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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 18, 2021

DIJ Study Group ‘Visions and Expectations of Autonomous Driving’

There are many innovation efforts in the field of mobility such as autonomous driving or ‘mobility as a service’ in Japan today. Expectations and visions play a significant role for the direction of innovations: future-oriented narratives and imaginaries mobilize interests and financial resources, stimulate agenda setting, and facilitate actor coordination. In the process of being shared by different actors, expectations can transform into binding requirements, or into self-evident assumptions providing orientation for future actions. This presentation explores the substance of governmental visions and expectations of autonomous driving in Japan by examining government policy documents and archival records. These visions include the performance of envisioned technologies that have yet to be realized and wider socio-technical transitions. However, such visions also entail the risk of policy makers becoming locked in a single pattern while overlooking alternative solutions. Details and registration here

Yukari Yamasaki, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

May 19, 2021

DIJ Study Group on Post-Fukushima Literature

This talk will explore the political stakes of modes of seeing and remembering through the lenses of proximity and transparency, while proposing a possible reevaluation of these concepts in the light of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Radiation upsets spatial hierarchies and visual regimes by posing its own questions on positionality and representation. A tentative answer to such queries might come from a careful consideration of recent directions in scholarship in new materialism and ecocriticism, and in the form of a kind of ‘radioactive aesthetic’. Thanks to its poetics of avisuality and distance, radioactive aesthetic often attracts into its orbit literary works apparently removed from the catastrophe, thus proposing a corrective to the criteria of authority and proximity implicit in the process of canonization of works of ‘post-Fukushima literature’ and of disaster literature in general. Details and registration here

Chiara Pavone, University of California, Los Angeles

May 26, 2021

First lecture of DIJ Method Talks series: Sakura Yamamura on Mental Mapping

Collage © Sakura Yamamura

The diversification in and of urban spaces through rising mobility is inevitable, yet the actual capturing of socio-spatial urban transformation is still methodologically underexplored. Based on the analytical framework of Löw (2001), Sakura Yamamura employed the novel methodological tool of mental maps in her research on global and local mobility patterns. She combined it with 45 interviews with transnational migrant professionals in Tokyo, ethnographic site surveys and geographical mapping. The mental maps were drawn by transnational professional migrants in order to capture the extent and locations of urban transformations. In this presentation, she will introduce the method of mental mapping and discuss how it can be connected to spatial theory to capture socio-spatial transformations and mobility patterns in Tokyo and beyond. This lecture opens the new ‘DIJ Method Talks’ lecture series. Details and registration here

Sakura Yamamura, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

April 19, 2021

Online conference ‘Climate Change, Energy, and Sustainability in the Pacific Region’

© DHI Moscow

Please note: Panel 5 was moved to Friday, April 23, 11:30 a.m. JST / Warsaw 4:30 a.m. / Eugene, OR 7:30 p.m. (Thursday, April 22)

The DIJ will host the four-day online conference ‘Climate Change, Energy, and Sustainability in the Pacific Region Knowledge, Policies, and Transfers (1970s – Present)’ from April 19 to 23. It seeks to explore the historical development of attitudes towards climate change and environmental degradation within various Pacific Rim countries like China, the United States, the Soviet Union/Russia, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada, and Mexico. It will also address interactions between their climate, energy, and environmental policies and ask which national economic goals, geopolitical rivalries, social structures, and cultural preferences pose obstacles to the implementation of countermeasures to climate change and environmental degradation. The conference is part of the Max Weber Foundation’s collaborative research project “Knowledge Unbound” in the module “Interaction and Knowledge in the Pacific Region: Entanglements and Disentanglements”, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany). Details and registration here

March 1, 2021

Book exhibition ’10 Years after 3.11′ in March and April


Ten years have passed since the massive Great East Japan Earthquake hit Japan on March 11, 2011. To mark the anniversary, the International House of Japan Library, the library of the German Institute for Japanese Studies, and the Bibliothèque de la Maison franco-japonaise present publications related to the earthquake and its aftermath in English, German, and French. The joint book exhibition is open to the public from March 1 to March 31. The exhibition at the DIJ will be open until April 30. For further information please see the poster and contact the respective library. A list of available books and articles at the DIJ library is available here for download (PDF).

March 31, 2021

DIJ researchers at virtual AAS 2021 Annual Conference


DIJ social scientists Sonja Ganseforth and Nora Kottmann have presented papers on their current research projects at this year’s virtual AAS annual conference. Sonja’s paper “The Political Ecology of Japanese Coastal Fisheries Reform” draws on her research project Fishing communities between growth and demise and studies challenges faced by Japanese coastal fisheries after recent legal reforms. Nora gave her paper “Negotiating Belonging: German Expatriates in Southern Tokyo” in the panel ‘Managing Migration in Japan: Short-term Labour, Tourists, and International Students’. Her paper is based on ongoing fieldwork and analyzes different conceptions of belonging among privileged, highly mobile short-term migrants. DIJ alumna Gabriele Vogt served as discussant in this panel. The AAS presentations are available as on-demand videos. More information here.

March 19, 2021

VSJF Annual Conference ‘Continuity and Change 10 years after 3.11’

The DIJ is cooperation partner of the 2021 Annual Conference of the German Association for Social Science Research on Japan (VSJF), organized by DIJ alumni Anna Wiemann and Tobias Weiss together with Florentine Koppenborg. The one-day online conference ‘Continuity and Change 10 years after 3.11’ takes place on Friday, 19 March 17-25h (JST)/9-17h (CET). It features panels on ‘Change and Continuity in Energy Policy’, ‘Tōhoku – Life between Nuclear Radiation and Reconstruction’, and ‘Civil Society and the State since 3.11’. Participants include the DIJ’s director Franz Waldenberger, principal researcher Isaac Gagné, and DIJ alumna Phoebe Holdgrün. Isaac will present the paper “Haunting Memories of 3.11 and the Heaviness of Trauma in Post-Disaster Miyagi” which is part of his ongoing research project Listening to the Community: Grassroots Mental Healthcare in Local Communities. The conference is organized by the Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB) and the VSJF, in cooperation with the DIJ and supported by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung and the Universität Zürich. Details, programme, and registration link here.

March 11, 2021

Virtual lecture on ‘Love in the Time of COVID-19’

© u:japan lectures

DIJ researcher Nora Kottmann and DIJ alumna Elisabeth Scherer (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf) will be the next speakers in the virtual lecture series at the University of Vienna’s Japanese Studies programme. Their presentation “Love in the Time of COVID-19. The ‘New Normal’ in the TV Series #rimorabu (‘Remote Love’)” focuses on the television series #rimorabu. Futsū no koi wa jadō which aired from October to December 2020 on NTV. The series is situated in the context of the ongoing pandemic and discusses how calls for self-restraint and the avoidance of ‘the 3Cs’ – closed spaces, crowds and close contact situations – affect the dating- and love-life of unmarried individuals. The presentation will address challenges on the production side and critically discuss depictions of a ‘new normal’ in the context of current single- and gender-discourses in Japan. More information on this talk and link to register here.

Upcoming Events

May 18, 2021
  • DIJ Social Science Study Group
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    Visions and Expectations of Autonomous Driving by Policy Makers in Japan

May 19, 2021
  • DIJ History & Humanities Study Group
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    ‘Radioactive Aesthetics’: Distance and Avisuality in Post-Fukushima Literature

May 26, 2021
  • DIJ Method Talk
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    Mental mapping: Rediscovering and reframing a geographical method for mobility patterns

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.

DIJ research on 3.11

You can find an overview of recent publications and activities by the institute and its researchers on the lasting impact of 3.11 on our special page 10 Years After 3.11 – A Collection of DIJ Research on the ‘Triple Disaster’

REMINDER Join our next online #DIJStudyGroup with Yukari Yamasaki @ITAS_KIT discussing Japanese policy makers' visions and expectations of #autonomous #driving & #mobility as a service. Tuesday 18 May, 18.30 (JST), registration ... required. Details


"No, the Games should not be held at this time, in the midst of a pandemic, at a time when really the whole world is suffering" - Live interview on Korean Arirang NewsCenter TV with DIJ deputy director @barbGhawaii on rising concerns over ... the #TokyoOlympics @dij_Tokyo2020

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Special Project:
Tokyo Olympics

“Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics”

For more information see our
→ project page.

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