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Economic Restructuring and Changing Working/Family Life: Japan and China

The purpose of the panel is to explore the impact of the restructuring of political economy on working/family life in contemporary Japan and China. Although the economic conditions in Japan and mainland China since the 1990s make a sharp contrast, Japan suffering from the prolonged economic setback represented by the term 'the lost decade' and China having rapidly expanded its national economy, both countries have undergone a process of economic restructuring to optimize their economic systems in what has become an increasingly globalized economic environment. In both Japan and mainland China, this economic restructuring at the national level has entailed some changes in the pattern of working and family life that individuals are required to adopt/negotiate in different areas of their own lives, while calling for revision of family policy and labour-related regulations. The panel tries to elucidate the ways in which economic restructuring has transformed the conditions and patterns of working/family life for individuals by discussing different aspects of the labour market and family life in Japan and mainland China.   


Concretely, Takeda's paper examines, by employing discourse analysis, the logic of family policy revision conducted under the name of 'structural reform of the family' in the early 2000s in Japan, and in so doing, discusses the recalibration of the working/family life of individuals (in particular, women) in response to economic restructuring based on neoliberal principles introduced as measures to tackle the economic setback since the 1990s. Yamashita's paper explores the impact of the changing structure of the Japanese labour market, - increasing dualism and income inequality - on women's life in different age cohorts. Liu focuses on narratives of working life and redundancy recounted in life history interviews with women workers in Nanjing, China. Drawing on feminist perspectives of gender and global economic changes, Lieu examine the micro processes which underpinned the outcome of China's economic restructuring, and through a gender-based analysis she shows how and why these women in particular have lost out.