Gender and Society in Contemporary Japan (PG)

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

The module will familiarise students with issues that contemporary Japan is facing, focusing on gender roles and expectations in contemporary Japanese society, looking also at what underpins these by including education, employment and the challenges of the demographic changes in Japan. Additionally, students will look at how the media and youth culture have the potential to subvert and uphold these expectations, as Japan still has clear-cut spheres for men and women. Students will thus learn what kind of changes are happening, in how far they are politically driven and what this might mean for the future.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • demonstrate a clear knowledge about ‘issues’ relating to gender politics in contemporary Japanese society

  • demonstrate an increased critical awareness of debates regarding gender in Japan

  • critically relate those issues to the appropriate theories, questioning the applicability of often eurocentric critical theory to a non-European surrounding


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 3 hours contact per week consisting of a two hour lecture and one hour seminar.

Scope and syllabus

The module will be topical rather than following a historical timeline, dealing with separate issues, including:

  • traditional and contemporary women's roles
  • hegemonic and alternative ideals of masculinity
  • sexual identities
  • education and employment
  • demographic changes
  • youth culture and its relationship to gender roles and expectations

Method of assessment

A reaction paper of 1,000 words to be submitted on day 5, week 7 in the term of teaching (30%); an essay of 2500 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1 in the term following teaching (70%).

Suggested reading

Butler, Judith (1990): Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London, New York: Routledge.

de Beauvoir, Simone (1988): The Second Sex. London: Picador.

Connell, R. (1995): Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Furuichi, Noritoshi (2017): The Happy Youth of a Desperate Country: The Disconnect between Japan's Malaise and Its Millenials. Tokyo : Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture.

Steel, Gill (ed.) (2019): Beyond the Gender Gap in Japan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules