Failed Manhood on the Streets of Urban Japan

Tom Gill

in Recreating Japanese Men

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267374
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950320 | DOI:
Failed Manhood on the Streets of Urban Japan

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This chapter focuses on the homeless men of Japan. In particular, it seeks to answer the questions: Why are there any homeless people here in Japan? Why are they nearly all men? In Japan, the imbalance between the number of homeless men and homeless women is quite striking. This phenomenon of homeless men in Japan resulted from a gendered conception of personal autonomy that found expression in two ways: first, in a deeply sexist welfare ideology that penalizes men for failing to maintain economic self-reliance, while at the same time keeping women and children off the streets because they are not expected to be self-reliant in the first place; and second, in a concern with self-reliance on the part of homeless men grounded in conceptions of manliness (otokorashisa). In this chapter, five homeless men are studied. Each of them were dealing with the challenge of conceptualizing self-reliance while living on the margins of Japanese society.

Keywords: homeless men; Japan; personal autonomy; welfare ideology; self-reliance; manliness; otokorashisa

Chapter.  10021 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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