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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 30, 2020

New publication on rural Japan

Several DIJ researchers, alumni, and affiliates – including Sonja Ganseforth, Daniel Kremers, Susanne Brucksch, and Hanno Jentzsch – have contributed to this new publication on transformations, political innovations, and new residents in rural Japan. The edited volume also contains a section on different conceptualizations for a new understanding of rural Japan that goes beyond the widespread negative perceptions on the future of the countryside.

Japan’s New Ruralities addresses the complexity of rural decline in the context of debates on globalization and power differences. As such, it will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology, anthropology, human geography and politics, as well as Japanese Studies” (from publisher website). The volume is co-edited by Wolfram Manzenreiter, former DIJ research fellow Ralph Lützeler, and Sebastian Polak-Rottmann. It is published in the Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies series and available as hardback, paperback, and eBook.

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

Upcoming Events

Nothing from April 4, 2020 to September 4, 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”

For more information see our
→ project page.


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DIJ Tokyo

New research on Japan's 'global countryside': DIJ fellows @_Daniel_Kremers, Hanno Jentzsch, Sonja Ganseforth, Susan…

DIJ Tokyo's Twitter avatar
DIJ Tokyo

DIJ deputy director @barbGhawaii has observed that public health messaging in Japan has increased after last week's…

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 Papers

Contemporary Japan
current issue Vol. 32, 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 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