Events and Activities
Hostages in war zones, nuclear refugees from Fukushima, and workers in precarious conditions: all have been assigned personal responsibility for their situation by the Japanese word jikosekinin. The term – literally translated as “self-responsibility” – has become a keyword in contemporary Japanese society. But what does jikosekinin mean and how was the term established in the Japanese language? This study (in German) by Laura Blecken examines this multi-faceted concept by combining methods of conceptual history and discourse analysis with tools from the digital humanities. It traces the word back to its roots and creates a model for its different meanings through which various discourses converge. Finally, the study investigates how jikosekinin is used today by analyzing almost 40,000 blog posts. The latest volume in the DIJ Monographs Series examines the omnipresence of jikosekinin in everyday life and its role between traditional moral values and the impact of global neoliberalism. Details, including summaries of the book in English and Japanese, can be found here
“You cannot not compare.” Concluding contribution to Comparing Comparisons blog
In their concluding contribution to the Comparing Comparisons blog, DIJ director Franz Waldenberger and James D. Sidaway (Professor of Political Geography, NUS) emphasize the invaluable benefits from comparing as a method in the humanities and social sciences. “You can do it wrong or be seduced by too easy comparisons, but you cannot easily do without some”, they conclude. Their article “Who compares? The commodification and decolonization of comparison” is the final contribution to the blog which originates from the international and interdisciplinary meeting by scholars affiliated with the Max Weber Foundation Research Group at the National University of Singapore and DIJ researchers in Tokyo in December 2019. Previous contributions offer variations of the blog’s theme and draw examples from the authors’ respective areas of specialization, including anthropology, ethnography, Japanese studies, political geography, economics, cross-cultural studies, business and management research.
We have just published the spring issue of our DIJ Newsletter featuring updates on our research, publications, and outreach activities. In this issue you will find a selection of our recent and forthcoming activities, including a conference in cooperation with the German Association for Social Science Research on Japan (VSJF) and the Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB) on the 10th anniversary of 3.11; conference presentations and publications by our researchers; media interviews as well as a new addition to our DIJ YouTube channel: DIJ alumnus Axel Klein’s documentary on election campaigns in Japan, by now a popular teaching tool. 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.
New article by Markus Heckel on Japan’s fiscal policy
DIJ economist Markus Heckel has contributed an article on Japan’s monetary and fiscal policy to the latest issue of Japanmarkt, the German-language quarterly published by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK) in Japan. The Corona pandemic has caused a global economic standstill and also the Japanese economy has weakened since the beginning of the crisis. The Japanese government and central bank have therefore launched huge economic stimulus and aid programmes. In “Japans Geld- und Fiskalpolitik im Spiegel der Corona-Pandemie” (Japan’s Monetary and Fiscal Policy in the Light of the Corona Pandemic), Markus explains how the Bank of Japan and the Japanese government have coordinated their monetary and fiscal policies. He also analyzes risks and side effects of Japan’s debt problems and its ultra-loose monetary policy. The full article is available for download here. It draws on Markus’ ongoing research project Economic Discourses of Monetary Policy – The Case of the Bank of Japan.
The latest issue of Contemporary Japan is now available online and in print. Articles in CJ 33(1) cover Nikkei Brazilian migrants in Japan and their use of online platforms to stay connected (by Rumika Suzuki Hillyer), war memories and Japanese citizens’ views toward the self-defense forces (by Satoshi Machida), English language education and national identity (by Damian J. Rivers), and the nuclear power debate in Japanese newspapers, 1973–2014 (by Tobias Weiss). This issue also features a Review Article of Kanamori Osamu (金森修) and the history and philosophy of science in Japan by Hansun Hsiung. Plus: three reviews of recently published books on the Soka Gakkai, the anime boom in the United States, and professional baseball in modern Japan. Please see the full issue here
Double Debt Disaster by Julius Weitzdörfer and S.J. Beard is latest volume published in our DIJ Miscellanea series. It offers a detailed examination of obstacles to recovery from catastrophes caused by the concurrence of pre-disaster obligations with post-disaster capital needs and the destruction of collateral assets. The convergence of growing risk from natural hazards, coupled with ever-higher levels of public and private indebtedness will soon propel the quest for micro-and macro-economic policy solutions to global attention. No case is more instructive for understanding these problems than the Great East Japan Earthquake. In its wake came a second disaster, as former home-owners and businesspeople found themselves in need of loans to rebuild and invest, while being unable to pay off pre-disaster debts. Treating issues of property-, insurance-, debtor-creditor-, social welfare-, charity-, financial-, and insolvency law, this volume examines Japan’s double debt disaster from the perspective of social justice and disaster recovery. It proposes that policymakers take sustainable steps to avoid socioeconomic disasters. More details and link to download the PDF here.
New book chapter by Barbara Geilhorn on post-3.11 plays
DIJ research fellow Barbara Geilhorn has contributed the chapter “Genjitsu wo henyō saseru fikushon. Okada Toshiki no engeki kara kore kara no nihon shakai wo yomitoku” (Fiction that transforms reality: understanding the future of Japanese society through the plays of Toshiki Okada) to a new book publication on post-3.11 literature. Barbara’s chapter in Sekai bungaku toshite no ‘shinsaigo bungaku’ (‘Post-disaster literature’ as world literature) discloses the political potentialities of theatrical space through an in-depth evaluation of two post-‘Fukushima’ plays by Okada Toshiki, who gained reputation for his socially engaged theatre. While Unable to See (2012) is a harsh satire, written for a foreign audience, Current Location (Genzaichi, 2012) addresses the fear of nuclear threat from the perspective of Tokyo inhabitants as science fiction. The chapter scrutinizes the significance of Okada’s recent concept of fiction as ‘recessive reality’ and argues for a major turning point in his work as triggered by the catastrophe. Barbara’s chapter is a result of her ongoing research project Local Issues Take Stage – Culture and Community Revitalization.
In the post-3.11 decade, Japan has seen at least two peaks in social movements: anti-nuclear protests in the year following the triple disaster of 2011 and a second one in 2015 in response to the Diet passing the National Security Act legislation. Together they mark the largest protest wave Japan has seen since the 1970s. In her latest DIJ Working Paper, deputy director Barbara Holthus introduces the findings of a large-scale survey undertaken in 2017 with close to 80,000 participants in the larger Tokyo metropolitan area. Questions focus on understanding who was sympathetic to the 3.11 movement, who was mobilized, and who participated in the protests. The goal was to understand what distinguishes the participants from the non-participants and to understand the role values and political views play in this. Gendered social movements in post-3.11 Japan: A survey report is the first English-language publication to present an overview of the data that was originally published in Japanese in 3.11go no shakai undō: 8mannin no dēta kara wakatta koto (eds. Naoto Higuchi & Mitsuru Matsutani) in 2020. This publication is part of Barbara’s ongoing research project Social movements and gender in post-3.11 Japan.