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HK+ Project Research - the 1st Stage

Maturity and Crisis of the Life-World (Sep. 2019~ Aug. 2022)

The Institute for Japanese Studies at Seoul National University selected 'Exploring the Japanese Life-World in the Era of Post-Area Studies' as the agenda of the HK+ project. The institute selects stage themes - for 1st Stage (Sep. 2019~Aug. 2022) , and for 2nd Stage (Sep. 2022~Aug. 2026) - to conduct HK+ agenda. Also, it forms two research clusters that assume two ideology-regimes supporting postwar Japan, ‘Japanese Democracy’ and ‘Japanese Capitalism,’ as specific research subjects.

The Maturity and Crisis of Japanese Capitalism (Sep. 2019~Aug.2022)

Cluster The Maturity and Crisis of Japanese Capitalism
Research Outline This joint research attempts to derive new critical perspective and research agendas to search for current issues and changes in the modern society through historical examination of Japanese capitalism and analysis of social structural changes, and to present alternative order concretely.
  After launching economic retaliations against South Korea in July 2019, Japan faced a recession of -6.3% of GDP (annually converted) in the fourth quarter of 2019. Amid the deteriorating global economic indicators due to COVID-19, Prime Minister Abe announced on April 7, 2020, an economic stimulus package of 108 trillion yen equivalent to 20% of GDP emphasizing that the Japanese economy was in "the biggest crisis after war." However, the Japanese crisis is not limited to the recession or the malfunction of the quarantine system.
  After the Meiji Restoration, Japan has grown into the world's second-largest economic power after the war as a leader in modernization and globalization in Asia. However, since 2006 when the first Abe government was inaugurated, the Cabinet Office's strategic meeting admitted that "the era when Japan was the only giant in Asia is over." Soon after, in 2010, with the rise of China, Japan resigned as the world's third largest economy. Discourses that anticipate Japan's continuing recession crisis are often raised outside Korea. David Atkinson's “The Dangerous Future of the Japanese Economy,” who predicted the fall of Japanese manufacturing industry, ranked #1 bestseller in the Japanese Amazon bookstore.
  From the perspective of South Korean press, Japan appears to be losing social vitality due to a decline in population and a welfare dilemma. It is also true that it is difficult to expect new ideas and cultural practices necessary for the creation of 21st century history in Japan. It is not just the Japanese government's stubborn attitude toward the issue of past history and the trend of historical revisionism. Amid working from home and online education due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Japanese society showed a sluggish appearance as it blended with the atmosphere of document administration in the analog era and self-sufficiency of civil society. However, no one can easily deny Japan's potential.
  After COVID-19, crisis and new changes become everyone's stakes in the reality that even the pivotal changes in the global economic order are predicted. Various social contradictions, such as low growth and welfare problems, low birth rate and aging population, an increase in single-person households, an increase in depression and suicide rates, social disparities and conflicts of diversity, etc., have been a contemporary task for Korean society to solve. If we cannot come up with a new solution to solve the problems facing Japan, it will be difficult to be optimistic about the future of Korea and the world.
The research team shared the above-described critical perspective, discussed the following research tasks, and determined detailed research topics in their respective research fields.
Research Theme (1) The relationship between the growth and decline of capitalism, social contradictions and maturity, recognition and response to the social crisis and the progress of science and technology and culture, and activities of various fields for social transformation are diagnosed and analyzed from a new critical perspective. The new critical perspective includes efforts to derive and present a view of humanity and a view of society that will lead the future order.
(2) Summarize the symbolic phenomena and symptoms that reveal changes in Japanese society after the war and analyze them first in terms of fluidity and responsiveness within Japanese society. Secondly, reinterpret the current situation of Japan from the perspective of contemporary Korean society, and provide a new perspective on alternatives to derive a common future and a new relationship.
(3) After the 1955 postwar-revival, Japan's rapid growth and subsequent historical changes will be covered in each field, and new perspectives and inspection areas for the historical general reorganization will be discussed. In the second stage, we look at the patterns and directions of change since the 2000s.
(4) In response to changes in the era of low birth rate and aging, the era of AI robots, seek implications and alternatives of the direction of Japanese companies and the economy, policies in the field of local communities and cultural industries, issues of corporate welfare and social welfare, and disasters and quarantine issues.
(5) Detailed research areas are discussed and decided based on each researcher's critical perspective and research topic.
Research Director Jo, Gwan-Ja (SNU IJS) The Human Perspective and Moral Education of Japanese Capitalism
공동연구원 Seo, Dong-Ju (SNU IJS) The Transformation of Contemporary Japanese Capitalism and the Challenges of Contemporary Thought: Focusing on the New Association Movement of Karatani Kojin
Park, Seunghyun (SNU IJS) 25 Years of Urban Reconstruction and Regional Regeneration in Nagata, Kobe City after the Great Hanshin Earthquake
Yeo, In-Man (Gangneung-Wonju National University International Commerce and Area Studies) Rethinking Japanese Style Management
Kweon, Sug-In (SNU Dept. of Anthropology) Family and Elderly Care in the Emergence and Transformation of the Japanese Welfare State
Kim, Eun-Hye (Pusan National Universtiy, Dept. of Sociology) Beyond the Formation and Decline of Suburbanization in Tokyo in 1975-95
Oh, Eun-Jung (Hallym University Department of Japanese Studies Disaster Capitalism and Commons: Revival of Tomioka Town and Environmental Regeneration after Fukushima Nuclear Accident
Kim, Bo-kyung The Japanese Film Industry in the 1980s and the Genre of' ‘Idol Movies’
Research Assistant Kim, Min (Ph.D. Candidate for Asian History, Seoul National University)

The Maturity and Crisis of Japanese Democracy (Sep. 2019~Aug.2022)

Cluster The Maturity and Crisis of Japanese Democracy
Research Outline The new standard for looking at Japanese society from Korean society is “democracy”. After the impeachment of the president in South Korea, the political and social atmosphere of Japan, which is different from that of Korea, became known through reports on Korean politics by Japanese mass media, and the rising atmosphere of an hatred against Korea further aggravated this atmosphere. In particular, the view of Japan in Korean society is changing rapidly in recent years as criticism is increasing even within Japanese society regarding the recent conservative actions of Abe’s Second Cabinet and the attitude toward the 2020 Olympics and the coronavirus outbreak. In particular, it is a reality that the Japanese government's new corona countermeasures, which are proceeding in a way different from that of Korea, and the case of precedents and policies that seem out of date in feminism issues, are increasing skepticism on Japanese' democracy.'
Interestingly, the same standards are being raised against Korea in Japan. It has been consistently raised in Japan that the current government in Korea, which was formed after the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye and the candlelight protests, lacks procedural legitimacy. At the same time, there is increasing skepticism in Japan about the current Korean government's common ideology of a free market economy/democracy centered on the United States, given their tendency to value relations with China. In other words, Korea-Japan relations and “democracy” are being questioned and discussed both in and out of Japan more than ever before.
On the other hand, apart from the Korean-Japanese debate over “democracy” since the mid-2010s, discussions on “post-war democracy” are still ongoing in Japan. As our research institute's HK+ agenda suggests, if post-war democracy does not remain in the political realm, but is an ideological-system that fundamentally shaped and characterized Japanese post-war society, it is necessary to discuss this as a key keyword for overseeing post-war Japanese society.
If democracy can take various forms in each society as a premise, Japan is a valuable example of practicing and developing ‘Japanese democracy’ in East Asia, and democracy plays an important part in Japanese self-awareness. In addition, because of this situation, it is necessary to reaffirm the new challenges faced by the maturity of Japanese society's democracy, and to examine the origin of where the crisis begins. This is because democracy is a living institution, an ideology, and an attitude of life that must constantly change and update its contents. At the same time, this study aims to revisit the potential of Japanese society that has led this process based on the post-modern historical process surrounding Japan's' democracy', rather than criticizing Japan based on the Korean standards.
Research Director Kim, Hyojin (SNU IJS) How to Defend ‘Freedom of Expression’-Through the Case of Aichi Triennale: ‘After “Freedom of Expression”?
Joint researchers Nam, Ki Jeong (SNU IJS) COVID-19 and the ‘Japanese’ Democracy, the Nation and Civil Society in the Post-COVID Era
Lee, Eun-gyong(SNU IJS) Again, Family! Family? : Challenges and Responses Surrounding Conservatism in Contemporary Japan and the ‘Family’ Ideology
Jung, Ji Hee(SNU IJS) Japanese Media and Post-War Democracy: Cold War Rethinking the Principles of ‘Impartiality’ and ‘Objective Reporting’
Sohn, Sukeui(SNU IJS) The Formation of a “New Dominance System” of the LDP and the Rightist Movement in Japanese Politics
Han, Jeong-Sun(Korea University, Division of International Studies) Cold War Democracy and Civil Society in Japan
Lee, Jung-Hwan(SNU Dept. of Political Science and International Relations) The Transformation of Interest-Inducing Politics and Political Characteristics of NPO Policy Participation
Kim, Ji-young(SNU IJS) Post-War Japanese ‘Democracy’ From Okinawa
Assistant Tamura Fuminori (Ph.D. Candidate in SNU Dept. of Geography)