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Masculinity and Japan’s Foreign Relations

Yumiko Mikanagi
Masculinity and Japan’s Foreign Relations
ISBN: 978-1-935049-38-8
2011/139 pages/LC: 2011000928
A FirstForumPress Book
"Provides a much needed exploration of the field.... Masculinity and Japan's Foreign Relations is a valuable work that adds to our understanding of the relationship between gender and international relations."—Masako Endo, Journal of American-East Asian Relations

"I would recommend this slim and stimulating volume to anyone interested in new ways to think about Japan’s role in the world."—Hugo Dobson, Journal of Japanese Studies

"Gender has been a neglected dimension of the study of Japan's international relations. Yumiko Mikanagi focuses on masculinity and foreign relations, employing a fresh approach which is sure to stimulate much discussion and debate."—Vera Mackie, University of Wollongong


Transformations in both Japan's domestic culture and its foreign relations in the last two decades have led to, among other outcomes, a shift to a more militarized defense policy. Yumiko Mikanagi explores an intriguing aspect of this shift: changes in what is considered masculine in contemporary Japanese society.

Tracing the alternations between dominant "warrior" and "literati" conceptions of masculinity from the nineteenth century to the present, Mikanagi reveals parallels in Japan’s foreign policy and offers new insights into the country's recent defense policy decisions.


Yumiko Mikanagi is on the faculty at the New School for General Studies.


  • Introduction.
  • Gender and Japan's Foreign Policy.
  • The Historical Transformation of Dominant Masculinity.
  • Dominant Prewar Masculinity: Bankara vs. Kyōyōshugi.
  • The Salaryman as the Dominant Postwar Masculinity.
  • The Making of a New Dominant Masculinity.
  • Conclusion.