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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

January 28, 2022

Open access article by Sonja Ganseforth examines fish as cyborgs and commodities

© Sonja Ganseforth

Despite the central role of seafood in Japanese cuisine, domestic fisheries are facing a severe crisis. “Shifting Matter and Meanings in Japanese Seafood Assemblages: Fish as Functional Food Cyborgs and Emblematic Cultural Commodities” (Green Letters, online first) by DIJ principal researcher Sonja Ganseforth examines the changing cultural and socio-economic meanings and matter of fish in Japanese seafood assemblages. Sonja’s study is based on anthropological field research in fishing communities in southwestern Japan as well as on a sampling of cultural representations of fish. Her analysis finds a growing polarisation in the Japanese seafood sector: highly-processed food products and globally traded commodities inundate markets and dinner plates, while locally caught animals turn from basic foodstuff into folklorist stars of a vanishing rurality, a symbol of authenticity and national identity. The article is available open access and an outcome of Sonja’s research project Fishing communities between growth and demise.

January 7, 2022

Japan Jahrbuch: DIJ researchers and alumni look back at Japan 2021

© Iudicium

The latest issue of the Japan Jahrbuch, the yearbook published by the German Association for Social Science Research on Japan, includes several articles (in German) written by current and former DIJ researchers on Japanese politics, economics, history, society, and law. DIJ director Franz Waldenberger explains lessons from Japan’s economic development while DIJ principal researcher Torsten Weber (with Anke Scherer, Bochum) analyses historical debates and historical consciousness. Articles by DIJ alumni include overviews of Japan’s domestic politics by Christian G. Winkler (Seinan Gakuin University) and of post-Abe foreign and security policies by Kai Schulze (Berlin), on a class action lawsuit against TEPCO and the government by Anna Wiemann (Munich) and Köksal Sahin, on images of family households in Japanese media by Stefanie Reitzig, and on Japan as a dual earner society by Annette Schad-Seifert (Dusseldorf). For more details please see the table of content. The book is available as softcover and e-book from the publisher here.

January 4, 2022

New open-access DIJ Miscellanea Comparing Comparisons

© Iudicium

Comparing Comparisons, edited by James D. Sidaway and DIJ director Franz Waldenberger, is the latest volume published in our open-access DIJ Miscellanea series. It investigates which role comparisons play in different research fields, ultimately tackling the question of how and why we compare in the social sciences and humanities. The nine short essays collected in this volume reflect on aspects, methods, benefits, and possible pitfalls of comparisons from the perspectives of anthropology, economics, history, geography, Japanese Studies, and Southeast Asian Studies. It also tackles the problem of commodification and decolonization of comparisons. Contributors include DIJ principal researchers Isaac Gagné, Markus Heckel, Nora Kottmann and members of the DIJ’s research group on “Borders, Mobility and New Infrastructures” at the National University of Singapore. The essays were originally published as blog entries on the open edition platform Hypotheses between May 2020 and May 2021. More details and link to download the PDF here.

December 10, 2021

Winter issue of DIJ Newsletter published

© DIJ Tokyo

We have just published the winter issue of our DIJ Newsletter featuring updates on our research, publications, and events, including Web-Forum sessions on Digital Transformation; new publications in our DIJ Monographs and Miscellanea series; introducing our new staff member Luise Kahlow; updates on our Bandō Collection; activities of our alumni; an Advent Book Gift Campaign; new videos on our DIJ YouTube channel and much more. 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 it directly to your inbox. The full issue and subscription form are available here.

November 28, 2021

Research paper analyses self-reflexivity in quantitative research

© Routledge

A new research paper by Laura Dales (University of Western Australia) and DIJ principal researcher Nora Kottmann analyses self-reflexivity, which is considered an essential category in qualitative research but largely neglected in quantitative research. “Surveying singles in Japan: qualitative reflections on quantitative social research during COVID times” (International Journal of Social Research Methodology, online first) discusses three methodological issues through the lens of self-reflection: ‘translation issues’; the problems of asking ‘sensitive’ and the ‘right’ questions; and the problematics of ‘the present’ in particularly fluid times. The authors show that this approach promotes contextualization of the measurement tool, the data and the findings and can be a way for doing quantitative research on intimacy outside the ‘standard’ nuclear family in pandemic times. The paper is an outcome of Nora’s research project COVID-19 and its effects on singles in Japan: Personal relationships and practices of intimacy in the time of ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-discipline’.

November 25, 2021

Article by Torsten Weber looks back at legacy of Tokyo Olympics


On 8 August 2021 at 10.19 p.m. local time, the Olympic flame was extinguished in the new National Stadium in Tokyo. This marked the end of historic Games: the first time ever that they were postponed for a year, and the first time ever that they were held (almost) without live spectators. Corona, scandals, debts, “cursed Olympics”, inclusion, and record number of medals: what will Tokyo 2020 be remembered for? A new article by DIJ principal researcher Torsten Weber looks back at the positive and negative legacy of the Tokyo Olympics and sheds light on recent trends within Japanese society. “Olympic Dreams and Traumata” is published in the IIAS Newsletter (Vol. 90) and available open access. Torsten has also contributed to the DIJ’s special project on the Tokyo Olympics and the open access book publication Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics

November 11, 2021

New article by Sonja Ganseforth analyses Japanese fishery reform

© Wiley

A new, open-access article by DIJ principal researcher Sonja Ganseforth investigating the ongoing reform of Japanese fishery governance and its social and environmental implications has just been published in The Geographical Journal (online first). “Blue revitalization or dispossession? Reform of common resource management in Japanese small-scale fisheries” analyses the growth-oriented reform which challenges successful resource co-management in small-scale fisheries by opening up coastal fishery resources to corporate investors and strengthening top-down regulation. Its analysis offers deeper insights into the transformative as well as dispossessive potential of the global paradigmatic shift towards an intensified industrial exploitation of the oceans against the background of globally proliferating discourses on “blue growth” and the “blue economy”. The article is based on in-depth anthropological field research in rural Japan and an outcome of Sonja’s research project Fishing communities between growth and demise.

October 15, 2021

New DIJ Monograph compares wartime photography in Germany and Japan

© Iudicium

Spiegel-Bilder. Die Darstellung von Kindern und Jugendlichen in Illustrierter Beobachter und Shashin shūhō, 1938 und 1943 by Lukas Frank is the latest addition to our DIJ Monograph Series. Frank’s book compares patterns of pictorial representations of children and youth in German and Japanese press photography of the late 1930s and early 1940s on the basis of two important illustrated magazines of the time: the Illustrierter Beobachter and Shashin shūhō (写真週報, Photographic Weekly). The study shows similarities and differences of pictorial propaganda in both countries, explains general trends in the design of propaganda, and analyses the organisation and function of propaganda in radical nationalist states. Connections between German and Japanese photography and their influences on the pictorial propaganda of the magazines are also addressed, as are representations of Germany on the Japanese side and of Japan on the German side. Details

Upcoming Events

  • DIJ History & Humanities Study Group
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    Data protection regulation in Japan against the background of international trends

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    Special Project:
    Tokyo Olympics

    “Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics”

    For more information see our
    → project page.

    Jetzt noch bewerben (bis 30.6.): Das Deutsche Institut für Japanstudien in Tokyo sucht eine/n Mitarbeiterin / Mitarbeiter (w/m/d) für Aufgaben in der #Verwaltung. Details zu den Anforderungen und unserem Institut finden Sie auf unserer ... Webseite #Jobs

    Reminder: you can still register for tomorrow's session of the DIJ History & Humanities Study Group on 'Data protection regulation in Japan against the background of international trends' with Ana Gascón Marcén. Online, 30 June, 18.30... JST

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    DIJ Monograph Series

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

    Call for Submissions

    Contemporary Japan
    current issue Vol. 34, No. 1
    Contemporary Japan is open year-round for rolling submissions, with accepted publications published immediately online. Please see the instructions for submission here.