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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

October 31, 2019

A New Era of Immigration? Japan’s Guest Worker Programs in Comparative Perspective

With around 1.5 million foreign workers and over a million permanent and long-term foreign residents, Japan is experiencing unprecedented levels of immigration. In 2019 three new residence statuses were added to the Immigration Control Act. Furthermore, the government promises to foster social integration by strengthening Japanese language education and providing public services in multiple languages. But access to non-temporary or even permanent resident is highly selective.

Focusing on the recent additions to Japan’s immigration control legislation, Naoto Higuchi identifies a shift from a preferential treatment of foreigners based on “blood ties” to a neoliberal model based on meritocracy. The new residence categories “Specified Skills 1 & 2” enable immigration authorities to select migrants and determine their rights and length of stay based on performance, gauged by language ability and skill acquisition. In contrast, the newly prepared visa status for fourth-generation Nikkeijin looks — at first glance — like a continuation of immigration based on ethnic selection criteria. Yet, the government changed its policy to exclude Nikkeijin from social integration by limiting their stay to maximum five-years, and the road to permanent residence is becoming increasingly based on meritocratic selection criteria. The new movements raise interesting puzzles for exploring the future of migration to Japan.

Naoto Higuchi, Tokushima University
Kristin Surak, University of London

01. – 31. Oktober 2019

120. Geburtstag von Yasunari Kawabata

Im Jahr 2019 feiern wir den 120. Geburtstag des japanischen Literaturnobelpreisträgers Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972).

Zu diesem Ereignis stellen die International House of Japan Library, die Bibliothèque de la Maison franco-japonaise und die Bibliothek des Deutschen Instituts für Japanstudien Werke von und über Kawabata in englischer, deutscher und französischer Sprache aus.

October 29, 2019

Autism in the Workplace – How the Diagnosis of a Developmental Disorder Affects Employment Situations in Japan

The spread of information on developmental disorders, mainly Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD, as well as changes in disability employment legislation have led to an increased number of diagnoses and a heightened interest in the subject of employment for individuals on the spectrum both in Japan and in the international context. Little research exists, however, on the perspective of employees on the spectrum, their actual employment situation, the opportunities and hurdles they face, and their coping strategies.

Japanese companies and employment facilities use the designation of disability to create employment structures that often differ from general employment structures in regards to work content, remuneration, or career opportunities. Based on preliminary findings from six months of participant observation in privately organized gathering spaces for persons with developmental disabilities and qualitative interviews with the participants in those spaces, this study reveals how individuals on the spectrum make use of the employment structures provided for them, or eschew them to find different ways of employment.

October 24, 2019

Environmental Local Scales: Women’s Writing in Northern Tōhoku, Present to Postwar

Public and academic interest in literature from Japan’s rural north culminated in consecutive Akutagawa Prizes awarded to Numata Shinsuke, Wakatake Chisako, and Takahashi Hiroki in 2017 and 2018. Despite mainstream success, however, the bulk of literature published by Tōhoku writers in minor or independent magazines remains unexplored.

This talk will explore women’s writing published in northern Tōhoku in the present moment and trace legacies of local print culture from the mid-1940s. It will introduce the print history of regional women’s magazines, as well as explore the fiction and essays of women writers that are rarely included in literary histories of the period. Tōhoku writers critiqued the gender politics of the postwar moment, reconfiguring what it means to scale literature to the region or the nation. Reviewing the history of rural literary production and gendered politics of democratization uncovers legacies that connect the postwar moment to our conceptualization of regional space and literary production in Japan’s peripheries today.

Eric Siercks, University of California

October 4, 2019

Universities in the Digital Age

Japan’s and Germany’s ambitious national frameworks of Society 5.0 and Industry 4.0 acknowledge the importance of education and research as key success factors in the digital transformation. Universities are not only to develop the necessary human capital and to contribute to technological advances, they are also to play key roles with regard to social inclusion and life-long learning. To do so, they are expected to deepen and widen cross-organizational and international cooperation. Last, but not least they are urged to adjust their core activities of teaching, research and administration to take advantage of new digital technologies. How are universities in Germany and Japan responding to these challenges? How do they see themselves affected? What strategies do they pursue? Our two speakers are best suited to answer these questions based on their leading positions and professional careers in higher education and research institutions in Germany and Japan.

Bernd Huber, President of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Miho Funamori, Strategy Manager at the Research Center for Open Science and Data Platform at National Institute of Informatics


Working mums have it tough in Japan – creating Instagram-worthy, healthy lunches is one of many pressures they say they face

Barbara Holthus was interviewed for BBC on the continuing importance of mothers for providing lunch bento boxes to their children.


September 26, 2019

Citizen Science in the Digital Age
– Engaging civil society in social science and humanities research –

The progress of digital technology creates new opportunities in all areas of the civil soci-ety. The expansion of citizen science is one example. With citizens taking part in re-search activities, their understanding about science deepens. At the same time, civic engagement can support and advance scientific research. Nevertheless, compared to the natural sciences, practices of citizen science in the social sciences and the humanities (SSH) are still rare.

Combining experiences and insights by leading experts from Japan and abroad, our conference will take a closer look at the opportunities and challenges for citizen science in SSH. Where and how can civil society get engaged? What are the potential benefits? What risks need to be addressed? How can respective collaborations be initiated and coordinated? How will this effect both society and research in SSH?

September 24 – September 25, 2019

The Digital Transformation – Implications for the Social Sciences and the Humanities

The two-day academic workshop – jointly organized by the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ), the German Centre for Research and Innovation Tokyo (DWIH Tokyo) and the Nippon Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA) – discussed the impact of DT on the social sciences and humanities with regard to three subtopics.

It first addressed the impact of DT for research questions and research design. What questions do we need to ask and how can we make best use of DT in the way we conduct research? Second, it elaborated the possible implications of DT with regard to the dissemination of research outcomes. Finally, it considered how DT might change the organization and institutional set-up of academia. Who will conduct research? Where will it be conducted? Will disciplinary boundaries remain relevant?

Upcoming Events

November 21, 2019
  • DIJ History & Humanities Study Group
    18:30 ~ 20:30

    Image(-Text) correlations in the works of Natsume Sōseki

November 28, 2019
  • DIJ Roundtable
    15:00 ~ 18:00

    The Future of Society – German and Japanese Perspectives

December 12, 2019
  • DIJ Forum
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    User-driven Innovation in Health- & Elderly Care in Japan

Project: Tokyo Olympics

“Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics”

More information available on our
→ project page.

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 33, No. 1
until February 1, 2020


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


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📊💡 Upcoming! #DIJRoundTable on 🔜 November 28th: "The Future of Society – German and Japanese Perspectives" ✍️ Fre…

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📊💡 Upcoming! #DIJStudyGroup on 🔜 November 14th: "Political Communication in the Age of New Media - Investigating t…

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Das DIJ vergibt #Promotionsstipendien an junge Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler ab Frühjahr 2020. Weitere I…