The Distance between Japan and the World

HIRAMATSU Makoto(Assistant Professor)
November 12, 2021

In August 2021, I took up my post as assistant professor in the Office of Institutional Research (IR). My task is to gather information on the research and educational activities of Nichibunken faculty, subject it to data analysis, and report on it.

My specialty is urban sociology, but allow me, by way of initial greeting, to share with you some thoughts that relate to the study of Japan. Sociology is an academic field born in Europe, and its trajectory thereafter has been one of development through Europe and America. As a result, there are bound to be a number of Japanese sociologists whose work involves them building on European and American theory, and locating their work in that broader context. I too have pursued my research always conscious of the arguments of urban sociology as it is centered on America.

Recently, however, I have come to feel a slight sense of unease about this style of research. For example, the reality is that American society is built on the influx of migrants, and the diversity of its culture is greater than that of Japan. Moreover, it is a society premised upon Protestant Christian culture. I have begun to wonder whether theories established in American and European societies can be applied as they are to the study of Japan.

I want to use my days at Nichibunken to think about how best to realize the study of urban sociology that meets the reality of Japan and Asia. I look forward to working with you all.

Climbing Katsurazaka (photograph by the author).

Climbing Katsurazaka (photograph by the author).