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By Genaro Castro-Vázquez

Male Circumcision in Japan bargains an research of the surgery in line with large ethnographic research, and is framed inside ancient and present international debates to focus on the importance of the japanese case.

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In this light, “pragmatism in semiotics” (Jensen 1995) is instrumental to theorizing the social meanings attached to circumcision in order to explore how gender and sex-related scripts are a fundamental element in the perception and cognition of circumcision in Japan. A pragmatic view of semiosis implies that signs are always an integral element of all human perception and cognition. I see signs always intertwined in all thinking processes that involve social life, cultural production, and material practice.

As such, children are usually left without “a system of naming that will adequately control [their] nascent interest in [their] own or other ‘bodies’” (Gagnon and Simon 2005, 29). This nourishes their imagination, and it is not unusual for children to assume that girls have been castrated or that women have a penis behind the pubic hair, for instance. ” Parental attempts to divert children’s attention from the genitals and to hinder any “incipient sexual activity” largely result in “the development of guilty knowledge, [and] the capacity and need to keep sexuality secret—especially from those one loves” (Gagnon and Simon 2005, 30).

Signs present potential courses of action” (Jensen 1995, 11, emphasis added). In this light, I did not see representations of circumcision as predisposing Japanese men and women to any form of action. Representations “are symptoms, not portraits” (Goffman 1976, 8). They are an element of the cultural scenarios that allow a reading of the implications of being circumcised for the male and the female bodies. Representations offer broad “epistemological guidance” to knowing the advantages and disadvantages of having the prepuce removed, which might have an effect and ignite a course of action.

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