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The second Call for Panels and Papers for the 16th EAJS International Conference (25-28 August 2021) is now online!

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Statement adopted by AKSE and EAJS on racism in COVID19 Times

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EAJS News

EAJS activities in regard to Japan's restrictive immigration policy in times of COVID-19

The EAJS has issued an open letter expressing concern about the restrictive immigration policy of the Japanese government in times of COVID-19. Furthermore, we have conducted a brief survey to find out if or how our members are affected by the current immigration regulations.The statement can found below. The results of the survey can be viewed here.

Many of the participants in the survey shared their experiences of how the travel ban has affected them personally in the “open comments” section. These "voices from our members" can be found here.

Statement by the Officers and Council of the European Association for Japanese Studies (EAJS) on COVID-19 related travel restrictions for scholars residing in Japan

July 15, 2020 

The European Association for Japanese Studies is greatly concerned about the unfortunate effects of the current restrictive immigration policy for long-term and medium-term residents working and conducting research in Japan.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing great havoc on the global scale. Japan is no exception in trying to contain the spread of the pandemic by implementing all measures deemed necessary, including understandable restrictions on the movement of persons across borders. 

Yet the situation affecting particularly long-term and medium-term foreign residents is of great concern to our organization due to the hardship it has imposed on them. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan states on its webpage that currently, entry is denied to citizens of 129 countries and regions, including those who are long-term and medium-term residents in Japan, except for a few special circumstances. Because of the ban, foreign individuals with resident status in Japan, including many members of our organization, who are teaching, researching or studying at Japanese universities, are prevented from attending even such deeply human matters as caring for elderly relatives, family reunions or other unexpected urgent matters requiring them to leave Japan, due to fear of and concern about not being re-admitted and/or having their residence status revoked. Our members report of many cases where scholars resident in Japan have gone abroad and were refused readmission, a sanction not applied to Japanese citizens and special permanent residents returning from abroad. This policy has unnecessarily severe consequences for the participation of foreign professors and researchers in the academic sphere, and if this policy is continued, we fear that it will have long-lasting negative consequences for teaching, research and study in Japan.

While we appreciate the steps already taken towards the easing of the aforementioned restrictions, and making the conditions for exceptions on humanitarian grounds more explicit, as reported on the web site of the Ministry of Justice on May 27 and June 12, serious concerns remain nevertheless regarding the re-entry and the treatment of medium- to long-term foreign residents in Japan. Unlike in almost every other developed country, their treatment is for some reason different from the treatment of Japanese citizens and special long-term residents. In all of the countries of the G7, EU and OECD, with the exception of Greece and Israel with their stricter limitations, and since this week in some cases, the USA, all medium- to long-term foreign residents are treated the same as citizens. This policy, if sustained, is likely to have negative effects on international cooperation in scholarship and on the ability of professors, researchers and students, including many of our members, to contribute to the success of research and teaching in Japan.

In particular, the EAJS is concerned about the plight of medium- to long-term resident foreign citizens in Japan. At present, people working in Japan, married to Japanese citizens, or studying are diligently contributing to Japanese society. Yet, unlike almost all of their counterparts everywhere else in the developed world, they are being denied the same treatment as Japanese nationals on the basis of citizenship alone. If this continues, we fear that this will damage Japan's reputation as a leading destination for international academic and cultural cooperation, and reduce the influence that Japanese research and cultural institutions will have in the years to come.

We have heard today, July 15, 2020, that the restrictions on educators and researchers that have prevented them from returning to their universities and families in Japan (or returning briefly to their home countries for urgent family matters) may be lifted soon. We welcome this development, and would hope that not only educators but also graduate students and other researchers with medium- and long-term visas would be included.

Once these restrictions are lifted, we would hope that any future increase in cases would be handled without such a blanket ban on the return of medium- and long-term visa holders whose professional and personal lives are based in Japan. Measures implemented internationally for returning long-term residents including testing and quarantine would protect public health in Japan without harming the internationally renowned higher education sector and the people from other countries who contribute greatly to its success.

Our members, many of whom have been residing and working in Japanese universities for decades, continue to look forward to contributing to providing the next generation of Japanese students with world class education, international exchange and intercultural communication skills. Our organisation is dedicated to these goals and to the promotion of the study of Japan in Europe and beyond. We strongly hope that the favourable environment for international scholars in Japan will be restored as soon as possible, with appropriate protections to safeguard public health.

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17th EAJS International Conference

Update: momentary suspension of Call for Conference Site Bids

Due to the complex situation created by the Corona pandemic leading to the postponement of the 16th EAJS International Conference, we are unfortunately unable to say at present whether the next conference will be held in 2023 or 2024 and in what form. Therefore we are suspending the call for bids for the site of the next EAJS conference for the time being.

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Olof Lidin

The EAJS was very sad to learn that former EAJS President and renowned Japan scholar Prof Olof Lidin passed away on 21 March 2018. Below is an obituary written by Olof Lidin's contemporaries Prof Bjarke Frellesvig and Prof Christian Hermansen.

Olof Gustav Lidin, 3 February 1926 – 13 March 2018

Lidin was born to small-scale farmers in Dackebranna in the northern part of Sweden, and died in Nærum near Copenhagen in Denmark, where he spent almost all of his academic career as professor of Japanese at the University of Copenhagen. His path to this post was not entirely straight, however. He first studied law at Uppsala University (Bachelor of Law, 1951), but then went on to study Chinese at the University of Stockholm under prof. Bernhard Karlgren (BA in 1955), combined with other language study (Russian, French and German), aiming for a career as a diplomat. He served as Administrative Officer, Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC), Panmunjom, Korea 1953-55. Returning to Sweden, Lidin worked at the UN office in Stockholm until 1959, when, on the recommendation of Karlgren, he moved with his family to the University of California, Berkeley, where he also studied Chinese, Mongolian and Vietnamese, but specialized in Japanese under prof. Donald H. Shively, obtaining his M.A. in 1963 and Ph.D. in 1967. Lidin was assistant professor at UC Davis from 1966 but was called by professor Søren Egerod to the University of Copenhagen to set up a section on Japanese Studies in the East Asian Institute in 1968. At the same time, Lidin assisted in setting up an East Asian Programme at the University of Lund, Sweden, 1969-1973. He was appointed professor of Japanese Studies in 1972 in Copenhagen and served there until his retirement in 1996. At the invitation of Professor Klaus Kracht, Lidin continued his academic life first at Tübingen Universität and 1997-2006 at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Besides his regular university employment, Lidin was invited as guest researcher to universities in Europe, the USA and Japan, including the International Research Institute for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, 1992-93.

Throughout his career at Copenhagen, the academic interest of Lidin was focused on the life and philosophy of Ogyū Sorai (荻生 徂徠 1666-1728), but he also published for the general public in Scandinavia on Japanese history (e.g., in Bonniers världshistoria vol. 4, Österns storriken, Sweden, 1983) and religion (e.g., Politikens Japans Religioner, Denmark, 1985). His interest in philosophy combined with his friendship with the author Abe Kobo resulted in academic articles on the latter’s literature. With the pressures of administrative responsibilities gone after his retirement, Lidin completed one more study on Ogyū Sorai, and then ventured into two other areas of interest – first the Tanegashima firearm and second Chinese philosophy (see the bibliography below).

Lidin was one the founding members of the European Association for Japanese Studies and served as the President of our association from 1982-1985 (having served before then as Secretary 1979-1982). He remained involved with the EAJS throughout his career, for example as the local organizer of the 7th International EAJS Conference which was held in Copenhagen in 1994, and well into retirement.

Lidin was the pioneer of Japanese Studies not just in Denmark but in all of Scandinavia. Through the 1970s and 1980s few if any academic appointments were made in Japanese Studies in Denmark, Sweden or Norway without Lidin’s contribution to the process, and hardly a doctorate awarded without his participation, either as supervisor or examiner. It is difficult to exaggerate his importance for the development of Japanese Studies in Scandinavia, where it is now a well-established and thriving discipline. On the occasion of his 70th birthday and retirement from his post in Copenhagen, colleagues from around the world contributed to a wide-ranging festschrift for Lidin, Florilegium Japonicum, Copenhagen, 1996. He was a Fellow of The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters and a member of the Academia Europaea.

 His contribution extended well beyond academia. During the growth of Japan’s economic role in the 1980s, Lidin represented the University of Copenhagen in setting up a Japan Information Centre in Copenhagen together with the Japanese Embassy, and also in establishing the Scandinavian Sasakawa Foundation in Sweden and Denmark. He was also closely involved with the establishment of the Tokai University European Centre which is located in Denmark, cohosting a “Japan Today” conference in 1985. All of these efforts contributed to the spread of knowledge of and interest in Japan. In recognition of his service and contribution, Lidin was awarded orders of distinction by both the Queen of Denmark (the Order of Chivalry, 1983 and 1993) and the Emperor of Japan (the Order of the Rising Sun, 1985).

Lidin was held in high regard and respect by his students at the University of Copenhagen. He was friendly, approachable and always ready to support young aspiring academics, also those outside of his own specialization. Both Lidin and his wife Gunvor, whom he married in 1957 and who remained his companion and support until she passed away in 2013, took a personal interest in each student. Every summer in June, after the last exams at the end of the academic year, Olof and Gunvor Lidin invited all colleagues and students from the section of Japanese Studies to their home in Holte north of Copenhagen to a dinner party -- in the later years often hosting more than 50 students -- and this became one of the highlights of the social student calendar. His former students share fond and affectionate memories of his classes, which he taught in a relaxed atmosphere in a mixture of Danish, Swedish and English, sporting one of his many colourful ties, and usually with a cup of coffee to hand and smoking a cigarette.

Bjarke Frellesvig, Oxford
Christian Hermansen, Kyoto
2 May 2018

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