Internationalisation Interrupted

Event - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 1 July, 2021 - Friday 2 July, 2021

Sainsbury Institute

About the research workshop

The Centre for Japanese Studies at the University of East Anglia and the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures are pleased to be holding a special two-day workshop event to discuss the global role of Japan in relation to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. The Olympics has historically provided an opportunity for hosting nations to showcase cultural and political strengths as well as their unity within the international community. However, Japan’s model of globalisation has been seen as more inward-looking and seeks to enhance a certain self-image rather than global ties (e.g. Iwabuchi 2015). Following this, Tokyo 2020 presents an ideal opportunity to discuss how Japan’s global role and ambitions have developed in the contemporary era.

International marketing campaigns, social media and global news reporting provide clues as to how particular images of Japan have been constructed and circulate worldwide in the lead up to Tokyo 2020. However, following the Covid-19 Pandemic and a yearlong postponement, the nation has come under new scrutiny over escalating costs, high-profile scandals and resignations, and the decision to stage the games without international spectators. For these and other reasons, Japan’s control over their international branding has weakened, and waning enthusiasm both internationally and domestically has meant Tokyo 2020 may end up causing the nation more harm than good.

Bring together scholars from a range of disciplines across the humanities, we ask, how have the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics provided new contexts for discussing Japan’s international presence? Our aim is to spark discussion on the ways by which Japan has communicated itself internationally and domestically in the run up to the games, and how this enhances our understanding of the nation’s approaches to internationalisation and globalisation. We are interested in how social, political, media and other forms of communication have circulated particular images and discourses of Japan’s global role. Furthermore, we are interested in exploring both Japan’s marketed image of itself alongside the more negative discourses that have grown since the pandemic.


The Call for Papers has now passed. However, if you would like to attend the workshop as an audience member, you can register your place here.


Day One (Thursday July 1st)

09:00 – 10:30 BST | 10:00 – 11:30 CET | 04:00 – 05:30 EDT | 15:00 – 16:30 ICT | 17:00 -18:30 JST

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Helen Macnaughtan (SOAS University of London, UK) – ‘Women, Sport and the Tokyo Olympics’ 

11:00 – 12:30 BST | 12:00 – 13:30 CET | 06:00 – 07:30 EDT | 17:00 – 18:30 ICT | 19:00 – 20:30 JST 

Panel One: Situating Tokyo 2020 in Contemporary Japan

Dr. Abe Yasuhito (Komazawa University, Japan) – ‘The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Fukushima and citizen science in the Japanese media landscape’

Dr. Akiko Tomatsuri (University of East Anglia, UK) – ‘Multilingual society: the legacy of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics?             

Dr. Mariko Ikeda (University of Tsukuba, Japan) and Dr. Christian Morgner (Leicester University, UK) – ‘From “Japanese” to “Tokyo-jin”: Contemporary Japanese cultural identity and artistic expression in the Olympic Games opening ceremony’                                                                                 

13:00 – 14:30 BST | 14:00 – 15:30 CET | 08:00 – 09:30 EDT | 19:00 – 20:30 ICT | 21:00 – 22:30 JST               

Panel Two: Perspectives on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Anoma van der Veere (Leiden Asia Centre, Netherlands) – ‘Reconceptualising ‘internationalisation’ among Tokyo 2020 Paralympic stakeholders: A study of the ‘Game Changer Project’ and the I’mPossible educational program’

Dr. Verity Postlethwaite (SOAS, UK) and Dr. Győző Molnár (University of Worcester, UK) – ‘The Japanese committee was responsible for the bungling’: an analysis of media-based narratives of Japan and the Paralympic Games’

Dr. Olga Kolotouchkina (University CEU San Pablo, Spain) and Dr. Carmen Llorente-Barroso (University of Madrid) – ‘From stigma and exclusion to iconic media representation: disability narratives in design, advertising and sponsorship of Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games’

Day Two (Friday July 2nd)              

10:00 – 11:00 BST | 11:00 – 12:00 CET | 05:00 – 06:00 EDT | 16:00 – 17:00 ICT | 18:00 – 19:00 JST 

Panel Three: Tokyo 2020 in the Media

Dr. David M. Malitz (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand) – ‘In the eyes of the beholder: Reporting about Mori Yoshinori’s resignation as chairman of the Japanese Olympic Committee’

Prof. William Steele (International Christian University, Tokyo) – ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Olympics: Asahi Newspaper Editorial Cartoons on the 2020 Games’

11:00 – 12:30 BST | 12:00 – 13:30 CET | 06:00 – 07:30 EDT | 17:00 – 18:30 ICT | 19:00 – 20:30 JST 

Panel Four: Media Representation of Japan and the Olympics

Dr. Jamie Matthews (University of Bournemouth, UK) – ‘The Exchange of (Mis)information in International Media Reporting on Japan’s Responses to COVID-19’

Dr. Christopher Hayes (Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Culture, UK) – ‘Images of Japan on British TV: Analysing representations of Japan in recent British travel shows’

Dr. Duncan Breeze (University of East Anglia, UK) – ‘Sporting history through taiga drama: Japan’s Olympic heritage in NHK’s Idaten (2019)’.

1 HOUR BREAK            

13:30 – 15:00 BST | 14:30 – 16:00 CET | 08:30 – 10:00 EDT | 19:30 – 21:00 ICT | 21:30 – 23:00 JST

Panel Five: Olympics and Environments

Dr. Robin Kietlinski (LaGuardia CC, City University of New York) – ‘Environment Overshadowed: Tokyo 2020 Sustainability Initiatives and the Pandemic Postponement’

Dr. Alexandre Faure (Fondation France-Japon de l’EHESS, Paris) – ‘Olympic Games and Global Cities – what is the urban strategy of Tokyo 2020 ?’

Marte C.H. Boonen (Leiden University, Netherlands) – ‘Surveillance Olympics: The (un)intended consequences of national regulations’

15:00 – 16:00 BST | 16:00 – 17:00 CET | 10:00 – 11:00 EDT | 21:00 – 22:00 ICT | 23:00 – 24:00 JST

Roundtable and close


This event is part of the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2021

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