Swiss Studies in Japan, Japanese Studies in Switzerland

Swiss Studies in Japan, Japanese Studies in Switzerland

A special evening of lectures on Swiss studies in Japan and Japanese studies in Switzerland was held at the Swiss Embassy. The event attracted many Japanese academics in the field and served well as a precursor to the “Japan and Switzerland seen from the outside – historical and social scientific analysis” workshop to be held in Zurich in September to commemorate the 150th year anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The first lecture in Tokyo was by Japan Women’s University’s Prof. em. Yasukazu Morita. He spoke in German and Japanese on the topic “The Image of Switzerland in the Eyes of Japanese Intellectuals in the Meiji and Taisho period”. Prof. David Chiavacci, Mercator Professor in Social Science of Japan at the University of Zurich, Institute of East Asian Studies, followed with a presentation titled “Research on Japan in Switzerland: Development and Particularities”. Prof. Chiavacci gave a concise overview of the history of Japanese studies and how Japan’s image had transformed and where it stands today.

Prior to the main lectures, Prof. Mitsuhiko Okamoto of Tokai University who took the initiative to organize the Tokyo event, introduced the lecturers and the workshop in September. Prof. Okamoto will be in Switzerland for one year starting this fall as a visiting researcher at the University of Zurich. Prof. Takao Iwai, the secretariat of the Swiss History Studies Group gave the opening speech at the beginning of the networking session.

More than forty guests, mainly members of the Swiss History Studies Group and Swiss Literature Studies Group in Japan attended. Most were professors, researchers and students with keen interest in Swiss studies. Dr. Daniel Künzler, Senior Lecturer at the University of Fribourg, and Dr. Patrick Ziltener, Associate Professor at the University of Zurich, also joined. In addition, several University of Zurich alumni could make it to the event, giving the meeting a broader perspective.

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