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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 8, 2022

DIJ Study Group with Giulia De Togni on ‘Caring Machines’

Robotics is a growing field in the delivery of care. “Socially Assistive Robots” (SARs) have the potential to ‘care’ for humans through social interaction, physical assistance, and therapy delivery. However, the emergence of ‘caring machines’ raises ethical, social, and technological questions. Giulia De Togni’s research aims to understand in what ways our identities and care relationships may be affected by the use of SARs and how this may vary in different cultural contexts. Her study is based on interviews with those who are developing robots, health and social care practitioners, and those receiving care; observations in robotics laboratories and care facilities in the UK and Japan – two rapidly ageing, highly industrialized countries which are leading in AI and robotics innovation. Details and registration here

Giulia De Togni, The University of Edinburgh Medical School
Event Series
December 9, 2022

Online workshop on Abe’s Legacy for the Future of Japanese-Southeast Asian Relations

Photo by Drop of Light/

The assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on 8 July 2022 stunned the world. As Japan’s longest serving prime minister (2006–07; 2012–20), Abe shaped the country’s politics like few of his predecessors. His political legacy is most visible in the arena of international politics. Abe introduced the idea of an Indo-Pacific region into geopolitical discourse and envisioned a foreign policy based on the rule of law, human rights, and democracy. Southeast Asia is the heart of this region. But the region’s countries also are diverse in terms of economic development, political regimes, and geopolitical positioning. This online workshop will explore the legacy of the Abe government from the perspective of Southeast Asian countries through case studies of their bilateral relations with Japan, including Indonesia (Bima Prawira Utama), the Philippines (Karl Ian Cheng Chua), Singapore (Kei Koga), Thailand (David M. Malitz), and Vietnam (Hoang Minh Hang). Details and registration here

Event Series
December 12, 2022

Martin Hemmert discusses non-internationalization of East Asian start-ups at DIJ online talk

Western-based research on international new ventures suggests that start-ups are able to internationalize more easily than other types of firms, particularly in globally connected technology-intensive industries. This study of 40 IT start-ups in China, Korea, and Japan reveals that most of these firms do not internationalize successfully. It identifies a variety of factors that deter East Asian start-ups from internationalizing, including large domestic markets, general resource and capability shortages, insufficient international market knowledge, international adaptation costs, and non-supportive home and host country policies. Findings suggest that start-ups in East Asia may not necessarily face lower internationalization barriers than established firms. Details and registration here

Martin Hemmert, Korea University/DIJ Tokyo
November 24, 2022

Hybrid lecture by Barbara Holthus on pets in contemporary Japan

© u:japan lecture

The accelerated interest in pets in Japan has not started with the pandemic but certainly has been intensified by it. In response to more than two years of physical distancing and “self-restraint”, many Japanese have turned to pets as “substitute” family members that helped to fill the void in human-human interaction. The growing popularity of pets in Japan, together with the accompanying normative, social, and legal changes regarding pet ownership within Japanese society are the focus of the presentation Furry Companions: Pets in Contemporary Japan by DIJ sociologist Barbara Holthus. Drawing on data from interviews, participant observation, publications by the Ministry of the Environment, the National Police Agency, and media, Barbara’s presentation will highlight the embeddedness and changing role of pets in Japanese society. Registration for this hybrid event on November 24 at the University of Vienna and online here

Event Series
November 24, 2022

Carsten Herbes discusses Generation Z and sustainable consumption at DIJ talk

Private consumption accounts for a significant share of the environmental and social impact of human activities. Therefore, understanding consumer perceptions and behaviours is important for policy makers and companies but also for NGOs. In this presentation, Carsten Herbes will shed light on the similarities and differences in consumption behaviour between Japanese and German youth, focusing on the areas of food and clothing. Herbes will discuss influencing factors such as attitudes, norms, perceived opportunities, knowledge and trust as well as engagement in the Fridays for Future movement. His analysis draws on the Theory of Planned Behaviour and is based on consumer interviews with Generation Z members (age 16-24) in both countries and expert interviews. In addition, a representative online survey of around 500 GenZ consumers in both Japan and Germany was performed. Details and registration here

Carsten Herbes, Nuertingen-Geislingen University, Germany/DIJ Tokyo
November 18, 2022

DIJ researchers and alumni at VSJF annual conference


Several DIJ researchers and alumni will participate in this year’s annual conference of the German Association for Social Science Research on Japan (VSJF) from November 18-20, 2022. On the 19th, Nora Kottmann will present her paper (Not) Alone: Being Single in a Marriage Centric ‘Hyper-Solo-Society’ in the panel on “Changing private Life”. In the Sociology section, Barbara Holthus will give a presentation on Furry Friends in Covid Japan. DIJ alumnus Felix Spremberg (Tübingen) will present a paper on Recent Changes in Japan’s Digitalization Policy in the same section. DIJ alumni Axel Klein (Populism and Japan) and Steffen Heinrich (Privatisation without growth: A unique challenge for Japanese welfare state reform?) will give presentations in the Politics section. The section meetings on Economics, History, Politics, Sociology, and Technology are (co-)convened by DIJ researchers and alumni. The theme of the 2022 annual conference is “Deviance and Norms in Times of Change in Japan”. It is organised by DIJ advisory board member David Chiavacci (University Zurich) and DIJ alumna Gabriele Vogt (LMU Munich). The complete programme is available online (conference and sections’ meetings).

Event Series
November 17, 2022

Till Weingärtner discusses film stardom in postwar Japan in DIJ talk

Takamine Hideko (1924-2010) is one of Japan’s major film stars of the 20th century. She is remembered for her appearance in seminal works in the Japanese film canon, but also as an essayist. Often celebrated for her collaboration with major film directors such as Kinoshita Keisuke or Naruse Mikio, Takamine’s own career makes an interesting case study for understanding what film stars in post-war Japan represented for their audiences. Takamine had appeared in propaganda films during the wartime period and later appeared in roles presenting and interrogating new ideas of gender and the role of women in post-war Japan. Following the Star Studies approach, this talk will examine seminal films and key events in Takamine’s biography in relation to post-war Japanese society. It will explore what Takamine represented to her contemporary audience and why she still continues to be a popular film star today. Details and registration here

Till Weingärtner, University College Cork (Ireland)
November 2, 2022

POSTPONED Barbara Holthus discusses Tokyo Olympics legacy at OAG lecture

Screenshot OAG

PLEASE NOTE: This lecture had to be postponed until further notice. We will inform you about the new date as quickly as possible. 

Since Tokyo won the bid to host the Olympic Games in 2013, the year 2020 was traded as both a “goal” and a “new beginning” in the country. To this end, the Olympic Games were instrumentalised in a variety of ways, including Tokyo as the capital of “Cool Japan”; the most technologically sophisticated Olympics; economic rebound; a new volunteer culture. In this talk on 2 November at the OAG Tokyo and online, DIJ deputy director and Olympic volunteer Barbara Holthus will contrast these efforts to reinvent the country and the instrumentalisation of the Olympics with what ultimately became of these lofty goals. What was Tokyo 2020/21 and what remains socially, economically, (infra)structurally? Barbara’s lecture also offers insights into the pandemic Games themselves through participant observation as “field cast” volunteers at the Paralympic Games. For more information on research related to the Olympics, see the DIJ’s special project on the Tokyo Olympics and the open access book publication Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics.

Upcoming Events

  • DIJ Social Science Study Group
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    'Caring Machines'

  • Workshop
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    Shinzo Abe's Legacy for the Future of Japanese-Southeast Asian Relations

  • DIJ Business & Economics Study Group
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    The non-internationalization of East Asian start-ups: the role of resources, strategies and context

DIJ Mailing List

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    DIJ Brochure

    Please see the DIJ Brochure for more information about our institute (v. 7/2022)

    Special Project:
    Tokyo Olympics

    “Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics”

    For more information see our
    → project page.

    Reminder: you can still sign up for tomorrow's DIJ Study Group session with @giulia_de_togni on Socially Assistive Robots & how their care for humans affects care relationships. Dec 8, 18.30h JST online & on-site @ DIJ @SpodenCelia ...

    Why do #IT #startups in China, Korea & Japan not internationalize successfully and what is the role of resources, strategies & context ? Find out in our last DIJ Study Group session in 2022 with Martin Hemmert, Mon, Dec 12, 18.30 ... JST/10.30 CET, online only

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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. 34, No. 2
    Contemporary Japan is open year-round for rolling submissions, with accepted publications published immediately online. Please see the instructions for submission here.