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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 3, 2021

Barbara Holthus quoted in New York Times and Mainichi Shinbun

Screenshot © NYT

“I do see the risk of a superspreader event,” says Olympic volunteer and DIJ deputy director Barbara Holthus in an interview with the New York Times. In the article How Can the Olympics Protect 78,000 Volunteers From the Coronavirus? (May 2), she explains that Olympic volunteers are told to disinfect their hands, keep distance to visitors, and wear a mask. But they are also asked to address visitors with smiles and hospitality. “I find that very insensitive”, she comments. Barbara is also quoted in the Japanese daily Mainichi Shinbun (April 30) where she comments on the risks of holding the Games during the pandemic. “The Olympics are just an event. It is more important to protect the people”, she says. For more information on research related to the Olympics, see the DIJ’s special project on the Tokyo Olympics and the open access book publication Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics

May 18, 2021

DIJ Study Group ‘Visions and Expectations of Autonomous Driving’

There are many innovation efforts in the field of mobility such as autonomous driving or ‘mobility as a service’ in Japan today. Expectations and visions play a significant role for the direction of innovations: future-oriented narratives and imaginaries mobilize interests and financial resources, stimulate agenda setting, and facilitate actor coordination. In the process of being shared by different actors, expectations can transform into binding requirements, or into self-evident assumptions providing orientation for future actions. This presentation explores the substance of governmental visions and expectations of autonomous driving in Japan by examining government policy documents and archival records. These visions include the performance of envisioned technologies that have yet to be realized and wider socio-technical transitions. However, such visions also entail the risk of policy makers becoming locked in a single pattern while overlooking alternative solutions. Details and registration here

Yukari Yamasaki, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

April 23, 2021

Barbara Holthus interviewed about Olympic volunteers

Screenshot © CNN

Three months before the scheduled opening of the Tokyo Olympics, DIJ deputy director Barbara Holthus was interviewed by Japanese and international media about Olympic volunteers. In Fuji TV’s news show ‘Viking More’, Barbara explained that volunteers are provided only with insufficient measures to protect against a Covid infection. There are also neither PCR testing nor vaccinations planned for volunteers. In the Japanese daily Mainichi Shinbun, she commented that the Games should not be held in the midst of the pandemic as they would neither have the expected economic impact nor create a positive legacy. Barbara also appeared on a CNN TV programme which was broadcast 100 days before the scheduled opening of the Games on April 14. What was meant to be a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity has now turned into “a really dangerous experience,” she said. The video can be viewed here. For more information on research related to the Olympics, see the DIJ’s special project on the Tokyo Olympics and the open access book publication Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics

April 14, 2021

Spring issue of DIJ Newsletter published

© DIJ Tokyo

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.

April 19, 2021

Online conference ‘Climate Change, Energy, and Sustainability in the Pacific Region’

© DHI Moscow

Please note: Panel 5 was moved to Friday, April 23, 11:30 a.m. JST / Warsaw 4:30 a.m. / Eugene, OR 7:30 p.m. (Thursday, April 22)

The DIJ will host the four-day online conference ‘Climate Change, Energy, and Sustainability in the Pacific Region Knowledge, Policies, and Transfers (1970s – Present)’ from April 19 to 23. It seeks to explore the historical development of attitudes towards climate change and environmental degradation within various Pacific Rim countries like China, the United States, the Soviet Union/Russia, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada, and Mexico. It will also address interactions between their climate, energy, and environmental policies and ask which national economic goals, geopolitical rivalries, social structures, and cultural preferences pose obstacles to the implementation of countermeasures to climate change and environmental degradation. The conference is part of the Max Weber Foundation’s collaborative research project “Knowledge Unbound” in the module “Interaction and Knowledge in the Pacific Region: Entanglements and Disentanglements”, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany). Details and registration here

March 25, 2021

Barbara Holthus quoted in international media about Tokyo Olympics


As the Olympic torch relay started this week, the Tokyo Olympics are back in the focus of international media. DIJ deputy director Barbara Holthus was interviewed and quoted by several media about the current mood in Japan towards the Olympics. For CNN International, Barbara comments on Japan’s lost opportunity to re-imagine itself and get an economic boost from Olympia-related tourism. In the New York Times, Barbara explains how the 110,000 volunteers are being prepared for their roles at the Games during the pandemic. In Austrian TV’s ORF Sport am Sonntag, she comments on the exploding costs and the likelihood of the Olympics going ahead as scheduled. For an AP News article, Barbara contextualizes the recent scandals over sexist comments. In Deutsche Welle, she explains why the decision to exclude foreign spectators is a concession to the Japanese people who have become increasingly skeptical of the Olympics. For more information on research related to the Olympics, see the DIJ’s special project on the Tokyo Olympics and the open access book publication Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics

March 1, 2021

Book exhibition ’10 Years after 3.11′ in March and April


Ten years have passed since the massive Great East Japan Earthquake hit Japan on March 11, 2011. To mark the anniversary, the International House of Japan Library, the library of the German Institute for Japanese Studies, and the Bibliothèque de la Maison franco-japonaise present publications related to the earthquake and its aftermath in English, German, and French. The joint book exhibition is open to the public from March 1 to March 31. The exhibition at the DIJ will be open until April 30. For further information please see the poster and contact the respective library. A list of available books and articles at the DIJ library is available here for download (PDF).

March 31, 2021

DIJ researchers at virtual AAS 2021 Annual Conference


DIJ social scientists Sonja Ganseforth and Nora Kottmann have presented papers on their current research projects at this year’s virtual AAS annual conference. Sonja’s paper “The Political Ecology of Japanese Coastal Fisheries Reform” draws on her research project Fishing communities between growth and demise and studies challenges faced by Japanese coastal fisheries after recent legal reforms. Nora gave her paper “Negotiating Belonging: German Expatriates in Southern Tokyo” in the panel ‘Managing Migration in Japan: Short-term Labour, Tourists, and International Students’. Her paper is based on ongoing fieldwork and analyzes different conceptions of belonging among privileged, highly mobile short-term migrants. DIJ alumna Gabriele Vogt served as discussant in this panel. The AAS presentations are available as on-demand videos. More information here.

Upcoming Events

May 18, 2021
  • DIJ Social Science Study Group
    18:30 ~ 20:00

    Visions and Expectations of Autonomous Driving by Policy Makers in Japan

Temporary closure of the institute

Following recommendations by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare regarding measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the DIJ has decided to close the institute (incl. library) temporarily and to cancel or postpone all public events until further notice. We ask for your kind understanding.

DIJ research on 3.11

You can find an overview of recent publications and activities by the institute and its researchers on the lasting impact of 3.11 on our special page 10 Years After 3.11 – A Collection of DIJ Research on the ‘Triple Disaster’

東京オリンピックの日本社会への影響について研究するバーバラ・ホルトス @barbGhawaii ... ドイツ日本研究所副所長は、東京大会のボランティアに応募し「一生忘れられない夏」に期待した。ところが、である。今や「新たな災害ボランティアのようにすら思える」というのだ。#五輪

„Wir erhalten zwei Masken in olympischem Blau, sollen einen Meter Abstand halten, uns 30 Sekunden lang die Hände waschen und ein Tagebuch über unseren Gesundheitszustand führen – das ist alles“, erklärt Olympia-Freiwillige & ... DIJ-Vizedirektorin @barbGhawaii

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Special Project:
Tokyo Olympics

“Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics”

For more information see our
→ project page.

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