Womens Employment in Japan: The Experience of Part-time Workers (ASAA Women in Asia Series)
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To avoid this, Afghanistan deserves a better strategy, committed government, and clean hands. Although an election does not necessarily mean that the country has achieved full democracy, it is an important step towards building social capital and public confidence, and remains the key to sustaining the democratic process. In this process, the champions are those committed to democratic values.
The recent election demonstrated that elections can be difficult, but possible. This presidential campaign has demonstrated a shift from a post-civil war, ethno-nationalism culture to a broader national agenda that will help the longer-term nation-building process. The fraud allegations could undermine the legitimacy of the process, leading to either political instability or a second-round in the election. The IECA and the ECC need to address this rationally and transparently to protect the rights of ordinary citizens and to restore their confidence.
The 30 August general election in Japan has produced a historic political shift. The long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party LDP performed shockingly poorly after its landslide victory in the last general election held in The opposition Democratic Party of Japan DPJ , on the other hand, performed stunningly by sweeping of the seats in the lower house of parliament. In the general election, the LDP lost its majority in the lower house for the first time.
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Morihiro Hosokawa followed by Tsutomu Hata served as prime ministers of a short-lived fragile coalition of opposition parties. The LDP returned to power in alliance with other opposition parties in and soon consolidated its dominant position, even though it had to accept briefly a socialist leader, Tomiichi Murayama, as prime minister. But his neo-liberal and Thatcher-style policy prescriptions alienated many of his high-ranking LDP colleagues and produced very few results towards solving the economic and social challenges confronting Japanese society.
Indeed, social and economic disparities in Japan became even more serious under his leadership. His three successors, each serving for about a year as prime minister, could do nothing to arrest the prevailing social and economic woes. It is not surprising then that voters took the bold decision of punishing the party almost perpetually in government and giving the DPJ a chance. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has selected his party executives and cabinet members with great diligence. He has given the task of party management to the veteran politician, strategist and tactician Ichiro Ozawa, who stepped down as leader in April due to a funding scandal involving a senior aide.
Leaders of these two parties have been given one ministerial post each. Although these political parties have only a tiny number of members in the lower house, their cooperation is essential for the smooth passage of bills as the DPJ does not hold a simple majority in the upper house of parliament, whose role in establishing legislation is crucial.
The hope is that the Hatoyama government will produce some good policy outcomes. It is of course not easy for any new government to fix so many challenges that have confronted Japanese society over the last two decades. It becomes even more difficult for a party with no previous experience of running government and a party that aims to change long traditions like reducing the influence of bureaucrats in policy and budget formulation.
What is essential is that the DPJ leadership is able to convince the voters that the new government is honest and genuinely working towards achieving the pledges and promises it made during and before the elections—that it is a party that will make a difference to the people of Japan. While opinion polls and other surveys will inform us of the public perception of the new government from time to time, the first political test will take place in July when half of the upper house seats will be up for elections. If the DPJ can win a majority in this house, it will then have even a greater mandate to form policy and pass legislation.
Coordinating policy approaches within a DPJ that consists of members from different political backgrounds is already a formidable task. Added to this is the challenge of policy coordination with the two other coalition partners that hold different stances on some key policies such as Japan—United States relations. The foreign diplomatic community in Japan and major powers globally are also keenly watching the political change in Japan and what it might mean for the world. The party has declared to seek better relations with Asia, China in particular, and proposes an inclusive East Asian community with the possibility of a monetary union in the long term.
Here is an opportunity for Australia to work closely with the new government in Japan in establishing a regional community. The new government in Japan provides a fresh opportunity for Australia to forge closer relations and work bilaterally towards a regional community to secure greater prosperity, peace and stability.
Manual Womens Employment in Japan: The Experience of Part-time Workers (ASAA Women in Asia Series)
Peter Jackson is not one to shy away from a challenge. As a pioneer of studies in gay, lesbian and transgender cultures in Asia, Associate Professor Jackson admits that at times his path in that field has not been easy, both with some fellow academics and research-funding bodies. Appointed to the role last January, Jackson, who is also Convenor of the Division of Pacific and Asian History at the Australian National University, is working with outgoing editor Maila Stivens on the transition, before assuming full responsibility for the journal at the beginning of next year.
From its beginnings as an ASAA newsletter several decades ago, ASR has moved from having a strong Australian focus to become a genuinely international journal, particularly under Maila Stivens and her predecessor Kam Louie. Jackson intends to continue with the internationalisation of the journal. This will be in addition to our usual book reviews.
Jackson is optimistic about the continuing health of Asian Studies in Australia, and the future of academic journals such as the ASR. And as editor-in-chief, he says he will be interested in suggestions and feedback from readers on how they regard the journal. The number of papers, particularly by younger scholars, at last years ASAA biennial conference, for example, shows the breadth of what is still happening.
People who are moving into Asian Studies may not have had anything to do with Asia until their PhD, or even after. So my interest in bringing on broad thematic editors is, in a sense, to reach that market. Jackson says he finds it difficult to foresee the future for print journals such as ASR.
Nevertheless, I think there will continue to be a place for the print version, but maybe less so as time goes by. Jackson came to Asian Studies via Western philosophy, developing his interest, initially, in Asian religions and languages while backpacking in the region in the early 80s. Increasingly, his interest has focussed on Thailand, and while he maintains an interest in Buddhism, his research has moved more into the realm of social history, including the history of gender and sexuality in Asia.
Of the participants, 80 per cent were from Asia, reflecting the rapid growth of interest in studies in minority gender and sexuality issues in the region.
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The website for this project is Thai Rainbow Archives Project. Blogging is changing the nature of academic discourse. When New Mandala celebrated its third anniversary recently, its founders Andrew Walker and Nicholas Farrelly were surprised at how far their blog had come since its tentative beginnings. Since its inception the site has devoted its attention to the politics and societies of this region, and especially Thailand and Burma.
But others take the view that this is outreach, which plays into the production of academic work. Through blogging you can throw out relatively tentative ideas; expose them to a huge community of peers; get feedback, comments and ideas; and then perhaps develop them and put them into a more formal academic process. In terms of academic respectability, imitation is a great form of flattery, and now at the ANU we have two other high-profile blogs, East Asia Forum and South Asia Masala.
They add a great deal of depth and regional breadth to the blogging stable at the ANU. On a normal day New Mandala will get about post reads, and between 60,—70, in the average month. During the political troubles in Thailand last April there were over , Having seen New Mandala through its first three years, Walker and Farrelly are now looking ahead to the next three. We could also do with some technical support, and someone who has dedicated time to solicit material from the region. Walker would also like to see more interaction between blogging and teaching, where students are not only reading the site, but contributing to it.
Farrelly believes the impact and influence of the internet in academic publishing will also need to be looked at closely. At a time Australians should be strengthening their engagement with Indonesia, many Australian universities are winding back their Indonesian studies and language programs.
Like many scholars with a long involvement with Indonesia, David Hill, Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at Murdoch University, views the decline in Indonesian studies and language programs in Australian universities with concern—to the extent that he is trying to develop a strategy to reverse the trend. What is even more disconcerting is that decisions to close down Indonesian programs are being made without any consideration for the national interest or the intellectual investment that an institution may have put into the program over many years.
Over the next 18 months I hope to visit all universities in Australian that offer Indonesian studies, with the aim of meeting teaching staff and the administrative staff who make the decisions about budgets, as well as students, to work out what is happening in regard to Indonesian.
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This has also come at a time in Australia when interest in studying languages in general has been falling and of declining enrolments in humanities degrees. Indonesia is potentially an area where we can learn a lot, and also contribute a lot. More than Australian students have participated in the program, spending a semester in Indonesia at a university or gaining practical experience working with Indonesian businesses and organisations.
These include a six-week program for Australian journalism students, which involves work experience, as well as a two-week intensive academic program. The consortium has also developed a semester program on Islamic studies, and is setting up a Development Studies program for students wanting to work in community development in Indonesia. With recent funding from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, it is initiating a further program for Indonesian-language teachers to strengthen their language skills. I believe the government needs to be putting many times that amount of money into the program—to invest, not on the basis of three years, but for 10, 20 years.
We need to maximise the sharing of initiatives and collaborative endeavours. Unfortunately, much of this comes at a time universities are pressed to compete for funding. Without an overall national strategy, if one university closes down its Indonesian department, then everybody is impoverished.
Yet despite this increasing focus on trade union involvement in coalitions with NGOs, scholars have largely ignored NGO involvement in issues and practices traditionally considered the province of trade unions. In doing so, they have failed to recognise the contribution of local labour NGOs and their international counterparts to the contemporary labour movement. In Malaysia, for example, NGOs have concentrated on groups which are perceived to lie outside the ambit of traditional trade unions, particularly women and migrant workers, and on issues such as housing and welfare, which the Malaysian Trade Union Congress considers to lie beyond its scope.
However, in settings like South Korea in the s, in the Philippines under Marcos—and in New Order Indonesia—labour NGOs also sought to organise, help and engage in advocacy on behalf of industrial workers. Products of a highly stratified society, these middle-class, non-worker outsiders behaved as classical labour intellectuals, seeking to bring knowledge and class consciousness to industrial workers and to alert the wider community to the plight of the first generation of Indonesians to flood into the factories.
At the same time, however, they were deeply ambivalent about their involvement in the labour movement. On the other hand, most of them saw no permanent place for non-worker intellectuals like themselves in an organised labour movement that they believed should rightly consist only of unions organised by, for and of workers. Significantly, their ideas about what a trade union should be came not from any indigenous understanding of worker representation—as the New Order. After the fall of Suharto, the balance shifted strongly towards more internationally recognisable forms of trade unionism as international labour bodies renewed their influence in Indonesia and began to shape Indonesian trade unions in their own image.
Workers exercised their new freedom to organise, forming tens of thousands of new trade unions across the nation and asserting themselves in workplaces and nationally. Some trade unionists even began to seek alliances with political parties when it became clear that their ability to achieve lasting change would be limited without recourse to formal politics.
These changes precipitated a fundamental shift in the relationship between worker-activists and labour NGOs, bringing to a head tensions that had surfaced in the late New Order period. Others, however, developed new kinds of relationships with the worker groups they had formerly sponsored and with other trade unions, in the process creating useful niches for themselves as advisors, trainers and advocates, roles recognised and valued by parts of the international labour movement as well as by many local trade unionists. In the process, these NGOs have carved out a continuing role for themselves in the Indonesian labour movement and, in doing so, challenged both dominant trade union-only definitions of the labour movement and the scholarly analyses that rely on them.
Job options for Australian students graduating with Asian languages will remain limited unless we take a new approach to spreading Asian literacy, writes Gerry Groot. But dreams are one thing—setting clear goals and criteria is much more difficult. Despite ever closer economic and cultural links with Asia, Australian Asian language departments are struggling and some would have doubtless gone under but for the influx of Asian students learning more of their mother tongues.
Even Asian country-specific social science courses often fail to draw much interest. Many people assume that Asian languages are in fact in demand because they automatically link such a growth in demand to the growing economic importance of Asia to Australia—some sort of natural corollary. Unfortunately, few Australian firms, or even governments, are looking for—let alone rewarding in any substantial way—anyone who takes the time and effort to learn Asian languages and cultures. Even if there were, would it pay enough to cover the opportunity costs incurred in the first place? For many years, the only regularly advertised well-paid jobs for graduates of Japanese were for coach drivers or tour guides.
Although better paid than university lecturers, these jobs failed to inspire students. If Australians go overseas to further their study, they incur more costs, but no guarantee of a subsequent return. Teaching English overseas is better compensated. Interpreting and translating?
With so many migrants looking for a job, this avenue leads to undervalued piecework, but no career. If they do return there are very few options.
This is increasingly difficult and demoralising work in which teachers may see students for as little as half an hour a week. Anyway, in year 10, when hard choices have to be made about maximising university entrance scores, teachers, counsellors and parents will more than likely tell students to drop any language, but especially Asian ones: too much effort, too risky and too little reward. What is surprising is that schools and universities still get the number of language students they do, not that that they are in decline.
Few graduates are able to read and write well enough to reach anything like native-speaker proficiency. And they know it. Apart from the handful of school teachers and a tiny number aspiring to academia, most let their hard-won employment-irrelevant skills simply fade away. Of the thousands who start, only dozens finish. Overall then, the Australian system is extremely wasteful, akin to taking a whole tree and turning it into a pencil. If money is to be no object then, Australia can become an outstanding and Asia-literate nation, in a generation or two.
You could again make foreign languages compulsory for university—improbable. But you have to inject substantially more funds in to language teaching at universities and schools over a decade to make this happen. Realistically, money is likely to be very tight. Moreover, the necessary skills are in very short supply precisely because, until now, learning Asian languages and about Asia has been more for love than money. Any new schemes that spread limited funds thinly will achieve indifferent to negative outcomes. Can it even be wedged into already overcrowded curricula?
If it could, would enough parents see it as desirable? Unlikely if the existing disincentives remain. One solution is to teach intensively those with the most to gain. There is only one problem. The opportunity cost for learning languages to the level needed is too high for professionals who often have partners, children and mortgages. The prime minister can spread Asia literacy by establishing a prestigious and generous Australian postgraduate Asian languages scholarship scheme an oxymoron in Australia that pays well enough to allow Australian professionals to take leave long enough to learn Asian languages, cultures and other aspects to very high levels in intensive courses of one to three years.
This scheme would attract high-achieving mature students with strong desires to learn and the ability to turn this learning to immediate productive ends in their areas of expertise when they graduate. Corporate lawyers in Hong Kong would be able to work directly with Chinese legal texts; aid workers would become more effective; advertising executives could well sell more Australian stuff; and Australian film makers would be more likely to make films that succeeded in non English-speaking markets.
They could act as exemplars for undergraduates in Australia. They might even, gradually, change the attitudes of Australian employers, so that language learning becomes, if not essential, then at least desirable. This, in turn, might well inspire young people in Australian schools to see that Asian languages, or any languages, are do-able and worthwhile. Dean Chan reports. In May , mud started flowing out from a gas-drilling borehole in the Sidoarjo region of East Java, Indonesia.
According to The Jakarta Globe, the mud volcano has, to date, buried 12 villages, killed 13 people, displaced over residents, and eradicated hectares of farming and industrial land. Various steps have been taken to try to stop the mudflow—including dropping concrete balls into the volcano crater in —but to no avail. The mud still continues to flow. The region remains a disaster zone. Nevertheless, Survivor is not primarily concerned with telling a cautionary tale about unchecked industrial progress, or enacting a simplistic politics of blame.
Instead, the title of the piece draws attention to the object and subject of its inquiry: those who are left behind, ostensibly to grieve, mourn, and perhaps most of all, remember. Survivor is very simply staged. A group of mud-coated performer-participants, including Christanto, adopt discreetly stylised poses standing, sitting, squatting or lying down. The performers also hold photographic portraits of those who have gone missing in the Sidoarjo incident. The work was originally performed in Jakarta in , where the localised context and ensemble of local performers no doubt colluded to frame and modulate interpretations of the work as either a politicised critique or an affective domestic memorial.
The Australian Survivor is closely modelled on the Indonesian performance, but there are significant variances. Christanto performed with a multi-ethnic group of about 30 local male and female participants. The Australian localisation of the performance arguably expanded the hermeneutical frame of the work by effectively staging collective memory as a transnational ethic that fundamentally connects us, here and there.
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Christanto has lived in Australia since He was born in in Tegal, Central Java and studied painting in the s in Yogyakarta. His recent artworks—encompassing painting, sculpture, installation and performance—have been included in major international exhibitions such as the First and Third Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art and , the Havana Biennale , and the Gwangju Biennial In particular, They Give Evidence, which was purchased in for the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, serves as a companion piece and pedagogical analogue.
This installation comprises sixteen standing figures fashioned from terracotta and fibreglass resin and placed in orderly rows within the gallery space. These larger-than-life-size male and female figures carry in their outstretched arms pieces of seemingly calcified clothing that have retained the imprints of their absent wearers, thereby inferring the bodies of those who have gone missing.
He has not seen his father ever since. The standing figures holding empty human-shaped shrouds in They Give Evidence and the mud-covered performers clasping photographs of the Sidoarjo victims in Survivor effectively re-member the dead and the disappeared. In Survivor , the performers subtly change poses and positions throughout the piece: One of the performers is totally soaked through with mud and gingerly shifts his stance to keep his balance.
In contrast, a female performer nearby looks cold and uncomfortable. Someone else surreptitiously steps out of the performance area and is replaced by another performer who is already pre-coated in mud. These are bodies that can tire, sweat, shiver, and lose balance. As a living memorial to the victims of Sidoarjo, Survivor is an elegiac and powerful performance work, which is ultimately about the corporeality, fragility, and tenacity of human existence.
Tell us something of your background and how you became interested in West Asia? My parents migrated from Lebanon and I grew up in a politically aware household. I found that my passion for the region, its history, its inhabitants, its cultural richness and diversity only grew, which led me to specialise in this significant geo-political mass and its complex Diaspora communities.
I found myself sharing this passion with anyone who would listen. Myths and representations—whether false or misconstrued—are a reality. They may not be based on fact but they persist and at times can be very damaging. Participant feedback has always noted that they have never been challenged or questioned about these daily images, myths and representations. It is a matter of finding a forum which allows the opportunity to challenge some of these perspectives, and provide participants with informed, factual, and relevant information. Australian mainstream media in recent years have improved their reporting, although many acknowledge there is still a long way to go.
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This story has been shared , times. This story has been shared 59, times. This story has been shared 53, times. View author archive email the author follow on twitter Get author RSS feed. Name required. Email required. Comment required. Enlarge Image. Adult film star Asa Akira Angel Chevrestt. Asa Akira always knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. Akira attends a Brazzers party in Las Vegas. Her eye was on one prize: Porn.
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