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Two years on

Today we remember the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeast Japan two years ago and led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. No doubt most of us have seen the horror images (especially the video record) from that time. These are unforgetable but distance and the passing of time leaches away their impact. It is another matter for the people on the ground, actually having to cope with the aftermath, even now.

The latest Economist notes that today:
... marks the second anniversary of the tsunami that killed 18,500 people in Japan. Good news is scant. Almost 315,000 evacuees still live in cramped temporary housing, and need new homes.
That assessment perhaps is a little unfair. In the last two years, the Japanese authorities have had to cope with the immediate aftermath of an immense catastrophe. If that weren’t enough, also the country’s leadership has had to rethink huge swathes of public policy – not least for energy, climate change, food security, agriculture and the economy – amidst political turmoil at home and with a roller-coaster economic crisis and a deteriorating international security situation impacting from abroad.
The magnitude of this situation is captured in a new book just published by NIAS Press, After the Great East Japan Earthquake: Political and Policy Change in Post-Fukushima Japan, edited by Dominic Al-Badri and Gijs Berends. This book is a little unusual, being written (rather carefully, let’s be frank) by diplomats and policy experts at European embassies to Japan. Rather than simply chronicle the triple disaster, it also explores subsequent shifts in Japanese politics and policy-making to see if the disaster has led to a transformation of the country, a shift in how Japan functions.
The book is now available in Europe and Japan, with copies arriving elsewhere soon.

SASNET meeting with collaboration partners at NIAS in Copenhagen

 From left to right Lars Eklund, Inga-Lill Blomkvist, Jonathan Stoltz, Bernd Wunsch and
 Asger Juel Hansen.

On Friday 15 February 2013, SASNET deputy director Lars Eklund and assistant webmaster Jonathan Stoltz visited the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) in its new premises beautifully located within Copenhagen University’s City Campus at Øster Farimagsgade 5, with a view over the lakes. The aim of the visit was to discuss the continued technical collaboration between SASNET and NIAS in the field of web site management. Lars and Jonathan had a fruitful meeting with NIAS Chief Librarian Asger Juel Hansen and his colleagues Inga-Lill Blomkvist and Bernd Wunsch, to discuss common technical problems and find solutions.

The SASNET–NIAS collaboration consists both of organising joint conferences (the Falsterbo conferences for young Nordic researchers), and joint technical issues like synchronizing and exchanging web based information.
The collaboration was formally initiated in 2011, when SASNET launched its current Drupal CMS system based website, completely redesigned and restructured by Julia Velkova at SASNET, with full assistance from Bernd Wunsch at NIAS. Since then NIAS hosts the SASNET website, and recently a new maintenance agreement for 2013 was signed by the two directors, Dr. Geir Helgesen at NIAS, and Dr. Anna Lindberg at SASNET.

NIAS   has existed for more than 40 years, and is nowadays hosted by and integrated into the University of Copenhagen, but is still mainly funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers under a contract with the institute. NIAS emphasizes research-based knowledge and information on Asia and the institute contributes to the international recognition of and respect for Nordic Asia research. Furthermore, the institute coordinates a Nordic, networked research school, The Asian Century Research School and the NIAS SUPRA Programme for Nordic Master and PhD students.

More information about NIAS.

Street Photography: China twenty years ago

Monday, March 11, 2013 - 08:00 to Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 23:00

For the next three months NIAS exhibits photos from 1994 by the Danish photographer Kirstine Theilgaard in our new exhibition room at the Social Sciences Faculty Library in Copenhagen. The photos captures central themes in a China transforming from a planned economy into a capitalistic market economy and provides an impression of what China looked like after some ten years of economic reforms.

In the picture you see the NIAS staff preparing the exhibition.

Venue: Gothersgade 140 on the 1 fl of the Faculty Library of the Social Sciences, Copenhagen University

Current SUPRA students at NIAS

Malte Benjamins, Lund University
Topic: The Reasonable State: Controversial Project Siting in Contemporary China

Yen Yin, University of Oslo
Topic: Overseas Chinese in Norway:The history of Chinese immigrants in Norway

Japan’s Arctic Policy

Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 15:30 to 17:00
Dr. Aki Tonami
Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), University of Copenhagen
The Arctic region is a possible source of scientific research, new shipping routes and natural resources. Japan is one of the non-Arctic states that have applied for the Permanent Observer Status at the Arctic Council, yet its Arctic policy is not widely known outside of Japan's Arctic community. In this seminar, Dr. Aki Tonami will provide a background and analysis of Japan’s Arctic Policy. What are Japan’s interests in the Arctic region and how will they be secured in the future?
Aki Tonami is Researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS),
University of Copenhagen. She has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from Kyoto University (2008). Her main research areas include Japan's international relations and environmental governance, particularly environmental aid.
The seminar will be moderated by Dr. Akihiro Ogawa.
Venue: Ohlinrummet, 5th floor, Stockholm School of Economics, Sveavägen 65
Se also enclosed invitation.

2nd Call for Abstracts : Growth: Critical perspectives from Asia

Over the past fifty years we have witnessed phenomenal economic growth in Asia, lifting millions of people out of poverty, and propelling many Asian nations to premier ranks in the global order, but as the social and ecological costs become more apparent, economic and demographic growth looms as both promise and peril.
The concept of growth has not only been central to economic theory and ecological critique, but also to social and cultural theories of societal and civilizational trans-formation that increasingly challenges universalizing Western notions of modernity. This conference critically examines the notion of growth and the ways in which it is shaping social-political landscapes in Asia. We define and question growth in this very broad sense, implying that quantitative changes are inevitably accompanied by qualitative transformations, and paying equal attention to the intricate interconnectedness of naturally occurring growth and human interference as well as to its limitations, stagnation, decline and renewal. Understood in this extended sense, the term and related concepts can be fruitfully used to explore social, economic and cultural processes across time and space within the macro-region of Asia (and beyond) from cross-disciplinary perspectives. 
Based on this notion of growth not as an autonomous, self-determined entity but as the outcome of close and constant interaction between nature and purposeful human action, at this conference we propose to rethink and scrutinize this concept from an Asian perspective and from multi-disciplinary vantage points – cultural, economic and social.
15 January 2013                Deadline for submitting abstracts
15 February 2013              Notification of acceptance
27 May 2013                       Deadline for submitting paper
Please visit the conference website for more information and the full call for abstracts
Abstracts including title, name and affiliation should be sent to

New publications by NIAS researchers

Aki Tonami and Stewart Watters have two new publications out now.

Aki Tonami and Watters, Stewart. (2012) Japan's Arctic Policy: The Sum of Many Parts, Arctic Yearbook 2012, pp.93-103.

Stewart Watters and Tonami, Aki. (2012) Singapore: An Emerging Arctic Actor, Arctic Yearbook 2012, pp.104-113.

Current SUPRA students at NIAS

Dan Nie, PhD, School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä
Topic: A Cross-Cultural Research on Leader-Member Exchange, Organizational Trust, and Corporate Ethical Values between Finland and China
Wang Jingjing, Postdoc, Soochow University
The Study of Chinese Writer Lu Xun

Freek Jonker New Pubslishing Assistant at NIAS Press

With a background in Public International Law at the University of Amsterdam, a minor in Latin American Studies, currently following my second master in African Studies at the University of Copenhagen and now working as a Publishing Assistant at NIAS to add the Asian side of the globe to the story of my life so far. Particular scholarly focus on the legal implications of land grabbing in Africa, particular private focus on music, football, reading, and recently discovered the joy of baking my own bread!

Over time Freek will take over the duties currently undertaken by Heather Patterson (who has graduated and thus exploring new uses for her undoubted talents). It is our great pleasure to welcome Freed to NIAS Press.

Vera Altmeyer back from 6 months fieldwork

Vera Altmeyer, associated PhD candidate at NIAS, has just returned to Copenhagen after six months of field research in Jakarta, Indonesia. During her time in Jakarta, Vera has spent two visiting fellowships at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) from May to July and at Freedom Institute from August to October.

For her PhD research she was analyzing the campaigns for the election of Governor and Vice-Governor of Jakarta Province, for which a first round was held in early July and a run-off in late September.  She did intensive participant observation, accompanying the two main candidates and their respective vice-candidates on the campaign trail and regularly observing the work of various other actors involved in the campaign process. Besides, she did a range of interviews with actors from the media, civil society organizations, the election commission, local research institutes, political parties, campaign volunteer organizations, campaign consultant companies and survey institutes, and the candidates themselves. A media content analysis will be done with archive data collected.

Overall Vera’s research aims to investigate how actors and institutions of political communication and political economy determine the outcome of elections and thereby contribute to the shaping of power relations in contemporary Indonesia. A further case study will be conducted in 2013.