Where has Japan Gone?:
Workshop Discussing the State of Japanese Studies in Europe amidst the Decline of Japan

12 October 2012
Kobe University Brussels European Centre
Prof. Toshihiro MINOHARA, Grad. School of Law, Kobe University

Tosh MINOHARA: Professor, Grad. School of Law, Kobe University, JAPAN
Yuki SEKINE: Professor, Grad. School of Law, Kobe University, JAPAN
Dimitri VAN OVERBEKE: Professor, Faculty of Arts, Catholic University of Leuven, BELGIUM
Yannick VANDERBORGHT: Professor, Political Science Research Centre, Saint-Louis University, BELGIUM
Maaike OKANO-HEIJMANS: Research Fellow, Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations, NETHERLANDS
Julian DEAHL: Senior Acquisitions Editor, Brill Academic Publishers, NETHERLANDS
Caroline ROSE: Professor, Director of East Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM
Martin DUSINBERRE: Lecturer, Newcastle University, UNITED KINGDOM
Tuuka TOIVONEN: Research Fellow, University of Oxford, UNITED KINGDOM
Kazuyuki KATAYAMA: Minister and DCM, Japanese Embassy in Belgium
Frederick PONJAERT: Researcher, Brussels Free University, BELGIUM
Saori OBAYSHI: Administrator, International Collaborations Group, Kobe University, JAPAN

Project objective

The idea of this project emerged in March 2012, while taking part in an international conference in Toronto, Canada. During numerous discussions over the state of Japanese Studies in North America, it became quite evident that the state of Japanese studies was facing a dire situation. The twenty year Japanese decline had contributed to a worrying trend where a vast majority of the new generation of scholars of East Asia were now shifting their focus towards China. This has led to an overall waning of Japanese Studies as field, except in some fields such as those relating to soft power. The reduced public interest also means reduced financial support and thus an emergence of a vicious cycle. A strong chord was struck within the organizer when such words as "Where has Japan Gone?" and comments like "Japan has all but disappeared" were frequently tossed around. If this is the case in North America, then what is the situation in Europe where academic research is often less "trendy" than in the United States? Is the situation somewhat less severe and one can be a bit more optimistic? At the same time, one cannot ignore the active and expanding role played in Europe by the Chinese government sponsored Confucius Institute, as well as the closure of prominent Japanese Studies Departments in universities across the UK. With this in mind, the primary objective of this workshop will be to openly discuss and assess the state of Japanese Studies in Europe. By doing so, we also hope to strengthen and expand the network between scholars in Japan and Europe.

Program Schedule

Welcome by Tosh Minohara
Self-introduction by the participants
<10 minute break>
Presentations by Dimitri, Frederick, Maaike, and Julian (7 minutes each) followed by a Q&A session
Presentations by Caroline, Martin, Kazuyuki, and JF rep (7 minutes each) followed by a Q&A session
<10 minute break>
Free discussion among participants moderated by Tosh and Yuki
Closing comments by Tosh Minohara


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