Organized Panel Session
This panel will examine the history of Japanese studies from a global perspective with a focus on Japan, the U.S., and Russia as principal centers of Japanology. We emphasize the four crucial turning points that influenced the history of Japanese studies worldwide. First, the beginning of the antagonism between the “American empire” (Naoki Sakai) and the Empire of Japan; second, the strategic victory of the U.S. and the onset of Pax Americana; third, the rise of the nationalist movement in Japan; and fourth, the crisis of Japanese economy and the destruction of social values of Post-war Japanese society.
First, Japanese studies developed as the ideological product of the clash of these empires. During this initial stage, the Japanese and Americans tended to dehumanize each other, as Naoki Sakai explains in his discussion of the opposition between Anthropos and Humanitas. Next, during the Pax Americana, the U.S. approach to Japanese studies came to define the state of the discipline worldwide. Following the economic flourishing in Japan, Japanology rose in prominence in its homeland and worldwide. Finally, during the fourth period, Japanese studies faced a decline in the U.S. and Japan while at the same time being on the rise in Russia. Fredric Dickinson declares the end of the Japanese studies in the U.S., pointing out that the study of Japan is currently not distinguished from the rest of East Asian studies. Conversely, the Russian Japanology has been steadily arising as a distinct field of intellectual inquiry over the last decades.