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Writing In/Difference to the M/Other: Kusama Yayoi’s Prose as Proto-Feminist Agency

Abstract

This paper presents an attempt to critically investigate the literary work of Japanese artist Kusama Yayoi (b. 1929). It takes as its object two of Kusama’s early prose texts and, by reading them through a feminist account of identity as fetishism, shows that the two novels presented in this paper-Kurisutofā danshō kutsu (1984) and Rijin kāten no shūjin (1984)-can be understood as a critical engagement with a potentially non-normative feminine self and, in a broader sense, as a negotiation of the state of being a woman in a patriarchal/androcentric society. These features can be traced back to her 1960s sculptural work and her Infinity Net Paintings. By not only situating Kusama’s literary work in a socio-historical context but also demonstrating that it constitutes an intertextual continuum with the rest of her artistic oeuvre, this paper offers an understanding of Kusama’s work besides the dominant narrative of her mental illness and lays the ground for further investigations into her literary texts.

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Corroded by Globalisation: The Image of Japanese Literature in German Review Articles

Abstract

The end of the 1980s was marked by a general interest in Japan because of the country’s ongoing economic boom. Shortly after, in 1990, Japan was guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair and, in 1994, Ōe Kenzaburō was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. All of this led to the establishment of a good number of Japanese literature series being published in German-speaking countries and a considerable increase in the translation of Japanese literature. Furthermore, the dispute over a novel by Murakami Haruki on the TV show Das Literarische Quartett (The Literary Quartet) in the year 2000 had a remarkable influence on these developments. This dispute triggered the tremendous popularity of the author in German-speaking countries and simultaneously led to a change of attitude towards the translation of Japanese works in publishing houses. Against this backdrop, this paper investigates the image of Japanese literature portrayed in review articles of German language newspapers at the beginning of the 21st century. The main themes of these review articles will be presented in 12 categories that constitute the image of Japanese literature in the German book market. These categories will be presented and described in detail before conclusions about the tendencies of reviewing Japanese literature and about what influence these tendencies have on the image of Japanese literature are drawn.

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Discrimination Against Women in the People’s Republic of China and Japan: A Comparative Analysis of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action 1995–2010

Abstract

This paper comparatively examines steps taken to further gender equality and end discrimination against women by Japan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) between 1995 and 2010. The theoretical framework is set by the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted at the United Nations “Fourth World Conference on Women” in 1995, which sought to encompass the full scope of discrimination against women in twelve critical areas of concern. Although universally agreed upon, the platform is not legally binding, which limits its applicability and impact in practice. The results of this analysis show that both states pursued a very similar approach in the implementation of the platform: they developed ambitious national plans and revised domestic laws while failing to address the root causes for gender-based discrimination. Both seem to have understood the document as a non-exhaustive list of suggested priority areas and have addressed important issues insufficiently or not at all. There is a lack of political will, which seems to partially result from cultural stereotypes common to both states. As a result, most women in the PRC and Japan have not benefitted from the selective measures taken in the framework of the platform’s national implementation and continue to face discrimination.

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Innovation Transfer during the Warring States Period: Considering the Importance of Early China’s Relationship with the Steppes

Abstract

This paper focuses on the contact between pre-imperial China and the peoples living on the steppes in her vicinity. For all the obscurity that had been shrouding the steppe inhabitants throughout centuries of historical scholarship, archaeological discoveries during the past century attest to their highly developed culture and economy and, what is more, make obvious that they had been entertaining close relations with the Chinese from as early as the second millennium BCE. Following a line of scholarship which has set out to redefine the role of the steppes in world history on the basis of this new data, this paper aims to demonstrate certain aspects of the important role they played in the history of China. Several very impactful innovations diffused to early China through interactions with the steppes, influencing Chinese history to a major degree. The paper specifically concentrates on a timeframe surrounding the Warring States Period (c. 500- 221 BCE), during which a couple of key innovations can be shown to have been adopted from the steppes. Furthermore, it illustrates the impact of these innovations on historical developments within China, thereby reinforcing the argument that the role of the steppes in Chinese history was one of tremendous importance.

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International Peace Cooperation Activities of Japan and the Republic of Korea between 2000 and 2010: A Comparative Analysis

Abstract

International peace cooperation plays an important role in international relations. National interests and power balances lead to situations in which national security, human security and peace are often threatened, and international cooperation is required. The desire for peace and security is a motivating factor for states to engage in cooperation and to foster a more stable and secure environment, which in turn will also facilitate further social, political and economic development in individual countries as well as worldwide. Due to globalisation, the interconnectedness and interdependence of states in various contexts has significantly increased. This development has also led to a growing demand and need for cooperation between states to take collective action and to commonly solve regional as well as global challenges, such as peace and relevant security issues but also issues of economic, social and political importance. The aim of this paper is to present a comparative analysis and to give an overview of Japan and the Republic of Korea’s efforts and actions concerning peace cooperation in order to promote regional and global peace between 2000 and 2010-apart from the commonly known international peacekeeping operations. How do both states’ global peace supporting activities compare to each other, and is it possible to identify differences in their approaches towards international peace cooperation?

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Japanese ‘Right-wing Rock’? A Lyrics Content Analysis

Abstract

So far largely unnoticed, a right-wing extremist current within the rock music oriented subculture of Japan can be observed. This subcultural phenomenon bears resemblance in appearance to a phenomenon that is commonly referred to as ‘right-wing rock’ (Rechtsrock) in German-speaking countries. On the basis of a substantial compilation of relevant lyrics, the present paper seeks to examine whether this resemblance can also be located in terms of the ideological contents. Focussing on the linguistic inventory of the sample of lyrics, how a particular vocabulary is used to construct a collective identity and to convey a range of rightist topics will be examined. It will be shown that various terms that are frequently used in the analysed lyrics contain references to nationalistic and/or militaristic thought. Some lyrics propagate historical revisionist or negationist views on history and on the whole the analysed lyrics glorify martial concepts of maleness. The analysis thus justifies the conclusion that the musical phenomenon in question can be defined as a Japanese form of right-wing rock.

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Knowledge Creation in New Ventures Based on the SECI Model: Similarities and Differences Between Japan, South Korea, and Austria

Abstract

This research deals with the question of which similarities and differences exist between Japanese, South Korean, and Austrian new ventures in terms of knowledge creation. The theoretical framework supporting this research is the SECI model developed by the two Japanese economists Nonaka Ikujiro and Takeuchi Hirotaka. Under the consideration of five conditions that must be met in a company, new knowledge can be created through the interaction of implicit and explicit knowledge by passing through the four modes socialisation, externalisation, combination, and internalisation. To answer this research question, an online questionnaire was sent to new ventures in Japan, South Korea, and Austria with a total of 154 companies participating. Additionally 12 expert interviews with employees or founders of new ventures were held. The result of the nonrepresentative research showed that a lot of similarities exist among the surveyed companies in terms of knowledge creation. Still there exists one important difference in the implementation of one of the five conditions of the SECI model. In comparison to Austrian companies, the majority of the Japanese and South Korean new ventures stated that their management often intentionally causes crisis/stress conditions, which can support the exchange of information and knowledge in a company.

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Liberty in Harmony: An Integration of Confucian Harmony and Liberalism in Contemporary China

Abstract

As the mainstream ideology, Confucian harmony deeply influences ways of thinking and social life in the East. Contemporary China has experienced quite a radical change since the Xīnhài Revolution in 1911. It also marked the re-examination of Confucianism, i.e. the development of New Confucianism. New Confucianism needs to encourage China to fit the modern and global context. Therefore, the revival of Confucian harmony must remake itself to fit the modern world. A certain degree of convergence between Confucian harmony and liberalism, the mainstream ideology in the West, is necessary. Personal improvement is a hotly disputed idea among Chinese Confucians and Western liberals because transformation of public ethics is closely related to transformations of the self. This paper argues the importance of integration between harmony and liberalism. What is important is to explore how each tradition can shed light on theoretical and practical issues regarding harmony between the individual and the community, rather than individual sovereignty over communal claims in ideological studies.

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The Meaning and Functions of the Concept of Yuanfen 缘分 in Contemporary China: A Qualitative Study with Students from East China Normal University

Abstract

Yuánfèn can best be defined as a kind of subjectively perceived chance that brings people or people and events together. Being able to provide explanations in a positive way, Yuanfen has always functioned as an attribution, the psychological process of seeking reasons for particular events. The aim of this study was to investigate the meaning and functions of Yuanfen for university students in the PRC, which should give an insight into the meaning of the concept in a specific social context within contemporary China. The results were obtained through semi-structured interviews with 19 students from East China Normal University in Shanghai that were conducted in 2012. The data was analysed through qualitative content analysis. The findings show that if Yuanfen has individual meaning for Chinese students, attributing life events to the concept has very positive functions, leading to a positive perception of and a positive attitude towards different relationships, events, and situations. Yuanfen can therefore play a very positive role in Chinese student life, not only for the individual, but also for the social environment of university education in which the students are confronted with a range of structural and interpersonal challenges.

Open access
Media Systems and Political Systems in East Asia: A Comparative Analysis of China, Japan, and South Korea

Abstract

Media systems depend strongly on their political, economic, and legal environments. However, it is increasingly argued that media systems will assimilate in the course of globalisation, making a comparison based on nation-states redundant (Blum 2005: 5). Comparisons of European media systems showed that media systems develop similarly in the same regions (Hallin and Mancini 2004). On the basis of a comparison between Japan, South Korea, and the People’s Republic of China, this paper deals with the question whether this also applies to the region of East Asia. Due to the strong dependence of East Asia’s media systems on their political environment, a nationstate based comparison is still reasonable in this region. Roger Blum’s ‘extended comparison approach’ is used as a theoretical and methodological foundation for this research. This approach allows establishing a connection between political systems and media systems. It will be shown that the media systems of China, Japan, and South Korea are first and foremost dependent on the political framework within which they operate. Regional similarities exist despite different political systems, but they do so mainly on the surface. On closer examination differences prevail.

Open access