Publication Details

Dalton, E. 2008, 'The utilization of discourses of femininity by Japanese politicians: Tanaka Makiko case study', Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 51-65.


This paper investigates the gendering of politicians’ identities and considers the dominant Japanese discourses of femininity and their relationship to female politicians. Taking the former foreign minister, Tanaka Makiko (April 2001—February 2002), as an example, this paper discusses how female politicians in Japan strategically use gendered discourses to further their political aims, and how the public and other politicians apply their preconceived notions of femininity to women in public positions of power. Tanaka both adopted and subverted discourses of femininity in her political ambitions by utilising the housewife identity while simultaneously resisting certain stereotypical behaviours associated with femininity. This paper suggests that the gendering of political activity is a discernible element of Japanese politics, and that this has implications for political activities and behaviours of female politicians.