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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 11, 2023

Joint DIJ and JDZB conference ‘Countryside Democracy in Japan and Germany’

Screenshot JDZB

On the occasion of the nationwide local elections in prefectures and municipalities in Japan in April 2023, experts and political activists from Japan and Germany will discuss opportunities, trends, and challenges as well as similarities and differences between the two countries. Specifically, the conference Countryside Democracy in Japan and Germany: Trends in Political Participation will address the following questions: How does a vital democracy manifest itself in rural regions? What opportunities for co-determination and political participation exist in contrast to urban centers, especially for younger people? How is political and social participation evolving, for example through digital forms of involvement? Or do we observe an increasing “disenchantment with politics”? Participants include DIJ political scientist Sebastian Polak-Rottmann as panelist, DIJ alumnus Yosuke Buchmeier as moderator, alumna Gabriele Vogt as commentator, and deputy director Barbara Holthus. The conference is jointly organized by the DIJ and the Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB). It takes place online on May 11, 17-19h JST. Conference languages are German and Japanese with simultaneous interpretation. Details here

Event Series
May 8, 2023

DIJ hosts ‘Transnational Research in a Multipolar World’ conference

Transnational research plays an essential role in global knowledge production. It also fosters mutual understanding and trust among the countries involved. This is especially true for transnational research in the social sciences and humanities, which explicitly aims at bridging and combining different national perspectives on issues of shared interest. On May 8-9, together with Sophia University Graduate School of Global Studies the DIJ will host the Max Weber Foundation conference ‘Transnational Research in a Multipolar World’ to discuss the impact of the growing geopolitical tensions on transnational research. Particular foci will be on the limitations to scientific research in autocratic regimes; the response of national research organizations and universities to these challenges; and, taking the example of gerontology and gender studies, the response of humanities and social science research to societal challenges. The second day will focus on Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pacific to explore common topics as well as new formats of transnational research against the background of ongoing geopolitical shifts. The conference will end with a keynote speech on world history made in Japan by Iokibe Kaoru (University of Tokyo). Details and registration here

Event Series
March 1, 2023

Joint book exhibition on Mori Ōgai


The year 2022 marked the 160th anniversary of the birth and 100th anniversary of the death of Mori Ōgai, who is considered one of the greatest modern Japanese novelists. To celebrate both anniversaries, the International House of Japan Library, the Bibliothèque de la Maison franco-japonaise, and the Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien Bibliothek are displaying translations of Ōgai’s works and critical studies in English, French, and German. For more information on opening times and entry regulations, please contact our library. Details here

April 21, 2023

Franz Waldenberger to discuss Japan’s productivity puzzle at MFJ lunch webinar

Screenshot MFJ

Given its rapidly aging society, Japan will need to increase labour productivity in order to sustain its current income levels. Value added per hour worked has been increasing over the last 30 years in Japan, but it remains very low in comparison to other OECD countries. In 2021, it was below 60% of the US level. This is rather surprising given Japan’s excellent resource conditions: a high education level of its workforce; high investment in research and development; and relative abundance of capital. In this online presentation, DIJ director Franz Waldenberger will try to resolve Japan’s productivity puzzle and discuss how productivity could be increased. His talk is part of the Lunch Webinar on Japanese Economy and Society organized by the French Research Institute on Japan at the Maison franco-japonaise (MFJ). It takes place on April 21, from 12.30 to 14h. Details and registration here

April 11, 2023

Celia Spoden invited commentator at University of Tokyo’s ‘Robot (inter)faces’ panel discussion


DIJ social scientist Celia Spoden will participate in the event ‘Robot (inter)faces: Understanding and mapping robot/avatar faces’, hosted by the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Future Initiatives as invited commentator and panelist. Adopting media philosophy, ethnographical approaches and STS to robots, the event will explore the features and situated performances of robot and avatar’s faces. It takes place on April 11 at the University’s Ito International Research Center, is co-hosted by the JST Moonshot R&D Program “Cybernetic being” Project and supported by the Australia-Japan Foundation. Details and registration information here

Event Series
March 31, 2023

DIJ talk discusses regulations and future of Artificial Intelligence

How positive or negative is the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Despite its potential, most people are worried about the impact AI may have on their lives, including discrimination and unemployment. This talk will present a novel approach to help improve regulation of AI to become more inclusive and to avoid future harms from emerging technologies. To this end it utilizes arts-based research methods such as speculative design and Science Fiction prototyping. Its use in other disciplines has already shown its potential in helping policy discussions to become more inclusive towards underrepresented stakeholder communities and alternative perspectives. After presenting her research and recent findings from speculative design workshops in Japan and Taiwan, the speaker will invite the audience to actively take part in a speculative design exercise to experience how thinking about the future may help us make better decisions in the present. Details and registration here

Speaker: Freyja van den Boom
Event Series
March 30, 2023

Online DIJ talk by Chika Watanabe on Patchwork Ethnography

© Chika Watanabe

Against the background of neoliberal university labour conditions, expectations of work-life balance, and environmental concerns, long-term fieldwork is becoming difficult for researchers using ethnographic methods. Gökçe Günel and Chika Watanabe propose ‘patchwork ethnography’ to consolidate the innovations that are already happening in ethnographic research out of necessity—to balance family and research, for example—but that remain black boxed. Patchwork ethnography begins from the acknowledgement that recombinations of ‘home’ and ‘field’ have perhaps always existed in fieldwork practices. However, the interpenetration of the personal with the professional is often deemed illegitimate in research practices. This talk presents patchwork ethnography as a provocation to open spaces of honest conversation so that models other than uninterrupted fieldwork can become recognized methodological approaches, while still upholding the importance of long-term commitments, language proficiency, and contextual knowledge. Details and registration here

Chika Watanabe, University of Manchester
Event Series
March 27, 2023

DIJ hosts panel discussion ‘Human-Machine Interaction and Responsibility’

human machina interaction panel discussion

Rapid advancements in new technologies, such as robots and AI, have brought about new social practices and realities. They come with manifold expectations and concerns, which mirror our understanding of what it means to be human. Drawing on perspectives from technological development, psychology, philosophy, social sciences, literature and art studies, the panel discussion ‘Human-Machine Interaction and Responsibility’ will tackle psycho-social aspects of human-machine interaction and their consequences, as well as ethical, legal, and socio-political implications. One important issue will be people’s rights and responsibilities when collaborating with machines and AI: Who will be credited for achievements, and who will be held responsible for tragic accidents? How does responsibility depend on the context and type of interaction between humans and machines? How should robots or AI be designed to be beneficial for society? The event takes place on March 27, on-site only at the DIJ, and will be moderated by DIJ’s Celia Spoden. Details and registration information here

Upcoming Events

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

    Spatial Dynamics in Japanese Poetry amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic → finished check-red

  • 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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    Call for Submissions

    Contemporary Japan
    current issue Vol. 35, No. 1
    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

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