Lesbians and queer women in Japan

Authored by: Jane Wallace

The Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138895201
eBook ISBN: 9781315179582
Adobe ISBN:


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Lesbian and queer women’s organising has a long and complex history in Japan. This chapter will provide an overview of this history and highlight its central debates. It traces the development of existing scholarship from the creation of the Young Grass Club in 1971 through to tensions related to the commercialisation of LGBT identities in 2015 and 2016. It will demonstrate the importance of lesbian feminism and the ways in which this acted as a catalyst for many of the contemporary debates around identity politics. The chapter will also outline the notion of tōjisha-sei (being directly concerned with an issue), which shaped the ways in which lesbians and queer women have written about their experiences. It will consider the ways in which tōjisha-sei was later challenged as part of a push back against homogenisation and commercialisation of LGBT identities. The chapter ends with a brief discussion of sociological studies of lesbians and queer women in Japan, particularly debates related to kinship networks and same-sex marriage. This overview provides a key contribution to the synthesis of research in this field and offers a starting point from which to further develop the scholarship of lesbians and queer women in Japan.

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