Tokyo, Japan

The German Institute for Japanese Studies, 1988-1995

The German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) was officially opened in Tokyo in December 1988. The Institute is part of a long tradition of German research institutes in foreign countries, ranging from the foundation of the German Historical Institute in Rome to the establishment of similar institutions in Beirut (1961), Paris (1958), London (1975), Washington (1987) and Warsaw (1993).
Japan's rapid expansion in recent decades and her highly influential position among the nations of the world today has created a need for a deeper understanding of all aspects of Japanese culture and society. In an effort to respond to this need, in 1988 the Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Technology established a foundation subject to private law in Bonn, to be named after the famous German and European Japanologist, Philipp Franz von Siebold. This foundation is being financed through the federal budget and provides support for the DIJ in Tokyo, which nevertheless maintains its independence with regard to its academic research.

By Josef Kreiner

The main objective of the DIJ is the promotion of mutual understanding between Germany (Europe) and Japan through the study of contemporary culture and society as a whole complex in a multi-disciplinary approach, as well as studies in the history of German (European)-Japanese relations.
Through this effort, the Institute also hopes to contribute to the advancement of Japanese studies in Germany and encourage the next generation of young scholars in the field. At present, the DIJ has a research staff (post graduate) of thirteen members (contracts limited to 3-5 years) representing such different fields as anthropology, sociology, economics, law, geography, literature and linguistics, and awards four to five scholarships a year for graduate students. Staff positions as well as scholarships are open to application to all citizens of the EU.

Multi-dimensional approach
Research at the DIJ is conducted in three concentric circles: the centre is formed by medium and long-term projects in which all or most members share in a multi-disciplinary approach. Grouped around this centre are several short-term projects resulting in work-shops, symposia or exhibitions. In addition, each researcher pursues his or her own special project.
The foremost task of the Institute is a critical review of the models of interpretation of Japanese culture and society which have been brought forward up to now. Most of these models are monocausal in their reasoning and result in monolithic stereotypes. What is needed, is a much more differentiated, multi-dimensional approach which also takes into account the European background of Japanese Studies. In line with these theoretical reflections, the first international symposium in December 1989, organized jointly with Harumi Befu, Stanford, was dedicated to the discussion of possible national approaches to Japanese studies (published as volume 1 of the monograph series by Befu and Kreiner under the title Otherness of Japan, Munich 1992). Currently two other volumes on Traditional Thought in Present-Day Japan (ed Kreiner) and a critical review of Models of Interpretation of Japanese Society (ed Kreiner and Ólschleger) are under preparation. In order to gain a better understanding of very complex and constantly changing Japanese society, as its first long-term project the institute chose the problem of value-change in postwar Japan, concentrating on the questions of individualization and equality of the sexes, in two areas family and work. Among the studies conducted by the research team was a representative opinion poll, which was analysed in co-operation with the Institute of Statistical Mathematics, Tokyo. The final results are available under the title Individualität und Egalität im gegenwärtigen Japan, ed. by Hans Dieter ■lschleger et al., monograph series vol. 7, Munich 1994. For the future, a comparison with the developments in European countries is envisaged, starting with a symposium in Bonn, April 1995. Also planned is research on the differentiation of Japanese society in space, namely its regional variations.
Another medium-term project in which several research members participated was dedicated to aspects of labour, education and human resources. In October 1991 a symposium was held at Tokoku University, Sendai, on Production Strategies and Industrial Relations in the Process of Internationalization (published as vol. 3 of the monograph series under the title New Impacts on Industrial Relations, ed. by Tokunaga, Altmenn and Demes, Munich 1992) and in October 1993 a second one took place in Tokyo on education and career in Japan (published as Gelernte Karriere, ed. Demes and Georg, monograph vol. 9, 1994). In a second stage these central projects are to be replaced by three medium-term studies: value change in comparative view; changes in postwar Japanese society, focusing on the family; and economic policy, technology management and innovation in Japan after World War II. In the latter context, in December 1993 a symposium on The Political Economy of Trade Conflicts was organized in co-operation with Waseda University (published by Waldenberger, Springer Verlag, Heidelberg 1994) and another on the role of Kyushu and Okinawa in the East Asian economic region in July 1994 in Naha, Okinawa. In May 1995 the concluding symposium for this part of our current research took place in Bonn in cooperation with Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft, Cologne.

German-Japanese contacts
In the field of the history of German-Japanese contacts, several short-term studies have been conducted, among them an Engelbert-Kämpfer Symposium and exhibitions in 1990/91; an exhibition Ryukyuan Art Treasures from European and American Collections at the Urasoe Art Museum in September 1991 as well as a workshop on Sources of Ryukyuan History and Culture in European Collections at Bonn University in October 1994 (to be published); an exhibition in several Japanese and German cities of Japanese paintings from the Erwin von Baelz collection at the Linden-Museum, Stuttgart; two international symposia on Formierung und Fall der Achse Berlin-Tokyo (published by Krebs and Martin as monograph col. 8, 1994) and a conference on The Year 1945 in Asia and Europe at the Japanese German Centre Berlin (to be published). For the Siebold bi-centennial in 1996 an exhibition is being prepared in collaboration with the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, the Edo-Tokyo Museum and the Hayashibara- Museum of Art on Ohayama, which will bring the collections of Philipp Franz von Siebold in Leiden and Munich and that of his son Henry von Siebold in Vienna to Japan.

In order that its research projects and their results are made known to the scientific community, the institute has embarked on an intensive publication programme. A Bulletin, free of charge, comes out in March and September and gives a survey of current topics. The Miscellanea series (so far 11 numbers) contains intermediate reports on current research projects. The volumes of the yearbook Japanstudien, of which up to now six have appeared, are dedicated mostly to special themes and contain not only contributions by staff members, but also articles by scholars who are not attached to the DIJ. The irregularly published series of monographs (10 vols appeared, 6 in preparation, most in English) and bibliographies ( 4 appeared, 2 in preparation) are devoted to the presentation of conference papers and the results of study projects of the Institute. All exhibitions are accompanied by catalogues.
The publications of the DIJ are available through the book stores or the publisher iudicium Verlag, Munich (Fax +49-89-7142039), the Bulletin, Miscellanea and catalogues only through the DIJ liaison office at Bonn (+49-228-737020).

Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
German Institute for Japanese Studies
Nissei Kojimachi Bldg
3-3-6 Kudan-Minami
Tokyo 102
Tel: +81-3-3222 5077
Fax: +81-3-3222 5420

Prof Josef Kreiner is the director of the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo.

Back to the IIAS Home-pageBack to IIASN 5Back to East Asia