S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소) Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.6 no.1(2020)
“When I Die”: Biopolitics and the Ethics of Dying in Japan’s Super-aged Society
- Kim, Heekyoung
- Issue Date
- Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.6 No.1, pp. 95-118
- This article is a revised and translated version of the author’s Korean article “‘Nae ka chugŭmyŏn’: ch’ogoryŏnghwa Ilbon sahoe esŏ saengmyŏng chŏngch’i wa chugŭm yulli,” published in Han’guk munhwa illyuhak [Korean cultural anthropology] 51 (2) (2018), with the permission of Han’guk Munhwa Illyuhakhoe [Korean Society for Cultural Anthropology].
- This article investigates the notion of the elderly in Japan as agents who practice biopolitics themselves, and not simply the sacrificial targets of governmental biopolitical policy. It examines the sociocultural context which obligates senior citizens to engage within the national biopolitical arena despite their cognizance that neither medical technology nor welfare policies can ensure a desirable end to their lives. By looking at case studies within Nagano Prefecture, it considers how the ontological framing of old people has changed through historically sequential governmental biopolitical projects, and how the elderly have come to formulate their own sense of ethics surrounding death in response. This study uncovers how governmental biopolitical approaches, which seek to deny the deteriorative processes of human aging, risk fostering contempt for, and the exclusion of, all senior citizens of an advanced age, as they reach the conclusion of their lives.