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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

May 27, 2020

National Approaches to Systemic Risk:
Germany and Japan under the COVID-19 Crisis


DIJ DWIH Web-Forum
The perception, assessment, communication and containment of risks is an ongoing challenge for individuals, organizations and societies at large. The present COVID-19 pandemic reveals the profound problems countries confront and the difficult trade-offs they have to make when facing systemic risks combined with a high degree of uncertainty. It also shows remarkable differences in the way national governments, businesses and citizens are prepared for the crisis and are trying to cope with its various dimensions. In our online forum, two leading risk researchers from Japan and Germany will analyze and evaluate the crisis responses in their countries. The discussion will explore the similarities and differences in the national approaches, possible reasons and implications. Details
Ortwin Renn, Director, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies
Norio Okada, Prof. em. Kyoto University, Disaster Prevention Research Institute
You can access this online event here:

May 19, 2020

‘Comparing Comparisons’ – new blog series online

Comparison is back in fashion. In some fields it has spawned a vast literature and become the etiquette for discussions of appropriate focus and methods. The advent of big data and AI debates revolving around this have also rejuvenated comparative quantitative research. In other fields, however, comparison peaked long ago. There is a complex and uneven historical variance across disciplines. The new blog series ‘Comparing comparisons’ investigates which role comparisons play in different research fields, ultimately tackling the question of how and why we compare in the social sciences and humanities. The blog entries originate from the presentations of the international and interdisciplinary meeting by scholars affiliated with the Max Weber Research Group at the National University of Singapore and researchers from the German Institute for Japanese Studies that took place in Tokyo on 2nd and 3rd December 2019. Read the first article “Comparing Comparisons – Introduction and Overview” by James D. Sidaway and Franz Waldenberger on trafo blog for transregional research.

May 12, 2020

Joint NIRA/DIJ Opinion Paper “Coping with the Economic Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic”

The present crisis is surrounded by a high degree of uncertainty. We cannot eliminate the uncertainty, but we can fathom possible scenarios. Therefore, NIRA (Nippon Institute for Research Advancement) and the DIJ decided to jointly hold a policy discussion on COVID-19 with experts from several major regions across the world. The international conference was held online on April 23 and was attended by experts from China, the US, Germany, Sweden, and Belgium, as well as participants from Japan. The main purpose of the web-meeting was not to recount the publicly available information we already shared, but to exchange opinions about the economic impacts of the pandemic and the various national countermeasures based on the participants’ assessments.  Various issues were discussed: the need for international coordination and cooperation; the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis and national economic countermeasures; the impact of the crisis on global energy markets; social and regional disparities; and the role of scientific expertise. The present pandemic presents a challenge to humankind. To cope with its global dimensions and implications requires intense and continuous international dialogue, not only for coordination and cooperation, but also for mutual understanding and learning. You can read the full joint NIRA/DIJ Opinion Paper here

May 11, 2020

Book publication on Japan and the Tokyo Olympics

Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics (Routledge 2020) situates the 2020 Tokyo Olympics within the social, economic and political challenges for Japan. Tokyo 2020 is constructed to embrace diversity and inclusiveness in society, foster sustainability, boost Japan’s economy, and create a feeling of unity and pride for the country. Irrespective of the Olympic’s postponement or potential cancellation, this book explains the multifaceted impact of the Tokyo Olympics on Tokyo, on Japan and on its society, businesses, and its self-identity. Written by leading experts on Japan, this volume assembles 34 easily accessible chapters covering all relevant aspects of society, economics, culture, and politics incl. technology, food, security, work, media, sexuality, history, film, linguistics, volunteering, architecture, advertising, and – of course – sports! Project page
Edited by Barbara Holthus, Isaac Gagné, Wolfram Manzenreiter, and Franz Waldenberger, this book contains many contributions by current and former DIJ researchers. It is now available in paperback, hardcover and as open access book.

April 27, 2020

Book chapter on Decline and Diversification in Coastal Fisheries

© Jakob Günzler

Based on fieldwork in the prefecture of Saga in Northern Kyushu, this chapter by Sonja Ganseforth explores the struggles of small family fishing businesses and cooperatives dealing with global and national transformations since the 1980s. The emergence of buyer-driven global commodity chains in seafood, the proliferation of large supermarket chains and a re-orientation of consumer preferences constitute a profound shift in the seafood business in Japan. Growing resource problems, high input costs and stagnating fish prices contribute to the declining profitability of local coastal fisheries. Drawing on research on rural experiences of globalization as well as critical analyses of development, growth and sustainability discourses, the chapter “Reclaiming the Global Countryside? Decline and Diversification in Saga Genkai Coastal Fisheries” argues that qualitative reform of fishery cooperatives, marketing and resource management is needed to halt socio-economic decline in Japanese coastal fisheries.
This chapter is part of the volume Japan’s New Ruralities. Coping With Decline in the Periphery (Routledge), co-edited by W. Manzenreiter, R. Lützeler, and S. Polak-Rottmann, and draws on Sonja’s research projects on Japan’s Blue Economies and What Is the Local?

April 24, 2020

New publication on Telehealth Networks in Japan’s Regions

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine and telecare receive particular attention as ways to avoid infections and to protect vulnerable groups. In fact, several municipalities and prefectures in Japan have already introduced telehealth networks to link local healthcare institutions and medical practitioners. In her latest publication, Susanne Brucksch examines how these networks promote the establishment of “Regional Integrated Healthcare Systems” and generate synergies between medical and long-term care regarding healthcare staff, services, and infrastructure. The chapter ‘Sustaining Healthcare in Japan’s Regions: The Introduction of Telehealth Networks’ contains findings from an interview study (2017) on two cases regarding the provision of and access to healthcare services, while referring to the theoretical concept of socio-spatial-digital proximity by N. Oudshoorn (2011). Overall, the findings suggest that the telehealth infrastructure is a necessary precondition to promote and to initiate collaboration between various healthcare institutions in order to establish a regional healthcare system.

This chapter is part of the volume Japan’s New Ruralities. Coping With Decline in the Periphery (Routledge), co-edited by W. Manzenreiter, R. Lützeler, and S. Polak-Rottmann, and draws on Susanne’s research projects on Ageing in Japan and Biomedical Engineering in Japan.

March 30, 2020

New publication on rural Japan

Several DIJ researchers, alumni, and affiliates have contributed to this new publication on political innovations, transformations, and new residents in rural Japan. Sonja Ganseforth examines the decline and diversification in Saga Genkai coastal fisheries, Daniel Kremers (with Thomas Feldhoff) looks at Japan’s energy transformation and its potential for the remaking of rural communities, Susanne Brucksch studies the introduction of telehealth networks in Japan’s regions, and Hanno Jentzsch analyzes the promotion of wine tourism in Yamanashi. Their research is part of the DIJ’s research focus on The Future of Local Communities in Japan.

The volume is co-edited by Wolfram Manzenreiter, former DIJ research fellow Ralph Lützeler, and Sebastian Polak-Rottmann. It is published in the Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies series and available as hardback, paperback, and eBook.

March 21, 2020

Barbara Holthus in JDZB interview on Tokyo Olympics

“Japan and Tokyo are trying to reinvent themselves with the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a place of diversity, inclusion, cosmopolitanism, “coolness”, and hospitality. They will also try to present the nuclear disaster of Fukushima as “overcome”. All in all, Tokyo 2020 serves as a prism in which the hopes of a wide range of stakeholders are paired with the commercial interests of the IOC and the sponsors.”

In the current issue of jdzb echo, the newsletter of the Japanese-German Center Berlin, Barbara Holthus is interviewed on the Tokyo Olympics and the book project Japan through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics, of which she is a co-editor. Please note: the JDZB event scheduled for April 2 has been postponed. 

Upcoming Events

May 27, 2020
  • DIJ DWIH Web-Forum
    16:00 ~ 17:30

    National Approaches to Systemic Risk: Germany and Japan under the COVID-19 Crisis

Temporary closure of the institute

Following recommendations by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare regarding measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the DIJ has decided to close the institute (incl. library) temporarily and to cancel or postpone all public events until further notice. We ask for your kind understanding.

Call for Papers

Interdisciplinary Conference “Climate Change, Energy, and Sustainability in the Pacific Region. Knowledge, Policies, and Transfers (1970s – Present)”, DIJ Tokyo, 19-20 April 2021

Deadline for proposals: 15 July 2020.
Read full CfP → conference page.

Project: Tokyo Olympics

“Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics”

For more information see our
→ project page.

Comparison is back in fashion: but how & why do we compare in the social sciences & humanities? Follow our new #TRAFOBlog series "Comparing Comparisons", in cooperation with the Max Weber Research Group @fassnews. 1st article by J. ... Sidaway & @franzDIJTokyo

Talk on #EnergyTransition & #consumerchoices (electricity, house, car) in Japan @Miraikan, co-organized by DIJ researcher @Daniel_Kremers, @DWIH_Tokyo, @DeutschesMuseum with talks by A. Yoshida @akikoys @FoEJapan, K. Matsuo ... @matsuosekkei & Ken Watanabe

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DIJ Monograph Series

Our monograph series is Open Access Open Access after a one-year embargo period. Downloads are available on our
→ monographs pages

Call for Submissions

Contemporary Japan
current issue Vol. 32, No. 1
Contemporary Japan is open year-round for rolling submissions, with accepted publications published immediately online. Please see the instructions for submission here.