University of Melbourne (Australia) GJO Activity Report / 活動日誌

University of Melbourne (Australia) Global Japan Office August 2019 Activity Report

Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

Busy and exciting August of visitors, events, film screenings, collaborations, and more!

It’s been a busy and exciting start to the semester and a lot’s been happening here at the Japanese Studies department this month – with a number of great events!

In August, we were delighted to welcome Professor Aaron Gerow (Yale University) to Melbourne. Professor Gerow, a renowned historian of Japanese cinema and film theory, partook in several events as part of his Walter Mangold Visiting Fellowship. Of these, an excellent Japanese Film Theory Masterclass, held at the Interactive Cinema Space, which focused on how Japanese film theory lends itself to thinking through Eurocentric histories of cultural theory.


In addition, there were also a couple of excellent film screenings of some Japanese classics held at the Southbank campus’ Federation Hall:

Professor Gerow’s fully booked-out 2019 Walter Mangold Lecture was a more fleshed out version of his masterclass, with a focus on translating Japanese film theory and the rich genealogy of approaches to cinema from Japan that can be incorporated into – but also to decentre – the Eurocentrism in Western film theory.


Professor Gerow delivering a seminar to our Japanese Studies program staff.

We’re thankful for Professor Gerow’s visit, his rich scholarship, and his generosity in sharing such insights! His visit was a great wrap-up to the Japan Centenary celebration over the past three years. During this time, we’ve had a record high enrollment in Japan-related subjects; and we’re envisioning a strong future ahead for Japanese Studies here at the university.

More recently, the Japanese Studies Program also hosted its annual Postgraduate Conference in Japanese Studies with Kwansei Gakuin (Kangaku) University over two days (28 – 29 August). This is the third year of our teaching and mentoring collaboration between the University of Melbourne and Kangauku, which began in 2017. This year we had eight very high-quality and thoughtful papers, four of which came from us (2 PhD and 2 Honours students), covering a diverse range of topics from: gender and sexuality in Japan, intercultural communication, historical perspectives on law and politics, the concept of “otaku” (“uncool” people in contemporary Japanese culture), and more!


Our program staff members were actively engaged in advising and supporting these emerging scholars – giving their time in chairing the panels, eliciting ideas through Q&A, transferring academic techniques (such as presentation skills), and a post-conference follow-up included providing support and mentoring for publishing some of these papers in graduate journals – a great and important effort to foster the work of early career researchers.


The third annual Postgraduate Conference in Japanese Studies with students from the University of Melbourne and Kwansei Gakuin (Kangaku) University.


A delicious dinner afterwards at the Japanese restaurant Shakuhari!

Wow, it seems like we’ve really launched into the semester! Well over a month in, there’s still a lot that’s coming up – stay tuned… 🙂

University of Melbourne (Australia) Global Japan Office July 2019 Activity Report

Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

Beginnings and endings for the middle of the year!

This month has been full of new beginnings at the GJO in Melbourne: the beginning of semester began in wintery late July, and the GJO office in Melbourne farewelled Daniel Pham and welcomed an interim office coordinator: Lu Lin.

During the university’s official mid-year break, an intensive overseas subject, ‘Contemporary Japan’, ran from 1-17 July 2019 at Hokkaido University. In its third year running, the program saw the participation of a total of 38 students from Melbourne and Hokkaido. In the final weekend, students had the opportunity to engage with the indigenous culture and peoples of Hokkaido – the Ainu – and Ainu aunties were invited to class for intercultural dialogue and exchange with students; what a privilege to learn about and share culture in such an immediate, live, face-to-face way! Students also had the opportunity to visit a field museum, Kawamura Kaneto Aynu Memorial Hall, which is located in Asahikawa and is one of the oldest Ainu culture museums in Japan! The subject is coordinated by Professor Akihiro Ogawa in collaboration with colleagues from Hokkaido University and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. This year, fifteen students from Melbourne were funded by the New Colombo scheme (an Australian government initiative to deepen two-way engagement between Australia and the Indo-Pacific).


Students from the University of Melbourne, Hokkaido University and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies who partook in the Contemporary Japan intensive subject

And, at the GJO office in Melbourne; organisation was underway for a number of upcoming events and visitors:

We have Professor Aaron Gerow (Yale University) – a renowned American historian of Japanese cinema – who will be here for a number of events this month including: a couple of cinema screenings at the Southbank campus’ beautiful Federation Hall, a media/film masterclass on reading Japanese film theory [link:], a Japanese Studies program seminar, and a public lecture as part of the Walter Mangold Visiting Fellow program.

Next month, we’ll also be welcoming Dr Carol Hayes (Australian National University, Canberra) who will present a seminar on “Trends in Japanese Language Education through an ANU Lens” [link:] for the Inagaki Seminar 10 next month – if you are, somehow, in Melbourne on September 10 – please come!

We would also like to welcome all new – and welcome back – Japanese studies students to the university, and to Asia Institute! As you can see, it’s been a busy and exciting time here. As winter solstice is now over and the days get longer, we look forward to a fruitful and stimulating semester ahead!

Until next month… 🙂

University of Melbourne (Australia) Global Japan Office June 2019 Activity Report

Global Japan Office Coordinator
Daniel Phan

G’day fellow GJO’ers!

While this month was a markedly joy-filled one for some (very) lucky students who undertook Japan-based learning through the University of Melbourne and its partner institutions, it is with great sadness that June was my last at the Global Japan Office.

I am however thrilled to report that this cosy operation we have maintained here will be in safe hands. Having shared a co-working space with my successor, Ms Lu Lin, over the past 6 months, I can attest to her diligence and keen advocacy for improved classroom outcomes. It is such infectious enthusiasm and perspective that I hope will shine through her presence! So please join me in warmly welcoming Lu to the GJO family – I promise you will enjoy her reports and expectedly flawless RMIT School of Media and Communication turn of phrase!

So, now to the (kind of) serious stuff! The Tandem (Academic) Learning Project program, held in Hokkaido this year, ran for three days in late June. Twelve students – three each from Melbourne and the University of Helsinki in Finland and six from the host institution, Hokkaido University – participated in the program.

The stated aims in the language and research exchanges yielded all-round positive results, with our representatives from Australia – Natalie McKay, Saffron Lai and Christian Demetriou – receiving positive feedback from their Japanese counterparts and academic staff. In between the sessions, students were active in networking with staff and peers in the evening. The participants also spent a day sightseeing in Sapporo to conclude the program, which is expected to be next held in Melbourne in 2021.
Finally, it would be remiss of me to finish my last submission for the GJO without extending my utmost gratitude to Professor Akihiro Ogawa for according me this wonderful opportunity to engage with my lifelong curiosities about Japan, its history, peoples and wonderfully complex culture. Aki-san, as he is known around the traps here at the Asia Institute, become more than just a boss but rather a keen mentor and friend. Thank you, boss!

University of Melbourne (Australia) Global Japan Office May 2019 Activity Report

Global Japan Office Coordinator
Daniel Phan

Winter is here!

This month was a rather exciting one for Japan and Japanese Studies enthusiasts. While the ninth installment of the Asia Institute’s Inagaki Seminar 9, titled ‘Transpacific Imagination: Nuclear Representation in Australia and Japan’, was the only major public event – May is typically the time when students across the state of Victoria (and much of Australia) begin to taste the Jekyll-and-Hyde pandemonium of SWOTVAC (Study Without Teaching Vacation) which precedes exams and final assessments. SWOTVAC has long been an institution and is the stuff of cramming legend among many a snowed-under university student in the land Down Under – not that we at GJO Melbourne endorse or condone such an approach to study, especially vis-à-vis anything Japan-related! Now I did mention that the month is an exciting one…because a handful of lucky undergraduate students will be embarking on an Overseas Intensive Subject in Hokkaido, Japan in around a months’ time! Upon successful completion, the subject, Contemporary Japan, should accord students new perspectives on Japanese society that will equip them to navigate the diverse complexes and dichotomies that touch upon modern Japan. Additionally, three students – two undergraduate honours and one PhD – will also be headed to Hokkaido for the Tandem (Academic) Language Learning Project (TLLP), a bilingual research program between the University of Melbourne, the Graduate School of International Media Communication and Tourism Studies of Hokkaido University, and Department of World Cultures of Helsinki University. The program aims to foster improved language outcomes through critical and engaging exchanges and activities between students in their non-native tongues. It is indeed an exciting time for those selected to participate.


Entry-level Japanese with Ms. Masako Nagayama. This class comprises students from a diverse range of disciplines.


Professor Akihiro Ogawa working tireless on his upcoming title with Professor Philip Seaton of TUFS.


Inagaki Seminar 9 presenter Professor Tomoko Ichitani (Visiting Senior Fellow at the Australian Centre and Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at Seinan Gakuin University)


In typical Melbourne fashion the evening weather at its unforgiving best which was perfect for an indoors seminar at confines of the Asia Institute.

University of Melbourne (Australia) Global Japan Office April 2019 Activity Report

Global Japan Office Coordinator
Daniel Phan

Winter is nearing…!

April is typically a busy month on campus at the University of Melbourne – students still easing into the new semester are suddenly confronting the onslaught of assessments and all the while much of the rest of the population enjoys the public holidays and ensuing long-weekends. April also heralds a seasonal change from summer to autumn (fall, for those better acquainted with North American English) which sees the local weather take on a Jekyll and Hyde act: one moment shorts and t-shirts, the next windcheaters and pullovers are absolutely mandatory. In short, it is cold and windy but the month is punctuated by sporadic warm and sunny days when memories are made and wintry pain is temporarily an afterthought. Welcome to Melbourne!

Amid all this, members of the Japanese studies and language team were brought together on a rather frosty evening for the 8th instalment of the Inagaki Seminar series (see photos), named after Moshi Inagaki who pioneered Japanese language study at the University a century ago. A mainstay of the Japanese program at UoM, the Inagaki series has become an institution for all Japan-interested minds owing to the support and time from the Program Head. With the #MeToo movement making headlines globally, it was a rally opportune moment for an informative session on the gender inequalities persisting in Japanese political and economic life in spite of the narrow gender gap in health and education. It was a delight for Dr Emma Dalton to explore and unpack the issues of inequality of the sexes in the workplace issues through the context of Japanese society.

In May the Inagaki Seminar series will be welcoming Professor Tomoko Ichitani of Seinan Gakuin University to Australia as a Visiting Senior Fellow.


University of Melbourne (Australia) Global Japan Office March 2019 Activity Report

Global Japan Office Coordinator
Daniel Phan

Seminar season is upon us

In the month of March, members of the University of Melbourne’s Japanese studies and language fraternity – students, academics, staff and those simply interested in the goings-on in Japan – came together for a day-long celebration of all-things Japanese. This was preceded by a PhD workshop featuring special guest Professor Miranda Schreurs of the Technical University of Munich who was on hand to provide comments to three postgraduate students whose dissertations cover: (1) civil society’s role in driving alternative energy dialogues; (2) perceptions of media credibility in the context of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster; and (3) the risk perception and reduction of migrant mothers in its ensuing aftermath.


[Prof. Miranda Schreurs, Prof. Akihiro Ogawa and the Japan Foundation’s Elicia O’Reilly ahead of the PhD workshop]


[Ms Akina Mikami presenting her PhD progress report]

Prof. Schreurs headlined Part 1 of the 7th Inagaki Seminar, named after Moshi Inagaki who pioneered Japanese language study at the University a century ago, with her speech ‘Reinventing Fukushima: Post-Disaster Recovery and the Japanese Energy Transition’ in which she explored the energy transition following on from the March 11 catastrophe in 2011.


[Prof. Schreurs’ keynote speech to open the Inagaki seminar]

Her presentation, on the recovery efforts after the nuclear catastrophe and subsequent designs to establish Fukushima as a pioneer for low-carbon, nuclear-free energy transition, also highlighted the disaster’s facilitation and galvanising of an increasingly assertive civil society vis-à-vis nuclear power that had previously been earmarked and hailed as a key post-Kyoto Protocol carbon reduction energy source. And with sentiments shifting away from nuclear technology for domestic energy provision, renewables were becoming the preferred energy source by community members owing to their relative affordability (and not to mention the potentially exportable knowledge and insights).

Between the Inagaki seminar sessions was Unimelb’s official Welcome Event for the Japanese studies and language program, organised by Dr. Claire Maree. Following the welcoming remarks from Professor Akihiro Ogawa was the announcement of the 2018 Japan Foundation Video Matsuri awards winners and cordial greetings from staff, the Melbourne University Japanese Club and Asia Institute Director, Professor Vedi Hadiz.


[Video Matsuri awards winners Nicole Shen, Thomas Martinello and Emma Cui]


[Pak Vedi Hadiz workimg the crowd with his effortless charm and wisdom]

Part 2 of the seminar featured a film screening of ‘I want to go home’. Translated by Miki Hawkinson, a teaching associate with the University, the film follows a man’s search for his missing wife after the tsunami. And on this occasion, it certainly did not fail in tugging at the heart strings!


[Opening remarks by translator Miki Hawkinson at the film screening]

As of last week, as part of the Asian Civil Society Research Cluster at the Asia Institute, an international workshop titled ‘Embedding the Apology in the Media: How Civil Society Contributes to Reconciliation’, was organised by Cluster leader Professor Ogawa. The speakers/delegates hailed from both the University and abroad and came together to discuss the role of civil society in post-war reconciliation, namely in the context of World War II antagonists, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. It was a most engaging and illuminating experience as the discourses ranged from the effectiveness of institutionalised memory of war crimes to how media portrayed history in the respective societies.


[Associate Professor Allan Patience, knower of all-things Japan, being his exceptional self!]

Also on the agenda this month was the updating of the respective study areas for the Asia Institute website that, of course, includes Japanese Studies among others (Asian, Arabic, Islamic, Chinese and Indonesian with Korean to be added soon). With a marked emphasis on Asian capabilities (languages, cultural awareness and skills et al), a free trade agreement in place between Canberra and Tokyo and the increased diversifying of Japanese foreign investment in Australia, there is no better time for Unimelb students to consider taking up Japanese language and studies! With enrolments for Japanese ahead of all other Asian and non-Asian languages in the LOTE category across all proficiency levels, the dedicated teaching staff certainly deserve their hard-earned kudos!


[Group photo from the Welcome to Japanese studies event]


[The real heroes of the Japanese language program – the tutors!]

In the month of April we will be looking forward to the eighth installment of the Inagaki Seminar series. Titled ‘Women’s challenges at work in Japan’, it will feature a speech from Dr Emma Dalton of RMIT University who most recently published Womenomics, ‘Equality’ and Abe’s Neo-liberal Strategy to Make Japanese Women Shine in the Social Science Japan Journal (Vol. 20). Can’t wait!

University of Melbourne (Australia) Global Japan Office February 2019 Activity Report

Global Japan Office Coordinator
Daniel Phan

Great to be on board

G’day fellow GJOers! This month’s is the first submission of many from the Global Japan Office at the University of Melbourne in (usually) sunny Australia! And yes, our campus is only a few tram stops from the central business district – not far from where global tennis superstar and Japan’s very own Naomi Osaka claimed the Australian Open Grand Slam title to shoot right atop the world rankings and be crowned the world’s best female tennis player!


Tram line from campus into Melbourne’s central business district


Sidney Myer Asia Centre, home to GJO’s Unimelb office

GJO on-campus room

Our working space is underway and almost completed, with a room located in the Sidney Myer Asia Centre (which houses the Asia Institute under which the Japanese and Japan Studies academic and administrative staff operate) currently being used for administrative duties.


Room 305 from where GJO’s Melbourne-based support and admin duties are carried out

A name plate has been procured and awaiting framing before it officially goes up on the door of the shared room which is also the administrative centre of the Centre of Contemporary Chinese Studies and the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies. So we cannot wait to see the GJO brand sitting aside our friendly neighbours up on level 3 of this beautiful building – from where we are treated to skyline views (weather permitting, of course!).


View from level three of the Sidney Myer Asia Centre

Welcome to Semester one

As the semester has only commenced this week, much of our focus has been on preparing for an upcoming medley of events – a PhD workshop, seminar and film screening – that we are excited to report about in next month’s installment of the GJO Activity Report. Given the University’ reputation, we are hopeful that the engaged student population, many of whom taking a keen interest in in the Asia-Pacific region (including students majoring/minoring in Japanese or Japan studies), will be drawn to the public event that will be featuring a keynote address from Professor Miranda Schreurs of the Technical University of Munich.


Poster advertising an upcoming Japan and Japanese Studies PhD workshop

Until then, please feel welcome to marvel at the beautiful architecture and campus grounds that hosts a most vibrant and multicultural student population!