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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Collaborating partner

Professor Naoto Higuchi, Waseda University

Social movements and gender in post-3.11 Japan

 May 2011 - ongoing

In the aftermath of the triple disaster of March 11, 2011, hundreds of social movement groups nationwide were formed to demonstrate for ending nuclear power within Japan as well as to protect in particular children from radiation fall-out. The peak of these many activities and large-scale protests were in the summer of 2012. This is called the “rebirth” of social movements in Japan after a long hiatus and period of invisibility since the 1970s. Then, when in 2015 the Japanese government pushed a highly controversial bill through the Diet, affecting Japan’s military position in the world and laying the foundation for the process to change Japan’s post-war constitution, Japanese once again gathered for large-scale protest events.

This research project encompasses longitudinal qualitative research as well as quantitative analysis. Research has been conducted since 2011 in a social movement organization (kodomo o mamorukai) and one of its local chapters, formed by parents in their fight against radiation. The project analyzes parent’s and in particular mothers’ social and political activities: how they founded an organization to protect children in the first place, and how their activities have developed since. A mixed-methods approach was chosen for this study: conducting an internet-based survey among the parents of the network, a content analysis of the mailing list postings of the organization, participant observation among the members during their regular meetings, as well as semi-structured interviews with the main actors of the organization.

In addition, participation in a research group, led by Professor Higuchi Naoto (Waseda University), allows for the analysis of large-scale 2017 survey data on social movement participation in post-3.11 Japan. The survey asks close to 80,000 Japanese on issues of their political views, personal values, social movement awareness, as well as their active movement participation. Findings show that social movement mobilization, participation, as well as personal values and political views are significantly gendered. It is the first time that such large-scale data has been accumulated to give statistical proof and support to many of the previous existing, mostly qualitative studies.

Recent Publications

Holthus, Barbara (2022). "Review of Amorphous Dissent: Post-Fukushima Social Movements in Japan, edited by Horie Takashi, Tanaka Hikaru, and Tanno Kiyoto. Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press, 2021". Social Science Japan Journal, 25:2 (Summer 2022) (pp. 357-360). LINK
Holthus, Barbara (2021). Gendered social movements in post-3.11 Japan: A survey report. DIJ (DIJ Working Papers). LINK
Holthus, Barbara & Higuchi , N. (2020). "デモ参加をめぐるジェンダーギャプ [Gender gap in demonstration participation]". In: Higuchi, N. & Matsutani, M. (Eds.), 3.11後の社会運 [Social movements post-3.11] (pp. 121-143). Chikuma.


July 29, 2016
Symposia and Conferences
Mothers and Social Movements in Postwar Japan


Phoebe Stella Holdgrün Phoebe Stella Holdgrün (until October 2017)
Deputy Director, Japanese Studies, Political Science