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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

German Institute for Japanese Studies

Research focused on modern Japan, in global and regional perspectives. Located in one of the important economic and political hubs of East Asia, Tokyo.

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Events and Activities

September 28, 2017

Changing dynamics of multilevel democracy in Japan

Since the 1990s, local democracy and representation in Japan have been changing. Political reforms at the national level, decentralization, reduced clientelism, and broader socio-economic challenges such as depopulation have transformed the roles of local legislatures and executives. These changes have not least affected important national policies.

The talk will analyze overall trends in the “quality” of local democracy in terms of some indicators of responsiveness, accountability and participation in local representation at municipal and prefectural level. It will further discuss how changes in local representation and local party organizations have affected national processes regarding public works, energy, and security. The talk concludes with reflections on how aggravated regional inequality will affect decentralization and the quality of local and national democracy in the near future.

October 6 - October 7, 2017

Do labour market inequalities erode support for democracy? Experiences and perspectives from France, Germany and Japan

For decades, many policymakers and international organisations such as OECD and the IMF, have emphasised the need of structural, especially labour market reforms to improve competitiveness. While many arguments of this debate are still present today (e.g. in the 2017 French election campaign), it is now widely accepted that growing social inequalities have contributed to an increase in income inequality and that rising inequalities in the labour market could be a major factor behind feelings of political marginalisation and alienation, vote abstention, support for extremist and/or anti-establishment parties and growing distrust in parties and democratic institutions.

This workshop seeks to investigate links between labour market inequalities and falling support for and trust in democracy by bringing together scholars and experts from France, Germany and Japan.

October 31 – November 2, 2017

VSJF Annual Conference 2017: “Rural Japan Revisited: Autonomy and Heteronomy in the Peripheries”

We would like to draw your attention to this year’s annual meeting of the German Association for Social Science Research on Japan, which takes place in Vienna. Its main focus is rural Japan. DIJ collaborated with the Department of East Asian Studies – Japanese Studies at Vienna University in the organization of the conference. We will present and discuss our research on the future of local communities in Japan on two panels.

For more information and if you want to register, please click here.


DIJ Newsletter No. 55 is out now!

The current issue features a comprehensive report about the German-Japanese Symposium on climate change mitigation and regional development („Deutsch-Japanisches Symposium zu Klimaschutz und regionaler Entwicklung“) which was hosted in cooperation with the Embassy of Germany in Tokyo and the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS) at Waseda University.

In addition to that we also report on some of DIJ’s other events from the recent past, present our latest publications and introduce one of our new employees.

As always, the DIJ Newsletter is available as PDF file and in print.

August 17, 2017

Transcultural Potentials of Japanese Fan Work: First Field Results

Examining the interaction of fans with cultural texts, fan studies contribute to the analysis of power structures in the mediatised world. So far, fan studies mainly focus on Anglophone fan cultures. Therefore, fan practices in East Asia, such as dōjinshi (self-published magazines that are usually exchanged at specialized events), remain in the periphery of the academic discourse. Academic work on the transcultural potential of fan cultures as conducted by scholars such as Bertha Chin, Lori Morimoto and Sandra Annett suggests that creative fan work is a global phenomenon worthy of further examination.

In this presentation, I give an overview of the field study that I conducted through participant observation at fan events, and qualitative content analysis of semi-structured interviews with fan artists.

Picture: CC BY 2.0 | Flickr/Guilhem Vellut

July 28, 2017

Migration and East Asian Societies: Comparative Perspectives

To date, theories and conceptualization of human mobility are still predominantly developed from a perspective that prioritizes the study of movement from poorer to richer countries (i.e., South-to-North). Frameworks for conceptualizing other directions of movement such as South-to-South, North-to-South or within and across regions are scarce, despite that these movements constitute a major part of global human mobility. Systematic differences in migration legislation, public opinion toward migrants, migrants’ fields of employment, and power relations between migrants and groups in receiving societies (which are mostly non-Western, developing countries) compel us to doubt the global generalizability of conventional migration models. This workshop aims to contribute to problematizing and advancing scholarship on migration/ human mobility concerning non-Western countries.

July 26, 2017

The Development of (Social) Robots for Health Care Scenarios: Hopes, Concerns and Limits

The development of (social) robots reflects engineers’ understanding of societal arenas as well as the social actors primarily responsible for structuring and shaping these arenas. On these grounds, the design of (social) robots is contingent upon the role model of the persons performing the task the robot is supposed to take over or help with through cooperation. It is, therefore, of paramount importance to reflect these understandings and where necessary to replace stereotypes with more sophisticated views.

To contribute in this respect, the workshop will address key factors regarding the development of (social) robots with the purpose to be integrated in health care scenarios: (a) What are the benefits that could be expected particularly within the scope of societies endangered by a strong demographic shift (e.g. Japan and Germany)? (b) What are the common concerns that are raised by the persons working in the field and the target user, and how should academic researcher as well as employees of R&D departments reflect and take these concerns into consideration? (c) Should there be limits regarding the use of robots in specific scenarios and/or persons respectively patients? Finally, how could criteria to determine these limits look like and are they (always) transcultural?

Picture: CC BY 2.0 | Flickr/RoboCup2013

July 19, 2017

Local Anti-Nuclear Movements in Japan. The Diverging Cases of Maki and Rokkasho

In Japan, local mayors and city councils decide on whether a nuclear facility shall be constructed in their community or not. Therefore, policy analysis on the nation state level alone cannot explain why some nuclear facilities were built, while the construction was stopped (or prevented) elsewhere. This research project analyzes and compares the cases of two local communities: the town of Maki, now a part of Niigata city, where the construction of a nuclear power plant was prevented by a citizen referendum; and Rokkasho, a small town in Aomori prefecture, which hosts one of the largest nuclear centers comprised of several nuclear facilities.

In the analysis, resource mobilization theory, the framing approach and the theory of political opportunity structure are combined in the triangular model of social movement analysis (Hasegawa Koichi 2011). Expert interviews, mostly with former activists in Maki and Aomori, complement the data gathered by literature analysis.

Picture: CC BY-SA 3.0 | wikimedia/Nife

Upcoming Events

September 28, 2017
  • DIJ Forum
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    "Changing dynamics of multilevel democracy in Japan"

October 6, 2017
  • Workshop
    ~ October 7, 2017

    "Do labour market inequalities erode support for democracy? Experiences and perspectives from France, Germany and Japan"

October 31, 2017
  • VSJF Annual Conference 2017
    ~ November 2, 2017

    “Rural Japan Revisited: Autonomy and Heteronomy in the Peripheries”

Call for Papers

Contemporary Japan
Issue 30, No. 1


DIJ Tokyo
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7-1 Kioicho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
102-0094 Japan
Where to find us

+81 (0)3 3222-5077
+81 (0)3 3222-5420


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💡 #VSJF2017 will be held from 31 October – 2 November in 🇦🇹Vienna! More info and ✍️ registration: 🔎…

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DIJ Tokyo

Do labour market inequalities erode support for democracy? 💡 Joint workshop of DIJ, @EHESS_fr and JDZB in Paris.…

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Der 📰 #DIJNewsletter 55 ist erschienen! 👇 Downloads wie immer auf unserer Website: 🇩🇪 🇬🇧…