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Nihon-Robotto-Ron: A Deconstruction of the Japanese ‘Robot Kingdom’ Phenomenon

Abstract

This paper attempts to deconstruct the image of Japan as the ‘Robot Kingdom’. The genesis of this image is analysed and integrated in the nihonron, an essentialist discourse on Japan, by taking into account the perspectives of different academic disciplines such as computer science and cultural studies. The different strands of the discourse are critically evaluated. In this way, the structure of the image of the ‘Robot Kingdom’ will become visible and can be analysed in the context of the nihonron.

Open access
Oral Corrective Feedback: Examining Teacher- Initiated Correction of CFL (Chinese as a Foreign Language) Learners’ Pronunciation Errors

Abstract

This paper examines oral corrective feedback strategies in regard to pronunciation errors in a Chinese foreign language classroom. Traditional oral corrective feedback typologies (Lyster and Ranta 1997; Ellis and Sheen 2006; Sheen 2011) have been combined with Chinese pronunciation teaching methods and investigated in a case study conducted at the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Vienna. Two sessions of first year Chinese language laboratory classes were observed and recorded. The qualitative data analysis was carried out in two stages. First, traditional oral corrective feedback typologies were applied to the collected material in order to find out which types of corrective feedback were used (deductive analysis). The results revealed that corrective feedback on pronunciation errors are mostly given in an explicit manner. Therefore, as a second step, a differentiated typology of explicit correction was developed (inductive analysis). The main findings of this study are that pronunciation errors in a Chinese foreign language classroom are corrected explicitly and treated with methods of 1) explication, 2) comparison, and 3) reduction. The explicitness of these methods is further enhanced by 1) paralinguistic cues (stress, speech rate modification), 2) visualisations (gestures) and 3) additional verbalisation.

Open access
The Relation between Economic Development and International Trade: A Comparative Analysis of East Asian and Southeast Asian Economies

Abstract

The impressive economic development of East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, like China, Japan, South Korea, or Singapore, is often described as the ‘Asian economic miracle’. The transition from a less developed economy to an industrialised country and successful integration into the global economy within a relatively short period of time are characteristics of the economic development process. Academic research is dominated by a general agreement on the causal relationship between economic development and international trade. The research goal of this paper is to analyse the impact of the level of economic development on the degree of international trade in the economies of China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand. The applied research model does not follow the traditional research mainstream but rather introduces relative shares of GDP-related industrial output and of manufactures exports by adopting national as well as international perspectives instead. Descriptive trend analysis, correlation analysis and regression analysis are conducted in order to test the hypotheses. The results do not support conventional academic wisdom. A statistically reasonable causality between the level of economic development, in terms of relative industrial output, and the degree of international trade, in terms of relative industrial exports, could not be confirmed.

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Sino-Russian Relations: The Impact of Central Asian Energy Resources

Abstract

The following paper strives to (1) present the reader with the results of my preceding book on the subject (Eder 2014) and to (2) review the trends that had been predicted therein. It provides a concise analysis of the Sino-Russian relationship’s history, an account of post-Soviet regional energy projects, and an analysis and interpretation of the mainland Chinese discourse on the impact of the Central Asian energy issue on this relationship. The issue has been broadly discussed as a possible source of friction since the global financial and economic crisis. Chinese authors predicted that a great deal of co-ordination and compromise would be needed because of Russian sensitivities but conveyed confidence that their country’s ‘inevitable’ expansion of crucial energy relations would be manageable. The book thus predicted a successful handling of competing interests in the short term but still foresaw a challenge to the ‘strategic partnership’ through the gradually shifting power balance. Over the last 18 months, China has advanced even faster and more comprehensively than anticipated and already overshadows Russia. Now undergirded by a more substantial political strategy, it quietly but resolutely pushes Moscow (and all its schemes of post-Soviet re-integration) aside. Managing ensuing frustrations and more blatant counter-measures will likely test the resolve and aptitude of Chinese policy-makers earlier than expected.

Open access
Sustainability in Hunting Licence Systems of Japan and South Korea

Abstract

This paper compares the different terrestrial hunting (licence) systems of Japan and South Korea. In order to test their sustainable resource use the silvicultural model and categories by Josef Hackl, Felix Heckl, Martin Forstner, Wolfgang Lexer, and Friedrich Reimoser have been adapted and modified to the circumstances of these two nations. Sustainability will be analysed according to three columns of ecological, economic, and socio-cultural sustainability. The multidisciplinary theoretical approach to sustainability discourses includes the theories of public goods, property rights, and co-management strategies, based on Garrett Hardin’s controversial essay The Tragedy of the Commons. Hardin’s resource exploitation dilemma has been refuted many times. The working hypothesis is therefore based on a bottom-up approach of decentralisation and subsidiarity mainly based on the assumptions of Elinor Ostrom and Fikret Berkes, in which the preservation of local and therefore context-bound knowledge plays a significant role in the sustainable management of impure public goods like game. The paper seeks to compare current laws on hunting, weapons, wildlife, and environmental protection as well as to take a look at existing local hunting customs and the historic reasons for their disappearance.

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Contemporary Chinese Oil Painting Between Iconography and Iconology: A Case Study from the People’s Republic of China’s 60th Anniversary Exhibition

Abstract

This paper seeks to analyse the iconographic and iconological significance of the 2009 exhibition Art Project concerning Important Historical Issues of the Country (Guójiā zhòngdà lìshǐ tícái měishù chuàngzuò gōngchéng). The exhibition was set up on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and was part of a series of cultural, artistic and literary activities at that time. Created and promoted by the Ministry of Finance, Culture and Propaganda, the exhibition set out the artists’ mission as the presentation of the great history and ‘great national spirit’ (wěidà mínzú jīngshén) of the people of China and ‘the cultivation and spreading of the national spirit’ (péiyǎng hé hóngyáng mínzú jīngshén). This was realised through the media of oil painting, sculpture and traditional Chinese painting, with oil paintings, as the traditional tool of representation, taking up the biggest part of the exhibition. Based on Erwin Panofsky’s arthistorical method of the three-stage model, the text explores and displays the iconographical and iconological meaning of one representative painting: The March of the Volunteers.

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Fantastic Realities: Magical Realism in Contemporary Okinawan Fiction

Abstract

This paper examines magical realism in Okinawa bungaku (Okinawan literature) with a special focus on the literary works of Medoruma Shun. The central research questions are what kind of Okinawan realities these magical-realistic texts point towards and which real problems thus become obvious. Against the theoretical background regarding the discussions on magical realism in literary science, qualitative analyses of the two short stories ‘Akai yashi no ha’ (1992) and ‘Umukaji tō chiritei’ (1999) are conducted. The findings of these analyses show that the narrative mode of magical realism is used to point towards post-colonial power relations and to express a political critique of contemporary relationships with mainland Japan and the United States from an Okinawan point of view.

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For Body, Mind and the Nation: An Archaeology of Modern Japanese Psychiatry

Abstract

This paper reassesses the history of psychiatry in Japan through application of the theory of disciplinary power by Michel Foucault. The society of the early Meiji era (1868-1912) is defined as a disciplinary society within the scope of discourses on punishment and general social reforms. By focussing on a close reading of both canonical and marginalised fragments of psychiatric texts, this analysis reveals their constitutive character for the establishment of psychiatric discourses. These texts, rooted in biological psychiatry, are shown to stress the hazard that mental illness presented to the nation. Recourse to juridical problems, which derive from enacting a European model of law, provides an explanation for the necessity of psychiatry as a social institution. The key point is to identify a discursive break between two major legal acts dealing with the confinement of the mentally ill: the Mental Patients Custody Act of 1900 and the Mental Hospital Act of 1919. The first deals mainly with administrative issues, while the latter was formed under the influence of an emerging psychiatric power. The Mental Hospital Act refines the disciplinary network operating in the social space, while blurring the discursive fissure between traditional care and psychiatric techniques.

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Social Networks of Homeless People under the Influence of Homeless Self-Sufficiency Support Centres in Japan

Abstract

Since the end of the 1990s the Japanese government and local authorities have made a series of efforts to reduce the number of homeless people in Japan, which had dramatically increased in public places. The Special Law on Temporary Measures to Support the Self-Sufficiency of Homeless People, enacted in 2002, became the foundation for nationwide countermeasures, and switched the aim of homeless support towards a self-sufficient life. This research focuses on homeless self-sufficiency support centres in Ōsaka city, which help homeless individuals to find a way back into a self-sufficient life through job assistance. It aims to establish if this kind of welfare facility is capable of rebuilding social networks or providing clients with the necessary skills to do so. This question is addressed through a detailed description of the facility, the support it offers and an analysis of the social networks of former clients based on qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey. The results show that in the support offered by the facility, social networks are not considered to be a crucial factor for escaping homelessness and are therefore not targeted. Although some former clients are able to rebuild social networks around the workplace, these networks have only a minor role in mutual support.

Open access
The Theory and Empirics of Financial Development in the East Asian Bond Markets

Abstract

The Asian financial crisis marked a turning point in financial development in East Asia that brought the development of bond markets within the focus of policy-makers. This paper tracks the benefits of an advanced bond market, the current state of the East Asian corporate and government bond markets and their rapid evolution since the Asian crisis. Subsequently, a multivariate model is used to determine the endogenous economic and institutional factors that drove growth in the region’s bond markets. The following findings may be noted: (1) growth in the government bond market was driven by the monetary sterilisation efforts of East Asian central banks in order to cope with excessive liquidity, (2) the government bond market may crowd out the corporate bond market, and (3) the corporate bond market grew particularly strongly during the global financial crisis.

Open access