Events

2014 Minato Citizen's University at Temple University, Japan Campus: "Japan as Number Three"

This series provides a variety of perspectives on the topic "Japan as Number Three." After years of rapid growth, the Chinese economy overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy in 2010. This has had both an economic and psychological impact on Japan. This series will examine the impact of Chinese development on Japan and the world in the context of international relations, anthropological analysis, politics and education. The lectures are in English and should prove informative to anyone with an interest in or knowledge of contemporary Japan.

Scene from last year's Minato Citizen's University.

Dates:
October 31, November 5, 7, 10, 12 & 14
Time:
19:00-20:30 (Doors open at 18:30)
Venue:
Temple University, Japan Campus, Mita Hall 5F (Access)
Cost:
2,500 yen for six lectures (tax included).
Bank transfer prior to the first session is required. Non-refundable.
TUJ will notify bank account details by e-mail.
Capacity:
50 (first-come, first-served basis)
Register:
Registration closed
Deadline:
Registration deadline is October 24 at 17:00.

Lecture 1

Date:
Topic:
Japan: #3 in Rank but #2 in Role
Lecturer:
Bruce Stronach, Dean, TUJ ()

Japan has the third highest GDP in the world and is therefore ranked #3 in the world economic tables, but although the size of any country’s GDP is an important indicator, it does not indicate that country’s role. This is especially true of Japan. Japan’s role since the beginning of the cold war in 1947 has been as America’s loyal #2 in Asia. It played that role when it was ranked as #2 economically, and even when it could see a #1 ranking on the horizon.

Lecture 2

Date:
Topic:
Reconsidering the Impact of the “Lost Decades” on Youth: Are Japanese Youth Turning Introverted?
Lecturer:
Sachiko Horiguchi, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, TUJ ()
Young people are considered agents for social change and a driving force for shaping the future of any society, and hence youth’s contributions to society are of significance for any nation state. In Japanese society, the ‘lost decades’ since the burst of the bubble coupled with rapidly aging demographics and the rise of China have raised domestic concerns around so-called ‘introverted’ youth. This lecture will provide an anthropological analysis of the discourses on ‘introverted’ youth in Japan, with a particular focus on hikikomori (socially withdrawn youth) who shut themselves in from society and uchimuki (inward-looking) youth who refuse to venture outside Japan, and will examine the impact of the ‘lost decades’ on internal cultural debates about Japanese youth.

Lecture 3

Date:
Topic:
The New “Normal”?: Implications of Constitutional ‘Reinterpretation’ for the US/Japan Alliance and Japan’s International Relations
Lecturer:
Kyle Cleveland, Associate Professor of Sociology, TUJ ()

This lecture will discuss how Japan’s position between the U.S., as it its long-standing ally, and China, as its abiding nemesis, is changing as it repositions itself against China and recalibrates its relation with the U.S. on military and security issues. Japan's military has long been presumed to be a passive, reactionary force in line with Pacifist principles established after the Pacific War. Now, as the United States has reorganized its security priorities, Japan is being called upon to be an active player in geopolitics, to develop a military that does not rely exclusively on the U.S. to protect its interests. With Japan facing perceived regional threats from China and Korea, the Japanese government under the Abe administration has “reinterpreted” the constitution to redefine the Self-Defense Forces, allowing for the development of a more proactive military. As the Abe administration raises its military posture, it faces domestic opposition and provokes concerns in Asia among its former military victims in China and Korea that this would unsettle the fragile regional stability that has endured since the Pacific War. With Yasukuni Shrine, the Senkaku Island disputes, the Comfort Women issue and revisionist narratives of Japan’s wartime actions still haunting Japan’s politics, the shadow of WW II looms over ongoing debates to revise the constitution and change the way Article IX was conceived. What will the implications be for Japan's trade policy and status in relation to its Asian neighbors and how will this affect its international relations?

Lecture 4

Date:
Topic:
Japan as Number Three and Its Contemporary Relations with Russia
Lecturer:
James Brown, Assistant Professor of Political Science, TUJ ()

This lecture addresses the implications of Japan’s decline to number three in the rankings of the world’s largest economies for its contemporary relations with Russia. The main argument to be presented is that there are several political, economic, and security factors that currently incentivise Tokyo to cultivate a closer relationship with Moscow. The enduring significance of these considerations is likely to mean that, despite the impact of the 2014 Ukraine crisis, Japanese-Russian relations will continue to improve gradually over the coming years. This will not, however, lead to the return of Japan’s Northern Territories. Indeed, the second half of the lecture will discuss the reasons why Russia, to the great disappointment of many in Japan, is extremely unlikely ever to return Etorofu and Kunashiri.

Lecture 5

Date:
Topic:
Japan as Number 3: Why It Doesn’t Matter
Lecturer:
Robert Dujarric, Director, Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies, TUJ ()

In the late 1970s Ezra Vogel coined the term Japan as No. 1 at a time when, in retrospect, Japan was at its peak. Now Japan is called No. 3, even though by any measure Japan is a more developed society than China. Looking beyond the league tables, we will try to understand where Japan really stands in today’s world.

Lecture 6

Date:
Topic:
POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IN JAPAN AND THE COMEBACK KID: Comparing the Political Leadership of Shinzo Abe in his First and Second Administrations
Lecturer:
Tina Burrett, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Sophia University ()

Politics is an unforgiving business in which comebacks are rare. In Japan, Shinzo Abe is the only post-war prime minister to led two non-consecutive administrations. Abe’s return offers a rare opportunity to explore how past failures shape decision-making when leaders are given a second chance at power.

The lecture will compare Abe’s leadership during his first and second administrations. There is no doubt that to date, Abe’s second premiership has been more successful than his first. What accounts for the differences between Abe’s two premierships? In answering this question, I examine changes in the institutional structures of the Japanese premiership, the shifting political landscape in Japan and Abe’s personal character.

I conclude that developments in Abe’s leadership style, coupled with changes in the institutional and situational context of his leadership explain the successes of his first 18 months back in office. I further conclude that Abe’s mandate is not as solid as it appears. His 2012 and 2013 election victories owe more to the collapse of the DPJ, low turnout, and biases in the electoral system than to a surge of enthusiasm for the LDP. Abe’s leadership is benefiting from more favorable political circumstances and the support of a more professional backroom operation. Yet he is still governed by the same conservative convictions as during his first term. Should he forget the lessons of his earlier failure, Abe’s second term may end the same way as his first.