© 2016

Power in Contemporary Japan

  • Gill Steel

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Gill Steel, Marie Thorsten
    Pages 1-17
  3. Learning About Power

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 19-19
    2. Gill Steel
      Pages 39-58
  4. Power in and Over the Family

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 59-59
    2. Mito Akiyoshi
      Pages 61-78
    3. Mayumi Nakamura, Mito Akiyoshi
      Pages 79-91
  5. Power in Society and in the Workplace

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 123-123
    2. Jun Imai
      Pages 125-141
    3. Ken’ichi Ikeda, Keisuke Takemoto
      Pages 143-166
    4. Yuko Ogasawara
      Pages 167-182
  6. Political Power

  7. Back Matter
    Pages 257-263

About this book


This book discusses Japanese conceptions of power and presents a complex, nuanced look at how power operates in society and in politics. It rejects stereotypes that describe Japanese citizens as passive and apolitical, cemented into a vertically structured, group-oriented society and shows how citizens learn about power in the contexts of the family, the workplace, and politics.

As Japan grapples with the consequences of having one of the oldest and most rapidly ageing populations in the world, it is important for social scientists and policy makers worldwide to understand the choices it makes. Particularly as policy-makers have once again turned their attention to workers, the roles of women, families, and to immigrants as potential ‘solutions’ to the perceived problem of maintaining or increasing the working population. These studies show the ebb and flow of power over time and also note that power is context-dependent — actors can have power in one context, but not another. 


Power Japan politics family diversity

Editors and affiliations

  • Gill Steel
    • 1
  1. 1.The Institute for the Liberal ArtsDoshisha UniversityJapan

About the editors

Gill Steel is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Institute for the Liberal Arts, Doshisha University. She previously taught in the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Tokyo. She co-authored Changing Politics in Japan (2010) with Ikuo Kabashima and co-edited Democratic Reform in Japan (2008) with Sherry Martin.  

Bibliographic information


“This fascinating volume examines multiple facets of power in contemporary Japan. Through the lens of power exercised in diverse ways and by various actors, the authors successfully show how politics unfolded in Japan with nuanced and context-rich analyses. This is a much-needed contribution to the field of Japanese studies and political science.” (Mari Miura, Professor of Political Science, Sophia University, Japan)

“The unusually sophisticated take on ‘power’ in this book throws new light on many important aspects of Japanese society and politics, from families and gender relations to workplaces and national politics.  Many chapters focus on the interplay between state policy priorities and changing group and individual interests.  Interesting for specialists and great for teaching.” (John Creighton Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Michigan, USA)

“This book greatly extends the horizons of the concept of power. As this book provides an interdisciplinary approach to analyses of power in the domains of family and the workplace, as well as political arena, every single serious observer of social and human phenomena will enjoy this book with its eye-opening new perspectives.” (Aiji Tanaka, President, International Political Science Association; Professor of Political Science, Waseda University, Japan)