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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

September 26, 2023

Celia Spoden to discuss avatar robots in schools in Germany

Screenshot IFI website

Avatar robots designed for children unable to attend school due to injury, illness, or disability have been increasingly adopted in Europe and Japan in recent years. The online event Staying Connected: Implementing Avatar Robots at Schools in Norway, Denmark, Germany, and Japan will show cases of avatar robots being introduced into educational environments in European countries and Japan, accompanied by discussions about their challenges and potential opportunities. It features presentations by Arisa Ema (University of Tokyo), Sofie Sejer Skoubo (Aarhus University), Marit Haldar, Maja Nordtug (both Oslo Metropolitan University), and DIJ’s Celia Spoden. The event is hosted by the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Future Initiatives (IFI) and takes place on Tuesday, 26 September 2023. Details and registration here

July 7, 2023

DIJ Newsletter Summer 2023


The summer issue of our DIJ Newsletter provides up-to-date insights into our research and publication activities, looks back to recent DIJ events, introduces new researchers, and gives updates on our outreach as well as on DIJ alumni activities. We hope you will enjoy exploring this new edition of the DIJ Newsletter. If you haven’t done so yet, you can subscribe to receive our Newsletters directly to your inbox. The full issues and subscription form are available here.

June 14, 2023

New book publication ‘Literature after Fukushima’ co-edited by Barbara Geilhorn

© Routledge

The new publication Literature After Fukushima. From Marginalized Voices to Nuclear Futurity (Routledge 2023), co-edited by Linda Flores and DIJ’s Barbara Geilhorn, examines how aesthetic representation contributes to a critical understanding of the 3.11 triple disaster – the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami, and meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011. Based on key works from the 3.11 literature, the book explores how the disaster reframed discourses in trauma studies, eco-criticism, regional identity, food safety, civil society, and beyond. Literature after Fukushima is the first English-language book to provide an in-depth analysis of a wide range of representative literature on post-3.11 and its social ramifications. The ten contributors include Barbara Geilhorn (“Between Trauma Processing, Emotional Healing, and Nuclear Criticism— Documentary Theater Responding to the Fukushima Disaster”) and DIJ alumna Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt (“Voice and Voicelessness: Reading Vernaculars in Post-3.11 Literature”). The book is an outcome of Barbara’s research project Arts and Literature after Fukushima. An interview with Barbara on this new publication can be found here (in German)

May 30, 2023

New journal article introduces research on relation between political activism and well-being

Screenshot Taylor & Francis

How is political participation in rural Japan linked to the activists’ well-being? In “Being active and sharing happy moments: exploring the relationship of political participation and subjective well-being” (Asian Anthropology, online first) DIJ political scientist Sebastian Polak-Rottmann provides insights into his doctoral dissertation, a qualitative study of the relationship between subjective well-being and political participation in Japan’s Aso region. His study uses an iterative qualitative research design that identifies six dimensions of how to link the two phenomena. In Japanese regions characterized by demographic decline and aging, well-being is interpreted primarily as a relational phenomenon whose meaning unfolds against the backdrop of a specifically rural context. However, his research shows that it is also situated in the everyday lives of the interviewees and connected to the enjoyment of other people. Sebastian’s doctoral dissertation is available full-text in open access (in German) here

April 23, 2023

Special issue of Contemporary Japan on Tokyo Olympics 2020

© Taylor&Francis

We are pleased to announce the publication of a Special Issue of Contemporary Japan (vol. 35, no. 1) on “Tokyo Olympics 2020: Between Dream and Contention”, guest edited by David Chiavacci and Iris Wieczorek. The issue features an interdisciplinary collection of seven articles covering the success/failure of the Olympics for various stakeholders, urban development strategies, media narratives, online political discourses, the anti-Olympic movement, Olympic reality and fantasy in the anime Akira, and a theoretical critique of capitalist realism, as well as two commentaries critiquing the costs and corruption of the Games and Japan’s treatment of migrants in the name of Olympic preparations. Rounding out the issue, our book review section covers English and Japanese language publications from the fields of history, policy studies, and anthropology. Please see the full issue here

Event Series
September 11, 2023

Workshop on discursive and material dimensions of the digital transformation

Based on perspectives from and on Japan, this workshop brings together 20 scholars to discuss connecting approaches and analytical concepts in digital transformation. Discursive and material dimensions of the digital transformation: Perspectives from and on Japan will explore visions, practices, and narratives in politics, research and development, and science fiction related to robots, artificial intelligence, and algorithms (day 1); the use of data and the development of data infrastructures with regard to their socio-cultural, economic, and historical situation (day 2). On the final day, the results of the previous days are compiled and related from a transdisciplinary perspective to think about possibilities of employing them productively. The workshop will draw on approaches from media and cultural studies, anthropology, the history of science, and science and technology studies. It takes place 11-13 September online, at Sophia University (keynotes), and in Shimokitazawa. Details and registration here

August 17, 2023

DIJ researchers and alumni at EAJS conference

Six DIJ researchers and more than twenty DIJ alumni will present their latest research at this year’s tri-annual conference of the European Association for Japanese Studies (EAJS). Paper presenters include Franz Waldenberger and Markus Heckel (Economics, Business and Political Economies section), Nora Kottmann (Anthropology and Sociologies section), Torsten Weber (History section), Sebastian Polak-Rottmann (Urban, Regional and Environmental Studies section), and Sarah Pützer (Modern Literatures section). The conference takes place at Ghent University from August 17-20, 2023. Programme and details here.

August 10, 2023

Online lecture by David Malitz on ‘Siam in the Japanocentric World Order’


Upon invitation by the Hamburger Gesellschaft für Thaiistik (Hamburg Society for Thai Studies), DIJ senior research fellow David M. Malitz will give an online presentation on 10 August to discuss Siam in the Japanocentric World Order. His presentation will focus on the former Japanese village of Ayutthaya, now a well-known and popular tourist attraction, and the relations between the Courts of Ayutthaya and Edo in the early 17th century. The muban yipun, as it is known in Thai, was one of the most important Japanese settlements in early modern Southeast Asia. As such, it has received considerable scholarly attention in the early 20th century. David’s talk will first provide a summary of the settlement’s overall history. It will then offer a reinterpretation of the official relations between the kings of Ayutthaya and the early Tokugawa shoguns based on the literature on Tokugawa foreign relations. Details and Zoom link here

Upcoming Events

  • DIJ Forum
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    Building peace with weapons. Germany’s New Security Policy and Japan’s Take

  • International Symposium
    14:30 ~ 19:00

    Mediated Social Touch. Interdisciplinary Explorations of Digital Touch to Connect Humans

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    DIJ Brochure

    Please see the DIJ Brochure for more information about our institute (v. 4/2023)

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    Call for Submissions

    Contemporary Japan
    current issue Vol. 35, No. 2
    Contemporary Japan is open year-round for rolling submissions, with accepted publications published immediately online. Please see the instructions for submission here.

    DIJ Monograph Series

    Our monograph series is Open Access Open Access after a one-year embargo period. Downloads are available on our
    → monographs pages