The Journal of Japanese Studies
SIMON ANDREW AVENELL
This essay traces the rise of new civic movements in Japan from the 1970s. Challenging claims that these movements are transforming the country’s civil society, the article shows how state, corporate, and civic actors have fashioned a domesticated and largely apolitical sphere of social activism. Not only have bureaucratic and corporate elites fostered cooperative and useful groups, leading civic activists have crafted a pervasive logic of “proposal” which demonizes contentious politics, espouses self-help as the solution to all social problems, and celebrates intimate engagement with the state and market. Accordingly, the article argues for a more nuanced reading of transformation in Japan’s civil society.
Volume 35, Number
2 (Summer 2009)