2013 Minato Citizen's University at Temple University, Japan Campus: "Globalization and National Identity in Japan"

This series of six talks provides a variety of perspectives on the topic "Globalization and National Identity in Japan." The talks will explore how globalization affects Japan, particularly how it brings into question Japan's national identity. The speakers examine the issue in the contexts of politics, nuclear crisis, territorial disputes, youth, socio-demographic character and education in Japan. The lectures will be 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.

Wednesday and Thursdays, October 30 and 31, November 6 and 7, 13 and 14
19:00-20:30 (Doors open at 18:30)
Temple University, Japan Campus, Mita Hall 5F (Access)
2,500 yen for six lectures.
Bank transfer prior to the first session is required. Non-refundable.
TUJ will notify bank account details by email.
50 (first-come, first-served basis)
Registration closed

Lecture 1

Globalization and the Politics of National Identity in Japan
Jeff Kingston, Professor of Asian Studies and History ()

The politics of national identity in contemporary Japan are divisive at home and have repercussions for regional and global relations. The stakes are high as politicians seek to define Japan on issues ranging from wartime conduct to territorial disputes and trade liberalization. PM Abe is a conservative who has promoted patriotic education and weighed in on various historical controversies while also trying to shake the economy out of the doldrums through his policies known as Abenomics. This term has become popular globally and is now part of the Japan brand. His third arrow is about trade liberalization and structural reforms that will require significant changes in line with global trends, so why do many Japanese have doubts about these reforms? The rise of China as regional hegemon is the most significant development challenging Japanese national identity and it is in this context we will examine the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute.

Lecture 2

Responsibility in the Age of Globalization: Japan’s Role as Nuclear Watchdog
Ronald Carr, Associate Professor of Film and Media Arts ()

On the morning August 6, 1945, Hiroshima suffered the detonation of the world’s most devastating weapons of war, an atomic bomb. Not only was a large portion of the city obliterated, the “residual radiation” that lingered in the area for years after the attack caused numerous medical conditions that either left victims severely crippled or dead.

The level-7 meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant after the March 11, 2011 tsunami, is a not too distant reminder of the same uncontrollable force that was used to end WWII in the Pacific. Japan again finds itself at the forefront of a nuclear crisis.

Ironically, though Japan is one of the few countries in the world with large amounts of information on how radiation can affect humans and communities, little information is being released to the public.

Using the recently completed “That Day”, a documentary that follows the lives of two members of the Mito family who survived the bombing of Hiroshima, the lecture and discussion will investigate the current situation involving many of the world’s nuclear nations and the consequences that follow the nuclear arming of politically aggressive countries, such as Iran and North Korea. The lecture will also include comments from filmmakers.

Lecture 3

Youth Identities in the Age of Globalization: Anthropological Perspectives on Hikikomori (Youth Social Withdrawal)
Sachiko Horiguchi, Assistant Professor of Anthropology ()

Due to rapid socio-economic changes, young people across the globe are increasingly faced with difficulties in securing their place in society, and Japanese youth are not an exception. This lecture will provide an anthropological analysis of hikikomori, a Japanese category coined in the late 1990s to refer to socially isolated youth. I will begin by providing an overview of how and why hikikomori came to be discussed as a social problem in contemporary Japan. I will then introduce some of the findings from anthropological fieldwork conducted in hikikomori support organizations since 2002, and discuss issues hikikomori youth have faced in making sense of their identities. Finally, I will examine the extent to which hikikomori is an issue unique to Japanese society by drawing on findings from collaborative research conducted with a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists in Japan and France.

Lecture 4

National Identity and Japan's Territorial Dispute with Russia
Tina Burrett, Assistant Professor of Political Science

In this lecture, political scientist Tina Burrett examines national identity as an explanation for the obstacles to resolving Japan’s territorial dispute with Russia. Economic, security and systemic factors alone do not account for the intractability of the dispute: nationalism on both sides is the missing factor. Leaders in Tokyo and Moscow have been unable to agree to a settlement that would contradict their own nationalist framing of the dispute, or risk their credibility as defenders of the national interest. To support this hypothesis, the lecture analyses nationalist discourse, territorial policies, negotiation outcomes and domestic political responses in Japan.

Lecture 5

Who Supports Globalization? The Effects of Socio-demographic Characteristics on Cosmopolitan Attitudes of Japanese Citizens
Matthew Linley, Assistant Professor of International Relations

Japanese suspicion over entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the lack of students attending foreign universities, and handwringing over the need to develop global human resources (gurōbaru jinzai) is increasingly contributing to an image of an insular citizenry seeking to avoid, rather than embrace, globalization. Young people, in particular, are singled out for their “inward-looking orientation” (uchimuki shikō) suggesting that this problem is the product of individual attitudes. In this presentation, I will use the concept of cosmopolitanism as defined by a person's sense of belonging to the outside world (identity) and their level of openness towards out-group members (orientation) to examine Japanese attitudes toward globalization. Analyzing data from the Japan General Social Survey (JGSS), I find support for the claim that the majority of Japanese do in fact have a strong sense of national identity and a weak sense of "cosmopolitan identity". Their orientation towards foreign goods and immigration can also be characterized as ambivalent. By examining the effects of socio-demographic characteristics, however, I find that older people have stronger feelings towards the Japanese state than younger people and are also more likely to be suspicious of foreign imports. A person's openness towards foreign people and goods, meanwhile, is affected by their level of education. This suggests that Japanese youth identify with the outside world more than their elders and that university education positively influences a person's openness to outsiders.

Lecture 6

The Impact of Globalization on Japanese National Identity: The Case of Higher Education
Bruce Stronach, Dean of Temple University, Japan Campus ()

It is time for Japan to face a critical conundrum that has been building since the economic bubble burst twenty years ago; will it fundamentally change the national identity of self in order to remain a globally important nation and competitive economy, or will it adhere to the postwar identity of what it means to be Japanese and gradually recede to second-tier status? The export-centric economy that spurred and sustained economic growth during the boom and bubble years never encouraged internationalization and therefore never created the conditions by which the Japanese way of doing things would be seriously challenged. However, this relative isolation is no longer sustainable in an era of generalized globalization.

I will examine this conundrum through the current government policy of increasing the global competitiveness of Japanese universities. Universities should be the platform for economic, cultural, social, and artistic change and yet Japanese universities are recognized as the embodiment of intractable tradition and obscurantism. If universities cannot reform themselves to become globally competitive, can they support the development of Japan’s broader global competitiveness? Now that university reform is perceived as an economic, as opposed to social, problem there may be hope for real change in, and even leadership from, Japan’s universities.