Japan Studies Newsletters

Autumn 2007 Newsletter

From the Chair

In political news, the summer and fall seasons produced shocks. The Democratic Party of Japan decisively defeated the Liberal Democratic Party at the polls in July’s Upper House election. The LDP suffered its worst electoral defeat since its formation in 1955 a mere two years after its greatest electoral triumph. The DPJ thumped the LDP around the country, showing strength even in the rural areas that have traditionally been LDP strongholds. The Upper House electoral system is easier for the DPJ to compete in than the system for the more powerful Lower House, but that alone doesn’t account for the DPJ’s success. A string of cabinet resignations (mostly due to financial scandals) hurt, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s patriotic policy themes never resonated with voters much more concerned about bread-and-butter issues. What stung worse, though, was the loss of 50 million pension records. Although

his predecessor, the charismatic Junichiro Koizumi, might have turned this into grist for his reform theme, Abe displayed a political tin ear by initially downplaying the scandal and appearing to side with the bureaucrats. Imagine how U.S. voters would react if the Social Security Administration lost 50 million records!

Still, Prime Minister Abe clung to power despite the LDP’s miserable showing in July, only to resign days after the opening of the Diet session in September, replaced by the avuncular and steady Yasuo Fukuda.

The transition at the top of the Japan Studies Program was an entirely different affair. I have taken the helm in
an anticipated changing of the guard followed by ample training from my predecessor, Marie Anchordoguy. Marie served ably as Chair for more than six years. She presided over the expansion of the faculty and several important hires. She also developed the Program in new directions, including the establishment of this newsletter and myriad other improvements. We all owe her our thanks for her dedication and good work. This year, she is enjoying a well- deserved sabbatical to concentrate on her research. She is a tough act to follow, but her wise stewardship has made my job as Chair much easier.

Here at the University of Washington, two new Japan scholars have joined the faculty: David Spafford in the Department of History, and Katherine Mezur in the School of Drama. Other Japan faculty continue to publish new books in diverse areas of the field, reflecting the wide range of research and teaching within the Program. The Japan Studies Program also welcomes Ellen Eskenazi as its new Director of Outreach and Program Development; she will be working to build an exciting year of Japan Colloquia and other events in 2007-2008. Our showcase event in 2007 was the inaugural Griffith and Patricia Way Lecture in April, which featured Dr. Ellen Conant. More details on these events and others in the year ahead are outlined in this newsletter.

We appreciate your ongoing support of our activities.

Rober Pekkanen, Chair, Japan Studies


Faculty News

Andrea Arai is a visiting scholar in the UW Department of Anthropology and will teach a course on Japanese Society during Winter Quarter 2008. The class aims to introduce students to twentieth-century Japanese history, contemporary culture, and social institutions. Arai received her PhD in anthropology at Columbia University in 2004 and is working on a book manuscript on representation, reform, and the crisis of the future in contemporary Japan.

Paul Atkins received a research fellowship in the Society
of Scholars of the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington for 2007-2008. He has recently published an article in Japanese on translating plays into English, translations of and commentaries on a collection of 28 poems from a thirteenth-century anthology, and an article on land rights, litigation, and literature authority in medieval Japan in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. In addition, he presented talks on a variety of subjects in both the United States and Japan during 2007.

Davinder Bhowmik has just completed her book, Writing Okinawa: Narratives of Identity and Resistance, which will be published by Routledge in 2008. It is the first comprehensive survey in English of Okinawan fiction, from its emergence in the early twentieth century through its most recent permutations. Her book provides readings of major authors and texts set against the region’s political and social history; at the same time, it engages with current critical perspectives on subaltern identity, colonialism and post-colonialism, and the nature of “regional,” “minority,” and “minor” literatures.

Robert Hoppens, a PhD candidate in the Department of History, is teaching a course in Autumn Quarter 2007 on Japan’s relations with China. The class covers the history of political, economic, and cultural relations between Japan and China from roughly the Opium War into the post-World War II period. Hoppens’ dissertation focuses on Japan-China relations in postwar Japanese nationalist discourse.

Katherine Mezur is a new assistant professor in the
School of Drama and a new addition to the UW Japan faculty.
She is a feminist scholar, director, and choreographer whose research focuses on gender studies, corporeality and media, and transnational performance in the Asia Pacific region. She is author of a history of kabuki female gender performance, titled Beautiful Boys/Outlaw Bodies: Devising Female-likeness on the Kabuki Stage (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Her current research is on Japanese women choreographers/directors, performers, and visual artists who are radically transforming “little girl” paradigms through performance and media art.

Ted Mack’s book manuscript, Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature, was accepted for publication by Duke University Press.

Ken Tadashi Oshima was co-curator of an exhibition titled Crafting a Modern World: The Architecture and Design of Antonin and Noémi Raymond, which was shown at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, the University Art Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Kamakura Museum of Modern Art during 2006-2007. His essay on “Characters of Concrete” was published as a central piece in the accompanying book by Princeton Architectural Press.

Robert Pekkanen won a prize from the Japanese Nonprofit Research Association earlier this year for his book Japan’s Dual Civil Society: Members without Advocates (Stanford University Press, 2006). The Japanese translation of this work will appear in late 2007 from Bokutakusha Publishing as Nihon no shimin shakai no nijū kōzō. He completed his Abe Fellowship for research on political parties over the summer.

Saadia Pekkanen has a forthcoming book entitled Japan’s Aggressive Legalism: Law and Foreign Trade Politics Beyond the WTO (Stanford University Press, 2008) and also co-authored the article “Trading Gains for Control: International Trade Forums and Japanese Economic Diplomacy,” International Studies Quarterly (2007). She was recently invited to write a paper on the construction of an Asian trade and investment architecture for a trilateral country conference, “Managing China-Japan-US Relations and Strengthening Trilateral Cooperation.”

Kenneth Pyle’s new book, Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power and Purpose (PublicAffairs Books, 2007), was the subject of programs at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, and on C-Span.

David Spafford, a scholar of medieval Japanese history, is a new member of the Japan Studies faculty at the University of Washington. His appointment as an assistant professor is in the Department of History. Spafford’s research focuses on the cultural and political values of land and on shifting senses of identity and place in the age of warring states. He received his PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2006.


Japan Studies News

The Griffith and Patricia Way Lecture Series, in its inaugural year, featured Ellen P. Conant speaking on “Japanese Painting from Edo to Meiji: Rhetoric and Reality.” Her audience included more than 60 guests from other campuses in the region, interested members of the community, local collectors and art historians, and friends and family of the Ways. This annual event was endowed in 2006 through the generosity of friends and family of this Seattle couple, as well as the larger community. The mission of the series is to bring distinguished scholars to speak on subjects of particular interest to the Ways, such as Japanese art, history, and law. Professor Mary Elizabeth Berry of the University of California, Berkeley, will be the distinguished speaker for the 2008 lecture in this series on May 5. The
title of her talk is “Noticing the Virtue of Things: The Obligation of Taste in Japanese Society.” Further details will be announced on the Japan Studies website as they become available.

The Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington is exhibiting an array of signature projects from the studio SANAA. Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa collaborate under the SANAA name (Sejima And Nishizawa And Associates) and are among the most provocative designers practicing in the world today. Sejima was named “young architect of the year” in Japan in 1992. The exhibit includes models, building plans, photographs, and other objects to provide an intimate understanding of the dynamic relationships at play in the artists’ works. Professor Ken Tadashi Oshima of the UW Japan faculty is Guest Curator for this exhibit, which runs through late February 2008.

The UW Japanese Film Association is showing ten Japanese films during Autumn Quarter. The films range from the classic Rashomon (1950) to Love and Honor (2006). All screenings are free and open to the public. More information on the schedule and directions to the venue on campus are available at http://www. students.washington.edu/japanflm.

Ellen Eskenazi joined the Japan Studies Program in September as Director of Outreach and Program Development. She is a Japan Studies graduate of the UW Jackson School
and also studied at Tsuda College in Tokyo. Her most recent professional experience was at Washington Mutual and Cingular Wireless. At UW, she will be involved with Japan Studies public events and community outreach. Welcome, Ellen!

Intermediate Japanese for Heritage Learners was the title of a new course offered in Summer Quarter 2007 by Masashi Kato of the Technical Japanese Program. This course is intended for students of Japanese descent who have strong everyday conversation skills but want to develop solid reading and writing skills. In class, the students developed conversation skills necessary in business situations, with strong emphasis on appropriate speech levels and the cultural concepts underlying those situations. They learned strategies for accurate reading through authentic materials on topics including Communication in the IT Age, Robots in Daily Life, and Japanese Youth and American Youth. No Japanese heritage language course had previously been offered at the college level in Washington State. Kato plans to teach the same course again in summer 2008.

Takashi Shinohara, a UW alumnus and currently a member of the House of Representatives in Japan’s parliament (the Diet) with the Democratic Party of Japan, has provided an internship for UW students interested in learning about Japanese politics first-hand. Shinohara is director of his party’s Policy Research Committee and is a member

of the Diet’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and director of the Special Committee on Political Ethics and Election Law. His constituency is in Nagano Prefecture.

The East Asia Resource Center (EARC) provides programs and services about East Asia to meet the professional development needs of teachers in grades K-12. Japan is a major focus for the EARC in 2008, when the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Washington-Hyogo sister-state relationship coincides with the exchange of Washington and Hyogo teachers established by the EARC in 1992. With the support of the Freeman Foundation, 15 American teachers will spend three weeks in Japan, including an official visit to Hyogo. The EARC will also send teachers to study in Japan in 2008 on another study tour supported by the Freeman Foundation. This tour is for alumni of seminars of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia, a consortium founded by EARC in 1998. Through this program, the EARC has provided 30-hour seminars to 1,200 teachers from 6 Northwest states in 10 years of educating teachers.

The East Asia Library, thanks to efforts by Japanese Studies Librarian Keiko Yokota-Carter, has added new online resources for library users, including Asahi shinbun archives for 1926–1945, Yomiuri shinbun archives for 1874-1960, Nikkei Telecom 21, and Okinawa Times. Also new in 2007 was a journal citation index (Magazinplus) and an academic journal index with some full text from the National Institute of Informatics.

A Japan Studies Grant for Summer Internship or Research has been made possible by a generous gift from a JSIS alumnus. This $2,500 award will allow a UW undergraduate or graduate student to undertake either an internship or a research project in Japan during summer 2008. The funds may be used for travel or housing and other living expenses in Japan during the internship or research.


Student News

PhD Candidates

Robert Hoppens, PhD Candidate History—Teaching Associate, Jackson School/Autumn 2007; Japan Endowment Fellowship/Winter and Spring 2008

Yukiko Shigeto, PhD Candidate Asian Languages and Literature, presented her paper “Politics of Writing: Nakano Shigeharu’s Literature” at the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies, Princeton University, November 2-4, 2007.

Hiro Sasada, PhD Candidate Political Science—Japan Endowment Research Assistantship/2007-2008

MA/MS Candidates

Courtney Cowie, MAIS Candidate Japan Studies 2008—Kitto Fellowship 2007 and a 2007 Japan Endowment summer language study fellowship. Cowie furthered her language studies at the 2007 Advanced Japanese Summer Program at the Inter-University Center in Yokohama, Japan.

Rebekah Harmon, MAIS Candidate Japan Studies 2009—Mellon Endowment Research Assistantship/ Spring 2008

Brian Hughes, joint MBA/MAIS Candidate Japan Studies 2007, attended the Inter-University Center
for Japanese Language Studies in summer 2007 with
a fellowship from the Department of Education. While
in Japan, he secured a summer internship in the Risk Management Division of Shinsei Bank in Tokyo. He plans to graduate in December and will return to Shinsei early in 2008.

Bethany Marsh, MAIS Candidate Japan Studies 2008—Mellon Endowment Research Assistantship/Winter 2008

Jennifer Mason, MAIS Candidate Japan Studies 2008—Mellon Endowment Research Assistantship/ Autumn 2007

Rachel Sherman, MAIS Candidate Japan Studies 2008—FLAS Scholarship 2007-2008

Ryan Zielonka, MAIS Candidate Japan Studies 2008—FLAS Scholarship 2007-2008