise moderne, ed. G (...)
  • 18 Lévy, Genre et modernité au Japon, 13-28.
  • 19 Endo Orie, “Aspects of Sexism in Language”, in Japanese Women. New Feminist Perspectives on the Pa (...)
  • 20 The term fujin (婦人) has no masculine equivalent (though one could imagine danjin 男人). In contrast, (...)
  • 21 Lévy, Genre et modernité au Japon, 13.
  • 22 Texts by self-proclaimed socialist authors and journalists, such as Kōtoku Shūsui (1871-1911) and (...)
  • 23 Similarly, the term in German is die Frauenfrage and in French, la question féminine.

6The Japanese family gradually began to be reshaped in the 1870s, notably through the tremendous societal and legal changes that coloured the final third of the Meiji period.13 Despite the “good wife, wise mother” (ryōsai kenbo 良妻賢母) ideal of the day, this did not prevent some women from carrying out public or literary activities.14 Kishida Toshiko 岸田俊子 (1863-1901), who is generally held up as an example for this period, took up her pen in the 1880s to denounce the lack of freedom given to women.15 Two decades later, at the end of the Meiji period and throughout the Taishō period (1912-1926), several intellectuals and socialist activists campaigned for the emancipation of women. Women also founded study groups within socialist circles to explore women’s issues.16 The late 1900s and the 1910s also saw the emergence of literary circles in which women authors revealed their talents.17 The magazine Bluestocking (Seitō 青鞜, 1911-1916) is emblematic of this political and literary dimension to the early women’s movement.18 It was in this context that the expression “woman question”, or fujin mondai 婦人問題, came about. The word fujin was chosen for several reasons. First, it lacked the denigrating connotation of onna, meaning “woman”, and by extension, public woman or prostitute.19 Furthermore, there is no male equivalent to fujin (a term that already existed), unlike josei20. It was more flattering to women and distinguished them from men. It appeared, for example, in the title of the feminist and socialist magazine Sekai fujin, founded in 1907. It was during this period, in the 1900s and 1910s, that the word fujin gained its political connotation of woman as an individual who deserved the same civil rights and civic responsibilities as men.21 The woman question is thus indissociable from the socialist movement.22 The term “woman question”, used here as a translation for fujin mondai 婦人問題, corresponds to the expression commonly used in socialist and communist circles in late nineteenth-century Europe.23

  • 24 Nagai Tōru 永井亨, Fujin mondai kenkyū 婦人問題研究 [Research on the Woman Question] (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten (...)

7The term woman question subsequently led to the birth of “research on the woman question” (fujin mondai kenkyū 婦人問題研究24) in the 1920s, with the expression referring, as of the Taishō period, to a corpus of texts on women-related subjects. The word “research” (kenkyū 研究), in contrast to the suffix -gaku 学 (-ology or studies in English), does not imply a single academic field or specific approach but rather an object of study, in this case the female condition. “Research on the woman question” is nevertheless vague because it covers any women-focused subject, without reflecting on the specificity of their problems. Consequently, many texts can be placed in this category. In its current use, the term applies specifically to texts written during the Taishō and Shōwa periods. More generally, this “research” can be seen as spanning a wider period running from the 1880s to the 1960s: from the emergence of women’s voices and early feminist demands to the appearance of second-wave feminism in the 1960s.

  • 25 Vera Mackie, Feminism in Modern Japan. Citizenship, Embodiment and Sexuality (Cambridge: Cambridge (...)
  • 26 Fujieda & fujimura-Fanselow, “Women’s Studies: An Overview”, 156-57.
  • 27 Kimura Ryōko 木村涼子, “Introduction”, in Jendā to kyōiku ジェンダーと教育 [Gender and Education], ed. Kimura (...)

8Research on the woman question seems to have been dominated by a Marxist perspective: the solution to the problem of male/female relations is often presented from the angle of class domination and alienation within the world of work. This perspective failed to take into account the disparate experiences of women from different classes or the dominant position of men across all classes.25 Despite accumulating a wealth of knowledge on the female condition, research on the woman question failed to develop the interdisciplinary approach necessary to provide a deeper understanding of the factors underpinning male dominance.26 Driven by a reformist agenda, this research focused in particular on women’s suffrage, education, working conditions, contraception, motherhood protection, the definition of marital status and prostitution. These debates mirrored the demands of first-wave feminism (daiippa feminizumu 第一波フェミニズム) in Japan, which was characterised above all by the fight for women’s right to vote and stand for election, obtained in 1946.27

  • 28 Dodane, “L’écriture féminine dans le Japon moderne”, 431-43.
  • 29 Christine Lévy, ed., “Naissance d’une revue féministe au Japon: Seitō (1911-1916)” [Birth of a Fem (...)

9The protagonists in this struggle were women and feminist men, many of them progressive or socialist-minded authors, translators, novelists, journalists and essayists like Sakai Toshihiko 堺利彦 (1871-1933), Hiratsuka Raichō 平塚らいてう (1886-1971), Takamure Itsue 高群逸枝 (1894-1964), Yamakawa Kikue 山川菊栄 (1890-1980), Oku Mumeo 奥むめお (1895-1997), Itō Noe 伊藤 野枝 (1895-1923), Katō Shizue 加藤シヅエ (1897-2000) and Miyamoto Yuriko 宮本百合子 (1899-1951). Many articles were published in national and militant newspapers, and this dynamic was further boosted by the existence of women’s magazines such as Jogaku sekai 女学世界 (Women’s Education World, 1901-1926), Fujinkai 婦人界 (Women’s World, 1902-1904), Fujin sekai 婦人世界 (Women’s World, 1905-1933), Fujokai 婦女界 (Women’s World, 1910-1952), Shufu no tomo 主婦の友 (The Housewife’s Companion, founded in 1917) and Fujin kōron 婦人公論 (Women’s Review, founded in 1916). Several woman authors were able to make a name for themselves.28 The rich and varied debates that unfolded in the pages of Bluestocking illustrated the full range of reflections on women’s rights during this era and also presented the situation overseas.29 In a similar vein, attempts were made to write women back into history, such as Ōsugi Sakae’s 1916 translation of Charles Letourneau’s The Evolution of Marriage and of the Family and Sakai Toshihiko’s works The Evolution of the Male-Female Relationship (Danjo kankei no shinka 男女関係の進化, 1908), The History of the Struggle between Men and Women (Danjo sōtōshi 男女争闘史, 1920), and The Development of the Male-Female Relationship (Danjo kankei no hattatsu 男女関係の発達, 1922). Research on the woman question addressed the full spectrum of concerns and interrogations of the era, establishing entire new areas of inquiry within several disciplines. As such, this research does not represent a specific academic discipline but rather an attempt to gather together relevant knowledge from various areas. Women took up their pens to discuss the female condition, while authors (both men and women) debated the status and experiences of women, denouncing certain inequalities in the treatment reserved for them. Such were the characteristics of fujin mondai kenkyū and these works perfectly reflect the political and intellectual ferment of the Taishō and early Shōwa periods.

The second wave of feminism: women’s studies

  • 30 The history of women during the war (in particular the creation in 1942 and subsequent dismantling (...)
  • 31 Gayle Curtis Anderson, Women’s History and Local Community in Postwar Japan (London: New-York, Rou (...)
  • 32 The Japanese word kaihō 解放 (emancipation) was replaced by the Anglicism ribu リブ, reflecting a chan (...)
  • 33 Kimura, Jendā to kyōiku, 3-5.
  • 34 Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique (1963) created a stir when it appeared in Japan in 1965 (...)
  • 35 Ehara Yumiko, Feminizumu no paradokkusu. Teichaku ni yoru kakusan フェミニズムのパラドックス―定着による拡散 [The Parad (...)
  • 36 Mackie, Feminism in Modern Japan, 159-63.
  • 37 Laura Dales, Feminist Movements in Contemporary Japan (London and New-York: Routledge, 2009), 31-3 (...)

10The hopes of first-wave feminists were actualised in 1946 and 1947 thanks to Japan’s legal apparatus, making gender equality seem a possibility. The new Constitution of Japan enshrined the principle of equality between the sexes, the civil code revised its definition of marriage and divorce in consequence, and compulsory public education became mixed-sex. The main activists of the 1900s to 1940s receded into the background after these rights were secured, or simply disappeared as the new generation came to the fore.30 Beginning in the late 1940s, small-scale women’s groups cropped up throughout Japan, swelling the ranks of Japanese feminism and helping it establish local roots.31 These groups enabled documents to be collected in order to write texts on women’s history. The very end of the 1960s saw the emergence of a “movement for women’s liberation”32 (or ūman ribu ウーマン・リブ, based on the Women’s Lib movement in the West), corresponding to what is now considered the “second wave of feminism.”33 Driven this time solely by women making a stand against male dominance, and echoing the demands of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the United States, this new feminism left behind the former struggle for voting rights and instead focused on work, independence34 and sexual fulfilment. Although the movement began in Tokyo, various groups appeared outside the capital, giving the movement a certain presence and size.35 While the debates between Japanese historians and sociologists over the place of the women’s lib movement (ūman ribu) remain unresolved, it is clear that this movement was not a monolithic block with fixed ideas: disagreement existed – between socialist and conservative women for example, or between heterosexuals and lesbians.36 The network of local, community-based feminist groups that appeared during the 1970s and 1980s thus presented a wide variety of feminist perspectives.37 Moreover, it appears that a substantial percentage of housewives did not understand the purpose of this movement and had no desire to participate in it.

  • 38 In November 1975 a conference was held to celebrate International Women’s Year, then in 1979 the U (...)
  • 39 Fujieda & fujimura-Fanselow, “Women’s Studies: An Overview”, 158.
  • 40 Kokuryo Sonoko, “L’installation de cours d’études féminines et de centres de documentation sur les (...)
  • 41 The Institute for Women’s Studies at Ochanomizu University, founded in 1986, became the Institute (...)
  • 42 Ehara Yumiko, “Le développement théorique des études sur les femmes et le genre dans le Japon cont (...)
  • 43 Ishida Hitoshi, Mark McLelland & Murakami Takanori, “The Origins of Queer Studies in Postwar Japan (...)
  • 44 Ehara, “Le développement théorique”, 17-20.

11This second wave of feminism found an extension in the various measures adopted by the United Nations in support of women38 and in the development of women’s studies in the United States, Canada and Europe. In the mid-1970s this context marked the establishment of a new field of scholarship in Japan known as joseigaku39 (a translation of women’s studies), with the term “research on the woman question” (fujin mondai kenkyū) henceforth abandoned: by doing away with any socialist connotations, Japanese scholars hoped to establish a new field of study, as illustrated by the suffix –gaku. In Japan, the first women’s studies classes appeared at university in 1973 and were growing in number by the end of the decade40. Full courses emerged later, once the number of specialist professors – and student demand – had increased.41 Together, these factors saw joseigaku grow into a multidisciplinary field of research.42 A new generation of male and female researchers appeared, their interest in women’s studies fuelled by personal conviction, intellectual curiosity or the possibility of making a career for themselves within new programmes. These researchers were mostly women, predominantly historians and sociologists who were born in the immediate post-war period and came of age in the 1970s.43 They included Ueno Chizuko 上野千鶴子 (b. 1948), Tachi Kaoru 舘かおる (b. 1948), Ehara Yumiko 江原由美子 (b. 1952), Ogino Miho 荻野美穂 (b. 1945) and Takemura Kazuko 竹村和子 (1954-2011). New scholarly societies were created, including the Society for Research on Women’s History (Joseishi sōgō kenkyūkai 女性史総合研究会), founded by Wakita Haruko 脇田晴子 in 1977, the International Society for Research on Women (Kokusai josei gakkai 国際女性学会) created in 1978, the Women’s Studies Research Institute (Joseigaku kenkyūkai 女性学研究会) and the Japanese Society for Research on Women (Nihon josei gakkai 日本女性学会), both founded in 1979. As we can see, women’s studies fairly rapidly established a solid presence within academia in the years following the field’s emergence in the 1970s.44

  • 45 Endo Orie, “Aspects of Sexism in Language”, in Fujimura-Fanselow & Kameda, Japanese Women, 30-31.
  • 46 Ibid.
  • 47 Fujieda & fujimura-Fanselow, “Women’s Studies: An Overview”, 156-58.
  • 48 Words currently employing the ideogram fu 婦 (from fujin 婦人) include fujinka 婦人科 (gynaecology), fuj (...)

12The content of women’s studies was innovative. Scholars no longer contented themselves with simply describing the female condition; they took to exploring social relations between the sexes. Critical analysis took precedence over description, with the feminist perspective serving to illustrate the root causes and mechanisms of gender inequality. The feminist agenda was apparent even in the choice of words: josei 女性, a term in common use since the post-war period, was preferred to onna 女, seen as rather pejorative due to its strong and often negative sexual connotation.45 Onna, which appears in several sexual expressions, can be used as a synonym for mistress or prostitute. The ideogram for onna 女is also found in words like memeshii 女女しい (effeminate), kashimashii 姦しい (noisy) and gōkan 強姦 (rape), reflecting these sexual connotations.46 It was only in the late 1970s that onna was reclaimed in a positive sense by second-wave feminists.47 The Japanese words for “woman” (fujin 婦人) and “wife” (fujin 夫人), although they use different ideograms, have no male equivalent and continue to be used to define women in opposition to men.48

  • 49 Andrea Germer, “Feminist History in Japan. National and International Perspectives”, Intersections (...)
  • 50 Ibid. 3.
  • 51 This debate took place from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Essentialist feminists viewed the h (...)
  • 52 Ida Kumiko 伊田久美子, “‘Baton o watasu’ to iu koto. Marukusu shugi feminizumu kara ‘ohitorisama’ e” 「バ (...)

13This second wave of feminism also stressed the limitations of left-wing ideology,49 namely that women’s emancipation would not come about simply by realising socialism. This was underlined by Ienaga Saburō 家永三郎 when he highlighted the analytical shortcomings of Sakai Toshihiko, who merely reworked Engels’ theory of the private ownership of production as the root cause of class exploitation and women’s subservience, with women repressed under the monogamous family system50. A Marxist perspective nevertheless continued to colour women’s studies in Japan until the 1980s, with some feminists and academics adopting the banner of materialist or Marxist feminism (marukusu shugi feminizumu マルクス主義フェミニズム), which stresses the unpaid work done by women in the private sphere. These feminists fuelled the much mediatised “housework dispute”51 (kaji ronsō 家事論争52), illustrating the changes affecting women’s employment at that time. The central figure of the housewife (sengyō shufu 専業主婦) is part of the history of Japan’s feminist movements and the so-called “housewives dispute” (shufu ronsō 主婦論争) of the 1950s to 1970s.

  • 53 Meiji joseishi 明治女性史 by Murakami Nobuhiko村上信彦, published between 1970 and 1973.
  • 54 Produced in 1982 by the Society for Research on Women’s History (Joseishi sōgō kenkyūkai), the fiv (...)
  • 55 Published in 1972, Sandakan hachiban shōkan サンダカン八番娼館 by Yamazaki Tomoko 山崎朋子 was one of the first (...)

14Women’s studies thus reflect the diversity of feminist thought in Japan, as illustrated by the range of topics explored in texts from this period. While feminist groups of the day employed different arguments and had different activities, this plurality did not prevent the publication of papers and books seeking to establish a history of women (joseishi 女性史). Notable examples include Women's History of the Meiji Period53, the five-volume Women's History of Japan54, and Sandakan Brothel No. 855. The humanities and social sciences were given a feminist re-reading, with female scholars writing a women’s history. They asserted the right of women to speak for themselves and to claim the autonomy this implied: it was no longer solely men speaking on behalf of women. This act became a means for women to free themselves from men’s domination of knowledge creation.

From the concept of gender to gender studies

  • 56 Ehara Yumiko, “Le développement théorique”, 27-30.
  • 57 Joan W.Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis”, The American Historical Review, (...)
  • 58 Ibid, 1067 and 1069.
  • 59 Bereni et al, Introduction aux études de genre, 16-17.
  • 60 Anthropological and sociological studies highlighting the socially constructed nature of gender ro (...)

15How did the move from women’s studies (joseigaku) to gender studies come about in the 1980s and 1990s?56 In 1992, Ogino Miho translated Joan Scott’s Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis, igniting an intellectual debate in Japan similar to the one that greeted its original publication in 1986 in the American History Review.57 Scott used her paper to challenge the dominant Marxist approach of the day which saw male-female relations as being based solely on antagonistic categories of social class, historically conceived in terms of economic relations of production. She deconstructed the category of “woman”, seen at the time as homogeneous, and defined gender as “a primary way of signifying relationships of power,”58 incorporating into her discussion the notions of sex, class and race. Cracks appeared in the idea of a strict opposition between (biological) sex and gender (social role), itself based on the nature-versus-culture divide59: both sex and gender were revealed to be social constructs.60 In this sense, the concept of gender conflicted with a naturalist view of the sexes, which saw men and women as having distinct characteristics based on biological differences. It also revealed the relational process behind the differentiation between women and men, the feminine and the masculine. Ogino adopted this analysis and advocated introducing gender (jendā ジェンダー) as a means of questioning the category of “men” (in particular the authors and keepers of knowledge) and the way it intersected with other social factors (class, age and education) in order to bring a fresh perspective to all academic disciplines in Japan.

  • 61 In contrast to women’s studies, gender reinforced the barrier between the militant feminist sphere (...)
  • 62 Germer, “Feminist History in Japan”, 7.
  • 63 Eto Mikiko, “‘Gender Problems in Japanese Politics’: A Dispute over a Socio-Cultural Change Toward (...)
  • 64 See for example: Société franco-japonaise des études sur les femmes, Actes des Recherches collecti (...)

16She was accused of evading the subversive challenge inherent in a strictly woman-centred approach.61 This was deplored by Tachi Kaoru and Itō Yasuko 伊藤康子 for example, who were instrumental in developing the field of women’s studies.62 Furthermore, some Japanese scholars questioned the pertinence of a concept seen as specific to Euro-American feminism. Just as in the United States and Europe, the complexity of gender as a conceptual tool meant that it ignited debate and disagreement in the academic world and was met with a certain amount of incomprehension by the general public.63 The concept of gender developed within the fertile ground of women’s studies, which itself reflected different strands of feminism (Marxist, radical, environmental, liberal) rooted in different social movements. Consequently, gender has been used by many people from the late 1980s to the present day.64

  • 65 Ehara Yumiko, “Le développement théorique”, 42.
  • 66 Research on women’s history (joseishi 女性史) in particular continued; the divide between women’s stu (...)

17After several years, gender was validated as a theoretical tool and recognised for its greater heuristic precision. Indeed, the concept of gender made it possible to analyse several study objects and draw a pertinent connection between the categories of class and race in order to theorise society’s main underlying structures.65 The theoretical power of this tool thus highlighted the limits of an overly narrow focus, as seen in women’s studies, which nonetheless continued to expand.66

  • 67 The publication of a special issue of the Asahi Shimbun in 2002 illustrates the visibility achieve (...)
  • 68 See http://jp-gender.jp/wp/ (accessed July 2018).
  • 69 See http://www2.igs.ocha.ac.jp/en/ (accessed July 2018).

18“Gender studies” (jendāgaku ジェンダー学) refers to scholarship focusing on gendered mechanisms, a field which became institutionalised at Japanese universities in the 1990s. Driven notably by academics – both men and women – inclined to distance themselves from feminist movements, gender studies was rapidly incorporated into undergraduate and graduate programmes. The term jendā ジェンダー itself also became more commonplace, including within the media.67 Just as women’s studies centres had been established in the 1970s, gender studies institutes began to appear: the Japan Society for Gender Studies (Nihon jendā gakkai 日本ジェンダー学会68) was created in 1997; Ochanomizu University founded an Institute for Gender Studies (Jendā kenkyū sentā ジェンダー研究センター69) in 1996, followed in 1998 by a Journal of Gender Studies (Jendā kenkyū ジェンダー研究), published annually. Little by little, gender studies became an established part of the Japanese academic landscape.

  • 70 Osawa Mari, “Government Approaches to Gender Equality in the Mid-1990s”, Social Science Japan Jour (...)
  • 71 The term “gender” first entered the political nomenclature in 1996 in a report titled “Creating Ne (...)
  • 72 Ehara Yumiko, “Le développement théorique”, 42.

19This shift in perspective from women’s studies to gender studies did not occur solely within academia but was visible in the social, political and media spheres, too. The aim was no longer to highlight women’s history or the status and role of women; henceforth, it was about understanding gender relations and questioning male/female norms within the family. The 1990s saw significant media coverage on Japanese concerns about changes to the family: people worried about the declining birth rate (shōshika 少子化), but also about the trend for late marriage (bankonka 晩婚化) and even “non-marriage” (hikonka 非婚化). The economic downturn and unemployment of Japan’s “lost decade” threw into doubt the fundamental link between masculinity and work: male roles were no longer confined to the salaried husband and breadwinner. The concept of gender led to a reconsidering of equality between the sexes, even in political circles. Within the government, for example, there was a reshuffling of responsibilities: in 1992 the chief cabinet secretary was appointed “minister for women’s affairs” (Josei mondai tantō daijin 女性問題担当大臣); then in 1994, the Japanese government created an Office for Gender Equality (Danjo kyōdō sankaku-shitsu 男女共同参画室), which moved in 2001 to the Cabinet Office (Danjo kyōdō sankaku kaigi 男女共同参画会議). This new body led to the enacting in 1999 of a Basic Law for a Gender-Equal Society (Danjo kyōdō sankaku shakai kihonhō 男女共同参画社会基本法), implemented via the Plan for Gender Equality 2000 (Danjo kyōdō sankaku shakai kihon keikaku 男女共同参画社会基本計画). Despite this, use of the terms “gender” and “equality of the sexes” was controversial within political circles: while the new feminist bureaucrats, or “femocrats” (femokuratto フェモクラット), championed this vocabulary, male politicians replaced it with the term “joint participation by men and women” (danjo kyōdō sankaku 男女共同参画). The original terms remain only in the official English translations: Gender Equality Bureau Cabinet Office, Basic Act for a Gender-Equal Society and Basic Plan for Gender Equality70. As we can see, the government has progressively taken an interest in the way public policy, in particular social policy, supports gender bias.71 The gender perspective has thus had a concrete impact within Japanese society, and not only in feminist and academic circles. Ehara Yumiko even goes so far as to consider that “this move from ‘research on women’ to gender studies, independently of its establishment as a field of research, can be seen as a more fundamental change linked to an institutionalisation of feminism.”72 Gender has enabled certain feminist demands to be normalised, underscoring its importance for achieving concrete progress, in addition to its theoretical validity.

From gender studies to lesbian and gay studies

  • 73 There are several different means of transcribing the word “and” in Japanese: a dot, a slash, ando(...)
  • 74 The order of the terms varies from gay and lesbian studies to lesbian and gay studies, in Japanese (...)
  • 75 LGBT studies appeared at North American universities in the 1970s, beginning in 1972 with the firs (...)
  • 76 The stimulus provided by gender studies should not obscure the fact that research on sexuality had (...)
  • 77 As was already the case in psychiatry, researchers once again challenged the normal/pathological d (...)
  • 78 This new generation of researchers is trained in the use of gender tools.
  • 79 Takemura Kazuko, “Feminist Studies/Activities in Japan: Present and Future”, Lectora, no. 16 (2010 (...)
  • 80 Ibid. 15-16.
  • 81 In the 2000s Ueno Chizuko took back the homophobic views expressed in her 1986 book Onna to iu kai (...)
  • 82 Narita Ryūichi, “The Overflourishing of Sexuality in 1920s Japan”, in Gender and Japanese History. (...)
  • 83 Sabine Frühstück, “Genders and Sexualities”, in A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan, ed. Jenn (...)

20Gender studies gave rise to a new field of research in Japan known as “lesbian and gay studies”. The Japanese term rezubian ando gei sutadīzu レズビアン/ゲイ・スタディーズ73, derived from English,74 appeared in the late 1990s in reference to a new field of research focused on the entire spectrum of human sexualities, notably non-heterosexual. Two main factors explain the timeline of the field’s appearance in Japan.75 The first lies in the new critical approach to sexuality afforded by gender studies,76 which dismantled the myth of a natural heterosexuality, shaking up the field of sexology and the medical studies on sexuality with their pathological view of non-heterosexual practices.77 Dissociating and denaturalising the links between sex, gender and sexuality allowed new perspectives to emerge and young researchers to enter the field.78 Researchers from a variety of disciplines took to re-examining the many academic and mainstream publications on homosexuality (which included medical, literary and historical studies79), analysing previously unexplored aspects of sexuality. This re-examination of sexuality shattered the taboos and moral judgments that previously impeded research.80 The view of homosexuality as pathological, even among feminists, began to crack.81 The 1990s is described as having seen a revival of sexology and studies on sexuality, in reference to the boom in such publications in the 1920s.82 In parallel, non-Japanese works examining sexuality in Japan were published, causing a trend towards more integrative, less narrowly-focused research.83 By deconstructing the notion of sex, gender studies paved the way for reflection on the practices and representations of hetero-, homo-, bi-, and transsexualities, and the connections between them.

  • 84 This militancy can be seen in the way the word is transcribed in Japanese: rezubian レズビアン as oppos (...)
  • 85 The influence of radical lesbian feminism, which in the 1970s began to reflect on female homosexua (...)
  • 86 Mark McLelland, “The Role of the ‘Tojisha’ in Current Debates about Sexual Minority Rights in Japa (...)
  • 87 Fushimi Noriaki 伏見憲明, Puraibēto gei raifu – posuto ren.aironプライベート・ゲイ・ライフ―ポスト恋愛論 (Tokyo: Gakuyō sh (...)
  • 88 Suganuma Katsuhiko, “Enduring Voices: Fushimi Noriaki and Kakefuda Hiroko’s Continuing Relevance t (...)
  • 89 In particular Leo Bersani, David M. Halperin, Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Teresa De L (...)

21The alignment between LGBT activists84 and feminist (or LGBT) scholars is the second factor marking the emergence of lesbian and gay studies.85 Those active in the field tend to be non-heterosexual individuals, either scholars or non-academics. They are “concerned parties” (tōjisha 当事者, i.e. those facing discrimination personally), who began reporting the debates on heteronormativity.86 Fushimi Noriaki’s essay Private Gay Life: post-love theory87 created a certain impact in 1991 and opened a window onto the still-closed world of homosexuality.88 Several well-known figures began to come out publicly as homosexual. At the same time, building on the work of gender studies, university scholars took to translating key American authors on the subject,89 thereby initiating the process of deconstructing heterosexuality and other sexualities. Engaged researchers published the first texts systematising the theoretical contribution of lesbian and gay studies. This new generation of researchers included individuals clearly motivated by their own personal sexual orientation, notably Kazama Takashi 風間孝 (b. 1967), Kawaguchi Kazuya 河口和也 (b. 1963), Tazaki Hideaki 田崎英明 (b. 1960) and others specialised in gender studies, like Takemura Kazuko. We can see, then, how gender studies, coupled with a certain amount of LGBT activism on behalf of a number of academics, gave rise to the field of lesbian and gay studies.

  • 90 Academic works tracing the history of homosexuality already existed but did not cover post-war Jap (...)

22Since 1990, the number of themes examined by lesbian and gay studies has continued to grow. The early coming-out narratives fuelled academic reflection on the subject and homosexuality in modern-day Japan has begun to be explored within various disciplines.90 Notable publications include:

  • a special issue of the progressive magazine Takarajima (Treasure Island) entitled Stories of Women Who Love Women91, published in 1987, which rapidly became a key text in the field. Given the dearth of information on female homosexuality at the time, this text was frequently referred to within lesbian circles.92
  • the first autobiographical and biographical texts, which form a body of work that still serves to explore homosexuality’s place in contemporary Japan. Fushimi Noriaki’s previously mentioned book was followed in 1992 by Kakefuda Hiroko’s On Being “Lesbian”, 93 with the author appearing on radio and television shows to discuss her text. Other books followed: Love Upon the Chopping Board94 by Izumo Marō in 1993; Coming Out!95 by Sasano Michiru in 1995; Living as a Homosexual96 by Itō Satoru in 1998; A Teacher's Lesbian Declaration: Coming Out to Make Connections97 by Ikeda Kumiko in 1999; not to mention an English-language publication, Coming Out in Japan,98 in 2001. Also notable is a biographical novel about the writer Miyamoto Yuriko and her lover, the translator Yuasa Yoshiko.99

23Lesbian and gay studies established itself as a field of research thanks to the first scientific publications, notably:

  • issue 8 (volume 2), in January 1996, of the magazine Hihyō kūkan, with a special feature on “Sex/Gender” (セックス/ジェンダー), including translations of articles by Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Leo Bersani and David Halperin;100
  • a November 1996 issue of the magazine Yuriika (Eureka) introducing queer studies;101
  • a special issue in May 1997 of the journal Gendai shisō, entitled Lesbian and Gay Studies (レズビアン・ゲイ/スタディーズ);102
  • a special issue of the Asahi Shimbun entitled “Understanding Gender” (2002), aimed at making the topic accessible to the general public;103
  • a special issue of Gendai shisō in October 2015 entitled “LGBT: the reality in Japan and around the world” (LGBT日本と世界のリアル).104
  • 105 A special issue of the journal Kaihō shakaigaku kenkyū 解放社会学研究 [Liberation Sociology Research] was (...)
  • 106 Keith Vincent ヴィンセント・キース, Kazama Takashi 風間孝 and Kawaguchi Kazuya 河口和也, Gei sutadīzu ゲイ・スタディーズ (To (...)
  • 107 Tazaki Hideaki 田崎英明, Jendā/sekushuariti ジェンダー/セクシュアリティ (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten 岩波書店, 2000).
  • 108 Saitō Jun’ichi 斉藤純一, Shinmitsuken no poritikkusu 親密圏のポリティックス (Kyoto: Nakanishiya shuppan ナカニシヤ出版, (...)
  • 109 Examples include Mark McLelland, Romit Dasgupta, Sharon Chalmers, Sabine Frühstück, J. Keith Vince (...)
  • 110 Scholars like Ogino Miho and Takemura Kazuko, who have translated and analysed key works by Butler (...)
  • 111 In 2002 the newspaper Asahi listed at least 120 universities offering gender studies classes.

24In parallel to these special publications, in the late 1990s and 2000s comprehensive academic works appeared which proposed to delimit this new field of research and establish the homosexual object as knowledge.105 Notable publications included Gay Studies (1997),106 Gender/Sexuality (2000)107 and The Politics of Intimacy (2003).108 The Japanese social sciences thus defined lesbian and gay studies as a separate area within the subjects explored by gender studies. Japanese research continued to draw on English-language scholarship, which in the field of gay studies was the most prolific. This trend became even more marked when Japanese studies were translated into English, and when foreign LGBT scholars fluent in Japanese109 published works on Japan.110 Certain classes taught by specialists in the field began to be offered in the 2000s; however, these were limited to modules and seminars within other university programmes, generally in sociology and history, and were often part of gender studies courses.111

  • 112 Suganuma Katsuhiko, “Enduring Voices”.
  • 113 In the 1990s gay, transvestite, intersex and occasionally lesbian characters and individuals appea (...)
  • 114 Mark McLelland, Male Homosexuality in Modern Japan: Cultural Myths and Social Realities (London: R (...)
  • 115 M. Gregory Pflugfelder, Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1 (...)
  • 116 Kazama Takashi 風間孝 and Kawaguchi Kazuya 河口和也, Dōseiai to iseiai 同性愛と異性愛 [Homosexuality and Heteros (...)
  • 117 Erick Laurent, Les Chrysanthèmes roses. Homosexualités masculines dans le Japon contemporain [Pink (...)
  • 118 Ibid. 160.

25Lesbian and gay studies developed in parallel to the militant feminist and LGBT movements, with the two spheres relatively open to reciprocal influences. A certain number of university academics (often non-heterosexual individuals) are involved in activism,112 while conversely, feminist and LGBT activists read and take inspiration from academic publications. The work and activities of scholars and activists have thus fed into one another. This interweaving of academia and activism only increased in the 1990s when several major LGBT groups emerged. These groups were more visible than the early gay and lesbian circles, most of which appeared in the 1970s. As a result, hints as to the reality of life for LGBT people appeared in the Japanese media, for example through the inclusion of gay men in Japanese television series and programmes.113 There was even talk of a “gay boom” (gei būmu ゲイブーム114). This visibility remained extremely limited however. Furthermore, in the first half of the 1990s the Japanese media expressed alarm over the HIV epidemic, which they clearly associated with male homosexual acts115. This was dubbed the AIDS panic (eizu panikku エイズ・パニック116). The discourse from this era attached a long-lasting stigma to gay men and conflated homosexuality with contamination. To combat this ignorance, several gay groups began to specialise in AIDS prevention and raising public awareness about the disease, at a time when the mechanisms for transmitting HIV and other STIs were little known and often taboo. Drop-in clinics, information centres and screening facilities sprang up throughout Japan, thanks in particular to LGBT groups like JILGA, OCCUR and the Osaka Gay Community.117 In the following decade, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare allocated funds for the growing number of LGBT groups working to prevent AIDS.118 The 1990s were thus a time when lesbian and gay studies were defined as a field of research, LGBT groups and activism increased in scale and number, and LGBT realities achieved limited visibility among the general public.

  • 119 Questioning male homosexuality before its female counterpart nonetheless remains an androcentric a (...)
  • 120 Erick Laurent, “Sexuality and Human Rights: An Asian Perspective”, in Sexuality and Human Rights, (...)
  • 121 Early on, the group OCCUR, for example, fought for an overhauling of homophobic terms. From 1991 t (...)
  • 122 The legal text is available in Japanese at http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/H15/H15HO111.html (acce (...)
  • 123 On 26 March 2009 the Ministry of Justice issued an opinion on recognising same-sex marriages regis (...)
  • 124 Ikeda Kumiko 池田久美子, Okabe Yoshihiro おかべよしひろ, Kimura Kazunori 木村一紀, Kuroiwa Ryūtarō 黒岩竜太郎, Takatori(...)
  • 125 Sugiyama Takashi 杉山貴士, Kikitai shiritai seiteki mainoriti, tsunagari aeru shakai no tameni 聞きたい知りた (...)
  • 126 Susumu Ryū 超竜, Niji-iro no hinkon, LGBT sabaibaru! Reinbōkarā dewa nuritsubusenai, “ue” to “kawaki (...)

26LGBT research, activism and visibility all increased in the 2000s, without necessarily focusing on male homosexuality.119 The terms LGBT and LGBTQ, both less restrictive than “gay and lesbian,” were widely adopted and universities began to speak of LGBT studies (eru jī bī tī sutadīzu, LGBTスタディーズ). For researchers, the focus was no longer on homosexuality but rather on sexual norms and practices, including those defining heterosexuality. Militant movements (feminist and LGBT) adopted the term “sexual minority” (sekushuaru mainoriti セクシュアルマイノリティ), which covered the entire spectrum of minority sexualities opposed to heteronormative discourse. LGBT campaigners in Japan sought recognition for the discrimination they suffered, with associations, activists and politicians employing legal means to do so.120 These legal and political battles led to several changes, including the regular holding of pride parades, the condemning of certain homophobic acts and remarks,121 the authorising of sex-change operations in 2003,122 and the recognising in 2009 of marriage between Japanese homosexuals and foreign citizens of a country that allows same-sex marriage.123 In this way, discrimination against LGBT individuals was tackled by activists and academics alike. During this period, books were published with titles like Sexual Minorities Talk about Homosexuality, Gender Identity Disorder, Intersexuality and the Variety of Human Sexuality (2003);124 For Those Who Want to Know More about Sexual Minorities. Towards a More Tolerant Society (2008);125 Rainbow-Coloured Poverty. A Survival Guide to LGBT! Repainting “Hunger” and “Thirst” in Rainbow Colours (2010).126

  • 127 Akasugi Yasunobu 赤杉康伸, Tsuchiya Yuki 土屋ゆき and Tsutsui Makiko 筒井真樹子, Dōsei pātonā, Dōseikon, domesu (...)
  • 128 Sugiura Ikuko 杉浦郁子, Nomiya Aki 野宮亜紀and Ōe Chizuka 大江千束, Pātonāshippu: seikatsu to seido, kekkon, j (...)
  • 129 Nagayasu Shibun 永易至文, Dōsei pātonā seikatsu tokuhon, dōkyo zeikin hoken kara kaigo shibetsu sōzoku (...)

27As for the 2010s, changes in society saw the issue of same-sex parenting emerge, along with a demand for a Japanese system of same-sex partnerships or marriage. Notable publications during this period included Understanding the Legislation on Same-Sex Partnerships, Same-Sex Marriage and Domestic Partnerships (2004);127 Partnership: lifestyle and system – marriage, common-law marriage and same-sex marriage (2007);128 and A Guide to Life in a Same-Sex Partnership. From Living Together, Tax and Social Security to Caregiving, Death and Inheritance (2009).129 The existence of publications like this indicates that the situation for LGBT individuals has gradually become a political and legal issue, while the adoption and growing use of the term LGBT by the media demonstrates the increasing visibility such questions have gained within Japanese society. The development of lesbian and gay studies has been inspired and fuelled by local activism. Both are deeply connected to the political climate, where support for the rights of sexual minorities is gradually emerging. Sometimes the concerns and activities of scholars and activists align, for example when they question the reality they are seeking to understand or change, although their networks and publishing channels differ. The main takeaway from this panorama of the still-fledgling field of Japanese lesbian and gay studies (or LGBT studies) is how inextricable the field is from social history and from a certain kind of LGBT activism. Although it draws on English-language exploration of LGBT issues, Japanese lesbian and gay studies is developing independently and is firmly anchored in Japanese history and society. It has uncovered a vast range of topics still to be explored by gender studies and LGBT studies.

Queer studies in Japan: towards a third wave of feminism

  • 130 The term queer, originally meaning strange, was reclaimed in the late 1980s by gay activists in th (...)
  • 131 Bereni et al, Introduction aux études de genre, 49-53.
  • 132 Queer theory has had less impact in the United States than in Europe, where it has established its (...)
  • 133 The term queer is often added to the acronym LGBTQ, thereby designating all non-normative sexualit (...)
  • 134 A feminist lesbian theoretician and professor of historical consciousness, Teresa de Lauretis is n (...)
  • 135 Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2006), ix.

28This paper would not be complete without an examination of the emergence of what is now known as “queer studies” (kuia sutadīzu クイアスタディーズ).130 Queer theory developed out of feminism and LGBT studies in the United States. It has a strong academic foundation and stands as a critique of the conservatism of feminist and gay/lesbian groups, whose collective demands suppose a universal nature shared by all women or all sexual minorities, and who aspire to a lifestyle based on the dominant model (white, heterosexual and middle class). This has shattered the traditional paradigm of identity politics: the aim is no longer to create specific groups (of women, foreigners or homosexuals for example) but to position oneself in relation and in contrast to the dominant norm.131 The queer position is thus anti-essentialist; it refuses to consider homosexuality as an object choice: identity (in particular sexual) is seen as fluid. Queer theory is politically charged because it englobes the entire range of minorities, adopting a subversive approach that questions the meaning and re-appropriation of dominant/dominated norms. Queer theory thus represents a move away from the reliance on socialist thought and its focus on the sequence “oppression => fight => achievement of equality”, as followed by feminist and gay/lesbian movements. Queer theory has proven to be the voice of protest for minorities (sexual, ethnic, religious), which are explored via postcolonial studies (subaltern studies and gender studies for example). Having emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union, queer theory faced the void left by the abandonment of Marxist ideology and the growth of neoliberalism, but did not align itself with the identity politics (of feminists, gays and people of colour) taking shape at that time.132 On the contrary, the queer movement has reaffirmed the necessity of a non-identity based approach that rejects fixed categories like feminine / masculine / heterosexuality / homosexuality.133 The term queer was first used in scholarly circles in 1990, at a conference entitled “Queer Theory” organised by Teresa de Lauretis134 at the University of California, Santa Cruz. It quickly took hold in North American academic circles, despite the rejection of labels it implied. That same year, Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble was published and became the founding text of queer theory. As a philosopher, Butler’s ideas were heavily inspired by the likes of Foucault, Derrida and Hocquenghem. Her book attempted to deconstruct and denaturalise the categories of sex and gender, both of which Butler saw as means of signifying relations of power. She also criticised the presumption of heterosexuality, stating her desire to subject the theories of poststructuralism to a specifically feminist reformulation:135 in contrast to the feminist and gay/lesbian movements based on fixed collective identities, Butler posited that gender was not static but rather ambiguous, fluid and could be reappropriated through performance. Butler’s book, whose complex attempt at deconstructing gender continues to provide food for thought, was rapidly translated and exported overseas.

  • 136 ジュディース・バトラー Judith Butler, Jendā toraburu feminizumu to aidentiti no kakuran ジェンダートラブル フェミニズムとアイデン (...)
  • 137 Kawahara Yukari 川原ゆかり, “Wakamono bunka to sekushuariti, karuchuraru sutadīzu o megutte” 若者文化とセクシュア (...)
  • 138 Foucault remains a key author within gender studies thanks to his three-volume History of Sexualit (...)
  • 139 Takemura, “Feminist Studies/Activities in Japan, 5-6.
  • 140 Ibid. 5.
  • 141 Jendā ga wakaru ジェンダーがわかる, Asahi Shimbun Extra Report and Analysis Special Number, AERA Mook, no.  (...)
  • 142 For example, a queer reinterpretation of the poet Masaoka Shiki 正岡子規 (1867-1902) in a paper by Kei (...)
  • 143 Keith J. Vincent, “Queering Friendship: Takemura Kazuko”, a paper presented on 20 April 2013 at Em (...)

29American queer theory quickly travelled across to Japan, where gender and LGBT studies were expanding. Judith Butler was rapidly introduced: the first chapter of Gender Trouble, translated by Ogino Miho, was published in 1994 in the journal Shisō 思想. This was followed in 1996 by the publication, in the journal Hihyō kūkan 批評空間, of Takemura Kazuko’s translation of an interview with Judith Butler, conducted in 1993 by Peter Osborne and Lynne Segal. Butler’s text was translated in full by Takemura in 1996 as Jendā toraburu ジェンダー・トラブル.136 The translation of key texts by the likes of Lauretis, Kosofsky Sedgwick and Halperin continued apace and served to enrich Japanese reflection. The familiarity of Japanese sociologists with the French authors who inspired a cluster of queer theorists in the United States made it possible to rapidly assimilate the concepts developed by queer authors137 (who drew heavily on the work of Michel Foucault138). Individual translation initiatives by militant feminist scholars (notably Takemura Kazuko and academic members of the group OCCUR) enabled a first corpus of texts to be created and disseminated. A special edition of Hihyō kūkan on “sex/gender” was published early in 1996 and served to introduce the work of various internationally known queer theorists from the United States.139 Then in May 1997, the journal Gendai shisō published a special edition entitled “Gay and Lesbian Studies”. Similarly, the magazine Yuriika (Eureka) offered an introduction to the concept of queerness and lesbian and gay studies.140 Texts written for the general public also began to appear, for example a 2002 special edition of the Asahi Shimbun, entitled “Understanding Gender”, which presented several articles referencing queer studies.141 Judith Butler’s texts were extensively analysed and inspired re-examinations of Japanese authors.142 A handful of engaged scholars,143 many of them feminists and LGBT activists, translated the first American texts in queer theory thanks to their knowledge of French authors (of a corpus of works collectively known as French Theory). In doing so, they promoted the introduction of a queer corpus that enabled them to join the queer movement.

  • 144 Kawaguchi Kazuya 河口和也, Kuia sutadīzu クィア・スタディーズ ([Queer Studies] (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 2003).
  • 145 Newsletter no. 9 of the Centre for Gender Studies at the International Christian University (ICU), (...)
  • 146 See https://ci.nii.ac.jp/ncid/AA12364316 (accessed August 2018).
  • 147 For example, the classes taught by Ogino Miho at Dōshisha University, Kawaguchi Kazuya at Shūdō Un (...)
  • 148 Interview with Ogino Miho conducted on 18 February 2013 at Dōshisha University in Kyoto.
  • 149 Men’s studies’ groups have appeared, bolstered by the reflections on gender, for example the Men’s (...)
  • 150 These studies echo societal changes relating to fatherhood and the status of men. They represent a (...)
  • 151 Le Doeuff Michèle, Le Sexe du savoir (Paris: Flammarion, 2000), 130-133. Translated into English b (...)
  • 152 Jendā ga wakaru, 132-41.
  • 153 Intersex refers to a genetic variation, such as people with the sex chromosome anomalies XXX, XYY (...)
  • 154 For example, scholars have rediscovered the variety of homosexual practices and the entire range o (...)
  • 155 The work of Chino Kaori, a key figure in art history and feminism, has led scholars to examine the (...)
  • 156 Works like The Tale of Genji and The Changelings (Torikaebaya monogatari), or by authors like Nats (...)

30Despite this spate of publications, queer studies only established a firm footing in academia in the early 2000s. The term queer was transliterated into Japanese as kuia クィア, using katakana. The queer perspective proved insightful in several disciplines and in 2003 the book Kuia sutadīzu (クィア・スタディーズ),144 by Kawaguchi Kazuya, became the first academic reference text on the subject. This marked the beginning of the institutionalisation of queer theories in Japan, as evidenced by the founding of the Japan Association for Queer Studies (Kuiā gakkai クイアー学会) in 2007. Created by a group of scholars during a general assembly at Tokyo University’s Komaba campus on 27 October 2007,145 the association’s first annual national conference was held in Hiroshima in November 2008. Between 2008 and 2014, the association also published an annual journal, Ronsō kuia (論叢クイア, Journal of Queer Studies146). Queer theory has also been disseminated through teaching, with seminars and modules appearing at university in the late 2000s. However, such classes remain extremely marginal and mainly dispensed by the first proponents of the queer movement.147 Even within gender studies, queer theory remains widely unknown and this phenomenon is even more marked among scholars from other departments.148 Japanese queer theory is developing within a limited sphere and exploring several subjects in a variety of disciplines. In particular, it has added greater depth to the field of men’s studies,149 which appeared in the 1990s.150 In doing so, it has once again highlighted and questioned androcentrism, the main bias in the production of knowledge. By putting aside “man” as an object of study, the gender and queer perspectives have challenged the hegemonic masculinity that previously presented man (male) as the universal subject and defined the world from the male viewpoint, particularly when talking about the feminine and “woman.”151 Queer theory also echoes the progress made in biology and medical research with regards the definition of sex, with embryology investigating the physiological aspect of sex (using criteria including chromosomal, gametic and hormonal) at the stage of sexual differentiation.152 Following on from this denaturalisation of sex/the body, a growing corpus of research has appeared on transsexualism, intersex conditions,153 sexual identity disorders and sex reassignment surgery, adding greater complexity to the field. The queer perspective also enables history,154 art history,155 literature156 and sociology to be revisited. The contribution of this perspective is significant, with various fields now being explored in synergy with gender studies on sexuality/sexual identities and LGBT studies, as well as other fields of research.

In conclusion: from the woman question to queer and gender studies, a feminist epistemological revolution

  • 157 Kimura, Jendā to kyōiku, 4.
  • 158 Le Doeuff, Le Sexe du savoir, 7-18.

31This brief social and intellectual history of twentieth-century Japan suggests an epistemological revolution in the form of a challenge to the androcentric nature of knowledge production. Change is underway in three areas. The subjects, objects and channels for disseminating knowledge – previously almost exclusively male – are becoming more female, though at this point in the early twenty-first century parity has yet to be achieved. Women are ceasing to be objectified by male knowledge. As knowledge subjects, women’s approach has radically transformed both the hard and soft sciences. This intellectual journey is inextricably linked to social and feminist movements thanks to the fertile interaction between theory and practice in this domain. First-wave feminism, driven by the “bluestockings” of Seitō who championed women’s basic rights, took the form of research on the woman question (fujin mondai kenkyū) and its attempts to examine and identify the characteristics of women’s social experiences. This feminism inspired by the progressive ideas of socialist political groups changed direction after the war to become second-wave feminism, carried by diverse feminist movements which distanced themselves from the framework of the socialist revolution. Feminist reflection addressed a wide variety of topics, including sexuality, women in the workplace and women’s participation in politics. This woman-centred focus can be seen in the growth of women’s studies (joseigaku), in particular during the 1970s and 1980s. Nevertheless, the concept of gender blew apart this analytical framework focused solely on women: essentialist views of biological and gender differences collapsed, a relational approach developed and social relations between the sexes came to be viewed as an imbalance of power, with gender implicated in other power relations upholding the social order. The aim was to analyse the complexity of two objects (and subjects) which until then had rarely been objects of knowledge production: men and women. The gender studies perspective served a feminist vision in which scholars, social actors and social movements all dialogue with one another. It has also enabled a re-examination of the entire spectrum of sexual minorities (gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, transgender and intersex people) by deconstructing the body and sexuality. It was this new focus on sex and sexuality that gave rise to lesbian and gay studies (gei/rezubian sutadīzu), and then queer theory (kuia riron). Having started out as lesser known, fledgling fields in the 1990s, these disciplines consolidated their position in the 2000s, exploring a vast array of subjects within several disciplines. Lesbian and gay studies, and queer studies, all deeply tied to developments in LGBT activism, know that their roots lie in the subversive new post-modern studies, which emerged from the political (decolonisation) and social (1968 and feminist movements) upheaval of the 1970s. In the case of Japan, it is therefore possible to speak of “post-feminism”, or more accurately, “third-wave feminism.”157 This Japanese epistemological revolution is part of a global context characterised by challenges to “white” male science and knowledge: knowledge and the power it implies are being re-examined from a feminist perspective in which women and other minorities are no longer excluded from the production and dissemination of knowledge.158 This explains the heuristic value and efficiency of gender studies. Even if gender equality is achieved in the future, it seems unlikely that this will close the door on research within gender, gay/lesbian and queer studies, since they are now established fields of inquiry within disciplines like history, philosophy, literature, sociology, law and medicine. The gender perspective provides researchers from any discipline with a complex angle of approach to the entire range of objects hitherto examined and objectivised by androcentric knowledge.

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Notes

1 Ehara Yumiko 江原由美子, Feminizumu ronsō: nanajū nendai kara kyūjū nendai eフェミニズム論争-70年代から90年代へ [Feminist Debate from the 1970 to the 1990s] (Tokyo: Keisō shobō 勁草書房, 1990), 150-56.

2 Georges Canguilhem, Études d’histoire et de philosophie des sciences [Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science] (Paris: Vrin, 1968), 9-23.

3 Ludwik Fleck, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, translated by Frederick Bradley and Thaddeus J. Trenn (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979). In the French version of this text (Paris: Flammarion, 2008), the foreword by the historian of medicine Ilana Löwy highlights the social construction of biomedical science and how this field is not impervious to gender determinisms.

4 Laure Bereni, Sébastien Chauvin, Alexandre Jaunait and Anne Revillard, Introduction aux études de genre [Introduction to Gender Studies] (Brussels: De Boeck, 2012, 2nd edition), 10-16.

5 It is possible to separate gay studies (gei sutadīzu ゲイ・スタディーズ) and lesbian studies (rezubian sutadīzu レズビアン・スタディーズ), with the two terms also existing in Japanese.

6 The terms “queer perspective” (kuia no shiten kara クイアの視点から) and “queer theory” (kuia riron クイア理論) also exist.

7 “Trans” can refer both to transsexuals (who generally transition physically to a particular sex via surgery) and transgender individuals (who do not use surgery and simply identify as being trans without attempting to conform to one gender or another).

8 This term is borrowed from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, whose book Epistemology of the Closet, published in the United States in 1990, rapidly became a classic text in the field of queer theory. Kosofsky Sedgwick Eve, Epistemology of the Closet (Oakland: University of California Press, 1990).

9 Ōta Tomomi, “Devenir écrivain/devenir femme/devenir soi : l’écriture et l’amour dans les textes littéraires de Seitō” [Becoming a Writer/Becoming a Woman/Becoming Oneself: writing and love in the literary texts of Seitō], Japon Pluriel 9 (Arles: Philippe Picquier, 2014), 117-26.

10 Marion Saucier, “Le débat dans Seitô entre Itô Noe et Yamakawa [Aoyama] Kikue sur la prostitution, ou la confrontation de deux féministes” [The Debate in Seitō between Itō Noe and Yamakawa [Aoyama] Kikue on Prostitution: a showdown between two feminists], Japon Pluriel 10 (Arles: Philippe Picquier, 2014), 239-49.

11 Isabelle Konuma, “L’avortement dans Seitô : la formation de l’espace décisionnel des femmes” [Abortion in Seitō: the emergence of a decision-making space for women], Japon Pluriel 10 (Arles: Philippe Picquier, 2014), 213-28.

12 Although both terms exist, the version using the suffix -gaku (jendāgaku ジェンダー学) is much more common.

13 Christian Galan and Emmanuel Lozerand, eds., La Famille japonaise moderne (1868-1926). Discours et débats [Discourse and Debate on the Modern Japanese Family (1868-1926)] (Arles: Philippe Picquier, 2011).

14 Claire Dodane, “Femmes écrivains des années 1910 : amour, féminisme et indépendance” [Women Writers in the 1910s: love, feminism and independence], Japon Pluriel 9 (Arles: Philippe Picquier, 2014), 137-44.

15 Christine Lévy, “Introduction”, in Genre et modernité au Japon. La revue Seitô et la femme nouvelle [Gender and Modernity in Japan. The Magazine Seitō and the New Woman], ed. Christine Lévy (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2014), 22-24.

16 Ibid. 13-14.

17 Claire Dodane, “L’écriture féminine dans le Japon moderne”, in La Famille japonaise moderne, ed. Galan and Lozerand, 431-43.

18 Lévy, Genre et modernité au Japon, 13-28.

19 Endo Orie, “Aspects of Sexism in Language”, in Japanese Women. New Feminist Perspectives on the Past, Present and Future, ed. Fujimura-Fanselow Kumiko & Kameda Atsuko (New York: The Feminist Press, 1995), 30.

20 The term fujin (婦人) has no masculine equivalent (though one could imagine danjin 男人). In contrast, the other terms systematically have a symmetrical structure using the opposing characters onna/otoko 女/男: josei/dansei 女性/男性, joshi/danshi 女子/男子 and onna no ko/otoko no ko 女の子/男の子. The term fujin therefore underlines the specificity of woman with regards the masculine, seen as universal.

21 Lévy, Genre et modernité au Japon, 13.

22 Texts by self-proclaimed socialist authors and journalists, such as Kōtoku Shūsui (1871-1911) and Fukuda Hideko (1865-1927), illustrate the link between socialism and feminism.

23 Similarly, the term in German is die Frauenfrage and in French, la question féminine.

24 Nagai Tōru 永井亨, Fujin mondai kenkyū 婦人問題研究 [Research on the Woman Question] (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1925).

25 Vera Mackie, Feminism in Modern Japan. Citizenship, Embodiment and Sexuality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 162.

26 Fujieda & fujimura-Fanselow, “Women’s Studies: An Overview”, 156-57.

27 Kimura Ryōko 木村涼子, “Introduction”, in Jendā to kyōiku ジェンダーと教育 [Gender and Education], ed. Kimura Ryōko (Tokyo: Nihon tosho sentā 日本図書センター, 2009), 3.

28 Dodane, “L’écriture féminine dans le Japon moderne”, 431-43.

29 Christine Lévy, ed., “Naissance d’une revue féministe au Japon: Seitō (1911-1916)” [Birth of a Feminist Magazine: Seitō (1911-1916)], Ebisu, no. 48 (Autumn-Winter 2012).

30 The history of women during the war (in particular the creation in 1942 and subsequent dismantling in 1945 of the Greater Japan Women's Association, Dainihon fujin-kai 大日本婦人会) was also instrumental in the post-war reformation of feminist movements.

31 Gayle Curtis Anderson, Women’s History and Local Community in Postwar Japan (London: New-York, Routledge, 2010), 9.

32 The Japanese word kaihō 解放 (emancipation) was replaced by the Anglicism ribu リブ, reflecting a change in era and the influence of North American feminist movements.

33 Kimura, Jendā to kyōiku, 3-5.

34 Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique (1963) created a stir when it appeared in Japan in 1965 (Atarashii josei no sōzō 新しい女性の創造 [The Creation of New Woman]), translated by Miura Fumiko and published by Daiwa shobō. The book’s criticism of the empty existence of the perfect housewife resonated with many Japanese women.

35 Ehara Yumiko, Feminizumu no paradokkusu. Teichaku ni yoru kakusan フェミニズムのパラドックス―定着による拡散 [The Paradox of Feminism: diffusion through fixture] (Tokyo: Keisō shobō, 2000), 15-17.

36 Mackie, Feminism in Modern Japan, 159-63.

37 Laura Dales, Feminist Movements in Contemporary Japan (London and New-York: Routledge, 2009), 31-37.

38 In November 1975 a conference was held to celebrate International Women’s Year, then in 1979 the UN adopted its Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and finally, 1975-1985 was declared the Decade for Women.

39 Fujieda & fujimura-Fanselow, “Women’s Studies: An Overview”, 158.

40 Kokuryo Sonoko, “L’installation de cours d’études féminines et de centres de documentation sur les femmes au Japon” [The Creation of Women’s Studies Classes and Documentation Centres on Women in Japan], BIEF, no. 16 (May 1985): 114-20.

41 The Institute for Women’s Studies at Ochanomizu University, founded in 1986, became the Institute for Gender Studies in 1996. Ochanomizu University developed classes focused entirely on women’s studies, then on gender. A doctoral programme was created within the Women’s Studies Department in 1993, followed by a Master’s degree in Gender and Development Studies in 1997, then in 2005 by a doctoral programme in Interdisciplinary Gender Studies.

42 Ehara Yumiko, “Le développement théorique des études sur les femmes et le genre dans le Japon contemporain des années 1970 à nos jours” [The Theoretical Development of Women’s Studies and Gender Studies in Contemporary Japan Since the 1970s], in Societe franco-japonaise des études sur les femmes 日仏女性研究学会, Actes des Recherches collectives franco-japonaises : Pour la comparaison franco-japonaise des études sur les femmes. Sur la nécessité des nouvelles méthodologies comparatives 日仏共同研究報告書 女性研究における日仏比較 新しい比較方法論の必要性をめぐって [Report on French-Japanese Collaborative Research. A French-Japanese comparison of women’s studies: on the need for new comparative methodologies] (Tokyo: Maison Franco-japonaise, 2002), 40.

43 Ishida Hitoshi, Mark McLelland & Murakami Takanori, “The Origins of Queer Studies in Postwar Japan”, in Genders, Transgenders and Sexualities in Japan, ed. Mark McLelland & Romit Dasgupta (London: Routledge Curzon, 2005), 33.

44 Ehara, “Le développement théorique”, 17-20.

45 Endo Orie, “Aspects of Sexism in Language”, in Fujimura-Fanselow & Kameda, Japanese Women, 30-31.

46 Ibid.

47 Fujieda & fujimura-Fanselow, “Women’s Studies: An Overview”, 156-58.

48 Words currently employing the ideogram fu 婦 (from fujin 婦人) include fujinka 婦人科 (gynaecology), fujin zasshi 婦人雑誌 (women’s magazine) and fujin sanseiken 婦人参政権 (women’s suffrage). The term fujin can also be used to feminise a profession, for example fujin keisatsu 婦人警察 (policewoman).

49 Andrea Germer, “Feminist History in Japan. National and International Perspectives”, Intersections, Gender and the Sexuality in Asia Pacific, vol. 9 (August 2003): 4-5. Available at: http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue9/germer.html (accessed August 2018).

50 Ibid. 3.

51 This debate took place from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Essentialist feminists viewed the home as a potential site for the emancipation of married women, who were free to run the home as they saw fit, while materialist feminists underlined the lesser value assigned to housework, thereby obscuring women’s economic contribution and undermining their role in society.

52 Ida Kumiko 伊田久美子, “‘Baton o watasu’ to iu koto. Marukusu shugi feminizumu kara ‘ohitorisama’ e” 「バトンを渡す」ということ―マルクス主義フェミニズムから「おひとりさま」へ [“Passing the Baton”: from materialist feminism to the book The Solitude of Old Age], Gendai shisō 現代思想, vol. 17, no. 39 (December 2011): 89-92.

53 Meiji joseishi 明治女性史 by Murakami Nobuhiko村上信彦, published between 1970 and 1973.

54 Produced in 1982 by the Society for Research on Women’s History (Joseishi sōgō kenkyūkai), the five-volume Nihon joseishi 日本女性史, published by Tokyo University, remains a key text.

55 Published in 1972, Sandakan hachiban shōkan サンダカン八番娼館 by Yamazaki Tomoko 山崎朋子 was one of the first books to discuss early twentieth-century prostitution in South-East Asia and Japanese military prostitution during the war (1931-1945).

56 Ehara Yumiko, “Le développement théorique”, 27-30.

57 Joan W.Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis”, The American Historical Review, vol. 91, no. 5 (December 1986): 1053-75.

58 Ibid, 1067 and 1069.

59 Bereni et al, Introduction aux études de genre, 16-17.

60 Anthropological and sociological studies highlighting the socially constructed nature of gender roles already existed. The best known are by Margaret Mead (1901-1978), Gayle Rubin (b. 1949), Ann Oakley (b. 1944) and Simone de Beauvoir’s (1908-1986) The Second Sex. Research by psychologists and psychiatrists such as John Money (1921-2006) and Robert Stoller (1925-1992) also defined gender as distinct from sex. However, these studies limited themselves to positing a difference between physical sex (biologically determined) and social sex (gender).

61 In contrast to women’s studies, gender reinforced the barrier between the militant feminist sphere and the Japanese scholarly sphere, since the former saw gender simply as an additional tool to analyse traditional disciplines (founded on male knowledge) and not as a feminist challenge to the production of knowledge by men.

62 Germer, “Feminist History in Japan”, 7.

63 Eto Mikiko, “‘Gender Problems in Japanese Politics’: A Dispute over a Socio-Cultural Change Towards Increasing Equality”, Japanese Journal of Political Science, no. 17, vol. 3 (2016): 367-68.

64 See for example: Société franco-japonaise des études sur les femmes, Actes des Recherches collectives franco-japonaises.

65 Ehara Yumiko, “Le développement théorique”, 42.

66 Research on women’s history (joseishi 女性史) in particular continued; the divide between women’s studies and gender studies in Japan has persisted due to the expansion of the former.

67 The publication of a special issue of the Asahi Shimbun in 2002 illustrates the visibility achieved by gender studies.

68 See http://jp-gender.jp/wp/ (accessed July 2018).

69 See http://www2.igs.ocha.ac.jp/en/ (accessed July 2018).

70 Osawa Mari, “Government Approaches to Gender Equality in the Mid-1990s”, Social Science Japan Journal, no. 1, vol. 3 (2000): 4-5.

71 The term “gender” first entered the political nomenclature in 1996 in a report titled “Creating New Values for the 21st Century: A vision of gender equality” (Danjo kyōdō sankaku bijon – nijūisseiki no arata na kachi no sōzō 男女共同参画ビジョン―21世紀の新たな価値の創造). Japan moved from a strategy focused on eradicating blatant discrimination between men and women to one that highlights the link between the dominant position of men and discriminations of a subtler, less visible nature.

72 Ehara Yumiko, “Le développement théorique”, 42.

73 There are several different means of transcribing the word “and” in Japanese: a dot, a slash, ando アンド (a transliteration of “and”), to と (the Japanese word for “and”), and even using the logogram &.

74 The order of the terms varies from gay and lesbian studies to lesbian and gay studies, in Japanese as in other languages.

75 LGBT studies appeared at North American universities in the 1970s, beginning in 1972 with the first gay and lesbian programme offered at Sacramento State University in California, but spread throughout Europe later, for reasons specific to each country. In Japan, LGBT studies was able to develop once gender studies had become institutionalised in the 1990s and following a revival of research on sexuality, the introduction of English-language LGBT scholarship and the growth of certain Japanese LGBT groups.

76 The stimulus provided by gender studies should not obscure the fact that research on sexuality had long existed in Japan. Sexology and gynaecology became scientific fields between the late 19th century and the early 20th century.

77 As was already the case in psychiatry, researchers once again challenged the normal/pathological dichotomy used to define sexual behaviour and identities. This reflection owes much to the work of Georges Canguilhem and Michel Foucault.

78 This new generation of researchers is trained in the use of gender tools.

79 Takemura Kazuko, “Feminist Studies/Activities in Japan: Present and Future”, Lectora, no. 16 (2010): 13-33, available to download at http://revistes.iec.cat/index.php/lectora/article/viewFile/54722/54919 ‎ (accessed June 2018).

80 Ibid. 15-16.

81 In the 2000s Ueno Chizuko took back the homophobic views expressed in her 1986 book Onna to iu kairaku 女という快楽 [The Pleasure of Womanhood], published by Keisō shobō.

82 Narita Ryūichi, “The Overflourishing of Sexuality in 1920s Japan”, in Gender and Japanese History. Volume 1. Religion and Customs/the Body and Sexuality, ed. Wakita Haruko, Ueno Chizuko & Anne Bouchy (Osaka: Osaka University Press, 1999), 345-70.

83 Sabine Frühstück, “Genders and Sexualities”, in A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan, ed. Jennifer Robertson (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008), 167-81.

84 This militancy can be seen in the way the word is transcribed in Japanese: rezubian レズビアン as opposed to resubianレスビアン. This difference is linked to a question of identity: the term resubian, borrowed from French, belongs to a literary context and is widely used in dictionaries. The term rezubian, borrowed from American English in the 1960s, reflects a feminist lesbianism and is more assertive.

85 The influence of radical lesbian feminism, which in the 1970s began to reflect on female homosexuality and its political counterpart, lesbianism, must also be considered. Japanese lesbians – a marginalised minority within feminist movements – were unable to bring about a questioning of heteronormativity within the academic world, despite this having taken place in the United States. Lesbian movements rapidly disassociated themselves from the feminist movements of the 1970s and 1980s. These feminist movements then reconsidered their lesbian counterparts in the 1990s, notably during the heated debates between Japanese women and Asian women on the wartime comfort women system.

86 Mark McLelland, “The Role of the ‘Tojisha’ in Current Debates about Sexual Minority Rights in Japan”, Japanese Studies, no. 29, vol. 2 (2009): 193-207.

87 Fushimi Noriaki 伏見憲明, Puraibēto gei raifu – posuto ren.aironプライベート・ゲイ・ライフ―ポスト恋愛論 (Tokyo: Gakuyō shobō 学陽書房, 1991).

88 Suganuma Katsuhiko, “Enduring Voices: Fushimi Noriaki and Kakefuda Hiroko’s Continuing Relevance to Japanese Lesbian and Gay Studies and Activism”, Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, no.14 (November 2006), available at http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue14/suganuma.htm (accessed June 2018).

89 In particular Leo Bersani, David M. Halperin, Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Teresa De Lauretis.

90 Academic works tracing the history of homosexuality already existed but did not cover post-war Japan.

91 Hirosawa Yumi 広沢有美, ed., Onna o ai suru onna no monogatari 女を愛する女の物語, Bessatsu Takarajima 別冊宝島 [Takarajima Special Issue], May 1987.

92 This special issue was edited by Sawabe Hitomi under her pen name Hirosawa Yumi.

93 Kakefuda Hiroko 掛札悠子, “Rezubian” de aru to iu koto レズビアンであるということ (Toyko: Kawade shobō shinsha 河出書房新社, 1992).

94 Izumo Marō 出雲まろう, Manaita no ue no koi まな板のうえの恋 (Tokyo: JICC shuppankyoku JICC出版局, 1993). Translated by Claire Maree as Love Upon the Chopping Board (Melbourne: Spinifex Press, 2000).

95 Sasano Michiru 笹野みちる, Coming out! (Tokyo: Gentōsha 幻冬舎, 1995).

96 Itō Satoru伊藤悟, Dōseiaisha toshite ikiru 同性愛者として生きる (Tokyo: Akashi shobō 明石書房, 1998).

97 Ikeda Kumiko 池田久美子, Sensei no rezubian sengen – Tsunagaru tame no kamuauto 先生のレズビアン宣言 つながるためのカムアウト (Kyoto: Kamogawa shuppan かもがわ出版, 1999).

98 Itō Satoru & Yanase Ryuta, eds., Coming Out in Japan (Melbourne: TransPacific Press, 2001).

99 Sawabe Hitomi 沢部仁美, Yuriko, dasuvidāniya 百合子 ダスヴェイダーニヤ [Dasvidaniya Yuriko] (Tokyo: Bungei shunjū 文藝春秋, 1990).

100 Special issue of Hihyō kūkan 批評空間, Tokushū, shūkyō to shūkyō hihan. Sekkusu/jendā 特集=宗教と宗教批判 セックス/ジェンダー [Religion and Criticism of Religion – Sex and Gender], no. 8, vol. 2 (January 1996). The contents are available in the archives of the website: http://www36.atwiki.jp/aabiblio/pages/64.html#id_f5c68938 (accessed July 2018).

101 Yuriika ユリイカ [Eureka], Kuia rīdingu クィア・リーディング [Queer Rereading], vol. 28, no. 13 (November 1996).

102 Gendai shisō 現代思想, Sōtokushū Lezubian/gei stadīzu 総特集 レズビアン/ゲイ・スタディーズ (May 1997).

103 Various authors, Jendā ga wakaru ジェンダーがわかる, Asahi Shimbun Extra Report and Analysis Special Number, AERA Mook, no. 78, 2002.

104 Gendai shisō 現代思想, Tokushū LGBT nihon to sekai no riaru 特集 LGBT日本と世界のリアル (October 2015).

105 A special issue of the journal Kaihō shakaigaku kenkyū 解放社会学研究 [Liberation Sociology Research] was also published entitled Tokushū Rezubian/gei sutadīzu pēpābakku 特集 レズビアン/ゲイ・スタディーズ ペーパーバック, no. 17 (2003).

106 Keith Vincent ヴィンセント・キース, Kazama Takashi 風間孝 and Kawaguchi Kazuya 河口和也, Gei sutadīzu ゲイ・スタディーズ (Tokyo: Seidosha 青土社, 1997).

107 Tazaki Hideaki 田崎英明, Jendā/sekushuariti ジェンダー/セクシュアリティ (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten 岩波書店, 2000).

108 Saitō Jun’ichi 斉藤純一, Shinmitsuken no poritikkusu 親密圏のポリティックス (Kyoto: Nakanishiya shuppan ナカニシヤ出版, 2003).

109 Examples include Mark McLelland, Romit Dasgupta, Sharon Chalmers, Sabine Frühstück, J. Keith Vincent and James Welker.

110 Scholars like Ogino Miho and Takemura Kazuko, who have translated and analysed key works by Butler and Scott, did not hesitate to work on English texts.

111 In 2002 the newspaper Asahi listed at least 120 universities offering gender studies classes.

112 Suganuma Katsuhiko, “Enduring Voices”.

113 In the 1990s gay, transvestite, intersex and occasionally lesbian characters and individuals appeared on television and sometimes in films. Their romantic relationships (and thus homosexuality) were portrayed in a more or less realistic manner.

114 Mark McLelland, Male Homosexuality in Modern Japan: Cultural Myths and Social Realities (London: Routledge Curzon, 2000), 130-33.

115 M. Gregory Pflugfelder, Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1950 (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1999), 20

116 Kazama Takashi 風間孝 and Kawaguchi Kazuya 河口和也, Dōseiai to iseiai 同性愛と異性愛 [Homosexuality and Heterosexuality] (Tokyo: Iwanami shinsho 岩波新書, 2010), 6-36.

117 Erick Laurent, Les Chrysanthèmes roses. Homosexualités masculines dans le Japon contemporain [Pink Chrysanthemums. Male Homosexuality in Contemporary Japan] (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2011), 155-56 and 161-62.

118 Ibid. 160.

119 Questioning male homosexuality before its female counterpart nonetheless remains an androcentric act.

120 Erick Laurent, “Sexuality and Human Rights: An Asian Perspective”, in Sexuality and Human Rights, ed. Helmut Graupner & Phillip Tahmindjis (New York: Haworth Press, 2005), 163-225.

121 Early on, the group OCCUR, for example, fought for an overhauling of homophobic terms. From 1991 to 1997, it also waged a successful court battle against Tokyo’s Fuchū youth hostel for having barred homosexual guests.

122 The legal text is available in Japanese at http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/H15/H15HO111.html (accessed July 2018).

123 On 26 March 2009 the Ministry of Justice issued an opinion on recognising same-sex marriages registered overseas. Fukushima Mizuho (then head of the Social Democratic Party of Japan) lobbied heavily for this recognition.

124 Ikeda Kumiko 池田久美子, Okabe Yoshihiro おかべよしひろ, Kimura Kazunori 木村一紀, Kuroiwa Ryūtarō 黒岩竜太郎, Takatori Shōji 高取昌二, Dohi Itsuki 土肥いつき, Miyazaki Rumiko 宮崎留美子 and Alexander Ronni, Sekushuaru mainoriti, dōseiai, seidōitsusei shōgai, intāsekkusu no tōjisha ga kataru ningen no tayō na sei セクシュアルマイノリティ、同性愛、性同一性障害、インターセックスの当事者が語る人間の多様な性 (Tokyo: Akashi shoten 明石書店, 2003, republished in 2006).

125 Sugiyama Takashi 杉山貴士, Kikitai shiritai seiteki mainoriti, tsunagari aeru shakai no tameni 聞きたい知りたい性的マイノリティ つながりあえる社会のために (Osaka: Nihon kikanshi shuppan sentā 日本機関紙出版センター, 2008).

126 Susumu Ryū 超竜, Niji-iro no hinkon, LGBT sabaibaru! Reinbōkarā dewa nuritsubusenai, “ue” to “kawaki” 虹色の貧困 LGBTサバイバル!レインボーカラーでは塗りつぶせない「飢え」と「渇き」 (Tokyo: Sairyūsha 彩流社, 2010).

127 Akasugi Yasunobu 赤杉康伸, Tsuchiya Yuki 土屋ゆき and Tsutsui Makiko 筒井真樹子, Dōsei pātonā, Dōseikon, domesutikku pātonāshippu-hō o shiru tameni, 同性パートナー、同性婚・DP法を知るために (Tokyo: Shakai hihyōsha 社会批評社, 2004).

128 Sugiura Ikuko 杉浦郁子, Nomiya Aki 野宮亜紀and Ōe Chizuka 大江千束, Pātonāshippu: seikatsu to seido, kekkon, jijitsukon, dōseikon, パートナーシップ・生活と制度―結婚、事実婚、同性婚 (Tokyo: Ryokufū shuppan 緑風出版, 2007).

129 Nagayasu Shibun 永易至文, Dōsei pātonā seikatsu tokuhon, dōkyo zeikin hoken kara kaigo shibetsu sōzoku made 同性パートナー生活読本 同居・税金・保険から介護・死別・相続まで (Tokyo: Ryokufū shuppan, 2009).

130 The term queer, originally meaning strange, was reclaimed in the late 1980s by gay activists in the United States, who reversed the stigma attached to it and instead used the word to describe the entire spectrum of sexual minorities (gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, and intersexual and transgender individuals), as well as all those who do not wish to be reduced to a fixed category.

131 Bereni et al, Introduction aux études de genre, 49-53.

132 Queer theory has had less impact in the United States than in Europe, where it has established itself via radical left-wing movements not affiliated to the traditional parties.

133 The term queer is often added to the acronym LGBTQ, thereby designating all non-normative sexualities and any person who does not identify with the categories in use.

134 A feminist lesbian theoretician and professor of historical consciousness, Teresa de Lauretis is notable for her 1987 work Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film, and Fiction (Bloomington: Indiana University Press).

135 Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2006), ix.

136 ジュディース・バトラー Judith Butler, Jendā toraburu feminizumu to aidentiti no kakuran ジェンダートラブル フェミニズムとアイデンティティの攪乱 [Gender Trouble, Feminism and the Subversion of Identity] (Tokyo: Seidosha 青土社, 1999).

137 Kawahara Yukari 川原ゆかり, “Wakamono bunka to sekushuariti, karuchuraru sutadīzu o megutte” 若者文化とセクシュアリティ カルチュラルスタディーズをめぐって [Youth Culture and Sexuality: a cultural studies perspective], Jendā kenkyū: Ochanomizu joshi daigaku jendā kenkyū sentā nenpō ジェンダー研究: お茶の水女子大学ジェンダー研究センター年報 (gender studies journal published by the Institute for Gender Studies at Ochanomizu University), vol. 2 (March 1999): 113. Available at: http://www.igs.ocha.ac.jp/igs/IGS_publication/journal/01/01_09.pdf (accessed August 2018).

138 Foucault remains a key author within gender studies thanks to his three-volume History of Sexuality, not only for his deconstruction of sex/sexuality but also for his reflection on the context (or “episteme”) of knowledge formation, an area in which gender, LGBT and queer studies are also active.

139 Takemura, “Feminist Studies/Activities in Japan, 5-6.

140 Ibid. 5.

141 Jendā ga wakaru ジェンダーがわかる, Asahi Shimbun Extra Report and Analysis Special Number, AERA Mook, no. 78, 2002.

142 For example, a queer reinterpretation of the poet Masaoka Shiki 正岡子規 (1867-1902) in a paper by Keith J. Vincent.

143 Keith J. Vincent, “Queering Friendship: Takemura Kazuko”, a paper presented on 20 April 2013 at Emory University during a conference entitled “Sex, Gender, and Society: Rethinking Japanese Feminism”, full text available at http://worldwide-wan.blogspot.fr/2013/05/queering-friendship-takemura-kazuko-by.html (accessed August 2018).

144 Kawaguchi Kazuya 河口和也, Kuia sutadīzu クィア・スタディーズ ([Queer Studies] (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 2003).

145 Newsletter no. 9 of the Centre for Gender Studies at the International Christian University (ICU), available at http://subsite.icu.ac.jp/cgs/docs/20080415_NL009.pdf (accessed July 2018), 7.

146 See https://ci.nii.ac.jp/ncid/AA12364316 (accessed August 2018).

147 For example, the classes taught by Ogino Miho at Dōshisha University, Kawaguchi Kazuya at Shūdō University in Hiroshima, and those dispensed by the International Christian University (which has a department of LGBT Studies) and Ochanomizu University.

148 Interview with Ogino Miho conducted on 18 February 2013 at Dōshisha University in Kyoto.

149 Men’s studies’ groups have appeared, bolstered by the reflections on gender, for example the Men’s Lib Research Group and Men’s Centre in 1995, and Men’s Lib Tokyo in 1996. The pioneering work Introduction to Men’s Studies, by Ito Kimio 伊藤公雄 (Danseigaku nyūmon 男性学入門, Tokyo: Sakuhinsha, 1996), was later followed by a multi-volume History of Masculinity (Danseishi 男性史, Tokyo: Nihon keizai hyōronsha, 2006), edited by Abe Tsunehisa 阿部恒久, Amano Masako 天野正子 and Obinata Sumio 大日方純夫.

150 These studies echo societal changes relating to fatherhood and the status of men. They represent an outgrowth of male feminist activist movements, such as the Men’s Group for Rethinking Childcare (Otoko no kosodate o kangaeru kai 男の子育てを考える会), founded in 1978, and Men Opposed to Prostitution in Asia (Ajia no baibaishun ni hantai suru otoko-tachi no kai アジアの売買春に反対する男たちの会), founded in 1988.

151 Le Doeuff Michèle, Le Sexe du savoir (Paris: Flammarion, 2000), 130-133. Translated into English by Kathryn Hamer and Lorraine Code as The Sex of Knowing (New York and London: Routledge, 2003).

152 Jendā ga wakaru, 132-41.

153 Intersex refers to a genetic variation, such as people with the sex chromosome anomalies XXX, XYY and XO, and affects one in 2000 births (based on the criteria used to define sex) (Bereni et al, Introduction aux études de genre, 34-39).

154 For example, scholars have rediscovered the variety of homosexual practices and the entire range of non-normative sexualities through studies of the family, prostitution, the organisation of the warrior nobility and monastic life, notably during the Edo period.

155 The work of Chino Kaori, a key figure in art history and feminism, has led scholars to examine the representation of gender identities, particularly in scrolls and illustrations for literary works like the Heiji monogatari, the Ise monogatari and in paintings by Kanō Motonobu.

156 Works like The Tale of Genji and The Changelings (Torikaebaya monogatari), or by authors like Natsume Sōseki and Mishima Yukio, are often cited, but many texts from the Meiji and Taishō periods are currently receiving a queer re-reading.

157 Kimura, Jendā to kyōiku, 4.

158 Le Doeuff, Le Sexe du savoir, 7-18.

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Aline Henninger, “From Women’s Studies to Queer Studies: bending epistemology”Cipango - French Journal of Japanese Studies [Online], 6 | 2021, Online since 14 January 2022, connection on 19 August 2022. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/cjs/1567; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/cjs.1567

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