Japan and the World - Episode 2
In the second of a new series of podcasts on Japan and the World, launched at Chatham House, Dr John Nilsson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House, speaks to Robert M. Orr, US Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank (2010-16), about the significance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as part of Japan's regional and global diplomacy.
The speakers discuss why the ADB has been an opportunity for Japan to play a leadership role in an international organization, and also consider whether it is - or is not - a tool for Japanese economic interests or part of a wider agenda for regional economic development. They also explore the emergence of its potential rival, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and how Asia views the possibility of Donald Trump winning the US presidential election later on this year.
The Big Sleep
The Japanese don’t sleep. This is what everyone – the Japanese above all – say. It’s not true, of course. But as a cultural and sociological statement, it is very interesting.
The Japanese don’t sleep. They don’t nap. They do inemuri. Dr Brigitte Steger, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies, explains all in an article in the latest issue of the University of Cambridge alumni magazine Cam77.
This article has also been published on the BBC Worldwide website and translated into Turkish, Spanish, Hausa, Indonesian, Persian, and other languages.
Dr Steger's research on social and cultural aspects of sleep, mainly in Japan is described (with a selection of links) on the Japanese & Korean Studies Research Group web site.
Mikael Adolphson to host Japan culture cruise
Prof. Mikael Adolphson, Keidanren Professor and Chair of Japanese Studies, will host 13-day culture cruise aboard the 57-cabin Caledonian Sky in April 2017.
Cruise through the Inland Sea and the Sea of Japan on a delightful springtime exploration of Japan, with time ashore in both Kyoto and Tokyo. This small nation of nearly 7,000 islands is wonderfully suited for exploration by small ship, and our chartered vessel, the 57-cabin Caledonian Sky, conveys us comfortably to a fascinating variety of tranquil historic towns, artistic centers, and remote islands that larger ships cannot access.
Experience dramatic coastlines, sacred temples, celebrated gardens, and cutting-edge art and architecture. Meet and interact with a kabuki actor and the owner of a traditional geisha house, take part in a traditional tea ceremony, attend a private performance of sacred bugaku dance, and travel on Japan’s high-speed rail (the shinkansen, or “bullet train”). Also participate in a hands-on taiko drum workshop with the world-famous Kodo drummers on Sado Island, and marvel at the stunning iconic beauty of Miyajima’s torii gate.
You will learn about the culture, art, architecture, and history of Japan on daily shore excursions and during an enriching lecture program with AIA lecturer and host Mikael Adolphson, a Professor of Japanese Studies and an expert in pre-1600 Japan, as well as other onboard experts. An optional pre-cruise extension to Kurashiki and Naoshima, and an optional post-cruise extension to Kamakura and Hakone, are also available.
For more information see the cruise flyer.
Chinese Studies Undergraduate Publishes First Article in International History Journal
Gregor McMillan, an undergraduate of St John's College and a finalist of Chinese Studies recently published his first article Trading on Chinese Shores: The Indo-China Steam Navigation Company and change in the China coastal shipping market 1880-1900 in the International Journal of Maritime History (IJMH). The article, which was originally examined as part of the C.8 China and Globalisation paper, analyses the development of shipping and trading infrastructure on the Chinese coast between 1880-1900, arguing that the technological and commodity changes over this period fundamentally altered the freight market in a way that damaged the operations of large companies like Swire and Jardine Matheson.
The International Journal of Maritime History is a fully refereed quarterly publication covering maritime history, and that students can publish in specialist journals while studying Chinese speaks for both the diversity of options available to FAMES students, and the quality of teaching in the course. All students must submit a 12,000 word dissertation to complete their degree, while the 8,000 word 'mini-dissertation' is an optional paper.
Each year dissertations are published, or otherwise form the starting point for future Masters or Doctoral research. Students may work on any aspect of Chinese society, economics, history, literature or classics that interests them - Gregor submitted his on the development of China's commercial fleet in the pre-reform era, working with recently released Chinese language government annals.
Navigating Historical Tensions: Pragmatic Leadership, Empathy, and the United States Factor in Japan-South Korea Relations
Dr John Nilsson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House, writes a substantial contribution to the Asan Forum "Special Forum" on US-Japanese relations and the "US-Japan-South Korea Triangle" in particular.
Sherzod Muminov awarded Murayama Tsuneo Prize
Sherzod Muminov, a postdoctoral research associate in the ERC-funded project, The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia, at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, has been awarded the 2016 inaugural Murayama Tsuneo Prize for the Promotion of Research into the Siberian Internment. The Centre for Supporting the Siberian Internees and Recording their Experiences, an NGO that administers the prize, announced the decision of the selection committee on 19th April, 2016.
A committee consisting of leading Japanese historians of the internment, journalists from the major national newspapers, as well as former Siberian internees, acknowledged Muminov’s contribution to international research on the Siberian Internment. Muminov, who recently completed his PhD at Cambridge, has also spent fourteen months as a Japan Foundation Japanese Studies Fellow (2013-2014) at Hosei University in Tokyo. His PhD dissertation, titled "Eleven Winters of Discontent: The Siberian Internment and the Making of the New Japan, 1945-1956,” studies the captivity of the Japanese in the USSR based on a wide range of multilingual sources, including memoirs in Japanese and Soviet archival documents. The award ceremony will be held in Tokyo’s Seiryo Kaikan Hall on 11th May, the second anniversary of Murayama Tsuneo’s death.
The Murayama Tsuneo Prize for the Promotion of Research into the Siberian Internment was established in 2015 to honour the work and achievements of the late Murayama Tsuneo, a former Japanese POW in the Soviet Union who spent years documenting the internment of Japanese former soldiers in the Siberian camps. Murayama, who passed away at the age of 88 in 2014, was well-known among the community and families of Japanese returnees from Siberia for compiling the name lists of 46,300 Japanese citizens who lost their lives during the Siberian captivity.
Mujeeb Khan receives Aoi Global Research Award
On 21st January, 2016 Mujeeb Khan, a Graduate Student at the Faculty, received the Aoi Global Research Award from the Aoi Scholarship Foundation in a short ceremony at its headquarters in Nakano, Tokyo.
In Michaelmas 2015 Mujeeb attended the Aoi Luncheon at Cambridge with last year's awardee, Aiko Otsuka, members from the Aoi Scholarship Foundation , and faculty members from the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
On 1st February, 2016 he gave an academic talk in Japanese entitled "Japan as seen through Ishinpō" at Keio University's Hiyoshi Campus at the Graduate School of System Design and Management, to which he is officially affiliated as a research student for the duration of his stay, coordinated through the Aoi Global Research Award Program.
Mujeeb has consequently featured in a recent edition of the Aoi Scholarship Foundation magazine.
Adam Chau to join the UCSIA summer school on Public Religion, Spirituality and Lifestyle
Dr Adam Yuet Chau, University Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Modern China, will join the UCSIA summer school on Public Religion, Spirituality and Lifestyle as a guest lecturer this year, 28th August – 4th September, 2016 in Antwerp, Belgium. In this year’s programme, the summer school will discuss issues and questions arising from new emerging forms of religion and the way these emerge, contrast and complement existing religious histories and structures. Other guest lecturers include Candy Gunther Brown (Religious Studies, Indiana University), Thijl Sunier (Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, VU University Amsterdam) and Linda Woodhead (Sociology of Religion, Lancaster University).
The Media and How it Shapes History in East Asia
Dr Barak Kushner, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History, and Professor Rana Mitter (Oxford University) ran their second annual Toshiba Foundation-funded international conference at the University of Cambridge on media and how it shapes history in East Asia, with a special emphasis on Korea and Taiwan. Participants from East Asia and Europe gathered over several days to engage in intense discussions concerning the role of media (including social media and cyberspace) in East Asia and whether it has an impact on how audiences conceive of their national agendas and identities. We invited academics, journalists, and those whose profession lies somewhere in between, including think tank experts and media observers, to spend a few days in extended debates on these issues. The goal of the conference was to provide a venue to engage those in media and those consuming and investigating it to examine the many ways in which contemporary news, television, print journalism, and new social media shape the manner in which inhabitants of East Asia (China, Taiwan, North and South Korea, Japan) understand their own history and comprehend the region.
Overlap and Divergence in American and European Approaches to the Korean Peninsula
Dr John Nilsson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, speaks to Jenna Gibson, Director of Communications at the Korean Economic Institute of America, in this podcast about the differing approaches to North and South Korea found in Europe and America.
Signing ceremony with the Taipei Representative Office
The Department of East Asian Studies was delighted to renew its agreement with the Taiwanese Ministry of Education on our Mandarin Lector Project which now enters its sixteenth year.
After the ceremony, the flowers from the event were donated to the Arthur Rank Hospice:
Japan and the World - Episode 1
Dr John Nilsson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, speaks to Bill Emmott and Masayuki Tadokoro about Japan's changing regional and international role in the first of a new series of podcasts on Japan and the World, launched at Chatham House. In the face of new challenges, Japan's government is becoming more active in foreign affairs. The speakers explore Japan's relationship with the UK, territorial disputes with China, the nuclear threat from North Korea and who the Japanese government might like to see win the upcoming US election.
Matthew Shores Invited to Speak in Rome
Dr Matthew Shores, University Lecturer in Japanese, who specializes in Japanese comic storytelling (rakugo), has been invited to speak at the symposium “Words as Performance: Oral Narratives, Poetry and Storytelling in Japan,” which will be held at the Istituto Italiano Di Studi Orientali Iso, Sapienza Universita Di Roma, 23rd-24th March, 2016. Dr Shores’ talk is titled “Performing Food in Rakugo.” The symposium will also feature prominent scholars of Japan, such as Nobuhiro Shinji (University of Tokyo) and Haruo Shirane (Columbia University), and others.
Eight things people get wrong about North Korea
For one of the world's most secret societies, there is a constant stream of news about North Korea. There's been a lot of noise surrounding its nuclear programme because leader Kim Jong-un says his country's weapons should be ready to use "at any time". So is that true? And what of all the other claims about enforced haircuts and unicorns?
The Animal and the Daemon in Early China
A Chinese translation of the book The Animal and the Daemon in Early China by Prof. Roel Sterckx, Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science and Civilization, has now been published by Jiangxi rennin chubanshe (Chinese language site).
Exploring the cultural perception of animals in early Chinese thought, this reading of Warring States and Han dynasty writings analyzes how views of animals were linked to human self perception and investigates the role of the animal world in the conception of ideals of sagehood and socio-political authority.
It shows how perceptions of the animal world influenced early Chinese views of man’s place among the living species and in the world at large and argues that the classic Chinese perception of the world did not insist on clear categorical or ontological boundaries between animals, humans, and other creatures such as ghosts and spirits.
The book was first published in English by the State University of New York Press.
Translating Chinese Tradition and Teaching Tangut Culture
Dr Imre Galambos, University Lecturer in Pre-modern Chinese Studies, has published a monograph on Tangut language and culture "Translating Chinese Tradition and Teaching Tangut Culture: Manuscripts and Printed Books from Khara-Khoto".
This book is about Tangut translations of Chinese literary texts. Although most of the extant Tangut material comprises Buddhist texts, there are also many non-religious texts, which are mostly translations from Chinese. The central concern is how the Tanguts appropriated Chinese written culture through translation and what their reasons for this were. The book also draws attention to the significant body of Chinese literature that exists in Tangut translation, especially since the originals of some of these texts are now lost.
The monograph is available in hardcover and e-book formats from De Gruyter in their series: Studies in Manuscript Cultures.
International Prize for Arabic Fiction
Prof. Yasir Suleiman, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Sa'id Professor of Modern Arabic Studies, is chairman of board of trustees of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, the "Arabic Bookers". This is one of the most prestigious and important literary prizes in the Arab world. Its aim is to reward excellence in contemporary Arabic creative writing and to encourage the readership of high quality Arabic literature internationally through the translation and publication of winning and shortlisted novels in other major languages. The shortlist for this year's prize was recently announced. The two videos linked below are from the shortlist press conference:
Adam Chau on Mao's Golden Mangoes
Dr Adam Yuet Chau, University Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Modern China, spoke on the BBC Radio 4 programme Mao's Golden Mangoes broadcast as part of the "Seriously..." series of documentaries.
South Korea: The Silent Cultural Superpower
Dr John Nilsson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, featured in a BBC program on South Korea as a cultural power hosted by Professor Rana Mitter of Oxford (a former Oriental Studies faculty student) and also featuring some comments by Chris Green, a former Cambridge East Asian Studies PhD student.
The UK, Japan and the Changing International Order
Dr John Nilsson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, chaired a discussion with Bill Emmott, former editor of the Economist and Prof. Masayuki Tadokoro of Keio University at an event to launch the speakers’ co-authored essay entitled "The UK, Japan and the Changing International Order".
John Nilsson-Wright on the North Korean Kaesong issue
Dr John Nilsson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, was interviewed on the BBC World News about the situation at the Kaesong industrial zone in North Korea following the recent missile test.
Samar Mezghanni Opening the ECOSOC Youth Forum
Laura Moretti at international symposium on Japanese palaeography
Dr Laura Moretti, University Lecturer in Pre-Modern Japanese Studies, has been invited to the international symposium 読みたい！日本の古典籍 that will take place at Osaka University on 17th February, 2016. She will be presenting the work that she does for the Graduate Summer School in Japanese Palaeography and will discuss the intellectual ramifications of this project.
The international symposium features Japanese and Western scholars who work in the area of Japanese pre-modern and early-modern palaeography. It is part of a large-scale project financed by the Japanese Government to promote the study and the understanding of Japanese pre-modern materials both within and outside Japan.
The Graduate Summer School in Japanese Palaeography gathers young graduate students, scholars and museum curators from around the world once a year for a two-week intense training in Japanese early-modern palaeography that takes place at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
See details of the programme at: http://www.let.osaka-u.ac.jp/ja/research/community/gakkai/iikura_20150217
For more information on the Graduate Summer School in Japanese Palaeography visit: http://wakancambridge.com/
Matthew Shores to Direct Summer Traditional Theater Training Program in Kyoto
Matthew Shores, University Lecturer in Japanese, has been asked to return to Kyoto this summer to direct the 32nd annual Traditional Theater Training (T.T.T.) 2016, held at the Kyoto Art Center.
T.T.T. is a three-week summer intensive training program that introduces the traditional arts of Noh, Kyogen, and Nihonbuyō. The program is based on the practice-recital approach, and aims to allow participants from all over the world to learn the skills and spirit of traditional performing arts.
This year’s program is scheduled to begin in late July and end in early August. Application will be open from February 2016 and discounts are given to early applications, students, and artists.
Roel Sterckx discusses Chinese Legalism on 'In our Time'.
Iranian national T.V recently highlighted Dr Mahbod Ghaffari's visit to Iran
Barak Kushner's new book reviewed
Men to Devils, Devils to Men: Japanese War Crimes and Chinese Justice (Harvard University Press, 2015), the latest book by Dr Barak Kushner, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History, considers what happened in the wake of Japan's surrender, looking closely at diplomatic and military efforts to bring "Japanese imperial behavior" to justice.
The book has been reviewed at New Books in East Asian Studies.
François Godement in conversation with John Swenson-Wright
In light of the EU’s ongoing weapons exports to the region, François Godement discusses with Dr John Swenson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and Head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House, the European Union’s position on the territorial disputes in the East and South China Sea and the question of whether Europe could play a more active role, either through balancing military strengths within the region or by reducing military exports.
Matthew Shores interviewed about Japanese comic storytelling
Dr Matthew Shores, Lecturer in Japanese Literature, was interviewed by NHK, Japan's national public broadcasting organisation, on 23rd July, 2015. He was asked about his research on World War II-era rakugo (comic storytelling), which he is currently conducting at the Osaka Prefectural Archive of Kamigata Comedy and Performing Arts with support from the Faculty and the Japan Foundation. The interview will be aired in a segment on NHK Osaka on 5th August, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.
Deokhyo Choi PhD dissertation wins ICAS Humanities prize
We recently received news that Deokhyo Choi's 2013 PhD dissertation from Cornell won the ICAS Dissertation Prize 2015 in the Humanities. The prize committee noted:
Deokhyo Choi, Crucible of the Post-Empire: Decolonization, Race, and Cold War Politics in U.S.-Japan-Korea Relations, 1945-1952
This exceptionally rich study examines the complex interrelated histories of decolonization in Korea and Japan in relation to U.S.-Japan-South Korea Cold War containment policies. The dissertation is groundbreaking in its radical departure from conventional historiographies that analyze the U.S. and Soviet occupations of Korea (1945-1948) and the U.S./Allied occupation of Japan (1945-1952) as separate national histories. Instead, Choi takes the “Korean minority question” as his primary methodological site, and convincingly shows how an inter- and transnational framework reveals fundamentally new insights into post-Empire Japan and Korea. The outcomes of his work will significantly impact the field of East Asian history at large.
Dr Choi is currently working at the Faculty as a Research Associate on Dr Barak Kushner's project "The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia, 1945-1965".
Barak Kushner interviewed in Mainichi Shimbun
Dr Barak Kushner, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History, was interviewed about his new book, Men to Devils, Devils to Men: Japanese War Crimes and Chinese Justice (Harvard University Press, 2015), for a column in one of Japan’s leading newspapers, the Mainichi Shimbun. The article appeared on 21st June, 2015.
John Swenson-Wright interviews Lee Hae-chan
Dr John Swenson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and Head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House, interviews Lee Hae-chan, former Prime Minister of South Korea in this podcast from Chatham House. Prime Minister Lee also spoke at the Faculty recently.
Amal Marogy on Christian persecution in the Middle East
Dr Amal Marogy spoke to BBC World News about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and what she thought was likely to happen to the Christian communities in the region, as well as their cultural heritage.
Fear politics not helping North Korean leader
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s “fear politics” will eventually weaken his power base, writes Dr John Swenson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and Head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House, in a recent interview for the Korea Times.
What Lies Behind North Korea's Nuclear Claims?
Official claims by North Korea that it has successfully developed the technology to "miniaturise" a nuclear device and, by implication, deploy it on a ballistic missile, have raised international concerns about the growing security threat posed by North Korea to its neighbours.
Barak Kushner Discusses Ramen on Japanese TV
Dr Barak Kushner, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History, along with Japanese studies students Oliver White, Nick Sinclair, Sakari Mesimaki and Emily McMahon were interviewed about ramen and Japan on the popular Japanese show 世界不思議発見 (The World's Amazing Discoveries!), which aired on May 16, 2015.
Disillusionment with Japan
From devastation in 1945 through vigorous growth and increasing riches to stagnation, is that the story of Japan over the last 70 years? Doubts about Japan’s future seem inevitable.
A recent collection of 15 essays by Japanese and foreign experts, “Examining Japan’s Lost Decades,” edited by Yoichi Funabashi and Dr Barak Kushner, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History, is reviewed in the Japan Times by Hugh Cortazzi who served as Britain’s ambassador to Japan from 1980-1984.
Aiko Otsuka receives first Aoi Global Research Award
The Japanese studies section is pleased to announce the launch of a new scholarship, initiated in October 2014, generously provided by the Aoi Foundation of Japan of Japan. Each year we will be able to offer ¥500,000 to one postgraduate student in Japanese Studies. See further details.
The first recipient of this prestigious award was Aiko Otsuka (right), who is currently conducting research on the memory and narrative of defeat within the postwar Japanese military. Aiko writes:
As part of my PhD thesis in Japanese history, I have been working on the identity of military officers and soldiers who fought in the Asia-Pacific theatre during WWII. A generous grant from the Aoi Scholarship Foundation enabled me to conduct extensive archival research in Tokyo, Japan, in the spring of 2015 and to travel frequently to important archives, such as the Yasukuni Archives (Yasukuni Kaiko Bunko), the Military Archives in the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) and the National Archives of Japan. As a result of this research experience I was able to identify and collect a substantial amount of essential military-related materials from the period between the 1930s and the 1960s.
For more details on Aiko’s research see the project research page.
Aiko's award has also been featured in the Aoi scholarship newsletter, vol.90 (December 2014):
Chinese Studies graduate Helen Pittam publishes joint paper with Robert Weatherley
Helen Pittam, who graduated with a First in Chinese Studies in 2013, has published a joint article with Robert Weatherley. The article examines the debate amongst Chinese legal experts over the recent practise of death penalty criminal reconciliation. This is a process which seeks to reconcile an offender convicted of a capital offence with the victim by requiring the offender to meet with, apologise and pay economic compensation to the victim in exchange for a death sentence commuted to life in prison. The article has been published in the journal Asian Perspective.
Governing Complex Energy Systems: Challenges and Strategies for Japan and the UK
Dr John Swenson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and Head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House, organised this event at Chatham House. Among the participants was Dr Barak Kushner, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History.
The event considered lessons from governance failure following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, highlighting the role of popular opinion and interest groups in the debate, and discussing the nature of government decision-making in the country. The event also considered issues of energy and democracy, both in the UK and Japan, to establish whether public needs can be reflected within current governance structures, and what the alternatives might be.
Laura Moretti receives CUSU student-led teaching award
Dr Laura Moretti, University Lecturer in Pre-modern Japanese Studies, has been given a student-led teaching award by the Cambridge University Student Union. Students were invited to nominate the lecturers, supervisors, pastoral or student support staff that have really enhanced their education. Dr Moretti has been given an award in the lecturer category, for her enthusiasm and engagement with her students as a lecturer.
The awards are a unique opportunity for students to recognise the exceptional contribution their teachers have made to their education at Cambridge. Any student at Cambridge is able to nominate, and the judging is carried out by a panel of students working alongside the Students’ Union. When submitting a nomination, students are asked to explain why their chosen member of staff should receive an award- these testimonies enable the awards to be judged and highlight the outstanding contribution of so many teachers within the university.
Dr Luke Skrebowski blogs on Xu Bing's Bird Language
Luke Skrebowski (University Lecturer in the History of Art Department) Writes in a blog for the University's Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities(CRASSH) that "In Bird Language Xu presents a fusion of Installation art and an ancient Chinese cultural tradition". The installation by Xu Bing, CRASSH Humanitas Visiting Professor in Chinese Studies, is on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge until Sunday, 31st May.
Barak Kushner interviewed by Oriental Morning Post
Into the mist: the secret history of KMT-Japanese collaboration
Following the defeat in the Chinese civil war, Chiang Kai-shek needed military advisers to train Taiwanese soldiers in modern warfare. So he reached out to some Japanese officers — much to the chagrin of the US.
Foreign Policy Opportunities – Security Cooperation with Japan
Dr John Swenson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and Head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House proposes, in an election brief published on the Chatham House website, that the next UK government take advantage of Japan’s more assertive defence posture to deepen bilateral security links.
Hans van de Ven interviewed in Nanfang Zhoumo
China, Japan and South Korea Struggle to Overcome Historical Divisions
The recent meeting in Seoul between the foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea has raised hopes of renewed cooperation, but the countries remain sharply divided by history.
University of Tokyo Workshop on the Future of Security
The Security Studies Unit (SSU) and the Policy Alternatives Research Institute of the University of Tokyo organised and hosted a Workshop on the Future of Security on 30th & 31st January, 2015.
The workshop extended over two consecutive days with five closed sessions and a public session entitled Towards Common Security In East Asia.
Dr John Swenson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and Head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House, was a featured participant.
The Role of the Nation-State in Addressing Global Challenges: Japan–UK Perspectives
As part of the UK-Japan Global Seminar Series, four experts offer different perspectives on how Japan and the UK can respond to the challenges of failing states, natural and man-made disasters and complex democratic transitions.
Report, edited by Dr John Swenson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and Head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House, from a Conference organised by Chatham House. This report is also available in a Japanese language version.
A Cultural History of Translation in Early Modern Japan
Cambridge University Press have published the book "A Cultural History of Translation in Early Modern Japan" by Dr Rebekah Clements, AMES Director of Studies for Corpus Christie College and recently a research associate in the Faculty.
Japan Copes with Calamities
Four years after the 3.11 disaster in Japan, this acclaimed collection of ethnographies in English on the Japanese communities affected by the giant Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters continues to be the only one of its kind. With a new preface offering an update on the affected communities, this volume brings together studies by experienced researchers of Japan from field sites around the disaster zone. The contributors present the survivors’ struggles in their own words: from enduring life in shelters and temporary housing, through re-creating the fishing industry, to rebuilding life-ways and relationships bruised by bereavement. They contrast the sudden brutal loss of life from the tsunami with the protracted anxiety about exposure to radiation and study the battle to protect children, family and a way of life from the effects of destruction, displacement and discrimination. The local communities’ encounters with volunteers and journalists who poured into Tohoku after the disaster and the campaign to win compensation from the state and nuclear industry are also explored. This volume offers insights into the social fabric of rural communities in north-eastern Japan and suggests how the human response to disaster may be improved in the future.
Sakari Mesimäki places second in Japanese speech contest
Sakari Mesimäki, a 4th-year student reading Japanese in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, participated as a finalist in the 10th Japanese Speech Contest for University Students, co-organised by the Japan Foundation and the British Association for Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language (BATJ).
Mesimäki and five other finalists (students from Leeds University, Newcastle University, SOAS, and University of Sheffield) were shortlisted after submitting written applications and taking telephone interviews. The final contest was held on Saturday, 28th February, 2015 at Regent's University, London.
Japan’s Lost 25 years
Dr Barak Kushner, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History, hosted a workshop in Japanese with Professor Suh Kyungsik on Korean issues in contemporary Japan as part of the "Warcrimes and Empire" ERC project.
Michael Shin book receives Choice magazine accolade
The book Everyday Life in Joseon-Era Korea edited and co-translated by Dr Michael D. Shin, Lecturer in Korean Studies, was named a 2014 "Outstanding Academic Title" by Choice Magazine, which was announced in the January 2015 issue.
Choice is a publication of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association. Founded in 1964, Choice has for over 50 years been the premier source for reviews of academic books and digital resources of interest to scholars and students in higher education.
The Choice subject editors recognize the most significant titles reviewed each calendar year by compiling the “Outstanding Academic Titles” (OAT) list, which is published each January in Choice magazine and on Choice Reviews Online.
Oman Radio interviews Yasir Suleiman
Oman Radio interviewed (in Arabic) Prof. Yasir Suleiman, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Sa'id Professor of Modern Arabic Studies, about His Chair at Cambridge and the state of the Arabic language. A recording is available on YouTube.
The Media and How it Shapes History in East Asia
Dr Barak Kushner (University of Cambridge) and Professor Rana Mitter (Oxford University) ran a Toshiba Foundation-funded international conference from Friday, 30th January to Sunday, 1st February, 2015 at the University of Cambridge on "The media and how it shapes history in East Asia".
Participants from China, Japan, Europe and America gathered over several days to discuss, debate, and converse about a variety of key issues related to media in East Asia and its interaction with history. Attendees spent a few days in intense and productive meetings, bolstered by informed exchanges of opinions between academics who analyze the media and those within the industry who produce and create it.
The goal of the conference was to provide a venue to engage those in media and those consuming and investigating it to examine the many ways in which contemporary news, television, print journalism, and new social media shape the manner in which inhabitants of East Asia (China, Taiwan, North and South Korea, Japan) see their own history, understand their regional histories, and employ it to reflect on the past and present.
Photos and more details on the conference web site.
Japan hostage killing: Critical test for PM Shinzo Abe
The announcement of the killing of Kenji Goto, the second of two Japanese hostages captured by Islamic State (IS) militants, represents a major political challenge for the Japanese administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Japan election: Comfortable win for the ruling coalition
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has won a decisive victory in Sunday's elections to the lower house of the Japanese parliament.
Professor Roel Sterckx to deliver distinguished lecture series at Fudan University
Barak Kushner in Nihon Keizai Shimbun
North Korea: Where is Kim Jong-un?
Kim Jong-un, North Korea's 32-year-old leader, has been absent from public view for more than 38 days, prompting a flurry of speculation about the political stability of a regime notorious for its opaqueness and secrecy.
Barak Kushner keynote talk
Dr Barak Kushner, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History, will be giving a keynote talk at an international conference in Japan concerning: "2020, What Message Can Japan Deliver to the World."
Barak Kushner radio interview on Ramen
In Japan there is only one word internationally renowned for meaning noodle soup – ramen. There are other noodle dishes but none have had the power to launch international industries, attract hundreds of millions of customers, or have dozens of comic books, songs and movies produced in loving devotion. While the world sees ramen as an icon of Japanese cuisine, it is actually is a dish that speaks volumes about the evolution of Japan and its historical relations with China. Japanese modern cuisine grew out of a mixture of adapting to new political and social pressures in the 19th century, which later restructured its own national diet as it emerged from post-WWII ruins. All the while, in the background, were the fundamental elements – ingredients and dishware that Japan had incorporated over the previous centuries from the Asian mainland. It is in this intersection between a national renovation of taste and historical forces which made the arrival of ramen possible. It began as a lower class-noodle dish and then emerged as one of the most popular “convenience dishes” to hit East Asia and the world market. Instant ramen followed in the 1950s and that further galvanized consumer delight. Looking at Japanese food history, particularly the development of ramen, helps us understand contemporary Japan and its transformation into a food-obsessed nation, far different from what its cultural origins and traditional image would suggest. In the end, a bowl of ramen noodle soup is much more than a wad of noodles served in a flavorsome broth with a variety of toppings and seasonings. Ramen is a microcosm of East Asian history, and as such a most delicious way to combine digesting a new way to grasp why people eat in Japan the way they do and learn about history with the ends of your chopsticks. Lastly, don’t be afraid to slurp – that is the sign that the dish is piping hot and ready to be eaten.
What Japan's military shift means
The administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced a major new interpretation of the security provisions of the country's 1947 constitution, permitting its Self Defence Forces (SDF) to participate for the first time in collective self-defence related activities.
North Korea: the perennial crisis state?
On Friday, 30th May, 2014 Dr John Swenson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and Head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House, appeared at the Hay Hestival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales to talk about the developing crisis surrounding the government rhetoric and the military activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. His talk can be heard online here.
Cambridge vice-chancellor Leszek Borysiewicz attacks immigration curbs
Britain's increasingly hostile tone on migration risks creating a perception among students that it is not a welcoming country to study in, the vice-chancellor of Cambridge University has said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.
Patterns of Protest in Hebrew Culture
The first Cambridge graduate conference in Modern Hebrew took place on Tuesday, 6th May, 2014. Organised by Zehavit Zaslansky, PhD Student in Middle Eastern Studies, and Dr Yaron Peleg, Kennedy Leigh Lecturer in Modern Hebrew Studies, the event "Patterns of Protest in Hebrew Culture: Memory Agents and Representation" centred on the role of protest in Hebrew culture, and included presentations by young researchers from the UK and Israel, as well as a talk by artist Michael Druks.
John Swenson-Wright on the 1980 uprising in South Korea
Dr John Swenson-Wright, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, appeared on the BBC World Service programme, The History Hour, commenting on the events of 1980 and the significance of student protest in the Republic of Korea and its impact on political change in South Korea. The programme also looked at other world events of 1980 including the assassination of Rajiv Ghandi, the first Papal visit to a synagogue, saving Russian soldiers in Chechnya, and student riots in Indonesia.
Charles Melville discusses The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Prof. Charles Melville, Professor of Persian History, was featured in the edition of In Our Time broadcast on on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday, 22nd May, discussing the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam with Melvyn Bragg.
Eivind Kahrs & Tony Brinkman win CUSU TEA Awards
These awards celebrate excellent teaching and student engagement. Students have the opportunity to nominate lecturers, supervisors, administrators and other staff who were exemplary teachers and mentors.
The received their awards at a ceremony held in the University Combination Room on Friday, 9th May.
The Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45
Dr Barak Kushner, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History, was among the expert guests on Melvyn Bragg's BBC Radio 4 programme "In Our Time" when it recently addressed the subject of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45.
After several years of rising tension, and the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, full-scale war between Japan and China broke out in the summer of 1937. The Japanese captured many major Chinese ports and cities, but met with fierce resistance, despite internal political divisions on the Chinese side. When the Americans entered the war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese found themselves fighting on several fronts simultaneously, and finally capitulated in August 1945. This notoriously brutal conflict left millions dead and had far-reaching consequences for international relations in Asia.
Cooks and ancestors: the politics of food in imperial China
Roel Sterckx, Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science and Civilization, gave a public lecture at the festival "La Storia in Piazza" held in the Doge's Palace in Genoa, Italy. The hour-long lecture was filmed and may be viewed on the festival website. After the introductions in Italian, Prof. Sterckx gives his talk "in the language of Shakespeare".
North Korea Train Station Explosion
Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, featured in an episode of the BBC World Service programme The History Hour dealing with an explosion, in April 2004, at a train station in North Korea. The explosion killed around 170 people and destroyed thousands of homes and, in a rare moment of openness, authorities in Pyongyang asked the United Nations for help.
Roel Sterckx - Race Equality Champion
Roel Sterckx, Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science and Civilization, has been appointed the University's new Race Equality Champion. He will work closely with the Equality & Diversity section within the Human Resources Division of the University's Unified Administrative Service to facilitate and promote internal research and policy-based initiatives on race equality.
Japan revises textbooks to 'boost' island claims
Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, recently gave an interview with FRANCE 24 on Japanese textbook revisions and the growing tensions this has provoked with Japan's Chinese and South Korean neighbours.
Making China Strong & the Rise of Republican Fever in the PRC
Dr Robert Weatherley, Affiliated Lecturer in Chinese Politics, has recently published a book entitled "Making China Strong: The Role of Nationalism in Chinese Thinking on Democracy and Human Rights" (Palgrave). Robert has also won the prize for best article to be published in China Information during 2013. The article is entitled "The Rise of Republican Fever in the PRC and the Implications for CCP Legitimacy" and was co-authored with Zhang Qiang.
North Korea poll: Politics or propaganda?
North Koreans have been voting for a new parliament, or Supreme People's Assembly. The elections are the first in five years, and the first to be held since Kim Jong-un came to power. Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, was a guest on a recent Al Jazeera Inside Story report.
The Cold War and its Aftermath: Japanese Foreign Policy and Security Policy under the Abe Administration
On Wednesday, 12th February, 2014 Professor Nobumasa Akiyama of Hitotsubashi University, Japan gave a talk entitled "The Cold War and its Aftermath: Japanese Foreign Policy and Security Policy under the Abe Administration". The talk was given at a seminar organised by Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, and Dr Barak Kushner, University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History, as part of the Faculty's graduate course on The Cold War and its Aftermath. Also in attendance was Minister Noriyuki Shikata, Political Minister of the Embassy of Japan in the UK.
Learning to Slurp: History, Noodles and Popular Culture in Japan
Philanthropist Bita Daryabari Announces $2M Endowment of Shahnama Project & Centre
Global philanthropist and humanitarian Bita Daryabari has announced a new $2 million (US) endowment for the Shahnama Project, based in the Shahnama Centre at Pembroke College. The Project was established by Prof. Charles Melville, Professor of Persian History, and the Centre is directed by Dr Firuza Abdullaeva.
The benefaction will help fund the Project's continued research and study of the epic poem, the Shahnama or The Book of Kings by Abu'l-Qasim Hasan Firdausi, the emblematic text of Persian historical culture. With 50,000 verses, it is the longest composed poem by a single author.
Breaking with the Past: The Maritime Customs Service and the Global Origins of Modernity in China
The latest book by Prof. Hans van de Ven, Professor of Modern Chinese History, has now been published by Columbia University Press.
Breaking with the Past: The Maritime Customs Service and the Global Origins of Modernity in China is now available on Amazon as a hardcover book (price £32.28 in the UK) or as a Kindle e-book (price £24.21 in the UK).
Charles Melville gives keynote address to open Shahnama seminar
Prof. Charles Melville, Professor of Persian History, delivered the keynote address at the inaugural session of an international seminar on "Shahnama of Firdawsi" hosted by the Department of Persian, Aligarh Muslim University. A large number of delegates across the globe are participating in the three-day seminar in the Cultural Hall of Maulana Azad Library.
Prof. Melville said that the Shahnama has a very interesting life in India and several manuscripts of it are available in different Indian libraries. He also pointed out that the Aligarh Muslim University has a valuable collection of its manuscripts and the Maulana Azad Library of the University provides fantastic resources for scholars visiting it from across the globe.
Amira Bennison in Rageh Omar's "Ottomans"
Sources of Early Chinese History
Prof. Roel Stercks, Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, was among the experts discussing the sources for early Chinese history in a recent edition of the Radio 4 cultural programme In Our Time.
The first attempts to make a record of historical events in China date from the Shang dynasty of the second millennium BC. The earliest surviving records were inscribed on bones or tortoise shells; in later centuries, chroniclers left detailed accounts on paper or silk. In the last hundred years, archaeologists have discovered a wealth of new materials, including a cache of previously unknown texts which were found in a sealed cave on the edge of the Gobi Desert. Such sources are are shedding new light on Chinese history, although interpreting ancient sources from the period before the invention of printing presents a number of challenges.
Yasir Suleiman made Ambassador of the University of Sarajevo
Prof. Yasir Suleiman, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Sa'id Professor of Modern Arabic Studies, has been made an Ambassador of the University of Sarajevo. This in recognition of his work in promoting links with the University over the last several years.
Sarajevo was the first venue of the Centre of Islamic Studies' "Cambridge in.." series in May 2011
and since then several of its staff have visited Cambridge conferences, workshops and training events organised by the Centre or supported by its scholarships.
More info and photos from the award are available on the Centre's website.
Pride and propaganda
Mainland China seems to be on a collision course with Japan, and arguably the national mood indicates many are itching for some sort of confrontation. Why the increased hostility and why now?
Two new British Academy Fellows in the Faculty
The removal of Chang Song-thaek
Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, Deapartment of East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, and Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House, contributed two recent pieces to the BBC News website about the removal from power and subsequent execution of the North Korean "powerbroker" Chang Song-thaek:
Barak Kushner interivew on ramen and history in Asashi Shimbun
Dr Barak Kushner, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History, gave a major interview on the the intersection between the history of ramen and Sino-Japan relations to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. The article was published on 9th July 2013. The interview is in Japanese with some festive photos.
What Upper House victory means for Shinzo Abe
Viewpoint article about the recent Japanese election, written for the BBC News website by Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, Deapartment of East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, and Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House.
On 19th June, 2013 the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies welcomed the Taiwan Youth Ambassadors student delegation from National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan during their visit to Cambridge. Further details of the visit.
Prof. Peter Koricki awarded Yamagata Bantô prize
Prof. Peter Kornicki, Professor of Japanese Studies, was awarded the 24th Yamagata Bantô Prize in Osaka in June. This is awarded every three years to foreign scholars working on Japan.
Barak Kushner's writing on the history of ramen wins Sophie Coe Prize for Food History
Slurp! A Social and Culinary History of Ramen - Japan's Favorite Noodle Soup, Barak Kushner's writing on the history of ramen, has won the 2013 Sophie Coe Prize for food history: "This fascinating, well-researched history of the complex factors in the rise of ramen during Japan's quest for modernisation was full of enthusiasm and interest. Drawn from otherwise unavailable sources, this was the obvious choice for our judges, and deservedly takes the £1,500 prize".
John Swenson-Wright co-ordinates UK-Japan Global Seminar at Chatham House
Dr John Swenson-Wright, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations, Deapartment of East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, and Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House, co-ordinated a two-day conference on Japan at Chatham House which coincided with a visit from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The following briefing paper was written with the conference in mind, as well as the visit by the PM:
On 23 May, Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies Richard Bowring was presented with the Order of the Rising Sun (Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon) by His Excellency Mr Hayashi, the Japanese ambassador, at the ambassador's residence in London.
The award was given in recognition of his scholarship in the field of Japanese studies, his stunningly successful fundraising activities to build up Japanese studies at Cambridge and his many contributions to the furthering of Anglo-Japanese relations over many years at Cambridge. Many present and former members of the teaching staff in Japanese studies at Cambridge were present.