Events and Activities
Report: Big Data and the Future of Knowledge Production
Everybody is talking about data as the strategic resource of the digital age. Many consider data to be the new oil: the raw material an economy cannot do without. The fundamental questions raised by big data and artificial intelligence do not only concern the regulation of data usage. At the core, it is about the future of knowledge production. Where and how will the knowledge, which is relevant for the development of our society, be produced in the future?
In July 2019, an interdisciplinary group of 27 Japan scholars from Europe, Australia, the USA, Japan, and Singapore gathered in Berlin and discussed methodological opportunities and challenges in social science research on Japan against the backdrop of transnational entanglements, new technological developments, and new ethical challenges.
The insights of the international conference will be worked into the methods handbook Studying Japan which Nora Kottmann and Cornelia Reiher are currently editing.
New Cultural Studies Project
The project “Theater and Society in the Japanese Regions” analyzes how pressing issues of Japanese society are represented and negotiated in regional theater productions, based on recent concepts of theater and performance as a space for social debate. What topics and issues are addressed and how are they realized? What can the arts do to help coping with social issues? And what about their role for the revitalization of regional areas?
This issue starts with a Special Section on “Emotions and Affect in Studies on Contemporary Japan,” featuring original research articles on cutting edge topics including the dynamics of conversion to right-wing ideologies, the emotional toll of providing care for left-wing political prisoners, and the struggles in “coming out” for families of LGB individuals, prefaced with an introduction by Barbara Holthus grounding the studies in the sociology of emotion.
We also have three original articles covering topics that range from an analysis of historical memory in Yū Miri’s JR Ueno Station Park Exit, the shifting identity narratives of the Tokyo 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic bids, and how katakana is used by discourse producers to communicate nuanced perspectives.
Report: Diversity and productivity – Japan’s employment system at the crossroads
Many advanced economies have to cope with increased global competition and fast technological change while being confronted with a rapidly ageing workforce. For all of them, basically the same solutions apply: increasing the labor participation of women and elderly persons, hiring more foreign workers, investing in education and training, and advancing the automation of production and services. The common key variables underlying or addressed by these measures are diversity and productivity.
New Era: Japan’s new era has a name: Reiwa
It was no April Fool’s Day joke: on April 1st, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga announced Reiwa as the new Japanese nengō (also gengō). On May 1st, 2019, the new Emperor Naruhito has ascended the throne on under this new era name which could be translated as “Rule Japan” or “administered peace”.
DFG-funded Research Project: Nanjing War Diaries
When Japanese troops in autumn 1937 advanced to the Chinese capital of Nanjing, the German representative of the Siemens Company, John Rabe (1882-1950), decided to remain in the city.
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.
✓ 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。
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.
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.