ARC Projects

Sexuality and Social Transformation in Japan

Chief Investigator: Mark McLelland

Mark McLelland has been researching the changing ways in which sexual minorities have been understood and represented in Japan since 1997. His first book, Male Homosexuality in Modern Japan: Cultural Myths and Social Realities (RoutledgeCurzon, 2000), was the first extended examination of stereotypes of gay men in the Japanese media. In 2003 Mark gained an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship for the project Japanese Minority Sexualities on the Internet. One outcome from the project was his second book, Queer Japan from the Pacific War to the Internet Age (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), the first comprehensive history of Japanese sexual minority subcultures in the postwar period. The book was described in The Journal of Japanese Studies as ‘an important accomplishment in the field of Japan studies…many of the sources that McLelland treats have never been discussed in English…Queer Japan will be indispensable for anyone embarking on research into gender and sexuality in Japan’. During this time Mark also co-edited the collection Genders, Transgenders and Sexualities in Japan (Routledge, 2005) which published further material from the project.

One other important outcome from the Queer Japan project was the collection of a large body of hard-to-find Japanese materials dealing with sexual minority cultures and identities across the twentieth century. Some key examples of this material were published in Mark’s co-edited collection Queer Voices from Japan: First-Person Narratives from Japan’s Sexual Minorities (Lexington, 2007). In 2008 Mark received further ARC funding for a Discovery project investigating the history of queer communities and identities in Tokyo. One of the stated aims of the project was to create a searchable database of these often obscure Japanese-language materials dealing with sexual minority subcultures that could be of assistance to other scholars working in the field. This database (in Japanese) currently contains 2517 items that Mark has in his personal collection – ranging in time from 1921 to 2008. The collection is particularly strong in titles from the late 40s, 50s and 60s. Mark is currently investigating means of making some of the full texts of this material available online as one of the project’s key outcomes.

A searchable Excel spreadsheet detailing the collection can be downloaded here.

Publications from Mark’s current ARC project on Queer Tokyo include:

Boys Love Manga and Beyond: History, Culture & Community in Japan, with Kazumi Nagaike, Katsuhiko Suganuma and James Welker, Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2015

‘How to Sex? The Contested Nature of Sexuality in Japan,’ in James Babb, ed., The Sage Handbook of Modern Japanese Studies, Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2015, pp. 246-67

‘Sex, Censorship and Media Regulation in Japan: An Historical Overview,’ in The Routledge Handbook of Sexuality Studies in East Asia (edited with Vera Mackie), Oxon: Routledge, 2015, pp. 402-13   

Love, Sex and Democracy in Japan during the American Occupation, New York: Macmillan 2012.

'Queer Cultures in Japan', in: The Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society, Theodore and Victoria Bestor (eds), New York: Routledge, 2011

‘Sexual Minorities and Human Rights in Japan: An Historical Perspective’ (with Katsuhiko Suganuma), in: Phil Chan, ed., Protection of Sexual Minorities since Stonewall: Progress and Stalemate in Developed and Developing Countries, Oxon: Routledge, 2010, pp. 196-210

‘“Kissing is a symbol of democracy!’ Dating, Democracy and Romance in Occupied Japan 1945-52,’ Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol. 19, no. 3, Sept 2010, pp. 508-535

‘The Role of the ‘Tôjisha’ in Current Debates about Sexual Minority Rights in Japan,’ Japanese Studies, vol. 29, no. 2, 2009, pp. 193-207.

Last reviewed: 17 June, 2016