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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

March 21, 2020

Barbara Holthus in JDZB interview on Tokyo Olympics

“Japan and Tokyo are trying to reinvent themselves with the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a place of diversity, inclusion, cosmopolitanism, “coolness”, and hospitality. They will also try to present the nuclear disaster of Fukushima as “overcome”. All in all, Tokyo 2020 serves as a prism in which the hopes of a wide range of stakeholders are paired with the commercial interests of the IOC and the sponsors.”

In the current issue of jdzb echo, the newsletter of the Japanese-German Center Berlin, Barbara Holthus is interviewed on the Tokyo Olympics and the book project Japan through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics, of which she is a co-editor. Please note: the JDZB event scheduled for April 2 has been postponed. 

March 17, 2020

New Study: Use of robotic devices in elderly care in Japan

As part of a study conducted by the IGES Institute, Berlin, Franz Waldenberger (Director of DIJ) and Sieun Park (Scholarship student at DIJ) investigated to what extent robotic devices were applied in elderly care in Japan, how practitioners assessed their potential and what difficulties stood in the way of the spread of the technology. Given the severe labor shortage in elderly care, these questions are of utmost importance. The study was prepared for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. An abridged version of the final report (in German) can be downloaded here.

March 5, 2020

New Article on Anti-Olympic Opposition in Japan

Since the radicalization of some leftist movements in the 1960s and 1970s, political activism in Japan is often met with skepticism or suspicion, and social movements are largely characterized by small and senior membership. Anti-Olympic opposition in Japan is largely sustained by activist veterans from this “invisible civil society”. While this activism may alienate the public, connections to other Japanese social movements are rich, especially to the anti-nuclear movement that has emerged since the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Read more in ‘Anti-Olympic Rallying Points, Public Alienation, and Transnational Alliances’, a contribution by Sonja Ganseforth to the Special Issue on Japan’s Olympic Summer Games in The Asia-Pacific Journal – Japan Focus, edited by Jeff Kingston.

March 1, 2020

New Working Paper on Tokyo Olympics (in German)

Das Jahr 2020 wird in Japan seit Jahren sowohl als Ziel und Neuanfang gehandelt, wenn die Welt für knapp 30 Tage auf das Land und ganz besonders Tokyo schaut. Stellvertretend für das ganze Land erhofft sich Tokyo, als Hauptstadt von „Cool Japan“ und als Veranstalter der technologisch versiertesten Olympischen Spiele wahrgenommen zu werden. Japan will sich als Land präsentieren, das die wirtschaftlichen Auswirkungen der demographischen Entwicklung überwunden und sich wieder an die Spitze der Welt katapultiert hat. In diesem Beitrag blickt Barbara Holthus auf diese Anstrengungen zur Neuerfindung des Landes und wie die Olympischen Spiele hierfür instrumentalisiert werden.

February 28, 2020

Temporary closure of the institute

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

February 27, 2020

The Last Cowboys of Aso? Problems of Grassland Management in Contemporary Commons – POSTPONED –

Please note: this event has been postponed. A new date will be announced in due course. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

The transformation of the Japanese agricultural sector and the development of rural regions in the course of extensive infrastructure measures during the economic boom led to changes in many areas of rural life. Not only the often mentioned out-migration of younger generations but also the changing economic structures and the conditions for a livelihood in rural settlements were subjected to fundamental change. Among others, this also affected common work and the management of commons (common-pool resources) in the settlements, which had been embedded as a complex local system of cycles for a livelihood fitting the local environment.

By examining the grassland management of Aso (Kumamoto Pref.), I will first outline the natural conditions and then proceed to show how this transformation took place in the livestock farming sector and what problems the local population involved is currently exposed to. The lecture closes with an outlook on possible solutions, which I am currently exploring during a three-year field stay on behalf of the Japanese Ministry of Environment researching “Regionally cycling and symbiotic area” (地域循環共生圏) in order to initiate a discussion within this working group about other possible forms of sustainable development in rural Japan.

Johannes Wilhelm, Kumamoto University (Kumamoto)

March 5, 2020

Learning to be funny: Training and social relationships in Rakugo – POSTPONED –

Please note: this event has been postponed. A new date will be announced in due course. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Kabuki actors learn their skills from their fathers. Ikebana students pay their master for lessons. In contrast, artistic lineage in rakugo is not hereditary, and performers do not acquire their stories and acting skills in acting schools or from their fathers. Newcomers to the rakugo profession start their apprenticeship with a shishō, a master, without paying any compensation. For the rest of both of their lives the shishō is responsible for his deshi’s (disciple) education and accountable for his off-stage behaviour. In return, the shishō expects his deshi’s unquestioning loyalty, obedience and subordination.

The presentation provides a perspective on access to knowledge, knowledge acquisition, learning processes and structures inside Tokyo’s yose theatres, as well as social relations among the stakeholders of the rakugo world. Sarah Stark’s research is based on an analysis of printed interviews, autobiographies as well as one-on-one interviews with Tokyo rakugoka.

Sarah Stark, Ghent University

March 19, 2020

„Aktives Altern“ im digitalen Zeitalter. Wie kann Digitalisierung soziale Teilhabe und Inklusion fördern? – POSTPONED –

Die Bevölkerung Japans und Deutschlands altert zusehends. Vor dem Hintergrund sich auflösender Familienstrukturen, immer mehr alleinlebender Seniorinnen und Senioren und nicht mehr selbstverständlicher nachbarschaftlicher Unterstützung wird die gesellschaftliche Teilhabe und Inklusion älterer Bürgerinnen und Bürger zu einer großen gesellschaftspolitischen Heraus¬forderung. Teilhabe und Inklusion bilden die Grundlage für ein „aktives Altern“. Davon profitieren die Älteren, die Gemeinden und die Gesellschaft insgesamt. Digitalisierung und Vernetzung bieten in diesem Kontext große Chancen. Um diese nutzen zu können, müssen die Technologien allerdings zugänglich und nutzbar gemacht werden. Aus diesem Grund ist es wichtig, „digitale Kompetenzen“ unter der älteren Bevölkerung zu fördern. Im Rahmen des Symposiums soll erörtert werden, was in Japan und Deutschland unternommen wird, damit die ältere Generation von den Vorteilen der digitalen Transformation im Hinblick auf Teilhabe und Inklusion profitieren kann.

Sprachen: Deutsch und Japanisch mit Simultanübersetzung

Upcoming Events

Nothing from March 28, 2020 to August 28, 2020.

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.

Project: Tokyo Olympics

“Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics”

More information available on our
→ project page.

Monograph Series

The DIJ’s monograph series is now
Open Access Open Access.

Downloads are available directly on our
→ monograph pages.

Please Note: Volumes become open access one year after publication.

Call for Papers

Contemporary Japan
Issue 33, No. 1
until February 1, 2020


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DIJ Tokyo

Congratulations to Dorothea Mladenova on the publication of her new, peer-reviewed article on end-of-life preparati…

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DIJ Tokyo

Trotz finanzieller Herausforderungen #Tokyo2020: "Die Investitionseffekte sind schon realisiert, so dass die Versch…

DIJ 30th Anniversary

Anniversary Event

In October 2018 we celebrated the DIJ’s foundation 30 years ago — with lots of inspiring speeches and conversations.

→ Event page