2022 Activity Report

March Activity Report

31 March 2023
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

Inagaki 27 update, and

It’s been a fantastic start to Semester 1 so far. As mentioned last month, we had Aileen Mioko Smith join us for the Inagaki 27 seminar. As expected, she gave a brilliant and moving talk about the devastating implications of the Chisso wastewater pollution disaster. If you’re interested, an interview and article about Aileen on Kyoto Journal is available here. Many people came along to hear her speak. As an aside, it’s been lovely to see the growing community around our Inagaki seminar series. Our next one is coming up in May… stay tuned for registration details!

Speaking of community, we also hosted a ‘welcome’ event for Japanese studies students this month, at the William McMahon Ballroom theatre. It was great to converge together in person, and although we’ve been out of lockdowns for a while now, it’s still quite surreal to see a large group of people together. Students at all levels of Japanese were joined by Japanese studies program director, Akihiro Ogawa, and Senior Lecturer in Japanese studies, Jun Ohashi, and myself (as administrator).

Several students took turns to introduce themselves to the cohort: they shared why they pursued Japanese studies, what their favourite animes are (followed by collective and exasperated gasps, groans, or cheers), what they enjoy about the program, and shared opportunities available to students, such as the Japanese student club’s activities. Since I primarily work with Asia Institute staff members, it was wonderful to be around students for once.

Until next month!

February Activity Report

28 February 2023
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

Start of semester and Inagaki 27

Beginnings seem to ricochet and ripple at the start of the year; with actual new year, then staff coming back from their annual leave, then Lunar New Year, then the start of Semester 1 which just began in late February. Now that we’re in March – and officially in Autumn – the ‘start of the year’ has been rolling well into the end of its first quarter with rustles of students in courtyards, lines outside cafes, and a buzzing atmosphere as the student-staff body does its usual dance.

Here in the Japanese studies program, we’ve been preparing for our first Inagaki 27 for the year with Aileen Mioko Smith. She is a renowned Japanese activist who will be giving a talk on the seminar social, political, and legal implications surrounding Minamata disease: methylmercury poisoning caused by eating seafood contaminated by the factory wastewater of the chemical company Chisso in Minamata, Kyushu – one of Japan's worst industrial pollution disasters. Wow!

Aileen by the Kamogawa in Kyoto. Credit/copyright: Nagase Mitsue

It’s going to be a truly brilliant and important seminar: please come join us online on 10 March 2023, 12:30–1:30PM if you are available. Admission is free, but registration is compulsory.

Until next month!

January Activity Report

5 February 2023
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

Happy new year, again, and Inagaki 27

Happy New Year – again! While Japan and Australia both centre the Gregorian calendar for new year celebrations, Lunar New Year has historically been part of Japan’s cultural history (until the Meiji Era) and is also woven into ‘Australian’ culture, thanks to its large Asian population. The Year of the (Water, Yin) Rabbit brings with it growth, contemplation, peace, prosperity and longevity. Irrespective of your background and celebrations, these are promising sentiments for everyone to move towards!

January is a quiet time of year in Australia for many people, or at least in education settings. It’s summertime here, with many students still on break from studies, some are working, some may be visiting family elsewhere, or just enjoying their holidays, with the main university semester not returning until the end of February. While the Japanese department closed off 2022 with much activity, with several seminars and conferences, we’ve been using this time to reset, and recommence our activities for 2023. Up next is our next Inagaki seminar. Inagaki 27 will be presented by Aileen Mioko Smith, an environmental activist who will discuss learnings from Minamata (a form of methylmercury poisoning from eating seafood), a result of factory wastewater pollution by Japanese company Chisso and one of the worst industrial disasters in Japan. Aileen will share with us her learnings and how these overlap with the Fukushima nuclear disaster. If you’re available on Friday 10 March 12:30–1:30pm (AEDT), we’d love for you to join us online for this webinar!

Until next month!

December Activity Report

31 December 2022
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

Conference update, and a new year!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope many of you feel refreshed in the transition to the new year, and if not, then at least psychically in some way! It’s warm weather here in Melbourne (summer), and our major holidays and breaks usually occur around the Christmas and New Year period. Most staff opt for leave during this time. Last month I mentioned that the Civil Society in Asia 4 conference was taking place at the Yasuko Hiraoka Myer Room, at the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute – and that I’d provide an update! It was a brilliant and very productive event that took many months to plan alongside Japanese department director, Professor Akihiro Ogawa. With generous funding from the Resona Foundation for Asia and Oceania, and support from Asia Institute Research Cluster on Asian Civil Society, we were able to fly in a number of international scholars (including UniMelb postgraduate students living in Japan) to present their work in-person. While online transmissions have hybridised our learning and sharing (and made it more accessible in that way), there’s nothing that beats being together face-to-face to share work.

As an administrative support officer, I was impressed by how much support was available to me as a staff member at the University of Melbourne; the university is highly resourced with staff that can offer IT, event, facilities and any other kind of operational support at the drop of a hat. When I had issues with microphones shortly prior to the conference, I just rang a number and somebody came to the lecture theatre we were setting up in and brought the handheld mics we needed – thank you UniMelb. As a PhD student myself, I was also impressed with the breadth of research about civil society in Asia. I’m at another faculty in another university, but it was fantastic to learn from these inter/national scholars; my favourite talk(s) included Akina Mikami’s talk on ‘critical ocean studies’, and Kiyomi Misaki’s talk on small-scale democracy in Niseko, Japan.

Until next month!

November Activity Report

30 November 2022
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

The year coming to a close

As the title suggests, 2022 is on its way out! Semester 2 exam results have just been released, and in-person graduation takes over most of this month. The Japanese department has finished teaching and Inagaki seminars for the year, but we’ve been busy planning one last big event for the year. We’ve been organising the Civil Society in Asia 4 for a few months now, which as the title suggests, is an exploration of civil society across Asian countries. As the website describes:

“In this conference, we seek to bring attention to the diverse ways in which civil society operates, the forms it takes, the approaches it embraces, and the effects it has on the larger society in which it is situated. This conference includes presentations from members of the Asian Civil Society Research Network and Asia Institute Research Cluster on Asian Civil Society.

There are lots of exciting papers from scholars from all over Asia (including Japan, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines, and more) covering diverse topics from politics, to governance, to state-society relations, to veganism, to gender, to environmental activism, and more.

The conference is in-person (wow, when was the last time we did that?) and organised by Japanese department director Professor Akihiro Ogawa, Professor Anthony Spires, and myself, and while it is not open to the public, undergraduate student volunteers are also able to attend and gain conference organising experience and exposure. It will be a brilliant conference and I look forward to sharing what emerged from it, next month.

October Activity Report

31 October 2022
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

End of semester 2 and brighter days ahead

Wow, we’re at the end of Semester 2 already – where has this year gone?! I felt like 2022 just started yesterday. At this time of year, students are right in the midst of examinations. We strongly applaud all students, staff (academic and professional) for all the hard work they place into learning and reproducing knowledge. With the weather getting warmer (after a very long season of rain, wet, and cold thanks to La Niña), there are quite literally, brighter days ahead. I’m so looking forward to the break, personally!

October was a very busy month here at the University of Melbourne! We organised two Inagaki seminars: Inagaki 25 with Svetlana Paichadze (Hokkaido University) on Continual diaspora: language, identity and education of return migrants, and Inagaki 26 with Dennitza Gabrakova’s The Classroom and Ecologies of Translation: Tawada Yoko’s Animal Babel. Svetlana’s talk was held in-person along with the TLLP postgraduate conference (of students from Hokkaido University), and it was my first time attending an in-person Inagaki seminar in so long – maybe years, since 2019? Wow.

As I mentioned last month, I’ve been helping Japanese department director Akihiro Ogawa with preparation for the Asian Civil Society conference which is taking place in December – I’m so looking forward to all the panels and talks coming up.

The year is wrapping up and the Asia Institute (where the Global Japan Office and Japanese studies program is located) has sent out invitations for its end-of-year gathering already. Even with teaching wrapping up, the ACS conference and tying up things for 2022 (in preparation for 2023, wow) will keep everyone busy until most of us take our leave.

Until next month!

September Activity Report

30 September 2022
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

It’s finally spring!

September has been a very busy month here at the Japanese department. It’s finally spring (or what the indigenous Wurundjeri woi-wurrung people of these lands call ‘Poorneet’, which means tadpole season). Flowers and trees are in their full, majestic bloom. It remains very wet and rainy though! This month I’ve been helping Japanese department director Akihiro Ogawa with preparation for the Asian Civil Society conference, booking flights and hotels for international conference attendees (wow, I haven’t done that since 2018 I believe). Remember when we had no idea when international travel would be a thing again? It’s lovely to be able to traverse seas and planes (literally) to gather for knowledge sharing. We’ve also got a group of postgraduate students from Hokkaido University joining us We also had Mayuko Itoh (University of Tasmania), who presented a wonderful Inagaki 24 seminar on The state’s construction of Japanese women in Manchuria since the 1930s on 19 September.

We’ve got two more seminars coming up in the year:

Inagaki 25 with Svetlana Paichadze (Hokkaido University) on 11 October: Continual diaspora: language, identity and education of return migrants (this one is dual-delivery, if you’re in Melbourne it’ll be at Yasuko Hiraoka Myer Room). This one will be so interesting, looking at identity construction on Sakhalin Island, a border territory between Japan and Russia.

Inagaki 26 (online only) on 12 October, with Dennitza Gabrakova’s The Classroom and Ecologies of Translation: Tawada Yoko’s Animal Babel

Phew! Lots going on. We hope you’ll be able to join us online (or in person if you’re based in Melbourne) for these seminars. Until next month!

August Activity Report

31 August 2022
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

The second half of the year

As the title suggests, the second half of the year has well and truly kicked off. We’re a few weeks into Semester 2 already, and while it remains a cold and rainy winter, there’s glimpses of warmer weather on the horizon. It’s a very busy time here at the Japanese department. Teaching duties aside, we just had a fantastic seminar with Emi Ooka (a visiting fellow here at Asia Institute) who presented an important seminar on ‘caring community under transformation in Japan’ at the end of August. Next month we’ve got Mayuko Itoh (University of Tasmania), delivering Inagaki 24 on The state’s construction of Japanese women in Manchuria since the 1930s coming up on 19 September (see you there?). We’ve got two more Inagaki seminars after that, as well as a postgraduate conference with students from Hokkaido University, and an Asian Civil Society conference. It’s going to be a very busy semester!

July Activity Report

31 July 2022
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin


It’s been an exceptionally cold and rainy winter here in Melbourne! Most of July is the mid-semester break for most students here at University of Melbourne. We hope that students have been enjoying the time off. Our teaching staff will also have a bit of a break to prepare for the next semester. It’s also a busy time as the financial year ends on 30 June every year, so a lot of reporting and submission of documents also happens at this time. While I’ve still been working from home this entire time, I’ve also made a couple of trips into campus and it’s lovely to see a buzzing atmosphere of students gathering (masked and safely distanced of course). Online teaching has been a welcome modality for students who find it difficult to commute, but there’s so much in-person learning that screens can’t ever make up for. Here at the GJO department at UniMelb, we’ve been carrying on as usual with our Inagaki seminars. Our next one is with Emi Ooka (from Kwansei Gakuin University) who is currently a visiting fellow here at the Asia Institute. She’ll be presenting a very important seminar on the transformation of ‘caring communities’ in Japan. An important social issue! If you’re around, you can register for this online webinar at the end of August. Register here. Until next month!