Events and Activities
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
DIJ-Direktor Franz Waldenberger im Radio-Interview zur japanischen Schuldenpolitik
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.
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.
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
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.
We have just published a new issue of Contemporary Japan (vol. 35, no. 2), containing a special section on “Gender, Family and Work in the 21st Century: Challenges and Transformations”, guest edited by Glenda S. Roberts. The special section includes articles on the masculinization of deprivation by Kimio Itō & Allison Alexy, on women’s life and career choices in urban Japan by Vincent Mirza, and on gender equality and well-being among urban professionals in Paris and Tokyo by Glenda S. Roberts & Hiroko Costantini. This issue also contains two research articles on the politics of education by Kazuya Fukuoka and on robotic devices and ICT in long-term care by Gabriele Vogt and Anne-Sophie L. König. Rounding out the issue, our book review section covers three English language publications on urban migrants in rural Japan, on education and social justice, and on censorship in Japan. Please see the full issue here
Germany, which has become accustomed to cheap gas from Russia, easy market access to China and peace and stability in Europe, has experienced a rude awakening. One of the most urgent tasks now is to ensure economic security. However, it is not the USA but Japan with its advanced system of economic security that seems to be the more appropriate role model. After all, Japan’s strong industrial production base, its export orientation and its positioning between economic dependence on China and security dependence on the USA are very similar to Germany’s situation. Against this background, the question arises as to which characteristics make the Japanese system of economic security so attractive from a German perspective? And how does Japan deal with the uncertainties, dilemmas and risks that state intervention in economic decision-making processes inevitably entails? Details and registration here
Hanns Günther Hilpert, German Institute for International and Security Affairs
The Rugby World Cup held in Japan in 2019 was an intriguing example of a large-scale international sporting event that triggered national identity discourses. A multi-ethnic team which represented Japan with outstanding success, Japan’s national rugby team’s journey through the tournament was broadly covered in the media and the team was cheered on by fans across the country. Yet, the myth of mono-ethnicity still resonates with some segments in Japanese society. The resulting tension is brought into focus by intensive media reporting and can ultimately lead to a process of redefining a nation-state’s self-perception. This presentation will discuss the tensions between the assumed mono-ethnicity and the reality of a changing society. How does this discourse of national belonging in Japan take place? What is considered diverse in Japan and where do national and international reporting clash regarding Japanese national identity? Details and registration here
Jane Khanizadeh, LMU Munich/DIJ Tokyo