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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

May 19, 2024

Celia Spoden presents research on avatar robots at international symposium in Kyoto

DIJ researcher Celia Spoden will present latest results from her research project Cyber-physical spaces and avatar technologies: new opportunities for an inclusive society? at the International Symposium ‘Participation (Un)plugged: Exploring Dignity and Disability through Human-Robot Interaction’ at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto on May 19. Her paper “An alter ego in the classroom: Potential and limitations of avatar robots for hospitalized children or children with disabilities” is one of four presentations at the symposium that will explore how the digital space — where people, objects, and information intersect — can reshape notions of ‘personhood’ and ‘dignity’. Participation is possible online and onsite. Details and registration here

Event Series
May 15, 2024

Hybrid Study Group on Post-Bubble Housing Insecurity in Tokyo

© Marcus Reichmann

Before the speculative bubble in Japan’s real estate market burst in the early 1990s, real estate prices in Tokyo skyrocketed without wage growth at all levels of society keeping pace. When the crisis hit, the city experienced unprecedented levels of homelessness. In response, labor and housing markets were subjected to neoliberal restructuring. But what created greater housing insecurity in other parts of the world seemed to have the opposite effect in Tokyo – the number of officially recorded rough sleepers dropped significantly. How could this be? Based on a reevaluation of Japanese literature, an analysis of government, industry, and business reports, and backed up by in-depth interviews conducted with both entrepreneurs and residents, this presentation will outline four case studies of fragile housing to examine the regulation of homelessness as an expression of Japanese capitalism in crisis. Details and registration here

Lenard Görögh, Freie Universität Berlin
Event Series
April 25, 2024

Hybrid Study Group on Japanese photography in Manchuria

From 1932 to 1945, professional Japanese photographers, civilians, and soldiers took many pictures in Manchuria and North China. After the official commencement of the war with China in 1937 they began to contribute to the ‘National Reportage Movement’. Japanese authorities employed photographic propaganda to justify the Japanese government’s and Imperial Army’s activities on the continent. However, Japanese soldiers and civilians also used the camera to document and produce memories of their daily lives and experiences in China. This talk aims to bring forward new perspectives on photographic practices and on visually over- or underrepresented aspects of the Japanese occupation of Manchuria and North China. It introduces examples of private photo albums by soldiers stationed in Manchuria and discusses their creation as  processes of selecting and ordering images. Drawing on visual anthropology and media history, the presentation will show connections between “imperial” and “patriotic” photography, and between vernacular and formal photographic repertoires. Details and registration here

Jasmin Rückert, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf/DIJ Tokyo
Event Series
April 24, 2024

Online Study Group on Japanese housewives’ post-war anti-pollution movement

“Give us Our Blue Skies Back!” is the catchphrase under which nearly 7,000 women in Tobata (Kitakyushu) mobilised against emissions from local industries. Most of the activists were ordinary housewives with little formal education and without political experience. Yet, these housewives executed one of the earliest, longest, and most sophisticated anti-pollution movements in Japan’s postwar history, spanning from 1950 to 1969. Engaging in a new way of writing the history of environmental movements, this research shifts the focus from men to women, from highly educated elites to ordinary citizens, from Tokyoites to people in the Japanese periphery, and from the presumed heyday of environmental movements, the 1970s and 1980s, to the 1950s and 1960. It thereby contributes to a new understanding of the democratisation of Japan, gender roles in post-war society, the rise of ecological consciousness and the democratisation of science through ‘citizen scientists’. Details and registration here

Anna Schrade, independent scholar
April 12, 2024

DIJ researchers at ‘Popular Cultures of Digitalization’ workshop

DIJ researchers Carolin Fleischer-Heininger and Celia Spoden will present their latest research results at the international workshop “Popular Cultures of Digitalization” on April 12 and 13. Carolin will present her paper “Cripping digitalization in Ichikawa Saō’s Hanchibakku (2023)” in the first panel on Transhumanism on Friday. On Saturday, Celia will give her paper “Realizing the Japanese Government’s Robot Strategy in the (non-)fictional World: The Avatar Robot Café Dawn Ver.β and the Anime ‘Time of Eve'” in the last panel on Techno-Orientalism. The workshop is organized by DIJ alumni Robert Horres, Volker Elis, and Felix Spremberg at the University of Tübingen’s Department of Japanese Studies.

Event Series
April 18, 2024

Hybrid Study Group on Japanese Environmental Attitudes

The role of institutional and governmental policies in combating climate change is crucial, yet their success hinges on public compliance and support. The willingness of people to modify their individual habits directly impacts the effectiveness of climate protection measures. Using survey data from the International Social Survey Programme Environment module for Japan between the years 1993 and 2020, this presentation discusses how the perception and reaction to environmental issues and climate change has evolved. The analysis centres on pro-environmental attitudes, willingness to make sacrifices to protect the environment, environmental self-efficacy, and beliefs in external solutions to the climate crisis. The presentation aims to shed light on the intricate relationship between individual attitudes, societal trends, and policy effectiveness in the context of climate change, ultimately providing insights that could guide future strategies for fostering a more environmentally sustainable society in Japan. Details and registration here

Carola Hommerich & Joanna Kitsnik, both Sophia University
Event Series
April 12, 2024

Hybrid Study Group on Political Economy of Green Industrial Policies in East Asia

Green industrial policies are at the center of a distinct sustainability transformation process in East Asia, most notably in China, Japan, and South Korea. These East Asian late-capitalist economies differ in many ways but also share strong commonalities that distinguish them from Western capitalist types. The three countries are now taking a leading role in developing green technologies, industries, and exports. In fact, they have been able to occupy crucial parts of the global value chain in green industries and the international political economy of sustainability. This presentation investigates why the three East Asian countries succeeded in green technology leadership but lack behind in achieving other environmental goals. What are the distinct characteristics that distinguish them from Western market economies and what are the lessons that can be drawn for countries in the Global North and the Global South alike? Details and registration here

Thomas Kalinowski, Ewha Womans University
Event Series
April 9, 2024

Film screening and discussion of patterns of moving to rural Japan

Japan’s regions have been challenged by demographic decline and an aging population for some decades. Despite or even because of these challenges, a small number of people from urban centres of the country decide to move to rural areas. This DIJ Forum (onsite only) combines two different perspectives on migration patterns from urban to rural Japan. Filmmaker Sonja Blaschke introduces her film “Reisfeld statt Tokio” (in German, with English subtitles; 30min), highlighting the story of a young urban woman and her new lifestyle in a small village in the mountains of rural Japan. Tomoo Matsuda then introduces cases of urban professionals who decide to live temporarily or permanently in Japan’s countryside. Challenging the traditional pattern of migration to the nation’s capital, he illustrates the concept of “gyaku-sankin kōtai”, exploring the merits of moving to rural areas. Details and registration here

Sonja Blaschke, freelance journalist
Tomoo Matsuda, Mitsubishi Research Institute

Upcoming Events

  • DIJ Study Group (hybrid)
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    The Role of Imagined Futures in Gendered Educational Trajectories: Adolescents’ Expectations and Uncertainty in Japanese Selective High Schools

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    Contemporary Japan
    current issue Vol. 36, No.1
    Contemporary Japan is open year-round for rolling submissions, with accepted publications published immediately online. Please see the instructions for submission here.

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    DIJ Tokyo
    Jochi Kioizaka Bldg. 2F
    7-1 Kioicho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
    102-0094 Japan
    Where to find us

    +81 (0)3 3222-5077
    +81 (0)3 3222-5420



    DIJ-ARI Asian Infrastructures Research Partnership