JSAC Annual Conference 2018

The 31st Japan Studies Association of Canada Annual Conference
"Japan's World / The World's Japan: Images, Perceptions and Reactions"

Hosted by
Prince Takamado Japan Centre for Teaching and Research at the University of Alberta
in collaboration with the University of Calgary
11-14 October 2018
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

For a conference program, please click here.
For conference abstracts, please click here.


Images, perceptions, and reactions define the political directions that nations might take. In recent years, the world has produced a set of political and cultural discourses of Japan, ascertaining the role that it could play in this world. Many global leaders and scholars view Japan with pessimism as a country in decline, with few options in the future due to its dwindling population, aging society and increasing territorial and military threats from its neighbours. To counter-balance this view, others see Japan with a glimmer of hope, expecting the rise of new scientific and technological inventions to offset these crises. There is also a historical trend to stress Japan's soft power, focusing on its rich traditional cultural heritage, literature, and language as well as popular culture such as manga, anime, and games. Japan, for its part, has reacted and responded to such images and perceptions created by the rest of the world by reorienting and reinventing its self-images and responses.

The goal of this conference is to bring together interdisciplinary and international Japan Studies researchers to create a space to produce a new set of knowledge regarding the state of Japan and Japan studies. This is the only conference that focuses on Japan in North America. The theme has been set broadly so that it can attract a wide variety of presenters. Participants represent different fields - anthropology, history, arts, culture, political science, cultural studies, linguistics, business, sociology, digital studies, and so on.

1) Political Economy and Policy
Much of the world may perceive Japan as a declining power because of its stagnant economy, aging society, increasing natural disasters, and spreading nuclear contamination, but do these images give a full picture of Japan? What sorts of policies and technical innovation have been introduced to solve these challenges? How does Japan cope with this negative image and perception in order to remain as one of active players and economic powers in the world?

2) Minority / Aboriginal Rights
While the World sees Japan as a country that lacks openness to immigrants and the awareness of ethnic and aboriginal rights, is Japan still a very closed society? How is its ethnic demography changing? What kinds of efforts have been made to increase the awareness of ethnic pluralism in Japan? How do people of Japanese descent in Canada and elsewhere contribute to the promotion of Japanese linguistic, cultural and social rights?

3) Literature, Fine Arts, Popular Culture, and Language
Since the modern era, Westerners have been inspired by Japanese literary and artistic traditions. Although often perceived with a sense of exoticism, Japanese elements are well incorporated in and often define Western literature and fine arts. How are the world's images, perceptions and reactions reflected in these fields? In recent years, Japanese anime and manga have achieved global popularity, creating and disseminating different images and perceptions. How can we analyze and respond to these phenomena?

4) Digital Studies
In recent years, much of "Japan's world and the world's Japan" has existed in the digital world. Digitalization has produced a new set of images, perceptions, and reactions, reducing the boundary between the physical and virtual world. Such images, perceptions and reactions generated through the application of digital technologies are powerful and useful in many different fields in business and academic studies. Japan, as one of the countries that has a long history of digital technologies and expressions, interacts with the world through digital technologies regularly. Has digitalization transformed Japan's images, perceptions, and reactions of the world and vice-versa? How can it be used to shape Japan's self-image or the world's image of Japan?

Japan Studies Association of Canada welcomes new members who are interested in Japan.