The two-day academic workshop – jointly organized by the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ), the German Centre for Research and Innovation Tokyo (DWIH Tokyo) and the Nippon Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA) – discussed the impact of DT on the social sciences and humanities with regard to three subtopics.
It first addressed the impact of DT for research questions and research design. What questions do we need to ask and how can we make best use of DT in the way we conduct research? Second, it elaborated the possible implications of DT with regard to the dissemination of research outcomes. Finally, it considered how DT might change the organization and institutional set-up of academia. Who will conduct research? Where will it be conducted? Will disciplinary boundaries remain relevant?
This issue starts with a Special Section on “Emotions and Affect in Studies on Contemporary Japan,” featuring original research articles on cutting edge topics including the dynamics of conversion to right-wing ideologies, the emotional toll of providing care for left-wing political prisoners, and the struggles in “coming out” for families of LGB individuals, prefaced with an introduction by Barbara Holthus grounding the studies in the sociology of emotion.
We also have three original articles covering topics that range from an analysis of historical memory in Yū Miri’s JR Ueno Station Park Exit, the shifting identity narratives of the Tokyo 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic bids, and how katakana is used by discourse producers to communicate nuanced perspectives.
At this year’s ICAS 11 conference in Leiden, Netherlands, the DIJ was represented by papers given by Barbara Holthus, Hanno Jentzsch, and Nora Kottmann. The Max-Weber Foundation also featured a book table, with numerous publications by the DIJ on display.
For more on this, see this report (in German).
Environmental scholar Lawrence Buell defined toxic discourse as a mode of writing that expresses “anxiety arising from a perceived threat of environmental hazard” (2003, 30-31). Fictional works from the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents feature characters who appear to be mentally unstable because of this anxiety. Rather than their insanity discrediting them in the eyes of the nuclear industry, this presentation draws inspiration from Buell to consider how insanity can be used by victims of nuclear disasters to claim authority through toxic discourse by crafting narratives of resistance. One of the most controversial images stemming from nuclear disasters is of people who remain in highly irradiated areas unfit for human habitation. In novels by Kimura Yūsuke (Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa’s Deluge) and Alina Bronsky (Baba Dunja’s Last Love), the so-called insanity of these characters allows them to comment critically on the postdisaster situation, specifically the evaluation of risk and the bankruptcy of credibility. They provide insightful voices of resistance to the narratives of containment and safety perpetuated by the government and nuclear industry. The presentation ends with a consideration of actual residents in contaminated zones in Kamanaka Hitomi’s documentary Little Voices from Fukushima.
Rachel DiNitto, University of Oregon
過去 10 年間で、日本で報告されている移住労働者の数は 3 倍以上に増え、2018 年には約 150 万人に達しました。日本への海外からの移住と、それに伴う就労希望の外国人の増加は、これまで歴史上無かったことで す。政治家や学者としては、この数字が何を意味するのか、今何が起きているのか、なぜ、どのように、を知る必要があります。ここでは政治学の観点、及び日本国内外の観点から、この問題を取り上げます。
Shrinking but Happy? Investigating the Interplay of Social and Individual-Level Predictors of Well-Being in Rural Japanese Communities
Rural communities in Japan have been facing accelerating structural and demographic decline in recent decades. Yet, there is limited evidence on how these challenges impact communities and the quality of life of their inhabitants in Japan. Much of the available international data shows that rural municipalities report higher subjective well-being than urban areas despite being affected by greater structural decline in objective well-being indices.
This presentation will introduce a comprehensive, multidimensional approach to well-being, sensitive to individual and ‘Japanese’ constructions of happiness, and provide tentative insights into well-being in the rural Japanese town of Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, which is average in terms of its demographic and economic situation.
Dionyssios Askitis, University of Vienna
Citizen energy, known as “Bürgerenergie”, forms a major pillar of the transition to renewable energies (RE) in Germany. From as early as the 1990s German citizens pioneered in in solar and wind power or biomass energy projects and invested into RE as individual households, companies or as members within more than 900 energy cooperatives. Similarly, though less known, Japan as well has a long-established vibrant citizen energy movement, also referred to as “community power”. While initially focusing on building RE capacity, a growing number of citizen energy companies ventured into direct marketing of “green energy”.
The shift from a feed-in-tariff (FIT) to a feed-in-premium (FIP) and auction scheme, the institutional framework for grid integration, the deregulation of electricity markets, but also the changing social acceptance of RE and the ecological consciousness among the wider public present major challenges for citizen energy projects and their business models. Highlighting differences in the regulatory environment and public opinion, our speakers will be comparing the development of citizen energy in Germany and Japan. Despite differences, the citizen energy movement in both countries is presently challenged by tighter regulations for RE, growing local resistance to RE projects, and barriers to market integration. At the same time, direct markets for “green energy” are underdeveloped in Japan and, albeit more developed, contribute little to the expansion of renewables in Germany. Eiji Oishi will comment the discussion from a practitioner and business point of view.
Carsten Herbes, Nuertingen-Geislingen University, Germany
Jörg Raupach-Sumiya, Ritsumeikan University, Osaka
Eiji Oishi, Minna Denryoku, Tokyo
Recreational outdoor sports, such as hiking, mountain biking, and trail running are enjoying increased popularity in Japan and worldwide. Proponents argue that these activities contribute to physical and mental health on the one hand and bring about economic and social benefits for rural areas on the other. At the same time there are concerns of over-use and environmental degradation. Focusing on mountain biking, Prof. Yuichiro Hirano and Prof. Wolfram Manzenreiter will be comparing the current situation in Austria and Japan and try to line out possible futures for sustainable outdoor tourism that benefits rural areas and protect the environment equally.
Yuichiro Hirano, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Tsukuba
Wolfram Manzenreiter, University of Vienna