Minato-ku Citizen's University "Issues in Contemporary Japan"

Dates
Tuesdays and Thursdays, May 19, 21, 26, 28, June 2, 4.
Time
18:30 - 20:00 (Registration starts at 18:00)
Venue
TUJ Mita Hall Rooms 502, 503, 504 (Access)
Cost
2,500 yen for six sessions (Wire transfer prior to the first session necessary. Non-refundable.)
Capacity
50 (Randomly selected)
To Register
Registration closed

Session 1

Date:
Tuesday, May 19
Topic:
What Do Political Scientists Have to Say about Japanese Politics?
Lecturer:
Matthew Linley, Assistant Professor of International Relations

Why do Japanese political parties divide themselves up into factions? Why do Japanese voters show up in high numbers for local elections but not national elections? Despite a struggling economy for many years, why do the LDP continue to remain in power? The study of political science is concerned with questions concerning political systems and political behaviour. Although the public often assumes that Japan's domestic politics are extremely different from that of other nations, many political scientists have studied it using what is known as the comparative method. Furthermore, they have moved beyond the simple idea of "culture" as an explanation for differences with other nations and systematically analyzed the impact of important historical and institutional factors.

In this lecture, Matthew Linley will review the major areas of research that Political Scientists outside of Japan are currently interested in. The topics will include:

  • The differences in the approach to politics between journalists and political scientists
  • The reasons that Japan is an interesting comparative case study for political scientists
  • The types of questions scholars are interested in, such as voting behaviour and party politics
  • Some interesting, and counterintuitive, conclusions drawn from the systematic analysis of Japanese politics

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Session 2

Date:
Thursday, May 21
Topic:
Japanese Foreign Policy: a Problem of Principles?
Lecturer:
Phil Deans, Associate Dean and Professor of International Relations

This talk addresses key issues in Japanese foreign policy since the departure of PM Koizumi. While Japan's key bilateral relationship with the USA has remained strong, and the diplomatic relationship with China has improved significantly, Japanese diplomacy appears to lack focus and is often criticized both in Japan and overseas of lacking a clear mission or goal. Some commentators criticize Japan’s lack of action with regard to issues such as the war on terror or climate change as demonstrating a lack of principle, while others are aghast when Japan does attempt to take a principled approach, such as over whaling or the North Korean abductees issue. When clear goals are set they are unobtainable or offer little practical benefits – such as the bid for membership of the UN Security Council. The talk offers an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of Japanese diplomacy and considers the options available for Japanese policy makers.

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Session 3

Date:
Tuesday, May 26
Topic:
The Saiban-in Seido / Jury Trial System Starts Now —
How Will This Change the Japanese Legal System and Japanese Society as a Whole?
Lecturer:
Matthew Wilson, Senior Associate Dean and General Counsel

After several years of anticipation and significant promotion, Japan officially re-introduces "jury trials" in May 2009 in serious criminal cases. By attending this lecture, you can explore how the major social experiment of adopting a lay jury trial or "saibanin" system will affect the Japanese legal system and Japanese society as a whole. Also, you can learn about what changes have been made to the legal system to prepare for jury trials and the principal challenges facing the public, lawyers, and prosecutors.

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Session 4

Date:
Thursday, May 28
Topic:
Potential Synergies From Regional Economic Cooperation: Japan, China and India
Lecturer:
William Swinton, Director, Special Management Programs

This talk reviews possible synergies that could be developed through greater cooperation among three key Asian economies — Japan, China, and India. Each country, standing alone, has obvious competitive challenges. Each country is facing limitations, but has assets that could help its prospective partners meet their challenges. Working together these countries could provide ready markets, talent, key resources, and a variety of business opportunities to each other, while improving their mutual competitiveness in the global economic arena.

Japan is a country of limited size with a shrinking population, but it has a wealth of technology, management know-how, and investment capital desperately needed by its two neighbors. At the same time, China has a growing industrial base and large (though aging) workforce, but it suffers from a polluting energy inefficient infrastructure that could benefit significantly from Japanese technology and expertise. India, for its part, needs investment capital and infrastructure development to take full advantage of its young growing work force and large western trained scientific and technological cadres.

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Session 5

Date:
Tuesday, June 2
Topic:
This Way Out > Subculture Identity and Soft Power Politics in Japanese Youth Culture
Lecturer:
Kyle Cleveland, Associate Professor of Sociology

As the machinery of consumer society has exported Japanese popular culture to foreign markets, Japan has raised its cultural profile and become a world leader in fashion, design and style. “Cool Japan” has increasingly come to displace the image of a politically marginalized society in economic decline with that of a culturally progressive society defined by a cutting edge vibrancy and post-modern aesthetic sensibility. Yet while cultural industries exert “soft power” influence on Japan’s economic prospects and international status, for the participants in the subcultures from which such cultural innovation arise, the style cultures they embody have meanings, motivations and experiences which are often contrary to the political ends for which they are deployed. In a society where Freeter/Neet youth are disengaging from mainstream institutions and youth delinquency is on the rise, subcultures have become a means of empowerment for youth but a distraction from larger political concerns. This presentation will address how the anxieties of youth in this era are reflected in the ‘rogue flows’ of popular culture, and transformed in the subcultures of consumption, where youth rebellion is a cultural commodity.

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Session 6

Date:
Thursday, June 4
Topic:
Japanese Art in the US: History of Collecting and Changing Attitudes
Lecturer:
Noriko Murai, Assistant Professor of Art History

Americans have been eagerly collecting Japanese art for more than a century, from the pioneering Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to the more recent Price Collection in LA. This lecture gives an overview of the American collecting of Japanese art, focusing on its initial history in the late nineteenth century. The types of objects collected powerfully reflects the changing American attitudes toward Japan and its art.

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