Robotics is a growing field in the delivery of care. “Socially Assistive Robots” (SARs) have the potential to ‘care’ for humans through social interaction, physical assistance, and therapy delivery. However, the emergence of ‘caring machines’ raises ethical, social, and technological questions. Giulia De Togni’s research aims to understand in what ways our identities and care relationships may be affected by the use of SARs and how this may vary in different cultural contexts. Her study is based on interviews with those who are developing robots, health and social care practitioners, and those receiving care; observations in robotics laboratories and care facilities in the UK and Japan – two rapidly ageing, highly industrialized countries which are leading in AI and robotics innovation. Details and registration here
Giulia De Togni, The University of Edinburgh Medical School
The assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on 8 July 2022 stunned the world. As Japan’s longest serving prime minister (2006–07; 2012–20), Abe shaped the country’s politics like few of his predecessors. His political legacy is most visible in the arena of international politics. Abe introduced the idea of an Indo-Pacific region into geopolitical discourse and envisioned a foreign policy based on the rule of law, human rights, and democracy. Southeast Asia is the heart of this region. But the region’s countries also are diverse in terms of economic development, political regimes, and geopolitical positioning. This online workshop will explore the legacy of the Abe government from the perspective of Southeast Asian countries through case studies of their bilateral relations with Japan, including Indonesia (Bima Prawira Utama), the Philippines (Karl Ian Cheng Chua), Singapore (Kei Koga), Thailand (David M. Malitz), and Vietnam (Hoang Minh Hang). Details and registration here
The newest edition of Contemporary Japan (vol. 34, no. 2) features a special section on “Continuity and Change 10 Years after 3.11: Processes and Dynamics in State-Society Relations”, guest edited by Anna Wiemann, Florentine Koppenborg and Tobias Weiss; an invited commentary by Norio Okada (Tottori University), who provides a fascinating reflection on his 30 years of fieldwork in so-called “depopulated areas”; and the English translation of the 2022 VSJF Prize Paper by Isabel Fassbender. Rounding out the issue, the book review section covers English and German language publications in the fields of education, family, history, religious studies, and black studies. Please see the full issue here
New edited volume studies German and Japanese approaches to ageing and elderly care in communities
The contributions to the open-access anthology Alterung und Pflege als kommunale Aufgabe: Deutsche und japanische Ansätze und Erfahrungen (in German) describe and analyse the challenges and strategies of ageing and elderly care in Japanese and German communities from a multidisciplinary perspective. Themes include legal frameworks, civil society engagement, caregiver shortages, technology concepts for caregiving, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the situation of elderly citizens and those in need of care. The comparison of the approaches and experiences of both countries broadens the options for actions and can provide impulses for a reorientation of existing strategies. The book is co-edited by DIJ director Franz Waldenberger, Hiroko Kudo (Chuo University), Tomoo Matsuda (Mitsubishi Research Institute), and Gerhard Naegele (TU Dortmund). It is an outcome of the project Ageing and Elderly Care in German and Japanese Communities whose results were recently presented at an international conference in Tokyo (Details). A Japanese version of the book is currently being prepared.
New open access article studies effects of pandemic on singles’ relationships
Singles (unmarried individuals) are a growing part of the Japanese population that has not received much attention in the context of the COVID pandemic. A new article by DIJ social scientist Nora Kottmann and Laura Dales (University of Western Australia) addresses the ways in which the pandemic and its associated interventions affect singles’ personal relationships and practices of intimacy as well as perceptions of singlehood and ‘solo activities’. Based on exploratory analyses of data from an online survey conducted in early 2021 , “Doing Intimacy in Pandemic Times: Findings of a Large-Scale Survey Among Singles in Japan” (Social Science Japan Journal, online first) shows that changes of practices of intimacy throughout the pandemic are less dramatic than anticipated. Nevertheless, changes are highly gendered and seem to support media and public discourse on how individuals are coping with the pandemic: an increase in social isolation, distress, acceptance of being single, and ‘solo activities’.
Für das Jahr 2023 vergibt das DIJ wieder attraktive Stipendien zur Förderung von Forschungsaufenthalten in Japan im Rahmen von Promotionsvorhaben. Die Stipendien sind mit zurzeit 2400 Euro/Monat dotiert und werden für die Dauer von drei bis maximal zwölf Monaten vergeben. Gefördert werden Forschungsaufenthalte, deren Beginn in den Zeitraum zwischen 1. Februar und 1. Dezember 2023 fällt. Über die Voraussetzungen sowie das Bewerbungsverfahren informiert unsere Stipendienordnung. Bewerbungsschluss für diese Ausschreibung ist der 11. Dezember 2022.
Western-based research on international new ventures suggests that start-ups are able to internationalize more easily than other types of firms, particularly in globally connected technology-intensive industries. This study of 40 IT start-ups in China, Korea, and Japan reveals that most of these firms do not internationalize successfully. It identifies a variety of factors that deter East Asian start-ups from internationalizing, including large domestic markets, general resource and capability shortages, insufficient international market knowledge, international adaptation costs, and non-supportive home and host country policies. Findings suggest that start-ups in East Asia may not necessarily face lower internationalization barriers than established firms. Details and registration here
Martin Hemmert, Korea University/DIJ Tokyo
Hybrid lecture by Barbara Holthus on pets in contemporary Japan
The accelerated interest in pets in Japan has not started with the pandemic but certainly has been intensified by it. In response to more than two years of physical distancing and “self-restraint”, many Japanese have turned to pets as “substitute” family members that helped to fill the void in human-human interaction. The growing popularity of pets in Japan, together with the accompanying normative, social, and legal changes regarding pet ownership within Japanese society are the focus of the presentation Furry Companions: Pets in Contemporary Japan by DIJ sociologist Barbara Holthus. Drawing on data from interviews, participant observation, publications by the Ministry of the Environment, the National Police Agency, and media, Barbara’s presentation will highlight the embeddedness and changing role of pets in Japanese society. Registration for this hybrid event on November 24 at the University of Vienna and online here