Events and Activities
New publication on rural Japan
Several DIJ researchers, alumni, and affiliates – including Sonja Ganseforth, Daniel Kremers, Susanne Brucksch, and Hanno Jentzsch – have contributed to this new publication on transformations, political innovations, and new residents in rural Japan. The edited volume also contains a section on different conceptualizations for a new understanding of rural Japan that goes beyond the widespread negative perceptions on the future of the countryside.
“Japan’s New Ruralities addresses the complexity of rural decline in the context of debates on globalization and power differences. As such, it will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology, anthropology, human geography and politics, as well as Japanese Studies” (from publisher website). The volume is co-edited by Wolfram Manzenreiter, former DIJ research fellow Ralph Lützeler, and Sebastian Polak-Rottmann. It is published in the Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies series and available as hardback, paperback, and eBook.
New Study: Use of robotic devices in elderly care in Japan
As part of a study conducted by the IGES Institute, Berlin, Franz Waldenberger (Director of DIJ) and Sieun Park (Scholarship student at DIJ) investigated to what extent robotic devices were applied in elderly care in Japan, how practitioners assessed their potential and what difficulties stood in the way of the spread of the technology. Given the severe labor shortage in elderly care, these questions are of utmost importance. The study was prepared for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. An abridged version of the final report (in German) can be downloaded here.
New Article on Anti-Olympic Opposition in Japan
Since the radicalization of some leftist movements in the 1960s and 1970s, political activism in Japan is often met with skepticism or suspicion, and social movements are largely characterized by small and senior membership. Anti-Olympic opposition in Japan is largely sustained by activist veterans from this “invisible civil society”. While this activism may alienate the public, connections to other Japanese social movements are rich, especially to the anti-nuclear movement that has emerged since the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Read more in ‘Anti-Olympic Rallying Points, Public Alienation, and Transnational Alliances’, a contribution by Sonja Ganseforth to the Special Issue on Japan’s Olympic Summer Games in The Asia-Pacific Journal – Japan Focus, edited by Jeff Kingston.
Das Jahr 2020 wird in Japan seit Jahren sowohl als Ziel und Neuanfang gehandelt, wenn die Welt für knapp 30 Tage auf das Land und ganz besonders Tokyo schaut. Stellvertretend für das ganze Land erhofft sich Tokyo, als Hauptstadt von „Cool Japan“ und als Veranstalter der technologisch versiertesten Olympischen Spiele wahrgenommen zu werden. Japan will sich als Land präsentieren, das die wirtschaftlichen Auswirkungen der demographischen Entwicklung überwunden und sich wieder an die Spitze der Welt katapultiert hat. In diesem Beitrag blickt Barbara Holthus auf diese Anstrengungen zur Neuerfindung des Landes und wie die Olympischen Spiele hierfür instrumentalisiert werden.
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.