On Wednesday, October 17th, Indiana University's (IU) Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies (HLS) had the honor of hosting Dr. Kiyoteru Tsutsui (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) as the inaugural speaker in the 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI*)'s new interdisciplinary speaker series. During his visit, Dr. Tsutsui gave a public talk to a packed house of students, faculty, and staff based on his 2018 book "Rights Make Might: Global Human Rights & Minority Movements in Japan" (Oxford UP). He also joined 21JPSI Director Adam Liff for a special hour-long session to offer advice to IU graduate students working on Japan - and social science - related projects, and held meetings with HLS Dean Lee Feinstein and Executive Associate Dean Nick Cullather, Institute of Korean Studies Director and Korea Foundation Profesor Seung-kyung Kim, and East Asia Studies Center Director Michael Brose to discuss Japan studies in the Midwest, and possible collaborations between IU and Michigan.
The public highlight of Dr. Tsutsui's visit to HLS was a 75-minute lecture/Q&A session to an overflowing, standing-room only crowd of nearly 100 students and faculty. In his remarks, Dr. Tsutsui chronicled how global human rights ideas and institutions transformed activists' understandings of the positions in Japanese society of three minority groups in Japan – the Ainu, Koreans ("zainichi"), and Burakumin – and inspired them to fight for their rights in new international venues. Beyond its direct implications for Japanese society and public policy, Dr. Tsutsui's research also yields more general implications for social science, especially the relationship between international human rights and local politics, social movements, and international norms and institutions. Dr. Tsutsui's research shows how an international space can empower minority groups and give them a stage to interact and debate Human Rights and the implementations of those rights in their own societies.
Before introducing Dr. Tsutsui, Dr. Liff thanked the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership for its support of 21JPSI, declaring that Wednesday's inaugural lecture marked the public launch of an "exciting five-year initiative at HLS to invigorate research, teaching, and programming on contemporary Japanese politics, society, and international relations." He added that beyond the importance of Japan studies in its own right, the Initiative is particularly timely given recent developments in Washington and East Asia, noting that "Japan has never been more important to the United States, nor has the United States ever been more to Japan." He also emphasized the significant investment of Japanese companies in Indiana, and the popularity of Japanese language and Japan studies on campus.
The Fall 2018 speaker series will continue next month, with public talks byProf. Joseph Coleman of the IU Media School ("Unfinished Work: the Challenges of Aging Work Forces in Japan and the United States" (Nov. 5 4pm, GA 1100)), and Prof. Megumi Naoi of UC San Diego ("U.S. - Japan Economic Frictions in the 'Trump Era': Beyond TPP?" (Nov. 28 4pm, GA 1100 (location subject to change))