The transfer of knowledge between Germany and Japan in the late Meiji and early Taishō eras: A case study of Georg Würfel (1880-1936)
In the late Meiji era the system of hiring foreign contract workers (o-yatoi gaikokujin) to educate Japanese intellectuals came to an end. Instead of working at universities, foreign teachers were increasingly employed at university preparation schools (kōtō gakkō). In order to examine the German-Japanese transfer of knowledge in the late Meiji and the Taishō eras, this paper draws on an in-depth study of several German teachers living and working in Japan during this time. The research objective is to compare the situation of professors in Tokyo under the o-yatoi system to the situation of teachers at the new preparation schools.
This talk will focus on the example of Georg Würfel who came to Tokyo in 1906 as a missionary and stayed as a teacher in Sendai, Miyagi, until his death in 1936. While he is rarely ever mentioned by his contemporary fellow Germans in Japan in their writings, Würfel influenced several thousand Japanese students and he was often also their first contact with a foreigner.
Career concerns of managers function as an important control mechanism in the context of corporate governance. They bear important motivating and disciplining effects. In Japan, where – in the absence of a well-functioning external market – management careers have been generally restricted to in-house promotions, career concerns also result in efforts by middle management to exert control over and influence top management decisions as they impact their career perspectives.
Takaaki Eguchi’s paper explains the background and implications of such internal control mechanisms in Japan and points to their limitations in recent years given the increasing need for a stronger top management function. Reviewing relevant empirical research, Franz Waldenberger shows that managerial careers in Germany have long been embedded in an external market.
On October 22 Japan is heading to the polls for the third time in 5 years. The 2017 snap election has given candidates and parties little time to prepare and has made it difficult for observers to predict results as Japan’s party system seems once again in flux.
In his lecture Koichi Nakano, professor of political science at Sophia University, will provide an overview of key events and movements in the run-up to the election, the prospect for further developments in the party system and their impact on the issue of constitutional revision.
Chris Winkler, lecturer in Japanese politics at Hokkaido University, will offer some preliminary explanations of parties’ individual performances and what the election results mean for the Abe government’s agenda.
School’s out Forever – Examining Career Guidance and Transition Mechanisms at Japanese Senior High Schools
Irregular employment and average job turnover rates have been increasing for many years in Japan. At the same time, a shift from a credential society (gakureki shakai) to a learning capital society can be observed. According to Kariya (2010) this results in three challenges: (a) an increasing performance pressure on young people, (b) the emergence of a new dynamic of class cleavage and (c) a shift to a flexible labor regime. Once a defining characteristic of Japan’s credential society educational achievements no longer reliably translate into desirable occupational success (Tachibanaki 2006). Employment in unstable and low-pay jobs, reduced career mobility, and fragmented work biographies have so far often been explained with insufficient education (Honda 2004). However, this neglects the uneven distribution of critical factors for success in the job market, such as the educational opportunities schools offer and individual learning competencies.
From a purely geopolitical point of view in international relations theory, Japan could focus on its bilateral relations with the United States to ensure its national security and neglect multilateral diplomacy. However, Japan shows a remarkably active behavior in multilateral arenas, such as the United Nations: as the second largest financial contributor to the United Nations regular budget, as the most frequently elected non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and in its commitment to particular issues such as Human Security (Shin’yo 2017).
Since geopolitical reasoning cannot sufficiently explain Japan’s international actions and multilateral commitment, this research aims for a more eclectic approach by adopting a constructivist perspective. Taking into account recognition, identity, norms and other social factors contributes to a better understanding of Japanese multilateral diplomacy (Kratochwil 2011). The research project looks back at 60 years of Japanese UN membership. Of particular interest are the notions that are central to Japanese diplomacy and their interpretation by Japanese actors, constructing a certain image of Japan and its diplomacy.
For the past five, six years, bimajo (美魔女) has come into media attention in Japan. Bimajo are women in their 35 and above, who look much younger than their actual age. They put on nice make up, their hair is nicely arranged, and they are very fashionable, too. On top of that, they maintain their skin very well, hardly have wrinkles and age spots, and keep their body fit.
Bimajo is an extreme example of women who want to stay young. More generally, this research has observed that many Japanese women around the age of 40, regardless of their marital status and occupation, try to be young; not only by their appearance but they also try to make the way they speak, and tone of their voice appear younger. The presentation will also investigate the social expectations of being young towards Japanese women through textual analysis of media discourse as well as an ethnographic approach: interacting with Japanese women in their 30s and 40s.
Do labour market inequalities erode support for democracy? Experiences and perspectives from France, Germany and Japan
For decades, many policymakers and international organisations such as OECD and the IMF, have emphasised the need of structural, especially labour market reforms to improve competitiveness. While many arguments of this debate are still present today (e.g. in the 2017 French election campaign), it is now widely accepted that growing social inequalities have contributed to an increase in income inequality and that rising inequalities in the labour market could be a major factor behind feelings of political marginalisation and alienation, vote abstention, support for extremist and/or anti-establishment parties and growing distrust in parties and democratic institutions.
This workshop seeks to investigate links between labour market inequalities and falling support for and trust in democracy by bringing together scholars and experts from France, Germany and Japan.