Think Global, Fear Local: Sex, Violence, and Anxiety in Contemporary Japan

Think Global, Fear Local: Sex, Violence, and Anxiety in Contemporary Japan

Author: Leheny


ISBN-13: 9780801444180

ISBN-10: 0801444187

Language: English

Category: History / Asia / Japan


In 1999, responding to international concerns about the sexual exploitation of children, the Japanese Diet voted unanimously to ban child prostitution and child pornography. Two years later, in the wake of 9/11, Junichiro Koizumi's cabinet radically shifted government counterterrorism policy toward new military solutions, and away from an earlier emphasis on law enforcement. Although they seem unrelated, these two policies reveal the unintended consequences of attempts to enforce international norms at the national level.

In Think Global, Fear Local, David Leheny posits that when states abide by international agreements to clamp down on transnational crime and security concerns, they respond not to an amorphous international problem but rather to more deeply held and proximate fears.

Although opponents of child prostitution and pornography were primarily concerned about the victimization of children in poor nations by wealthy foreigners, the Japanese law has been largely used to crack down on "compensated dating," in which middle-class Japanese schoolgirls date and sometimes have sex with adults. Many Japanese policymakers viewed these girls as villains, and subsequent legal developments have aimed to constrain teenage sexual activities as well as to punish predatory adults. Likewise, following changes in the country's counterterrorism policy, some Japanese leaders have redefined a host of other threats--especially from North Korea--as "terrorist" menaces requiring a more robust and active Japanese military.

Drawing from sources as diverse as parliamentary debate records and contemporary film and literature, Leheny uses these two very different cases to argue that international norms can serve as political tools, allowing states to enhance their coercive authority.

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