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Japanese Feminist DebatesA Century of Contention on Sex, Love, and Labor$
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Ayako Kano

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824855802

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824855802.001.0001

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Labor of Love, Love of Labor

Labor of Love, Love of Labor

Debates on Motherhood and Work

(p.104) Chapter 4 Labor of Love, Love of Labor
Japanese Feminist Debates

Ayako Kano

University of Hawai'i Press

Chapter 4 considers debates about women’s labor in modern Japan: It begins with the “motherhood protection” debates in the 1910s involving Yosano Akiko and Hiratsuka Raichō. It continues with the “housewife debates” from the 1950s analyzed by Ueno Chizuko. It also involved valorization of housework and Kanō Mikiyo’s call for “total withdrawal” from the workplace. The debate about the value of paid wage labor and workplace equality culminated in the Equal Employment Opportunity Law (EEOL) of 1985. The “Agnes debate” involved discussions about childcare, motherhood, and careers. Recent debates about the declining birthrate and work-life balance ask whether the state should support single individuals or families, and how to evaluate paid and unpaid work. The chapter also asks how to develop an ethics of care and a feminism for the weak and vulnerable, rather than for the strong elite.

Keywords:   Japan, women, feminism, EEOL, housewife, equality, employment, childcare, housework, care

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