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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

Event Series
December 11, 2023

Workshop on communicative spaces in rural Japan and Germany

Example for a communicative space in an abandoned elementary school in rural Japan
© Christina & Sebastian Polak-Rottmann

Rural areas in Japan have been facing challenges due to ongoing demographic decline and high rates of aging — but they are often also home to vibrant places offering space for deliberation, communication, networking, and political activities. While some of these spaces can be small in size, focusing on specific local problems, others may have goals reaching far beyond the local sphere. The DIJ workshop Conceptualizing communicative spaces in rural areas in Japan and Germany brings together scholars who have been analysing and conceptualising such spaces in their research in Japan and Germany. The speakers will present their research, followed by a discussion to conceptualize these dynamic spaces and to reflect on the differences between Japan and Germany. The aim of the workshop is to exchange ideas on how these places might help to deal with current challenges in rural areas and to establish a network of scholars and practitioners working on the topic. Details and registration here

November 29, 2023

DIJ-Direktor Franz Waldenberger im Radio-Interview zur japanischen Schuldenpolitik

Screenshot DLF

Japan gilt als Industrieland mit der höchsten Staatsverschuldung: die pro-Kopf-Verschuldung liegt mehr als doppelt so hoch verglichen mit Deutschland. Kann Deutschland von Japan beim Schuldenmachen lernen? Im Interview mit Deutschlandfunk Kultur erklärte DIJ-Direktor Franz Waldenberger, dass die expansive  Finanzpolitik Japans nicht den Haushalt aufgebläht habe, sondern dadurch in Japan besonders unpopuläre Steuererhöhungen vermieden werden konnten. Außerdem habe es ökonomisch sinnvolle Gründe für die Verschuldung gegeben, wie das niedrige Zinsniveau, die hohe Sparquote und eine Stimulation der Inlandsnachfrage. Für Deutschland empfahl Waldenberger eine möglichst pragmatische Herangehensweise an das Schuldenmachen. Das Interview kann hier nachgehört werden.

December 7, 2023

Sebastian Polak-Rottmann untersucht gute Orte des Älterwerdens in Japan

© archithese

Die japanische Gesellschaft ist bekannt für ihre hohe Lebenserwartung und die steigende Zahl älterer Menschen. Aber was sind gute Orte des Älterwerdens? Für die Schweizer Architekturzeitschrift Archithese hat DIJ-Forscher Sebastian Polak-Rottmann (zusammen mit Victoria Schweyer und Jana Wunderlich) einen Blick auf Möglichkeiten für lebenswertes Wohnen im Alter und attraktive Arbeitsumgebungen im Pflegesektor im ländlichen Japan geworfen. Ihr Artikel “Gute Orte für das Alter: Bestandsrevitalisierung für eine kommunenbasierte Altenpflege” untersucht, wie die wachsende Alterung der Bevölkerung die architektonischen und sozialen Strukturen beeinflusst; welche Verantwortung Politik und Gesellschaft bei der Bewältigung dieser Herausforderungen tragen; an welchen Orten wir alt werden wollen. Der Beitrag stellt u.a. multifunktionale und integrative Care-Einrichtungen vor, in denen die Pflege älterer Menschen in das Gemeinschaftsleben der Nachbarschaft eingebettet ist und schwellenlose Begegnungen und Aktivitäten möglich sind. Er ist ein Ergebnis des Forschungsprojektes Handlungen der Resilienz ergänzen: Die Auswirkungen des demographischen Wandels auf kommunale Aktivitäten und zivilgesellschaftliches Engagement. Details zum Japan-Themenheft der Zeitschrift finden Sie hier

November 16, 2023

David M. Malitz analyses Japan’s diplomatic reaction to the war in the Middle East

Screenshot IPS

The online journal International Politics and Society (IPS) has published an article by DIJ researcher David M. Malitz analysing Japan’s diplomatic reaction to the war in the Middle East. In “Guardians of the international order”, David explains that some of the criticism Japan has received for its cautious response to the war is undeserved. As he writes, it would “be wrong to play up or misinterpret why Japan did not sign the ‘Joint Statement on Israel’ with Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and the United States on 9 October. Japan could not back the phrase ‘our countries will support Israel in its efforts to defend itself’ because its law prohibits exporting weapons.” Notwithstanding, high-ranking Japanese diplomats condemned the ‘terror attacks’ by Hamas and ‘expressed solidarity with the Israeli people’. “Japan has again demonstrated that it shares the same values and that its main concern is maintaining the rules-based international order”, David concludes. The article is also available in German here.


October 31, 2023

Co-authored book chapter by Nora Kottmann examines Japanese singles and solo-life

© Routledge

The average age of first marriage in Japan has steadily increased over the last century, as has the likelihood of never marrying, for both women and men. In conjunction with the decline in average length of marriage, these trends indicate that Japanese people are spending more of their lives singles, in the sense of being legally unmarried. Against this background, the chapter “Japanese Singles and Solo-Life”, co-authored by Laura Dales and former DIJ researcher Nora Kottmann discusses the implications of singlehood and the ways that being single and solo activities (sorokatsu) have been framed and re-framed in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. The authors explore the possibilities for belonging, as well as marginality, in singlehood at a time when intimate and relational practices are shaped by the proscription of the ‘3 Cs’ (closed spaces, crowds, and close-contact situations). The chapter was published in Singular Selves: An Introduction to Singles Studies (Routledge India 2024), edited by Ketaki Chowkhani and Craig Wynne.

October 2, 2023

New book by Harald Kümmerle on Mathematics as science in Japan

The new open access book Die Institutionalisierung der Mathematik als Wissenschaft im Japan der Meiji- und Taishō-Zeit (1868–1926) by DIJ researcher Harald Kümmerle examines the rapid institutionalization of mathematics as a scientific discipline in Meiji and Taishō-era Japan. This development was based on a rich pre-existing tradition of knowledge and is analysed with a focus on the foundations, the course, and the characteristics of knowledge circulation. To this end, Harald’s study examines the organisational formation, standardisation, professionalisation, and disciplinary formation of mathematics in Japan. The book is published in the Acta historica Leopoldina series (vol. 77) by Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft Stuttgart. It is based on Harald’s PhD dissertation which was awarded the Johannes Zilkens Dissertation Award in 2020.

Event Series
December 7, 2023

Hybrid DIJ Forum on Women in Japanese Politics

Japanese politics has a woman problem. Not only are women relatively absent from legislative assemblies; when they run for elections, and even after they’ve won, they are often faced with sexual harassment. These issues seem particularly acute in local level assemblies, and even more so in rural areas. In Japan, 15.6% of local assembly seats are occupied by women, and only 2 of the 47 governors are women. This is in spite of the enactment in 2018 of a gender parity law, the Act on Promotion of Gender Equality in the Political Field. The speakers in this DIJ Forum will explore the causes of women’s under-representation in local politics and highlight the sexism experienced by women who campaign for and get elected to office. By considering institutional and cultural barriers, they will present a big-picture analysis of the problem of male-dominated politics in Japan. Details and registration here

Emma Dalton, La Trobe University
Naoko Oki, Sugiyama Jogakuen University
November 4, 2023

DIJ Alumni Meeting at VSJF Conference in Berlin


During this year’s annual conference of the German Association for Social Science Research on Japan (VSFJ) in Berlin, 14 current and former DIJ employees met for an alumni dinner. The photo shows (from left to right): Cosima Wagner, Isa Ducke, Elisabeth Köller, Ruth Achenbach, Michaela Oberwinkler, Gabriele Vogt, Ursula Flache, Momoyo Hüstebeck, Helmut Demes, Harald Conrad, Barbara Holthus, Hanns Günther Hilpert, Phoebe Holdgrün, and Axel Klein. At the conference’s sections meetings, several DIJ researchers and alumni gave research presentations, including current deputy director Barbara Holthus on animal abuse and PhD student Jasmin Rückert on photo albums of Japanese soldiers as well as alumni Michaela Oberwinkler (Düsseldorf) on emoji in digital communication, Steve R. Entrich (Duisburg-Essen) on effects of transnational experiences on the Japanese labour market, and Carola Hommerich (Sophia University) on changing attitudes towards environmental problems and climate change.

Upcoming Events

  • Workshop
    11:00 ~ 18:00

    Conceptualizing communicative spaces in rural areas in Japan and Germany

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