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2010.03.30 - Workshop and Distinguished Lecture on Nationalism in Japan

On 26 March 2010, NIJS, with the support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Chubu Electric Power Company and the White Rose East Asia Centre, organized an international workshop and distinguished lecture on Nationalism in Japan at Firth Hall, University of Sheffield.

The programme brought together leading scholars from Australia, continental Europe, Japan, and the UK to investigate nationalism from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The workshop was followed by the fourth annual NIJS White Rose distinguished lecture, 'The Enemy at the Gate: The North Korean Nuclear Issue and Nationalism in Contemporary Japan'. This year given by Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki of Australian National University.

The workshop started with a session on the temporal context of nationalism, where Sandra Wilson (Murdoch University), gave a paper on 'Symbols of Nationalism in 1920s Japan: Presenting a New Emperor.' This was followed by Yoshimi Shun’ya’s (Tokyo University), 'What has Happened to Post-Postwar Japan after the 1980s.' These two papers set the historical context of nationalism in the prewar and post—indeed, post-postwar period. The second session, on the spatial context of nationalism, focussed on local and national issues: the first paper, by Mōri Yoshitaka (Tokyo University of Arts) was entitled, ‘Nationalism, Localism and Cosmopolitanism in Japanese Hip Hop Culture in the 2000s.’ This was followed by Cornelia Reiher’s (University of Leipzig), ‘Nationalism meets Localism: the Implementation of the Basic Law on Food Education in Rural Japan.’ These two papers highlighted the way nationalism is expressed through the different mediums of hip hop and food. The final paper by Kawashima Shuichi (Meiji University) put nationalism into comparative perspective, ‘The Impact of Regional Integration on Nationalism: Comparison with Europe and Japan,’ highlighting the complex dynamic between nationalism and regionalism.

The workshop was followed by the distinguished lecture, where Professor Morris-Suzuki offered a penetrating analysis of the way the abduction of Japanese citizens by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) has led to a rise in nationalism by the targeting of the North as ‘enemy.’ The paper was put into the wider context of nationalism in Japan by the two commentators, James Babb (University of Newcastle Upon Tyne) and Nicola Liscutin (Birkbeck College, University of London). The presentations by the speaker and commentators were followed by a stimulating discussion with the audience of over 80, drawn from the university staff and student population as well as the city.

The workshop and the distinguished lecture helped to promote a deeper understanding of nationalism in Japan and enabled the presenters to gain feedback on their work.