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.
Barbara Holthus interviewed about 3.11 by German newspaper
The German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau has interviewed DIJ deputy director Barbara Holthus about the continuing effects of the ‘triple disaster’ on Japanese society. In “Fukushima war eine Zäsur” (Fukushima was a watershed), Barbara explains how 3.11 has caused the rebirth of social movements in Japan, increased mistrust of the Japanese government and of mainstream media, and also influences the critical attitude of many Japanese towards the Tokyo Olympics. “The anti-Olympics movement is directed, among other things, against the idea of the so-called Recovery Olympics: that the problem of Fukushima has been overcome. Of course, this is absolute eyewash, but that’s how the Games were advertised”. Barbara’s current research includes projects on Social movements and gender in post-3.11 Japan and a special project on the Tokyo Olympics. The newspaper article appeared online and in the FR‘s print edition on March 10. A collection of DIJ research and publications related to 3.11 is available here.
Election campaign film available on DIJ YouTube channel
Pictures at an Election is a 68 min. documentary that shows Japan’s electoral machinery in full steam and focuses on the question of how Japanese candidates try to appeal to voters. It depicts different strategies and techniques, and presents a lively picture of political culture in Japan. It was filmed by political scientist and then DIJ senior research fellow Axel Klein (now Duisburg-Essen University, Germany) during the electoral campaigning in July 2007. Until today the documentary has been distributed for free to more than 100 universities all over the world. Since the pandemic has made on campus teaching impossible and online access to teaching material has become indispensable, the DIJ and Axel Klein have decided to publish the documentary on the DIJ’s YouTube channel. Coincidentally, the (unintended) protagonist of the documentary, Marukawa Tamayo, became Minister in charge of Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality and Minister of State for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in February 2021. This documentary shows how she started her political career with her first election campaign. Details
Torsten Weber quoted in Süddeutsche Zeitung article on Japanese history textbooks
DIJ historian Torsten Weber was interviewed by the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung for an article on the debate about history textbooks in Japan. Torsten explains that due to the so-called “neighbouring country clause” the majority of Japanese history textbooks presented a mainstream and relatively well-balanced narrative of Japanese imperialism and war-time aggression. The main objective of the textbooks was to prepare for entry exams. Consequently, they focused on teaching facts, causal relations, and omitted interpretations and controversial statements. Torsten gives the example of the Nanjing atrocities which are explicitly mentioned in the textbooks, including the victimization of Chinese civilians by the Japanese military. However, they avoided giving a number of victims as this remains a contested issue between the governments of Japan and the PR China. The article “Es geht um das, was nicht drinsteht” (It’s about what’s not in it) appeared in the print version of the SZ on 22 February and can be read online here.
DIJ researchers in Belgian and German media on Tokyo Olympics
DIJ human geographer Sonja Ganseforth and historian Torsten Weber are quoted in newspaper articles in the Belgian daily De Standaard and the German weekly Die Zeit. Sonja comments on recent criticism in Japan of the Tokyo Olympics. “Activists have been criticizing the exorbitant spending and corruption in the run-up to the Games for years”, she is quoted in the article “Japanners vrezen dat Spelen zullen fungeren als superverspreider” (Japanese fear that Games may act as superspreader). “The expensive postponement due to the Covid crisis also leads to skepticism”, Sonja says. Torsten’s comments on how the Tokyo Olympics have become linked to promoting nationalism in Japan are quoted in “Olympia 2021 in Japan: Japans Nationalisten und ihr Plan mit den Spielen” (Japan’s nationalists and their plan with the Games). Their research on the impact of the 2020 Olympics on Japanese society is part of the DIJ’s special project on the Tokyo Olympics and the open access book publication Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics.
Online cooperation meeting with University of Vienna
On February 4, seven researchers from the DIJ and its cooperation partner at the University of Vienna met online. Due to the pandemic, Vienna doctoral students are forced to modify their Japan research: travel to Japan has not been possible for over a year, and the doctoral students turn to hiring a Japanese company to conduct survey research on their behalf. DIJ deputy director Barbara Holthus and DIJ researchers Sonja Ganseforth and Nora Kottmann, who have all conducted their own surveys in Japan provided hands-on advice on research companies, costs involved, possible sampling strategies, questionnaire construction and the importance of sharei (incentives). Former DIJ PhD students Florian Purkarthofer and Dennis Askitis as well as Stefan Hundsdorfer, who are all currently doctoral students at Vienna, attended the meeting. It was part of the tight-knit cooperation between the DIJ and Japanese Studies at the University of Vienna. The cooperation started in 2010 with Wolfram Manzenreiter, who also participated in the online meeting, joining the editorial board of Contemporary Japan. Since 2014, one DIJ researcher per year has been teaching a class in Vienna.
Ein halbes Jahr vor der geplanten Eröffnung der olympischen Spiele hat Soziologin und stellvertretende Direktorin Barbara Holthus im Interview mit DLF Kultur die geschwundene Olympia-Begeisterung in Japan kommentiert. Die Euphorie von 2013, als Tokyo die Spiele zugesprochen wurden, sei Skepsis und Unverständnis über die ausufernden Kosten gewichen. Meinungsumfragen zufolge befürworteten aktuell rund 80% der Bevölkerung eine Absage oder neuerliche Verschiebung. In der andauernden Pandemie bestünde zudem die Gefahr, dass “Olympia zu einem Super-Spreader-Event würde”, so Holthus. Dennoch wolle “Tokyo unbedingt diese Spiele haben, komme was wolle”. Barbara Holthus ist Mitherausgeberin des Olympia-Buches Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics (Routledge 2020, open access), das Japans Gesellschaft, Politik und Wirtschaft anhand der Vorbereitungen auf Tokyo 2020 untersucht. Das DLF-Interview kann hier nachgehört werden.
Franz Waldenberger in DIE ZEIT on Japan’s economic policy
DIJ director and economist Franz Waldenberger commented in the current issue of DIE ZEIT (3/21) on the Japanese government’s strategy of artificially keeping so-called “zombie companies” alive through state-guaranteed loans. “The zero interest rate policy ensures that the selection process between productive and unproductive companies weakens.” At the same time, he explained that these subsidies to unprofitable businesses in Japan fulfilled a social function. “It is also about jobs and thus about providing a social safety net,” Waldenberger stressed. The article “Land of Zombies” (in German) can also be read in the online edition here.