Inagaki Seminar on Japan

The Japanese Studies Program at the Asia Institute, the University of Melbourne, inaugurates a new seminar series on Japan, which is named after Mr Moshi Inagaki, the pioneer of Japanese language instruction at this University.

Mr Moshi Inagaki
Mr Moshi Inagaki

The Japanese Studies Program launched the Centenary of Japanese Language on 31 March 2017 to commemorate 100 years of Japanese language teaching at the University of Melbourne. We are celebrating this historic moment with our colleagues and students as well as the general public over three years (2017-2019), with the Inagaki Seminar series to continue as an ongoing fixture at the Asia Institute. It is a timely occasion to establish this new seminar series on Japan as a way to honour and carry forth Inagaki-sensei's legacy.

Currently Japanese is the most popular LOTE subject at this university, and the Inagaki Seminar provides updated knowledge on Japan to Japan-interested audiences in Melbourne broadly.

The Inagaki Seminar features current topics on Japan within the areas of society, politics, language, and culture, as well as on the Australia-Japan relationship. It also envisions covering transnational regional issues in East Asia; in particular, such topics as Japan’s relations with neighbouring countries including China and Korea.

The Inagaki Seminar is housed within the Asia Institute Public Lecture series, and Akihiro Ogawa, Professor of Japanese Studies, is Lead Organiser.


Seminar 18

Day and time: 26 August 2021, 12:30-1:30pm
From Victim to Activist
Speakers: Setsuko Thurlow

This is the testimony of a Hiroshima atomic bombing survivor whose life has been transformed from a victim of the devastation of her hometown to a life-long advocate for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. Her persistent search for the meaning of her survival in the unprecedented catastrophe has empowered her to share her conviction with the world that humanity must reject the "ultimate evil" of nuclear weapons, and build a nuclear weapon free world to ensure its own survival, and the future generations. This is also a story of the triumphant achievement of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted by the majority of the world on July 7, 2017. This Treaty came into force on January 22, 2021, championed by a coalition of diplomats and citizens' groups worldwide, coordinated by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). In this struggle Australian activists played a leadership role. ICAN was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize "...for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of nuclear weapons."

Seminar 17

Day and time: 10 May 2021, 12:30-1:30pm
Enforcing Human Rights: The View from Japan
Speakers: Professor Miho Aoi

This presentation is based on my research on the Human Rights Act of the ACT (ACTHRA), conducted at the Australian National University (ANU) from April 2020 to March 2021. It examines the meaning of the enforcement of human rights against the background of the ACTHRA, focusing specifically on the similarities and differences between Japan’s constitutional rights and the ACTHRA’s human rights. The ACTHRA is sometimes counted as one example of an intermediate model or a new commonwealth model of judicial review. And, on the surface, it seems the ACTHRA has moved from parliamentary-centred human rights protection to a hybrid version of legal and political human rights protection. However, it should be pointed out that there are some theoretical difficulties in calling it a rights-based judicial review. Scrutiny, by the judiciary, of human rights is detached from the case at hand and therefore, litigants don’t have sufficient opportunity to utilise their human rights. One of the reasons for this could be attributed to its failure to provide a scheme that bridges parliamentary sovereignty to the judicial enforcement of human rights. Therefore, human rights sit somewhere between political and legal entities. The comparison to Japan highlights these difficulties and clarifies the uniqueness of human rights implementation in Australia.

Seminar 16

Day and time: 15 April 2021, 12:30-1:30pm
Fraternization: Censorship and Expression in US-Occupied Japan
Speakers: Dr. Jon Glade

As part of its post–World War II occupation of Japan (1945–1952), the US Military established a system of censorship that required careful navigation for those who wished to publish their work and avoid punishment meted out by occupation authorities and domestic leaders. One of the primary targets of censorship during the occupation was “fraternization”: loosely defined as both explicit portrayals of relations between occupation troops and Japanese women as well as allusions to such relations. In addition to representing a link with Japan’s prior imperial expansion throughout Asia—similar to the structure of censorship itself, the suppression of portrayals of fraternization significantly limited the ability to conduct thorough assessments of Japan’s imperial past and discouraged open critiques of the US Military Occupation. This resulted in the construction of a discursive boundary that continued to impact cultural production in Japan long after the occupation’s end.

Seminar 15

Day and time: 11 March 2021, 12:30-1:30pm
Reflections on Fukishima: A Science and Technology Studies Perspective
Speakers: Dr. Kyoko Sato

The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster shocked Japan and the world, and prompted a re-examination of nuclear governance frameworks and intense debates on the future of nuclear technology, national security, and energy and sustainability. In Japan, as it became quickly clear that a disaster of this magnitude cannot be tackled solely by technical experts and regulators, much discussion took place regarding the significance of cross-disciplinary collaboration (especially between technical and social scientific expertise), the role of experts in policymaking, and public engagement with science and technology. It was hoped that the devastation of Fukushima as a wake-up call would lead to productive changes not only in nuclear governance, but also more broadly in knowledge production, expert advising, and civic engagement. Today, however, Fukushima has become a thing of the past for much of the Japanese public, despite its severe ongoing repercussion for survivors, the economy, and the environment. While some valuable new insights and practices emerged in such areas as citizen science and energy politics, the kind of societal transformation envisioned earlier has not taken place. Covid-19 revealed a very familiar set of challenges in decision making and policy implementation that we faced in Fukushima. This talk will reflect on Fukushima’s legacy, particularly the ways we have approached the disaster over the decade, from the perspectives of science and technology studies, a field that has long interrogated the relationships between science, technology, and democratic society. I propose pathways for change.

Seminar 14

Day and time: 12 October 2020, 12:30-1:30pm
Book Launch: queerqueen: Linguistic Excess in Japanese Media (2020, Oxford University Press)
Speakers: Claire Maree, Cindi SturtzSreetharam, Akihiro Ogawa

From the twins Osugi and Peeco to longstanding icon Miwa Akihiro, Claire Maree traces the figure of the Japanese queerqueen, showing how a diversity of gender identifications, sexual orientations, and discursive styles are commodified and packaged together to form this character. Representations of gay men's speech have changed in tandem with gender norms, increasingly crossing over into popular media via the body of the "authentic" gay male up to and including the current "LGBT boom" in Japan. In this context, queerqueen demonstrates how commercial practices of recording, transcribing, and editing spoken interactions and use of on-screen text encode queerqueen speech as inherently excessive and in need of containment. Tackling questions of authenticity, self-censorship, and the restrictions of heteronormativity within this perception of queer excess, Maree shows how queerqueen styles reproduce stereotypes of gender, sexuality, and desire that are essential to the business of mainstream entertainment.

Seminar 13

Day and time: 7 September 2020, 12:30-1:30pm
Book Launch: New Frontiers in Japanese Studies (2020, Routledge), co-hosted with The Japan Foundation, Sydney 
Speakers: Akihiro Ogawa, Philip Seaton, Jun Ohashi, Stacey Steele, Simon Avenell

Over the last 70 years, Japanese Studies scholarship has gone through several dominant paradigms, from ‘demystifying the Japanese’, to analysis of Japanese economic strength, to discussion of global interest in Japanese popular culture. This book assesses this literature, considering future directions for research into the 2020s and beyond. Shifting the geographical emphasis of Japanese Studies away from the West to the Asia-Pacific region, this book identifies topic areas in which research focusing on Japan will play an important role in global debates in the coming years. This includes the evolution of area studies, coping with ageing populations, the various patterns of migration and environmental breakdown. With chapters from an international team of contributors, including significant representation from the Asia-Pacific region, this book enacts Yoshio Sugimoto’s notion of ‘cosmopolitan methodology’ to discuss Japan in an interdisciplinary and transnational context and provides overviews of how Japanese Studies is evolving in other Asian countries such as China and Indonesia. New Frontiers in Japanese Studies is a thought-provoking volume and will be of great interest to students and scholars of Japanese and Asian Studies. The book is an academic milestone for the centenary celebration (2017-2019) of Japanese language teaching at the University of Melbourne.

Seminar 12

Day and time: 9 March 2020, 5:30-7:30pm
Film screening of "Little Voices from Fukushima" (2014)
Director: Hitomi Kamanaka

Little Voices from Fukushima (2014) is a documentary film capturing lives of ordinary people in post-2011 Fukushima through eyes of mothers who decided to continue their family lives there with children. Juxtaposing their daily practices of protecting children from radiation with experiences of their counterparts in Chernobyl, this film depicts how these mothers in the two countries have envisioned their hopes for future in the post-nuclear disaster societies.

Seminar 11

Day and time: 15 October 2019, 6:00-7pm
LGBT diversity and the queering of Tokyo
Speaker: Professor Akiko Shimizu

What does it mean when a city claims to promote diversity? Who qualify as legitimate members of a "diverse" community, and whose lives become even less "tolerated"? Starting by overviewing the history of sexual/spatial politics in which sexual minorities have (ab)used the public space, this lecture will examine the current politics of "LGBT diversity" in pre-Olympic Tokyo.

Seminar 10

Day and time: 10 September 2019, 5:30-7pm
Trends in Japanese language education through an ANU lens
Speaker: Associate Professor Carol Hayes

What is the current state of play in the Japanese language and studies program at the ANU? How does the Japanese program sit within the Education Vision of the College of Asia and the Pacific and the ANU as a whole? How do we respond to the changing needs of students transitioning from secondary programs into university? After reviewing these questions, Dr Hayes will focus on her practice and how she seeks to empower her students to engage with their own learning as they learn to ‘communicate’ in Japanese. New technologies have changed the landscape of language teaching and can enable innovative approaches, but also problematise traditional delivery models. With lecture recordings and volumes of content easily accessible online, the role of the teacher and the classroom have shifted. She will explore how her blended approach creates new spaces for rich face-to-face engagement in class and supports effective teaching to diverse student cohorts, and discuss how these approaches can be applied at all levels of education in all languages.

Seminar 9

Day and time: 21 May 2019, 6-7pm
Transpacific Imagination: Nuclear Representation in Australia and Japan
Speaker: Professor Tomoko Ichitani

What does it mean for art to encounter the Post-Fukushima world? How can aesthetic practices tackle the present social and political reality with a view to creating new and alternative mindsets? By posing these questions, various artists and writers both within and beyond Japan have responded to the catastrophic 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Seminar 8

Centenary of Japanese Language

Day and time: Tuesday 9 April 2019, 6-7pm
Title: Women's Challenges at work in Japan
Speaker: Dr Emma Dalton, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Venue: Old Geology, Theatre 2, Parkville Campus, University of Melbourne

Japanese society remains a deeply gender-unequal one. International rankings such as those carried out by the World Economic Forum consistently rank Japan as one of the most gender-unequal countries in the developed world. When it comes to health and education,there is little if any gender gap. The main reason for Japan's low results in these ranking systems is inequality between men and women in the realms of political and economic empowerment. This lecture takes a look at women's status in the workforce, and considers the inequalities between men and women as well as the inequalities between women. What have the consequences of labour-market deregulations since the 1990s been on working women?

Why does the gendered division of labour in households persist? How has the #metoo movement developed in Japan with relation to sexual harassment at work? By exploring these questions and more,this lecture will shed light on women's status at work in Japan today.

Seminar 7, part 2

Day and time: Tuesday 12 March 2019
Title: Film Screening, "I want to go home"
Speaker: Miki Hawkinson

Seminar 7

Day and time: Tuesday 12 March 2019
Title: Reinventing Fukushima: Post-Disaster Recovery and the Japanese Energy Transition
Speaker: Professor Miranda Schreurs, Technical University of Munich, Germany

Seminar 6

Day and time: Monday 17 September 2018
Title: Japan Studies in the 21st Century
Speaker: Professor Philip Seaton, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Seminar 5

Day and time: Wednesday 29 August 2018
Title: Multicultural Japan: Diversity and inclusion in a newly-emerging immigration country
Speakers: Professor Keizo Yamawaki, Meiji University; Professor Koichi Iwabuchi, Monash University; Dr Jeremy Breaden, Monash University; Associate Professor Nana Oishi, The University of Melbourne

Seminar 4

Day and time: Thursday 24 May 2018
Title: Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) attitudes toward refugee resettlement: Evidence from Randomized Experiments in the US and Japan
Speaker: Professor Yusaku Horiuchi, Dartmouth College

Seminar 3

Day and time: Tuesday 17 April 2018
Title: The Japanese nature of describing the colour of things
Speaker: Dr Olivia Meehan, Ian Potter Museum of Art

Seminar 2

Day and time: Tuesday 13 March 2018
Title: Fukushima Fallout: The Proponents and Opponents of the Japan-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
Speaker: Dr Caitlin Stronell, Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, Tokyo

Seminar 1

Day and time: Tuesday 1 August 2017
Title: Collective Memory, Multidisciplinarity, Public Sociology: Japan and China's Islands of Contention
Professor Tim Liao, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Facilitated by Professor Akihiro Ogawa