Events and Activities
Franz Waldenberger, Barbara Holthus, and Sonja Ganseforth appeared in an Austrian TV report on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They provided expert commentary on Japan’s Olympic legacy desires, anti-Olympic protests, and the Olympic agenda on diversity. The report was broadcast by the Austrian public TV station ORF during their flagship sports program “Sunday Sports” (in German) on June 16th.
The DIJ currently prepares a book covering a wide range of topics related to the Tokyo Olympics. Its tentative title is “Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics” and it is due to be published by Palgrave in January 2020.
In January of 2018, the Japanese legislature abolished its 1952 Seed Law, which provided the legal basis for local agricultural committees that provide assistance to rice farmers including help with seeds, seed planting and nearly all aspects of rice farming. The abolishment of the law is related to a number of other key shifts currently at play in Japanese politics, including the reform of JA Zenchu (Japan Agriculture, the National Central Union of Cooperatives) and power shifts within the bureaucracy alongside international trade commitments. Consumer groups, especially those concerned with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), advocates for sustainable farming practices and those that insist on local control over food, argue that these changes may open rice farming to corporate control, including foreign ownership.
This research begins by examining the landscape of international legal frameworks related to GMOs and the domestic context that influenced changes occuring in agricultural policy including the repeal of the Seed Law.
Nicole L. Freiner, Bryant University
What role did natural assets play in the rise of living standards in industrializing nations during the 19th and 20th century? In the case of Japan, initial conditions were characterized by an exceptionally efficient use, by the international standards of the time, of very scarce natural resources, particularly in forestry and silviculture (Totman 1989; Saito 2009, 2014). In spite of their scarcity, natural assets played a critical role in the initial phase of Japanese economic transformation, in the late Tokugawa and early Meiji. In this paper, we estimate the evolution of the comprehensive wealth, the total stock of assets per capita, which includes human and natural assets, and can be regarded as the most relevant indicator of sustainable well-being (Dasgupta 2001, 2009).
Jean-Pascal Bassino, ENS Lyon; CNRS research fellow at the French Research Institute on Japan at Maison Franco Japonaise
This study provides a comprehensive examination of the postwar history of the Atago Mountain area as a mirror to reflect and interpret broader changes affecting peri-urban spaces in Japan. The Atago Mountain area is located on the outskirts of Kofu City, the capital of Yamanashi Prefecture. As with many other similarly-sized communities across Japan, the area changed from a rural into a peri-urban community over the postwar period. Once known for timber production, farmers have transitioned through a number of agricultural crops including mulberry, peaches, kiwi, table grapes, and grapes for wine. Agricultural land was also sold, and replaced with higher-end housing, now often unoccupied. A children’s museum was built. Grape tourism establishments and wineries went out of business. Solar panels, abandoned fields, and prefabricated apartments have split up the remaining farmland, which continues to form the foundation for the livelihoods of a shrinking number of local farm households.
Intersections between entertainment industries and artificial intelligence research in Japan have resulted in a growing interest in modeling affect and emotion for use across a variety of media platforms, including wearable devices, virtual reality, and in particular companion robots. Combining advances in computing with market explorations in technologies of care and companionship, the most recent social robots created for popular consumption in Japan augment a sense of presence and intimacy by literally giving these platforms a face. This attention to the design and ascription of agency to media technologies enables a feeling of co-awareness that incorporates non-human entities into the social network of relationships. Moreover, as these robots connect human users while also inviting them to interact directly with robot bodies via tactile features such as furry bodies and wagging tails, with sensors connected to cloud-based artificial intelligence, they not only facilitate affective interactions but also enable the collection of new kinds of emotional data.
Daniel White, Freie Universität Berlin
Hirofumi Katsuno, Doshisha University
Please note, this Social Science Study Group will take place on June, Monday 3rd
Contemporary artists are increasingly creating works that lack the presence of the human, as if to imagine a posthuman world, a posthumous world, a world without us. Such posthuman use of androids draws attention to the significance of negotiating different states of perception and transcending established value systems to sustain a viable position in a global world. But the human instinct to create images of ourselves is still strong, as we see not only in the androids used in the robot theatre of Ishiguro Hiroshi and Hirata Oriza, but also in such popular virtual idols as Hatsune Miku. Prof. Mari Boyd will situate the new 21st century development in Japanese robot/android theatre in two contexts: first, the karakuri (trick) automata popular from the 17th century and, second, the present national push in branding Japan as a society 5.0, i.e. a technology-based society emerging through the fourth industrial revolution.
Mari Boyd, Sophia University, Tokyo
M. Cody Poulton, University of Victoria, Canada
Like other representative democracies, Japan has been facing democratic challenges which have eroded democratic representation, political accountability and legitimacy. The voter-turn-out for the last Lower House elections, for instance, was at a record low. Consequently, the legitimacy of the parliamentary representatives was diminished. Decreasing trust in state elites has additionally fueled the political abstinence. To counteract this (partial) democratic “crisis”, Japanese national and local governments have implemented numerous democratic innovations, or in other words new institutionalized forms of participatory decision-making processes, especially deliberations.
Based on theoretical concepts dealing with the quality of democracy and with democratic innovations (Diamond and Morlino 2005; Smith 2009; Geissel 2012), this talk asks whether implementing deliberations can counteract the “crisis” of Japanese representative democracy. Therefore, two deliberative methods, namely mini-publics and deliberative polls, are evaluated in this talk.
Momoyo Hüstebeck, University of Duisburg-Essen
In recent years, the emergence of “sharing economy” has brought people plenty of conveniences to collaboratively make use of under-utilized inventory through fee-based sharing. The topic of the sharing economy has also caught attention in public and academic debate. According to Yano Institute, the size of the Japanese sharing economy by transaction is 0.64 billion USD in 2017 and is estimated to reach only about 1.24 billion USD by 2022, which is relatively weak compared with other developed countries and even some developing countries. The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications also states that the size of Japan’s sharing economy is relatively small. This research tries to seek answers to the question of why Japan’s sharing economy has evolved relatively slowly. Because there is no existing theory to explain the lag of Japan’s sharing economy, this research regards the sharing economy as a new form of process innovation that creates a new way for people to get access to goods and services. Taking a macro perspective theoretically informed by the National Systems of Innovation (NSI) literature, this research adopts semi-structured interviews to acquire in-depth insights from industry insiders.
Junxi Yao, University of Sheffield