Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Deirdre Condit, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Sarah Jane Brubaker, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Saltanat Liebert, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

John Froitzheim, Ph.D.

Fifth Advisor

John Herman, Ph.D.


Much recent scholarship is devoted to projecting Japan’s future and analyzing its prospects as a global power. After two decades of economic stagnation, alarming demographic trends, and the 3/11 triple disaster, some scholars argue that Japan is grappling with an era of precarity, marked with instability and anxiety. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to office in 2012, promoting his economic reform policy, “Abenomics” and within the third “arrow" of this approach targeting structural reforms, he promoted “womenomics”, a term coined by Kathy Matsui of Goldman-Sachs. Prime Minister Abe’s objective is to create a society where "women can shine” and women can participate in the labor market more equitably. However, it is unclear if equality can be achieved when Japanese women still encounter persistent workplace sex discrimination. While labor laws, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, have attempted to tackle workplace sex discrimination, many scholars and critics believe the laws have not done enough.

One way Japanese women have attempted to combat workplace sex discrimination is with litigation. Starting in the 1960s, women have resorted to judicial relief to address discriminatory treatment in the workplace. However, while litigation is a powerful tool for social change in Japan, the literature suggests that Japanese women are reluctant to litigate, consistent with the larger consensus that Japan is a low-litigious society. If Japanese women have engaged in “litigation campaigns" and litigation rates are rising, yet Japanese women are reluctant to litigate, this creates an interesting paradox worth exploring. While these two conditions are not unique in and of themselves, what is curious in this nexus is how Japanese women actually relate to the law.

This study analyzes how Japanese women relate to the law. Through semi-structured interviews with Japanese working women about their experiences, thoughts, and opinions, this study illustrates how Japanese women “do" law and deepens our understanding of their relationship with the law. In addition to this, this study proposes a new model for measuring litigiousness. Rather than measuring litigiousness in terms of aggregate litigation rates, this study operationalizes litigiousness in terms of personal intent. By applying this model to qualitative data, this study demonstrates that Japanese women actually do demonstrate a moderate degree of litigiousness as it relates to workplace sex discrimination. That is, the nail that sticks up isn't always hammered down.


© Kristen L. Luck

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