. GLOCOM Platform
. . debates Media Reviews Tech Reviews Special Topics Books & Journals
. Newsletters
. Summary Page
Search with Google
Home > Special Topics > Europe Report Last Updated: 15:16 03/09/2007
Europe Report #52: June 3, 2003

British Association of Japanese Studies (BAJS) 2003 Conference: Deepening European and Japanese Understanding

J. Sean Curtin (Fellow, GLOCOM)

Despite the great distance separating Japan from Europe, over the last few decades European scholars have produced a phenomenal quantity of top quality research on this Asian nation. This has made an enormous contribution in helping to bridge the gulf between the two. The fact that the current Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, is such a frequent visitor to Europe emphasizes how strong the influence of the European Union has become in Japanese affairs. The current geo-political climate makes modern Japanese studies a particularly important component in the globalization process. From scenic Aberdeen to sunny Zagreb, European scholars are engaged in every conceivable aspect of Japanese studies research ranging from the esoteric teachings of Japanese Buddhism to the electronic transactions of Japanese banking. Consequently, there are now many excellent Japanese Studies related conferences and symposia held all over the diverse and colourful continent. One of Europe's premier gatherings of Japanese specialists is the annual conference of the British Association of Japanese Studies (BAJS). In 2003, the prestigious event was held between the 14 to 16 April in the tranquil location of Tapton Hall, part of the vast campus of the University of Sheffield.

The University of Sheffield is one of the leading centres for Japanese studies in the whole of Europe and the conference coincided with the 40th anniversary of the founding of the university's Centre for Japanese Studies. This made the gathering an especially important event, attracting several long retired Japanese specialists back to the conference circuit. Many young scholars got the opportunity to meet such distinguished figures as Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Bownas, CBE, who was the first Professor of Japanese Studies at Sheffield University. The three-day event was an wonderful merging of old and new scholars, with veteran writers like Ronald Dore and T. J. Pempel rubbing shoulders with youthful and dynamic researchers like Kensuke Takayasu (London School of Economic and Political Science) and Chris Hood (Cardiff University).

The overall theme of the conference was "The Lost Decade? Japan in the 1990s." More than forty research papers, in a wide range of disciplines, were presented (see full programme below). The plenary sessions had an excellent line up of internationally renowned scholars including, T. J. Pempel (University of California, Berkeley), Ronald Dore (Centre for Economic Performance) and Tokyo University's Mari Osawa, Nobuhiro Hiwatari & Takeo Kikkawa. Professor Pempel's paper led to a very lively discussion with some excellent contributions from the audience made by Prof. Arthur Stockwin (Oxford University), Prof. Steven Reed (Chuo University) and Prof. Reinhard Drifte (Newcastle University). As those who read Professor Dore's articles on the GLOCOM Plaform might perhaps guess, he challenged the entire idea of whether the 1990s really was a lost decade for Japan. The distinguished professors from Tokyo University all gave excellent papers, which also stimulated a lot of discussion from participants. The plenary sessions were all chair by the BAJS president, Professor Glenn Hook of Sheffield University. His affable style helped make the sessions enjoyable and free-flowing.

Many non-academic figures were also present such as Mr. Haruhisa Takeuchi, Minister and Consul-general of the Embassy of Japan in London. The embassy is keen to promote Japanese culture and sees the BAJS conference as an important annual event in developing British, European and Japanese ties. Various awards were presented at the conference, including two BAJS Emeritus Fellowships to Geoffrey Bownas, CBE, and Nicolas Maclean (International Institute of Strategic Studies), who was the driving force behind the creation of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET).

The non-plenary presentations also provided some superb papers from international researchers, making the conference an extremely worthwhile experience (see the programme below). As one would expect, this global event brought together a diverse spectrum of scholars not just from Europe, but from all over the world. One such person was Dr. Kitti Prasirtsuk (Thammasat University, Thailand) who said, "I am so glad I could make it to this event, it is such a great opportunity for me to meet so many famous Japanese studies professors." Another attendee was Professor Glenda Roberts (Waseda University, Japan), who especially flew in to attend the conference. She commented, "It is wonderful to have so many well-known Japan specialists gathered together in one place." Dr. Jinichiro Yamada (Kagawa University, Japan), simply summed up the conference as "fantastic."

BAJS Conference 2003 Programme, University of Sheffield, Monday 14th - Wednesday 16th April 2003

Monday 14th April 2003

1415 - 1615 PANEL SESSIONS (1)

Crossborder: Gender & Society
Convenor / Chair : Takeda Hiroko
Paper (1): Ito Ruri (Ochanomizu University, Japan)
Paper (2): Taki Tomonori
Paper (3): Ashikari Mikiko
Discussant : Julie Gilson

Open Panel
Convenor /Chair:
Paper (1) : Anthony Fielding
Paper (2): Olivia Tani
Paper (3): Ines Sanmiguel-Camargo
Paper (4): David Craig

1630 - 1815 PANEL SESSIONS (2)

Japanese Business Culture
Convenor /Chair : Hasegawa Harukiyo
Paper (1): Ian Gow
Paper (2): Lola Okazaki-Ward
Paper (3): Ito Takuya

Crossborder: Gender & Literature
Convenor /Chair : Rachael Hutchinson
Paper (1): Keith Vincent (New York University, USA)
Paper (2): Mark Morris
Discussant : Steve Dodd

Tuesday 15th April 2003

0900 - 1000 Special Presentation by Toshiba International Foundation Prizewinner
Thomas Lamarre : Motion Capture in Cinema and Anime
1015 - 1230 PLENARY SESSION (A)

The Lost Decade? Japan in the 1990s
Convenor / Chair: Glenn Hook
Keynote Speakers:
Hiwatari Nobuhiro (University of Tokyo, Japan)
(Politics) The Japanese Political Economy in Turmoil
Kikkawa Takeo (University of Tokyo, Japan)
(Business & Economy) The Japanese Economy and Corporations in the 1990s
Osawa Mari (University of Tokyo, Japan)
(Society) Japanese Welfare State and Equality, from the viewpoint of comparative gender analysis
1330 - 1545 PLENARY SESSION (B)

Beyond the Lost Decade?
Japan at the beginning of the 21st Century

Convenor / Chair: Glenn Hook
T.J. Pempel (University of California, Berkeley, USA)
Ron Dore
(Business & Economics)

Commentators : Hiwatari Nobuhiro & Kikkawa Takeo
1615 - 1815 PANEL SESSIONS (3)
Literature General
Convenor / Chair: Mark Williams
Paper (1): Hara Shoichiro

Security & International Relations
Convenor /Chair: Chris Hughes
Paper (1): Murata Koji (Doshisha Univ, Japan)
Paper (2): John Swenson-Wright
Discussant: Chris Hughes

Convenor / Chair :
Paper (1): Kitti Prasirtsuk
Paper (2): Andrew Staples
Paper (3): Sarah Hyde

Wednesday 16th April 2003

0900 - 1030 PANEL SESSIONS (4)

Work, Employment & Society in Japan
Convenor /Chair: Peter Matanle
Paper (1): Wim Lunsing
Paper (2): John Sean Curtin
Paper (3): Helen Macnaughtan
Discussant : Peter Matanle

Convenor /Chair: John Weste
Paper (1): Philip Charrier (University of Regina, Canada)
Paper (2): Fujita Kayoko
Paper (3): Shimazu Naoko
Paper (4): John Weste / Jo Fox
Discussant : Sue Townsend
1045 - 1215 PANEL SESSIONS (5)

Convenor /Chair: Chris Hood
Paper (1): Steven Reed (Chuo University, Japan)
Paper (2): Takayasu Kensuke
Discussant : Arthur Stockwin

Related Links

British Association of Japanese Studies (BAJS)

School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield

EastAsia@Sheffield, Newsletter, May 2003, No. 6

Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications