Seminar: Tuesday 23 September 2014
Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat based in the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania in 1940, went against his superiors and granted visas to Jewish refugees looking to escape Europe by travelling to Japan via the Trans-Siberian Railway. Virtuous behaviour seems to be strongly linked to the notion of conscience, that inner voice that tells us what we ought to do. But when and how do we learn conscience, or are we born with it? Is conscience synonymous with ethics, morals and a sense of justice? Morals and values differ from country to country, so do cultural values influence people’s conscience?
Special event: Thursday 25 September 2014
Satoshi Hashimoto is currently one of Japan’s most ‘alarming’ artists, producing works of art that make the viewer feel like someone witnessing a traffic accident. By somehow “questioning your stance”, “ignoring you”, “making a contract with you” or “transferring ownership to you”, they transcend social laws and morality and turn you into a participant, not just an observer.
Seminar: Tuesday 30 September 2014
Keeping the doors open between China and Japan - the role of personal networks and Track II diplomacy
Track II Diplomacy is a way for private individuals to meet unofficially and find their way to common ground when official negotiators cannot. NGOs, academics, and ex-officials often act as Track II diplomats in having unofficial conferences and conversations about pressing issues, and have sometimes brought them to a successful conclusion. Official government-to-government interactions are not necessarily the most effective methods for resolving differences between nations.
Special event: Thursday 2 October 2014
On Monday April 25th 2005, a West Japan Railway (JR West) commuter train crashed into an apartment building and killed 107 people when a driver tried to catch up with an 80-second delay. Since the accident, the official committee report has concluded that the direct cause of the accident was over-speeding and JR West have agreed to pay compensation for the victims and changed the timetable. However, the fundamental question has remained unanswered – what made the driver risk so many lives for an 80-second delay?
Book launch: Wednesday 8 October 2014
Professor Junji Banno is a prolific and widely read writer on the political history of modern Japan, whose many insights into its kaleidoscopic politics from the middle of the nineteenth century until the late 1930s have re-written various aspects of Japanese political history. This translation of his latest work by Professor Arthur Stockwin treats eighty crucial years of history with a combination of synoptic overview and fascinating detail.
Talk: Monday 13 October 2014
Ei Arakawa started the UNITED BROTHERS art collective with his brother Tomō Arakawa in 2011. Their purpose is a mediation between the reality of Fukushima (where they were born) and the reality of the international art world at large. UNITED BROTHERS created the Green Tea Gallery, a collection of 50 artists around the world, and is participating in the new Live Section of this year’s Frieze Art Fair with their new work Does This Soup Taste Ambivalent? Arakawa will discuss this new performance of giving away soup containing an ingredient grown in Fukushima.
Book launch: Thursday 16 October 2014
“Across the Three Pagodas Pass” is a translation of the only known detailed account of the building of the notorious 262-mile long Thai-Burma Railway by one of the Japanese professional engineers who was involved in its construction. The author, Yoshihiko Futamatsu, provides an invaluable new source of historical and technical reference that complements the existing large body of literature in English on this subject.