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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

Publications
June 21, 2019

Bullseye view: Developing a sociological method for studying happiness

Happiness research has gained tremendous popularity, yet research by anthropologists and sociologists trails behind in comparison to economists and psychologists. A sociological study that aims to understand the multidimensionality of happiness in Japan by focusing on a culture-sensitive understanding of happiness remains a desideratum. Therefore we developed a three-partite approach to studying happiness and life satisfaction: (1) word association, (2) in-depth conversation on happiness and life satisfaction issues using a bullseye-structured chart, which we refer to as “board game”, with tokens for visualization of dimensions’ overall importance, and satisfaction and dissatisfaction with them, (3) three quantitative questions on happiness, followed by in-depth discussion to tie to the multitude of existing quantitative studies. To test the methodology, we conducted 23 semi-structured interviews with Japanese men and women in rural Japan. We find that happiness is multidimensional, is an interpretative process, varies over the life course, and that the desire to maximize happiness is not universal. We argue to have created a methodology which we believe can be modified to be used in any country and with diverse population groups, while remaining culture-sensitive throughout.

Publications

NIRA オピニオンペーパー no.43 /2019 .Feb
21世紀の「資源」: ビッグデータ
―技術、ビジネス、法の観点から考える―

NIRA 総研はドイツ日本研究所との共催で、2018年11月1日に「ビッグデータ」ワークショップを開催。実務家や研究者、政府関係者など、多彩なポジションのスピーカーが、ビッグデータの特徴や問題点を語った。

 ✓  ビッグデータは21世紀の「資源」といわれ、20世紀に成長をけん引した石油にも比される。ビッグデータが「資源」となるために必要なものは何か。

 ✓  IoT モジュールなど最新の技術開発が先進的なサービスを可能にする一方、AI がもたらすバイアスなどの負の影響をどう考えるべきか。

 ✓  ビッグデータを活用したビジネスを開花させるために、企業や個人が安心してデータを共有、取引する仕組みは何か。企業や政府は、この課題にどう取り組んでいるのか。

 ✓  データの特性を踏まえた制度の構築、すなわち、巨大プラットフォーマーによるデータ市場の独占や、個人のプライバシー保護についての規制や制度はいかにあるべきか。

 今回の議論から、新しい価値を生むための技術の構築、ビジネスを活発化させるためのデータ取引や集約の仕組みづくり、そして石油にはないデータの特性を踏まえた制度の整備に早急に取り組む必要があることが浮き彫りとなった。

ワークショップ: Big Data – the new competitive paradigm. How well is Japan prepared?

Publications
February 7, 2019

Infrastructural Family Policy in Japan: Parental Evaluation

The continuing low fertility rate in Japan, coupled with high ageing is a severe problem for Japan’s social welfare system and its economy. One important element of family policies is to provide affordable and good quality childcare institutions. In international scholarship on the evaluation of family policies, surveying parents specifically in regard to their satisfaction with family policies is rare. For the case of Germany, studies find daycare expansion positively associated particularly with maternal subjective well-being, with some differences between parents in West and East Germany, as well as that parents’ education, their income, and the age of the child all impact their levels of satisfaction with family policies. Mirroring the study by Camehl et al. (2015) and applying this to the case of Japan, I conducted a quantitative analysis of the JPWS 2012 (Japan Parental Well-Being Survey) data. Findings are that Japanese mothers’ and fathers’ own experiences are an important indicator for their satisfaction with family policies. If they managed to secure a childcare space, in particular in a public daycare center, they are more likely to be satisfied with family policies. A place in a public daycare center in contrast to any other childcare institution contributes most significantly to the parents’ satisfaction with family policies.

Furthermore, the region of living is a highly significant factor. Parents in the urban metropolitan areas of Kanto and Kinki are significantly less satisfied—due in part to the fact that in these urban areas daycare spaces are more difficult to get than in anywhere else. In regards to infrastructural family policy satisfaction, gender differences in satisfaction pale in comparison to regional differences. it is hoped that policy makers will acknowledge the importance of evaluating the “success” of family policies by the level of satisfaction of parents with family policies, and that the diverse conditions and needs of families in different regions be adequately addressed.

Publications
January 8, 2019

Dreaming of Being a Chef? The Overseas Mobility of Young Japanese Women and Their Employment in Düsseldorf’s Japanese Foodscapes

The temporary and permanent presence of numerous Japanese citizens in Dusseldorf is certainly one of the reasons why the offerings of Dusseldorf’s ‘Japanese’ food sector are particularly extensive and diverse in comparison to other German cities. In spite of increasing academic interest in the growing Japanese foodscapes, in Japanese communities abroad, and in the overseas mobility of Japanese women, so far there is almost no research on the relationship among these topics.

Düsseldorf and the (young) women who work in gastronomy there offer an interesting case study in this context. Using qualitative data from a field study in Dusseldorf’s ‘Japanese’ foodscapes from 2016 onwards, this article focuses on young Japanese women working in this sector.

Publications

DIJ Newsletter 58 published

Symposium Report: What is the “local”? Rethinking the politics of subnational spaces in Japan
On October 18 – 20, a symposium organized by DIJ researchers Sonja Ganseforth and Hanno Jentzsch discussed the question of what is the “local” in contemporary Japan. This question may appear trivial but it generates an array of problems differing from discipline and study subject.

DIJ’s Flagship Journal: Contemporary Japan
Contemporary Japan, the flagship journal of the DIJ, publishes peer-reviewed original research articles and book reviews on Japan from all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences twice per year.

DIJ NIRA Workshop: Big Data – the new competitive paradigm. How well is Japan prepared?
Big data are at the heart of the digital revolution. In the digitalized and connected world data have become abundant. Rapidly developing tools to process, integrate and analyze large volumes of diverse datasets in ever faster and intelligent ways open up enormous potentials for research, private enterprises and public policy.

Festive event in Hotel New Otani: 30 Years of the DIJ
Together with 170 guests, including high ranking representatives from academia, industry and government, DIJ celebrated its 30 year anniversary on 31 October.

Latest Statistics: Less overtime: Is Abe´s “work-style reform” working?
Historically, changes in overtime respond to changes in economic growth rates. However, since 2016 the two diverge, with overtime almost continuously falling despite continuing GDP growth.

Publications

DIJ monograph 62 released:
Parental well-being. Satisfaction with work, family life, and family policy in Germany and Japan

“Pursuing happiness is not only idealistic, it is the world’s best and perhaps only hope to avoid global catastrophe” (Global Happiness Policy Report 2018). With that, the report argues for happiness as overarching policy goal. This volume argues that parental well-being is well qualified to assume a central role for governments of industrially advanced nations that are in need of coping with the challenges of low fertility and societal aging.

More than 4000 mothers and fathers of young children in Germany and Japan have been surveyed in regard to their well-being and satisfaction with many aspects related to their work and family lives. The volume brings together 13 scholars to analyze this unique dataset. The chapters fall into three main parts: (1) parenting and childcare, (2) self, social relatedness, and social structures, and (3) family policy well-being. A particular focus lies on the well-being of mothers in contrast to fathers. The volume uses a multidimensional concept of parental well-being, with each chapter highlighting one dimension, ranging from health, education, employment, and family policy satisfaction to partnership, social network, and childcare satisfaction. National differences are in several aspects superseded by gender, class, and personality types.

Publications
October 15, 2018

Bouncing Back After Failure: Perceived and Actual Similarity as a Coping Resource in Multinational Work Teams

Multinational work environments challenge the coping capabilities of employees with additional culture-related stressors above and beyond those usually found at the workplace. This paper examines the differential effects of perceived team leader / member similarity, their actual national similarity, and the mutual overlap in personal values on the coping potential of team members in a multinational work team setting, with a special focus on the Japanese context. An analysis of the data provided by 365 dyads of multinational team leaders and members in mixed Japanese/non-Japanese work teams revealed that the coping abilities of team members who shared the leader’s country of origin (surface level national similarity) were not significantly higher than those of team members who came from a different country. Conversely, the actual overlap in personal values endorsed by a team’s leader and each individual team member emerged as a robust predictor for that team member’s coping potential, both directly and indirectly through generalized similarity perceptions. This highlights that in order to understand why some multinational work teams work out in the long run and others do not, an overly strong focus on surface characteristics of their composition (e.g., national or ethnic diversity) may not be an optimal approach. In many cases, the actual determinants may be the perceived and experienced match or mismatch between the deep-level psychological characteristics (e.g., shared personal values) of team members and their leaders.

Publications

The Politics of Balancing Flexibility and Equality: A Comparison of Recent Equal Pay Reforms in Germany and Japan

In Germany and Japan, like in most OECD countries, the equal pay for equal work principle and other regulations related to equal treatment have been strengthened recently through reforms. These have been justified and promoted as measures to address gender wage gaps as well as discriminatory practices regarding non-standard workers. Yet, observers remain sceptical as to whether these reforms will be effective. Previous research has argued that Germany and Japan as “socially conservative welfare states” (Gottfried and O’Reilly 2002) face particular institutional and value-related obstacles for achieving equal treatment in practice. This paper argues that, while these factors remain important, gaps between policy output and persisting inequalities are increasingly the result of a strategically motivated politics of balancing. Policymakers in both countries use existing institutions such as collective bargaining and labour-management consultations to balance conflicting policy goals, i.e. improving equal treatment and maintaining employment flexibility, which crucially relies on differentiated treatment of workers by, for example, distinguishing between standard and non-standard workers. By resorting to strategies of balancing policymakers hope to console both objectives while mitigating the political risks of controversial structural reform.

Upcoming Events

June 27, 2019
  • DIJ History & Humanities Study Group
    18:30 ~ 20:30

    Between Contributor and Competitor: Recent Trends in how the Chinese Government views Japan

July 10, 2019
  • DIJ Social Science Study Group
    18:30 ~ 20:30

    Negotiating Difference: Educational Experiences of Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Students in Mainstream Japanese Schools

July 23, 2019
  • Symposia and Conferences
    ~ July 24, 2019

    Studying Japan: The impact of transnationalization and technological innovation on methods, fieldwork and research ethics

Monograph Series

The DIJ’s monograph series is now
Open Access Open Access.

Downloads are available directly on our
→ monograph pages.

Please Note: Volumes become open access one year after publication.

DIJ 30th Anniversary

Anniversary Event

In October 2018 we celebrated the DIJ’s foundation 30 years ago — with lots of inspiring speeches and fruitful conversations.

→ Event page

Anniversary Booklet

“30 Years Interdisciplinary Research on Site. 1988 – 2018”

Our anniversary booklet gives an overview of the past 30 years here at the DIJ.
Available for download now!

→ Publication page

Call for Papers

Contemporary Japan
Issue 32, No. 2
until August 1, 2019

Contemporary Japan
Special Issue
until July 31, 2019

Exlibris

DIJ Monographien, Volume 62

DIJ Monographien, Volume 62

“Parental well-being. Satisfaction with work, family life, and family policy in Germany and Japan”
— by Barbara Holthus and Hans Bertram

Twitter|@dij_tokyo

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DIJ scientist Nora Kottmann participated in last weekend's "Oyaji Nippon" panel in Shibuya: 「さてどうする? 令和のおやじ」 ~社会の… t.co/U8ukZzxyWU

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📝💡 New DIJ Working Paper from Barbara Holthus (@barbGhawaii) and Wolfram Manzenreiter (@Japan_research): "Bullseye… t.co/xhlPjztgCM

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5in10 with Nora Kottmann t.co/pUcWrSyyjC via @hypothesesorg

 


 
 
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