Events and Activities
The Politics of Balancing Flexibility and Equality: A Comparison of Recent Equal Pay Reforms in Germany and Japan
In Germany and Japan, like in most OECD countries, the equal pay for equal work principle and other regulations related to equal treatment have been strengthened recently through reforms. These have been justified and promoted as measures to address gender wage gaps as well as discriminatory practices regarding non-standard workers. Yet, observers remain sceptical as to whether these reforms will be effective. Previous research has argued that Germany and Japan as “socially conservative welfare states” (Gottfried and O’Reilly 2002) face particular institutional and value-related obstacles for achieving equal treatment in practice. This paper argues that, while these factors remain important, gaps between policy output and persisting inequalities are increasingly the result of a strategically motivated politics of balancing. Policymakers in both countries use existing institutions such as collective bargaining and labour-management consultations to balance conflicting policy goals, i.e. improving equal treatment and maintaining employment flexibility, which crucially relies on differentiated treatment of workers by, for example, distinguishing between standard and non-standard workers. By resorting to strategies of balancing policymakers hope to console both objectives while mitigating the political risks of controversial structural reform.
Japanese studies as an occupation: Career planning for Early Career Researchers in theory and practice (A lecture and practical exercise)
Navigating an international research career is a potentially hazardous journey, with many unforeseen challenges and pitfalls to be faced. Japanese Studies like all Area Studies necessarily invites such challenges, as scholars will almost certainly spend long periods on sojourn in radically different scholarly environments. One challenge is to know about and act on institutional expectations and norms with the intention of securing and improving employment opportunities. This is particularly important for early career researchers (ECRs) who may spend long periods on field work or in junior employment in Asia. Moreover, although academics generally insist on evidence based scholarship in their fields of interest, they may rely on personal experience, institutional norms, and hearsay as guides when making decisions in their own organizations. Naturally the decisions that both ECRs and employers make in their respective roles will, in the absence of systematic empirical evidence, be strongly subject to heuristic biases. This research will present quantitative and qualitative evidence from the UK and Japan to inform both ECRs of the potential pitfalls in navigating an international career in academia, and employers in making more informed decisions on hiring junior scholars. It will be followed by a short workshop for participants to support them in working on their own, evidence based, career development planning.
This is a special joint workshop session organized by the DIJ History and Humanities Study Group and the Social Science Study Group designed to encourage conversation among early career scholars.
Peter Matanle, University of Sheffield
This presentation focuses on the discourses in contemporary Japanese popular media and in the recent Japanese academic literature revolving around sexless (hetero-sexual) couple relationships and extra-marital affairs from 2000 to 2017. In addition, this presentation draws from an interview research conducted with 45 Japanese men and women in their 20s to 40s. The aim of this study is to clarify the transformation and the characteristics of the Japanese sexless phenomenon in conjunction with the rise of extra-marital affairs, by demonstrating how the meaning of sexuality (and its lived behavior) in extra-marital affairs diverges from the social expectations on sexuality within couple relationships.
Alice Pacher, Meiji University
Kōmeitō and Sōka Gakkai’s Transforming Relationship: How Changes in Politics and Religion Affect Japan Today
Going by statistical measures, Japan is reportedly one of the least religious countries in the world. It is thus striking to observe the seemingly disproportionate impact of religious organizations on Japanese elections, legislation, and policymaking. The most powerful of these groups is Sōka Gakkai, a Buddhism-based lay association whose millions of adherents treat electioneering on behalf of its affiliated political party Kōmeitō (Clean Government Party) as a component of their religious practice. Since its founding in 1964, and particularly since it partnered with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 1999 in the governing coalition, Kōmeitō has exerted a decisive political influence. And, while the party’s representatives consistently promote Kōmeitō as a brake on LDP efforts toward remilitarizing Japan and revising the 1947 Constitution’s peace clause (Article 9), Kōmeitō has reversed its stance on security issues – a move away from its founding pacifism that has alienated some of its Gakkai supporters.
This panel brings together researchers who work from within and outside Kōmeitō and Sōka Gakkai. They will suggest reasons why Sōka Gakkai grew into a political powerhouse; how the party and religion interact in the present; what insights drawn from elections data, archival sources, and ethnographic engagement tell us about where Sōka Gakkai and Kōmeitō may be headed in the near future; and how changes now unfolding within Japan’s politics/religion relations may affect constitutional amendment efforts.
Asayama Taichi, Ritsumeikan University
Axel Klein, University Duisburg-Essen
Levi McLaughlin, North Carolina State University
The integration of scientific advice in environmental policy processes is more than ever of great importance: ‘Science translators, ‘knowledge broker’, or ‘intermediaries’ theoretically facilitate the relationship between science and policy (Nowotny, 1993; Litfin, 1994; Young & Osherenko, 1993). However, the manner and degree to which scientific advice is integrated in the policy process differs markedly between countries, and scholarship has yet to fully describe the role of such actors.
This study looks at how scientific advice is integrated in the policy-making process in Japan in comparative perspective by hypothesizing that the degree of such integration, and the provenance of intermediaries acting as knowledge transmitters can explain the problem of lacking independent scientific advice.
Manuela Hartwig, University of Tsukuba
Kostiantyn Ovsiannikov from the University of Tsukuba will discuss how the pursuit of shareholder-value by management has affected labor policies at large enterprises listed in the Nikkei 400 index. He will focus on the issue of labor bifurcation, which refers to the division between regular and nonregular employees. The share of nonregular employees in Japan has been growing rapidly and is now close to 40% of all employees.
The research corroborates the positive correlation between total shareholder return and the share of nonregular workers in a firm. Moreover, it shows that foreign stockholding is not correlated with an increase in nonregular employment.
The presentation is based on a paper, which received the 2018 FFJ (Fondation France-Japon)/SASE Best Paper Award and which will soon be published in The Japanese Political Economy.
Kostiantyn Ovsiannikov, University of Tsukuba
DIJ Newsletter 57 is out now! This issue features the following topics:
DIJ Social Science Study Group: Politicians and Bureaucrats in Contemporary Japan: New Twists in a Tumultuous Relationship
Arnaud Grivaud, a postdoctoral researcher at the French National Institute of Asian Language and Civilisation (INALCO), addressed a session of the DIJ Social Science Study Group in January, at which he talked about the important but often tumultuous relationship between elected politicians and bureaucrats in Japan.
China, Japan, and the Contest for ‘Asia’
China’s recent rediscovery of the Silk Road reaffirms the country’s claim to being acknowledged once again in its role as the ‘Central Kingdom’. Its ambition is global but at its core is China’s position in Asia.
(Re)Locating the Tsukiji Central Wholesale Market
Located in the heart of Tokyo, the Tsukiji Wholesale Market is the world’s largest seafood market with annual sales of 428 billion yen in 2017. It is most famous for its tuna auctions setting the world market prices, but in addition to seafood, there is also trade in vegetables, fruit, eggs, chicken and processed foods. The market was founded in the Edo period and stands in its present location since 1935. After decades of political contestation, it is now scheduled to relocate to a modern construction in Toyosu in October.
Inbound Tourism – Japan’s new growth market
Since 2012, Japan has been experiencing a veritable tourist boom. More than 28 million residents from abroad visited the country in 2017, four times as many as in 2011.
DIJ-Monographie 61 erschienen!
“Networks and Mobilization Processes: The Case of the Japanese Anti-Nuclear Movement after Fukushima”
Environmental disasters or other large-scale disruptive events often trigger the emergence of social movements demanding social and/or political change. This study investigates mobilization processes at the meso level of the Japanese anti-nuclear movement after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami waves on March 11, 2011. To capture such meso level movement dynamics – which so far have played only a minor role in research on social movement mobilization – the study presents an analytical model based on premises from political process theory, network theory, and relational sociology. This model is then applied to the case of the Japanese anti-nuclear movement after Fukushima by looking at the relational dynamics of two coalitional movement networks engaged in advocacy-related activities in Tōkyō.