Seminar Series

The Historian’s Craft in Contemporary Japanese Studies: A Discussion with Prof. Yoshimi Shunya and Prof. Okazaki Tetsuji

Wednesday, 21 October 9:00 - 10:00 (JST)
Zoom Webinar
  • Yoshimi Shunya Professor, Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, and TCJS Board Member, The University of Tokyo
  • Okazaki Tetsuji Professor, Graduate School of Economics, and TCJS Associate Member, The University of Tokyo
  • Shirahase Sawako TCJS Director
About the Speaker
Yoshimi Shunya: Scales of History: How Family History and Global History Work Together

In this short presentation, I will propose that there is correspondence between two scales of history: the social construction of “generations” and the so-called “long waves” of history. In modern and contemporary Japanese history, historic moments of change repeatedly appear every quarter-century: 1870 (more precisely: 1868), 1895, 1920 (more precisely: 1923), 1945, 1970 (more precisely: 1973), 1995, and 2020. Of course, this repetition is in a sense accidental. But it can also be interpreted in relation to the cycles of generational interval and the long waves of modern capitalism (world system). Using this hypothetical frame, I will analyze how contemporary Japanese history has been influenced by the historical practices of different generations, as well as by the structural condition of global capitalism.

Okazaki Tetsuji: An Apology for Japanese Economic History

The title of this talk is an homage to Marc Bloch’s “The Historian’s Craft,” which is known in French as “Apologie pour l’histoire ou Métier d’historien.” Bloch was one of the founders of the Annales School and gave his life for freedom in 1944. In his book, Bloch set out to answer an essential question: “what is the use of history?” In this short presentation, I will share my thoughts on this question as it relates to Japanese economic history. Drawing on some of my recent work in Japanese economic history, I will address two main issues: “why history?” and “why Japan?”