Events and Activities
The integration of scientific advice in environmental policy processes is more than ever of great importance: ‘Science translators, ‘knowledge broker’, or ‘intermediaries’ theoretically facilitate the relationship between science and policy (Nowotny, 1993; Litfin, 1994; Young & Osherenko, 1993). However, the manner and degree to which scientific advice is integrated in the policy process differs markedly between countries, and scholarship has yet to fully describe the role of such actors.
This study looks at how scientific advice is integrated in the policy-making process in Japan in comparative perspective by hypothesizing that the degree of such integration, and the provenance of intermediaries acting as knowledge transmitters can explain the problem of lacking independent scientific advice.
Manuela Hartwig, University of Tsukuba
Kōmeitō and Sōka Gakkai’s Transforming Relationship: How Changes in Politics and Religion Affect Japan Today
Going by statistical measures, Japan is reportedly one of the least religious countries in the world. It is thus striking to observe the seemingly disproportionate impact of religious organizations on Japanese elections, legislation, and policymaking. The most powerful of these groups is Sōka Gakkai, a Buddhism-based lay association whose millions of adherents treat electioneering on behalf of its affiliated political party Kōmeitō (Clean Government Party) as a component of their religious practice. Since its founding in 1964, and particularly since it partnered with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 1999 in the governing coalition, Kōmeitō has exerted a decisive political influence. And, while the party’s representatives consistently promote Kōmeitō as a brake on LDP efforts toward remilitarizing Japan and revising the 1947 Constitution’s peace clause (Article 9), Kōmeitō has reversed its stance on security issues – a move away from its founding pacifism that has alienated some of its Gakkai supporters.
This panel brings together researchers who work from within and outside Kōmeitō and Sōka Gakkai. They will suggest reasons why Sōka Gakkai grew into a political powerhouse; how the party and religion interact in the present; what insights drawn from elections data, archival sources, and ethnographic engagement tell us about where Sōka Gakkai and Kōmeitō may be headed in the near future; and how changes now unfolding within Japan’s politics/religion relations may affect constitutional amendment efforts.
Asayama Taichi, Ritsumeikan University
Axel Klein, University Duisburg-Essen
Levi McLaughlin, North Carolina State University
This presentation focuses on the discourses in contemporary Japanese popular media and in the recent Japanese academic literature revolving around sexless (hetero-sexual) couple relationships and extra-marital affairs from 2000 to 2017. In addition, this presentation draws from an interview research conducted with 45 Japanese men and women in their 20s to 40s. The aim of this study is to clarify the transformation and the characteristics of the Japanese sexless phenomenon in conjunction with the rise of extra-marital affairs, by demonstrating how the meaning of sexuality (and its lived behavior) in extra-marital affairs diverges from the social expectations on sexuality within couple relationships.
Alice Pacher, Meiji University
This symposium aims to enhance the discussion of the “local” as unit of analysis – a discussion that is vital to avoid under-complex approaches to multilayered socio-economic and political phenomena. The focus is on contemporary Japan, which provides a particularly interesting case in this respect, not least due to the massive reorganization of the local administrative landscape in the mid-2000s. The symposium brings together researchers who link different conceptions of the “local” to concrete social, economic, and political problems. Analyzing the (re)configuration and interaction of formal and informal, spatial and social sub-national boundaries will advance the understanding of socio-economic and political organization in and beyond Japan.
Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the greatest media spectacle of modernity, Tokyo will be at the center of the world’s attention in summer 2020. The nearly universal reach via television and internet broadcast provides the IOC with multi-billion dollar revenue streams and the host with opportunities for placing highly visible messages about the state of the nation and its future to the world.
With less than two years ahead of the Games, the DIJ roundtable features three leading experts on sport mega-events to discuss the political economy of hosting the Olympic Games, the difficulties of message control in the post-factual age, and the legacies of the Games for Japan in the 2020s.
Kostiantyn Ovsiannikov from the University of Tsukuba will discuss how the pursuit of shareholder-value by management has affected labor policies at large enterprises listed in the Nikkei 400 index. He will focus on the issue of labor bifurcation, which refers to the division between regular and nonregular employees. The share of nonregular employees in Japan has been growing rapidly and is now close to 40% of all employees.
The research corroborates the positive correlation between total shareholder return and the share of nonregular workers in a firm. Moreover, it shows that foreign stockholding is not correlated with an increase in nonregular employment.
The presentation is based on a paper, which received the 2018 FFJ (Fondation France-Japon)/SASE Best Paper Award and which will soon be published in The Japanese Political Economy.
Kostiantyn Ovsiannikov, University of Tsukuba
One of the most important and least well-understood notions in Watsuji Tetsurō’s philosophical oeuvre is the concept of fūdo 風土. The aim of this talk is to provide an explanatory overview of this concept, including a summary of its history and usage. This task is made more difficult by the complexity, richness, and philosophical novelty of this notion, on the one hand, and by Watsuji’s own piecemeal, inconsistent, and ambiguously formulated presentation of it, on the other. These factors have led to an array of conflicting interpretations concerning the scope and nature of this concept. The difficulties of understanding have been further compounded by the widespread use of the word climate to translate fūdo into English, which is a misleading simplification that does not reflect the complex meaning that Watsuji attributed to this term. For this reason, I elect to leave this term untranslated.
David W. Johnson, Boston College
Picture: Public Domain | wikimedia
Although Japan has been at the forefront of the technological imagination of human-like robots for decades, a major turning point came with the release of Softbank’s Pepper in 2015. Marketed as “the world’s first robot that stays close to people,” Pepper quickly entered the public eye and everyday experience of those living in large Japanese cities. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, the variety and number of such communication robots—a fluid subcategory of service robots designed to enrich or enhance human communication—doubled. Yet users found that the capabilities of these robots were nowhere near the human-like entities that they had seen in popular media and anticipated for so long.
Through unpacking the paradox of an “useless” robot, my dissertation investigates how these technological objects and society affect one another.
Keiko Nishimura, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill