Seminar: 25 February 2014
On 11 March 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Japan and led to meltdowns in the reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The release of radioactive material into the air, water, and soil raised public concerns about radiation exposure and the long-term risk of cancer among nearby residents. Mr Shuhei Nomura of Imperial College London talked about his experience in the recovery period after the disaster as well as the key issues and challenges facing the residents in the region.
Seminar: 19 February 2014
This first seminar of our 2014 series on the theme of “Power” will focus on the relationship between information and society, and how the understanding and use of information have been the primary factors in the development and character of the modern age. Prominent British historian Professor Jeremy Black and the Asahi Shimbun European Bureau Chief, Mr Toshiya Umehara discussed the power of information and knowledge, and the dangers of its absence. The seminar was chaired by Professor Arthur Stockwin.
Seminar: 11 February 2014
Will Abenomics continue to be successful this year? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to understand the political challenges that Prime Minister Abe faces. Professor Harukata Takenaka discussed the changes to the power of Japanese Prime Ministers since the 1990s, and also discussed the restrictions that Japanese Prime Ministers still face, by comparison with their British counterparts. A major challenge for the Prime Minister will be to implement the “Third Arrow”, which are his plans for significant structural reforms.
Seminar: 30 January 2014
It is relatively rare for a historian to get the chance to engage in critical reflection of his own work. In this short talk, Dr Antony Best, Senior Lecturer at the London School of Economics, addressed the most significant issues that he discussed in his first book “Britain, Japan and Pearl Harbor: Avoiding War in East Asia, 1936-1941″ (Routledge, London, 1995). This book delves into the history of Britain and the origins of the Pacific War, including the role of intelligence and the economic factors that helped to propel Britain and Japan towards conflict. In addition, he reflected on the changes to the historical record since the date of its first publication in 1995 and how the book might now be revised in the light of different new methodological approaches towards the writing of history. In particular, he discussed how the study of public opinion and institutions beyond Whitehall can be usefully incorporated in order to provide a more complete picture of British interaction with Japan in this crucial period.
Special event: 23 January 2014
Kintsugi is the craft in which chipped, cracked or broken ceramic pieces are repaired using a combination of urushi (lacquer) and rice glue. This process inadvertently results in a decoration, the form of which is dictated by the breakage the piece has suffered. The craft dates back to at least the 16th century, and there are various engaging historical anecdotes which emphasise the value placed on items pieced back together. There was also a demonstration of Kintsugi during the event.
Book launch: 17 January 2014
David Pilling, Asia Correspondent at the Financial Times, talked about his newly released book Bending Adversity, a portrait of contemporary Japan. Despite years of stagnation, Japan remains one of the world’s largest economies and a country which exerts a remarkable cultural fascination. David Pilling’s new book is an entertaining, deeply knowledgeable and surprising analysis of a group of islands which have shown great resilience, both in the face of financial distress and when confronted with the overwhelming disaster of the 2011 earthquake.
Exhibition: 24 Oct 2013 – 13 Dec 2013
This exhibition by Hideyuki Sobue is touring from the Sugar Store Gallery, Kendal, in the Lake District where the artist has been living and working. The exhibition features portraits of people who he has come to know personally, with each work designed to be exhibited as a diptych: one half featuring the portrait, the other half featuring fallen leaves which he has observed in the local area. These leaves are a metaphor for the fragility of life and for the majority of people who will never be the subject of a portrait.
Book launch: 6 December 2013
Dr Sharon Kinsella of the University of Manchester launches her new book ‘Schoolgirls, Money and Rebellion in Japan’ at Daiwa Foundation Japan House. Weaving through topics such as compensated dating (enjo kōsai), street fashion and nineteenth century black and white minstrelsy, Dr Kinsella analyses the cult of schoolgirls in contemporary Japan.