Risutora : the impact of globalization and restructuring upon women in the Japanese workforce
This thesis is an analysis of the relationship between gender and globalization in one specific national context: Japan. Japan's position as an affluent, industrialized liberal democracy, with a distinctive model of capitalism, means that Japanese women's experiences of globalization differ from those of women both elsewhere in Asia, and in other First World countries. The actions of the Japanese state and Japanese companies have been instrumental in the globalization of production, which is now having reciprocal effects upon the Japanese national model of capitalism. In response to global economic change, the Japanese model of capitalism is being intentionally restructured through company practice and legal change. This restructuring (risutora) impacts differently upon men and women, as the liberalizing processes associated with globalization interact with specific local institutions, including the ideal of the three generation family and the position of women in the Japanese national model of capitalism. After an analysis of the mainstream literature about globalization, the state and historical institutionalism and feminist literature about gender and globalization, the thesis demonstrates that the complex trends associated with globalization have produced pressures for two kinds of, ostensibly contradictory, employment reforms in Japan. There are pressures for labour market deregulation, to increase the international competitiveness of Japanese production. There are also pressures for the 're'-regulation of labour to establish a principle of sexual equality at work. The deregulation of employment, including the removal of sex-specific protective legislation, has made it increasingly difficult for many women to pursue full-time careers. A detailed examination of the impact of the Equal Employment Opportunities Law (EEOL) shows that this legislation has led to the formalization of the gender-based segregation of regular workers, and encouraged employers to employ an increasing proportion of women in non-regular positions. Nevertheless, social and political changes, which are also associated with globalization, are leading an increasing number of women to seek higher status careers or longer tenure in the workforce. These changes are also providing campaigners for women's labour rights with new opportunities for effective action, as this thesis demonstrates, using a case study of an activist group.