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Border Tourism seminar at Tourism Expo Japan

From 16 – 18 September 2017 one of the largest tourism promotion events in the world – the Tourism Japan Expo – was held at Tokyo Big Sight. The biggest event of its kind in Japan, there were many booths from airline companies and tourist agencies as well as local governments. The first day was open to industry professionals and many seminars were held including one by the Japan Border Tourism Association (JBTA) titled ‘To Every Corner of Japan and Then Beyond: the Attraction of Border Tourism’. Speaking to an audience of over 40 people, Akihiro Iwashita introduced the concept of border tourism. He was followed by Masaru Mitani (Sakhalin Section, Wakkanai City) and Masahiro Yoneda (Hokuto Kanko) who talked about the fascination of visiting Sakhalin. Lastly, Yasunori Hanamatsu (Kyushu University) spoke about border tourism between Tsushima, Japan and Pusan, South Korea. Co-operation among universities, local government and the tourism industry to forge a new kind of border tourism is attracting considerable media interest and their will shortly be special features in some newspapers. UBRJ is keen to continue to contribute to the development of JBTA.


Anyone interested in JBTA may wish to attend the Tsushima/Pusan Border Tour and Japan International Border Studies Network (JIBSN) seminar being held 11 November 2017. Further information can be found here:




New Publication

Slavic Eurasia Papers No.9

"Positioning Asia and Kyushu in Shifting Global Politics"

Edited by Akihiro Iwashita and Jonathan Bull

This publication includes papers and comments delivered at the symposium "There Goes the Neighborhood: Increasing Tensions in Cooperative Northeast Asia" (17-18 December 2016) held in Kitakyushu City. In addition to the presentations, the editors have also included the full papers submitted by Professors TJ Pempel and Paul Evans that formed the basis for a lively discussion at the symposium. The editors felt that these papers would be of considerable interest to a large audience and are delighted to finally be able to announce the release of this publication.

The publication can be downloaded here.


Saito Masayoshi's album "The Japan that remains in Sakhalin" has been published

Saito Masayoshi has been a long-time collaborator with UBRJ, recently helping to curate the "Border Tourism" display at the Hokkaido University Museum with his photographs of the Ogasawara Islands.

We are pleased to announce the publication of his book by Hokkaido University Press featuring photographs taken in Sakhalin. The images capture people's everyday lives in Sakhalin and are taken from many locations on the island.

Hokkaido University Press is now taking orders for the publication. Detailed information can be found here.


'Border History' in Sapporo conference held on 3rd-4th August

'Border History' in Sapporo conference held on 3rd-4th August

On 3rd-4th August the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center hosted the conference 'Border History' as part of the project on 'Interdisciplinary Research on the Function of National Histories and Collective Memories for the Democracy in the Globalized Society'. Organized by the JSPS Topic-Setting Program to Advance Cutting-Edge Humanities and Social Science Research, the event was co-organized by the Japanese-Korean Forum of Western History and UBRJ.

During the two-days, 10 papers were given by scholars from China, Germany, Japan, Poland, South Korea and the US. The topics covered a range of time-periods from ancient, early-modern and contemporary history. The geographical scope also spanned from East Asia to the Middle East and Europe. With such a variety of approaches, a strong keynote speech to tie the conference together was essential; the audience was lucky enough to hear two such presentations. The first was given by Stefan Berger (Institute for Social Movements, Ruhr-Universistät, Bochum, Germany). Professor Berger contributed an incisive overview of Border Studies including some of the recent trends in the field as it overlaps with research on collective memory and gender. Using several examples from his own research visiting museums in China and in Belgium, the presentation emphasised how borders are 'fluid' meaning that they change as actors define them in relation to an Other. The second keynote speech came from the SRC's Akihiro Iwashita. His presentation provocatively engaged with Professor Berger's earlier effort by suggesting that Border Studies in East Asia sometimes leans towards a more positivist approach. While research on historical memory is important, it should not completely replace work on the political entanglements in the region. Nor should the more practical side of Border Studies, such as work on Border Tourism, be overlooked as a way of bringing reconciliation to a region were 'hard' borders can be difficult to cross.

As for the eight specialist papers, all were of a high quality. For this participant, two stood out as being particularly informative. One was by Malgorzata Glowacka-Grajpa (University of Warsaw, Poland) who presented on the meanings of 'Kresy' (Former Polish Eastern Borderlands) in Poland since 1945. She argued that different kinds of collective memory can be identified among those who left their homes when Poland's eastern border shifted west after the end of the Second World War. The second was by Takahiro Yamamoto (University of Tokyo) who spoke about the role of the border during the late-19th century as it affected the Kuril Islands between Japan and Russia. Professor Yamamoto's intervention into this hotly disputed border region was to emphasise that solely using a Russo-Japanese framework ignores how the islands were part of a 'North Pacific' region. The paper examined the interactions between Japan's Meiji government and Russian, British and American fur hunters. Rather than being concerned with the depletion of natural resources, the Meiji authorities were more interested in using the border to restrict the movement of people.

The quality of the conference papers and the perceptiveness of the discussants' comments made for a productive two days. The project is still in its early stages and future conferences are being planned with the next due to be held in Seoul in 2018. UBRJ looks forward to seeing how the ideas discussed in Sapporo have developed by the time that this exciting group of researchers meets again.


Renewal of the UBRJ 'Border Tourism' booth at the Hokkaido University Museum

We have renewed the display for the UBRJ booth at the Hokkaido University Museum (2nd floor).

The main contents by Saito Masayoshi (a photographer based in Wakkanai, Hokkaido) have been changed to include photographs from his recent visit to the Ogasawara Islands. Images of the deep blue ocean and exotic birds convey a sense of summer.

There are also new panels about Akihiro Iwashita's (Slavic-Eurasian Research Center) Border Tourism visits to the Sino-Russian border and Nemuro City in the northeast of Hokkaido.

The 'small corner' section of the booth also has a new display. Titled 'Diplomats for Beauty: the Bolshoi Ballet', Saito Keiko has put up posters introducing her research on the history of ballet exchange with Russia. Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the Bolshoi Ballet's first visit to Japan.

The Hokkaido University Museum is open everyday (except Mondays) from 10 am to 5 pm (from June to October the museum is open until 9 pm on Fridays). Please feel free to come and have a look!

Border Tourism to Ogasawara

Saito Masayoshi (second from left) and the staff responsible for the display

"Diplomats for Beauty: the Bolshoi Ballet"


Announcement about the Association for Borderlands Studies World Conference 2018

The Association for Borderlands Studies World Conference will be held from 10th to 14th July 2018 in Vienna and Budapest.

The call for papers is here

Further information to follow shortly.


Report by Mihoko Kato on SRC 2017 Summer International Symposium

"Northeast Asia's Faultline: One Hundred Years of Sino/Russian/Soviet Competitive Cooperation"

The Slavic-Eurasian Research Center's International Summer Symposium was held on 13-14 July 2017. This year's symposium examined relations between China and Russia that are of increasing importance to Northeast Asian and global affairs. Since 2016, the SRC has been one of six research institutes comprising the National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU) Area Studies Project for Northeast Asia (NoA-SRC). The symposium was held as part of NoA-SRC's events for 2017. Over the two days, 153 people took part and many of the speakers were members of NoA-SRC. In addition, distinguished foreign researchers from institutions in Canada, China, India, Mexico, Mongolia, Poland, Russia and the UK were invited.

After the Opening Session (Russia and China Relations Just Offshore) clarifying the purpose and significance of the symposium, five panels were held followed by the closing discussion (Rethinking Sino-Russian Relations). In the first panel (Russia Looks East, China Moves West: Foreign and Security Policies) Russia and China experts analysed the two powers from the perspectives of military factors, the balance of power and asymmetrically dependent relations. Comments from the discussants included the observation that the reality of Sino-Russian relations was more complex than the speakers had suggested, and a reminder of the need to consider what can be done to strengthen cooperation in the region.

The second panel's (Regional Powers and Northeast Asian Relations in Historical and Theoretical Perspectives) first paper was about the impact of India's relations with Northeast Asia during Jawaharlal Nehru's term in office and this period's overall influence on the country's position in the Cold War. This was followed by presentations appraising how China's rise was influenced by the experience of the Russian Revolution as encountered in the Russo-Chinese Borderlands, and theorizing the formation of alliances in 1950s Northeast Asia. Overall, the panel considered the implications of history for contemporary relations.

'The Russian Far East and the Russo-Chinese Border Zone' was the title of the third panel that explored how fluctuating state-to-state relations play out through contact in borderlands. Papers covered the role of Territories of Priority Development in the contemporary development of the Russian Far East, the effects of ideological and military competition in the Russo-Chinese Borderlands in the 1960s and 1970s, and an analysis of interdependency between the Chinese government and local farmers in the Russian Far East resulting from soybean farming.

The second day of the symposium saw two panels take place. The first (Competitive Complementarities: Russo-Chinese Transnational Flows) consisted of presentations about Russia's role in oil and gas supply in Northeast Asia, China's trade and direct investment in the Russian economy as a whole compared with that in 'Pacific Russia', and the viability of the Belt and Road Initiative for the Russian and Chinese economies. The symposium's last panel (Near, Far, Wherever You Are: Views on Sino-Russian Relations) involved researchers from Mongolia, India and Mexico giving an analysis of relations between Russia and China from their countries' perspective. The symposium's final event was a closing discussion. In summing up the two days, there was some consensus that Northeast Asia's faultline is located along the Sea of Japan rather than between China and Russia, and that this would make a good topic for future research.

Overall, the symposium scrutinized Sino-Russian relations from a variety of perspectives and encouraged a lively discussion concerning the ongoing importance of Northeast Asia. Furthermore, the coming together of researchers from different generations and backgrounds contributed to a highly productive two days.


[Report] UBRJ Seminar, 20.7.2017

German-Polish Bilingualism: Bilingual Language Education and Language Policy - an example of Słubice-Frankfurt (Oder)

Dr. Barbara Alicja Jańczak (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland)

For lazy report-writers searching for a way into an article, Wikipedia has become an indispensable tool for tidbits of information. The town of Słubice on the German-Polish border then, did a service to struggling scribes around the world when it unveiled the world's first monument to the online encyclopedia in 2014. Although not without its critics, most would agree that Wikipedia's rise has encouraged communication across borders. According to the monument's inscription, '[Wikipedia is] the greatest project co-created by people regardless of political, religious or cultural borders'.1 So, to have such a monument in a town such as Słubice seems particularly apt.

On the other side of the River Oder that flows to the west of Słubice is the German town of Frankfurt (Oder). Until 1945, Słubice was a part of the German city. The defeat of the Nazi regime, the expulsion of the German population east of the Oder-Neisse line and the shifting of Poland's borders to the west made this region of Europe an area of lasting interest to border studies. An expert on linguistics, Professor Jańczak adapted her presentation for a non-specialist audience to explore how the 'twin town' of Słubice-Frankfurt has become a 'language laboratory' for testing ideas about bilingual language education and language policy.

Despite the complicated history of Słubice-Frankfurt, the need for bilingual language education is a relatively recent phenomenon. The German-Polish border was closed during the Cold War so the municipalities only started to consider language policy in the early-1990s. The dilemma the twin town's residents faced was whether to learn English as the global lingua franca, or to promote the neighbour's language as the lingua culturalis. Choosing the latter might conjure an impression of former enemies learning each other's language and sharing each other's culture. As Professor Jańczak persuasively argued, such an impression would be misleading because the border's effects on language are asymmetric. Differences in economic power, cultural achievements, the status of language and the number of speakers all affect how bilingualism develops.

The reality of German-Polish bilingualism is that many more Poles are learning and speaking German, than there are Germans who are acquiring Polish. With salaries in Germany being on average four times greater than in Poland, Poles in Słubice have an incentive to learn their neighbour's tongue. For Germans, crossing the border gives them access to good quality markets, shopping and restaurants at a fraction of the price they would pay in Frankfurt. Professor Jańczak's linguistic approach has led her to conduct in-depth analysis of Polish market traders' use of German in their appeals for trade.

Professor Jańczak concluded by reminding her audience that while borderlands create a special opportunity for bilingual education, people's motivations for learning the lingua culturalis vary. The lure of the neighbour's culture is often overshadowed by the logic of the market economy. Perhaps for this reason the inscription on the Wikipedia monument omits 'economic' from the list of borders crossed.


[1]'Wikipedia Monument', Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia, [Accessed 26 July 2017].


Border Studies Summer School in 2017

Following on from successful summer schools held during the Hokkaido University Global COE Program "Reshaping Japan's Border Studies", the UBRJ "Border Studies Summer School in 2017" took place from 12-19 July. This year, the Summer School was run as part of Hokkaido University's Summer Institute. Jointly organized by the Hokkaido University Public Policy School and the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, UBRJ members were foremost in inviting students and delivering lectures. In addition, the Summer School was co-hosted with the National Institute for the Humanities' Area Studies Project for Northeast Asia (NoA-SRC) and so several lectures on the Northeast Asia region and its borders were included in the program.

Naomi Chi, David Wolff, Akihiro Iwashita (UBRJ, members of NoA-SRC), Norio Horie (University of Toyama, member of NoA-SRC), Edward Boyle (Kyushu University, Center for Asia-Pacific Future Studies) and Jarosław Jańczak (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Germany & SRC Foreign Visitors Fellow 2017) all gave lectures. In addition, talks were given by eminent researchers invited from around the world, including Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and President of the Association for Borderlands Studies (ABS)), Ulises Granados (Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology) and Soeren Urbansky (University of Cambridge). Over 30 students and young researchers attended the Summer School encouraging many stimulating discussions.

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this year's Summer School such a success.

(Akihiro Iwashita)

IMG_7861.JPG IMG_7862.JPG IMG_7870.JPG IMG_7896.JPG


[Report] 2017.6.26 UBRJ Seminar

UBRJ Seminar

'Boundarization and Frontierization of the East-West Border in Europe: The Case of Kaliningrad Oblast - the Russian Exclave in the EU'

The Schleswig-Holstein question was famously so complicated that only three men in Europe were said to have understood it. As Lord Palmerston (reportedly) said: 'One was Prince Albert, who is dead. The second was a German professor who became mad. I am the third and I have forgotten all about it'. Kaliningrad lies about a thousand kilometers to the west of Schleswig and Holstein. Although no comparable bon mot has yet been coined to describe the exclave, many have been left scratching their heads trying to understand this part of Russia. In his UBRJ Seminar, Jarosław Jańczak explained how he considers Kaliningrad as a micro-scale study of EU-Russia relations.

In contrast to Palmerston's absent-mindedness regarding Schleswig-Holstein, Professor Jańczak gave his audience a succinct summary of Kaliningrad's history. A million-strong population of almost exclusively of Russians occupies a 15,000 km2.parcel of land situated about 600 km from 'Russia proper'. For hundreds of years, Kaliningrad has been seen as an outpost of empire and as a place where the experience of separation is deeply rooted. Throughout its history, processes of boundarization have gone on no matter whether those with power have been German, Soviet or European. This historical background led the speaker onto his main interest that is what has happened to Kaliningrad since the fall of the Soviet Union.

At the start of the 1990s serious economic problems led local actors to collaborate with people in neighboring Poland and Lithuania. This represented a moment of 'de-boundarization' and the authorities were unable to prevent cross-border interactions. The 2004 enlargement of the European Union, however, meant that Poland and Lithuania had to prove their ability to control the border. What followed was re-boundarization as restrictions were placed on border traffic. Adding to the complexity was the Russian response to what its leaders interpreted as a challenge to their country's sovereignty. The solution? The introduction of Facilitated Travel Documents (FTD) by the EU. With an FTD in her passport, the bearer can cross EU-territory in a stay of 24 hours to get to Russia.

Professor Jańczak credited this arrangement with a second de-boundarization. More Russians began travelling to the Polish side. In turn, Poles welcomed these Russian visitors as good customers. Signage in Russian increased and local schools started to teach the language again. Local authorities even requested that more border crossing points be built. In 2012 a Local Border Traffic agreement (LBTa) was concluded. Over the following 12 months 6 million visitors were attracted to areas in the visa free zone. Many Russians living in Kaliningrad who have never been to Russia proper have been to the EU. Such de-boundarization, Professor Jańczak suggested, made Kaliningrad a 'laboratory for EU-Russia relations'.

As Palmerston would have sympathized, however, recent events have inevitably made things more complicated. Following Russia's annexation of the Crimea and the subsequent EU embargo there has been a re-boundarization. The exclave has been remilitarized and the LBTa was suspended in July 2016. Adding to the complexity is the response of political leaders in Poland and Lithuania who have used growing tensions over Kaliningrad to appeal to 'prove' their strength in an appeal to domestic audiences. In his conclusion, Professor Jańczak emphasized that Kaliningrad has usually been seen as either a 'gateway' or a 'fortress'. While the former had seemed in the ascendancy in the first decade of the 21st century, the latter now seems to be the dominant paradigm.


New publication 'Immigration Crises, Borders and the European Union'

170627bookcover.jpgNew publication

'Immigration Crises, Borders and the European Union'

Jarosław Jańczak (ed.) (2017)

Berlin: Logos Verlag, pp.96. ISBN 978-3-8325-4436-2 ISSN 1610-4277

This timely volume consists of eight papers by political scientists from universities in Canada, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. In 2015, the European Union (EU) experienced what Jarosław Jańczak calls an 'immigration crisis' (p. 7) with the arrival of over a million refugees. At this critical juncture for the EU and its member states, the authors examine how the events of that year are likely to shape practices of bordering and modes of territoriality.

In his synopsis of EU asylum policy, Adam Jaskulski argues that the removal of internal border controls has been one of the most significant accomplishments of European integration. One consequence, however, is that member states have to improve their organisation of asylum, visas and immigration. For Ondřej Filipec, a comparison of the current immigration crisis with events in the 1990s reveals the former to be more serious and a greater challenge to further integration. The impact of social media on migration is the subject of Ingrid Borárosová's chapter. She emphasizes that social media is not only a channel for migrants to share information, but is also an instrument for traffickers and people smugglers. In Austrian and German politics, right-wing politicians are ransacking the term Heimat - that hoariest and haziest of words - for usable images to erect impermeable cultural borders. Such borders are an exercise in an exclusionary politics of cultural difference, believes Robert Gould. Analysing the varied arguments in Czech politics towards so-called 'asylum quotas' (a mechanism to distribute asylum seekers to all EU states), Martin Hrabálek demonstrates that the stance of political parties on this issue tends to track their approach towards the desirability of further EU integration. Magdalena Kacperska celebrates the fact that immigration is necessary for EU states faced with aging populations. She reasons that, in the future, educational background and skills of migrants rather than numbers alone are likely to become more important. Jarosław Jańczak stresses the need to understand Polish political elites' responses to immigration in a historical context where Poland is imagined as 'the defender of Europe' and refugees are perceived as a threat. The final chapter by Tomasz Brańka addresses the problem of defining the category of 'climate refugee'. He perceptively highlights that while global warming is likely to have an increasing impact on migratory movements, redefining who is a refugee could undermine the protection given to traditional refugees.

With an insightful introduction by the editor setting the context for what follows, the varied approaches of the authors to borders, immigrants and the integration project mean that this concise book offers something of interest not only to political scientists but also to academics working in many other disciplines. For this reader, a question remains over the validity of the English term 'immigration crises' - from a historian's perspective an 'influx of over a million refugees [in 2015]' seems quite small when one learns that after the Second World War, in West Germany alone, '13 million expellees were settled and integrated into ... society with remarkable success'.1 Nevertheless, aside from this quibble about historical context, this book represents a stimulating introduction to recent events that are likely to become more than a footnote to European history.

'Immigration Crises, Borders and the European Union' - List of authors and chapter titles

Adam Jaskulski: The EU Border Regime and the EU Asylum Regime: Analysis of Schengen and Dublin Regulations

Ondřej Filipec: The Two Immigration Crises: Their Impact on EU Security, Politics and Polity

Ingrid Borárosová: The Current Migration Crisis and its Implications for Everett S. Lee's Model

Robert Gould: The Borders of Heimat

Martin Hrabálek: Czech Political Parties, the Migration Crisis and the European Union: The Case of "Asylum Quotas"

Magdalena Kacperska: Is the European Union's Border a Labor Market's Border as Well? Third Country Migrants in the Polish Labor Market

Jarosław Jańczak: Borders of Europe and the Immigration Crisis: Discourses of the Political Elites in Poland

Tomasz Brańka: Climate Refugees in the Contemporary World

Jarosław Jańczak is a Foreign Visitors Fellow (2017) at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center (SRC). His research topic at the SRC is about the construction and deconstruction of integration project borders in Eurasia with a focus on the western and eastern 'edges' of Russia. He is also an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism, Adam Mickiewicz University and European Studies Chair at European University Viadrina.

1 Tony Judt, 'Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945' (2005), New York: Penguin, p.26.


UBRJ Seminar "Boundarization and Frontierization of the East-West Border in Europe: the Case of Kaliningrad Oblast - the Russian Exclave in the EU"

2017.6.26 (Monday)


Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Small Meeting Room (401)

Jarosław Jańczak (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań & Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder))

For details, please contact: Jonathan Bull (j_e_bull*

Abstract is here >> pdf


At the tour of the Bolshoi theatre

On 27 April 2017, after discussion with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin told journalists that the two leaders had agreed to hold the "cross" year of Russia and Japan in 2018. It means that exchanges between Japan and Russia will increase in politics, economics and culture.

Ahead of 2018, Russian Seasons Japan 2017 started on 4 June. Russian Seasons is the title of Russian governmental projects that will introduce Russian culture all over the world. In Japan, chosen as the first country for these projects, more than 200 events will be held in more than 40 places.

Russian Seasons Japan 2017 opened with a performance of the Bolshoi Ballet. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also watched the first day performance of "Giselle". Then, prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet, Svetlana Zakharova, visited the official residence of the prime minister.

In addition, this year is special for the history of Russian-Japanese ballet exchange because 60 years have passed since the first Bolshoi Ballet visit to Japan. Russian Seasons Japan 2017 started in a very festive atmosphere.

Luckily, I was able to watch the Bolshoi Ballet performance " Swan Lake" on 7 June 2017. It was a precious time for me because I love Russian ballet. I had waited and waited for the day when Olga Smirnova would dance the title role in Japan, because I had followed her from her Vaganova Ballet Academy school days. How I felt during her performance I can't express with only a few words.

After watching this splendid performance of the Bolshoi Ballet, I was also greatly impressed by the significance of the Bolshoi brand. The title name of the projects - Russian Seasons - is supposed to remind us of the theatre performance troupe "Saison Russe (Russian season)" that was under the direction of Sergei Diaghilev. The works of this troupe had, and continue to have, a considerable influence on art scenes all over the world. Perhaps, however, the contemporary Russian Seasons are more similar to the situation in the 1950s and 60s than Diaghilev's troupe. Diaghilev's troupe was under his personal organization. But Russian Seasons is sponsored by the government and is an example of Russia's 'soft power'. Even though the political relationships between Japan and Soviet-Russia in the 1950s and 60s weren't always calm, Japanese audiences always welcomed Soviet-Russian cultural organizations with enthusiasm.

Speaking at an event to mark a hundred years of Russian-Japanese ballet exchange, Valery Gergiev, the general director of the Mariinsky Theatre, reflected, "Artists can accomplish what politicians and diplomats can't". These are the words of someone who well knows the power of Art to influence society.

In the 1950s and 60s many cultural organizations came from Soviet-Russia to Japan, but few Japanese groups went the other way. This time, I expect that more cultural organizations from Japan will introduce Japanese culture to Russia over the next year. I believe that the effective introduction of Japanese culture can increase Japan's presence in the world.

Keiko Saito


Science Talk - 'The Allure of Border Tourism through photographs: Saito Masayoshi's Message from Wakkanai and Sakhalin'

When the southern half of Sakhalin (Karafuto) was part of the Japanese Empire, reaching the colony from the metropole was said to involve a difficult journey 'across the two salt rivers'. Traversing the first - the Tsugaru Strait between Honshu and Hokkaido - has been relatively simple for travelers for much of the twentieth century. Crossing the second - the Soya Strait that separates Hokkaido from Sakhalin - has proved trickier.

For much of his day job, Saito Masayoshi could gaze across the Soya Strait to the faint outline of Sakhalin on the horizon. Following retirement as a city hall official, he was able to put down his pen and pick up his camera to cross the second salt river and discover what lay on the other side. He found, as he told an audience of 40 people at a Science Talk at Hokkaido University's 59th University Festival, something of the charm of the border.

In his forthcoming book, the photographs are described as revealing 'the Sakhalin of today where previously 400,000 Japanese once lived'.1 One of the most striking photos is of a stone torii gate that remains standing long after the wooden building of the original shinto shrine has disappeared. This perhaps encapsulates how memory of empire often forms around a recognizable facade while everyday structures get forgotten after their collapse. Other arresting images include remains of the factories of Oji Paper Manufacturing - the company that dominated the colonial economy and that provided a livelihood to so many of Karafuto's residents. In one photo that was on display at the university festival, children play in the ferro-concrete ruins suggesting how the residents of today's Sakhalin have found new uses for the island's Japanese past. What the women and men who made a living in the shadow of these factories' chimneys would make of such photographs is an unanswerable question. That Saito Masayoshi's images make you want to ask it is testament to how successfully he has captured what remains of the lives of those who succeeded in crossing the second of the two salt rivers.

1 Saharin ni nokoru Nihon (Hokkaido University Press, 2017) (in Japanese)


Kick-off Symposium "Thinking about the Present and the Future of Japan in a Global World"

To mark the opening in April this year of its new Center for Relational Studies on Global Crises, a 'kick-off' seminar was held at Chiba University on 1 June 2017. Following the keynote lecture, participants took part in a panel discussion under the heading 'How to Deal with Global Crises: from the viewpoint of Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East'. All three discussants were from the new center. Mizushima Jiro spoke about the challenges for democracy in Europe from the rise of populist politics, Ishido Hikari examined the impact of the Trump administration's 'America first' policy on Asia and Sakai Keiko addressed some of the factors motivating ISIS in the Middle East. The discussion was skillfully led by Oishi Akiko and involved a debate about the effect of arguments and language on contemporary politics.

Interpretation of global politics is an area to which a perspective from border studies has much to offer and UBRJ is looking forward to contributing to the Center for Relational Studies on Global Crises pioneering research.


UBRJ Seminar "German-Polish Bilingualism: Bilingual Language Education and Language Policy - an Example of Słubice-Frankfurt (Oder) "Twin Town""

Date & Time: July 20 (Thur) 2017, 16:30-18:00

Speaker: Dr. Barbara Alicja Jańczak (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland)

Venue:Room 401, Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University

Language: English
Contact: Motoki NOMACHI (mnomachi[at] ([at] should be @.)

Abstract is here >> pdf


Abe's Diplomacy at a Crossroads: The Hidden Side of the Japanese-Russian Summit

'Abe's Diplomacy at a Crossroads: The Hidden Side of the Japanese-Russian Summit'

Article by Akihiro Iwashita for The Diplomat


SRC/UBRJ Seminar "Is the latest US-Russia reset dead on arrival?"

Is the latest US-Russia reset dead on arrival?

Timothy J. Colton (Professor of Government, Harvard University and Distinguished Visiting Professor, National University of Singapore)

Before his successful election as president of the United States, Donald Trump was known for, amongst other things, cameo appearances in over 20 films and TV programs spread across the nineties and noughties. One popular show spanning these two decades that he didn't take part in though, was the medical drama ER (Emergency Room). Timothy J. Colton cut through the hubbub surrounding the 45th president's first 100 plus days in office to argue that while the supposed reset to US-Russia relations following Trump's election was not dead on arrival, the patient was on the emergency room operating table.

Placing the latest US-Russian presidential relationship in recent historical context, Professor Colton explained, reveals that Trump is but the latest in a long line of American presidents claiming to want to improve ties. Problematically however, events during first few months of the Trump presidency have introduced some irritants to the relationship. These include allegations of electoral shenanigans by Russia in America, and recriminations from Tomahawk missile attacks by the US in Syria.

Central to Professor Colton's lecture was the question of how to explain what such events mean for any reset. Using a rich selection of political cartoons drawn from a variety of American and Russian newspapers and magazines, he proposed four theoretical frameworks as being particularly useful. A systematic explanation would suggest leaders don't matter, hence, little improvement in the relationship. On the other hand, emphasizing leadership might indicate that limited experience in politics and a lack of advisory support meant that Trump didn't know what to do to improve ties. A third possibility was resistance - that the media, the Washington establishment, the national security complex, and Democrats and some Republicans were all working to hold Trump back. If Trump were to tweet his interpretation he would probably write something like this. For Professor Colton, however, the meddling factor held the greatest explanatory power. In this reading, Russian interference in the US election and the unplanned consequences that followed have made Russia too hot to handle - for now.

Professor Colton concluded his remarks by reminding the audience that the dark prognosis by some commentators of a new Cold War was misleading, and that areas for potential compromise existed including on arms control and over the Donbass Region in the Ukraine. When the two presidents meet for the first time, and if talks on these and other issues make progress, a workable narrative of 'strong meets strong' may offer the best hope for the patient moving out of the emergency room and, if not yet onto a ward, at least into intensive care.



Eurasia Border Review Vol.7 No.1 (Fall 2016) published

EBRvol7no1cover.jpgThe latest issue of Eurasia Border Review has been published by the Eurasia Unit for Border Research of Japan (UBRJ).

This issue includes contributions from scholars working in universities and research institutes in Japan, India and the United States. The topics addressed include the process of borderization along the Georgia-South Ossetian boundary, the changes to Turkey's border security since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War and the development of Russia-US relations in the Bering Sea Region. This edition also contains a Special Section on the 'Border and Gender Studies'.

All papers can be downloaded from here.

We are looking for articles and book reviews for the next edition due to be published later this year. If you are interested, please contact the editorial department (j_e_bull[at] (replace [at] with @).


Borderization in Georgia: Sovereignty Materialized
Edward Boyle

Rethinking the Insulator State: Turkey's Border Security and the Syrian Civil War
Kohei Imai

The Russian-U.S. Borderland: Opportunities and Barriers, Desires and Fears
Serghei Golunov

Special Section: Border and Gender Studies

Introduction to "Border and Gender Studies: Theoretical and Empirical Overlap"
Kimberly Collins

Re-victimizing Trafficked Migrant Women: The Southern Border Plan and Mexico's Anti-trafficking Legislation
Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera and Jennifer Bryson Clark

Bad Fences Make Bad Neighbors: Challenging the Citizenship Regime in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands
T. Mark Montoya

Book Review

Reece Jones, Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move, (Verso 2016). 224pp.
Uddipta Ranjan Boruah


UBRJ Seminar "Transboundary Disasters: What Should Be Done To Restore the Aral Sea Region?

UBRJ Seminar "Transboundary Disasters: What Should Be Done To Restore the Aral Sea Region?

Dark tourism, illegal fishing and livestock farming represent just some of the many examples of how local people have strived to make a living in the Aral Sea Region - a location notorious for environmental catastrophe. This was one of the main messages from Chida Tetsuro's UBRJ Seminar.

Appointed as Associate Professor at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies from April 2017, Professor Chida's seminar was attended by over 20 people. Introducing his latest research under the heading "Transboundary Disasters", he explained how shoots of economic life were returning to the Aral Sea Region. Although a historian by training, Professor Chida combined analysis from geography and border studies to clarify how the settlement of different ethnic groups overlaps and causes various opportunities and challenges to economic development in the region.

Of particular interest were Professor Chida's insights into the resilience of local people; how the wrecks of boats were enabling 'dark tourism', how the return of water was supporting illegal fishing, and how the availability of land around the water was sustaining livestock farming. His presentation also suggested future possibilities for research. For example, while dark tourism is viable for people from Uzbekistan, its feasibility for those from Kazakhstan remains unproven. Also, a nagging doubt is the extent to which livestock farming can be relied on to revive the region's economy. Although these questions remain, Professor Chida with his concept of "Transboundary Disasters" has made an excellent start in finding ways to answer them.


Japan Border Review No. 7 published (Japanese language)


The latest edition of our Japanese-language peer-reviewed journal "Japan Border Review" has been published. This edition includes research based on archival documents, statistical analysis and oral history. Topics include a reassessment of Austria's role in the outbreak of the First World War, the construction of social and cultural boundaries in early Madras (present-day Chennai in India) and the current border regime in Europe. All papers can be downloaded from here.

We are looking for articles and book reviews for the next edition due to be published in 2018. If you are interested, please contact the editorial department (saitok [at] (replace [at] with @).


Austria-Hungary's Ultimatum of 23 July 1914 Reconsidered: The Background of Vienna's Decision-Making in the Memorandum of Friedrich von Wiesner


Boundaries of, in, and around Early Madras: Focusing on 'Christian Town' and 'the Portuguese'


Research Note

Politics of « Borderlands » in the European Union: Construction of a EUropean Immigration Control Regime and Tunisian Refugees after the Arab Spring

NAMBA Satoru

Research Material

The Evacuation Experience of an Okinawan in Colonial Taiwan Who Studied Abroad in the United States: ISHIMINE Chozo's Oral History

SUGANO Atsushi

Book Reviews

Takanori Oishi, Historical Ecology of Ethnic Boundaries: Cultivators and Hunter-Gatherers Living in Cameroon (Kyoto University Press, 2016) (in Japanese)

KONDO Shiaki

Tien-shi Cheng, Hiroyuki Onishi, Hiromi Komori and Teru Sasaki, eds., Passportology (Hokkaido University Press, 2016) (in Japanese)



Edward Boyle's report about the CAFS/NIHU seminar on February 5

Edward Boyle's report about the CAFS/NIHU seminar on February 5

  As informed before, the CAFS/NIHU seminar was held on February 5 in Fukuoka City, titled "Debunking the myths of Northeast Asia's borders." An assistant professor of the Center fro Asia-Pacific Future Studies, Mr. Edward Boyle, submitted an in-depth report of the seminar. You can dowload the report from here.


Akihiro Iwashita's paper for the U.S.-Japan Research Institute

Akihiro Iwashita's paper for the U.S.-Japan Research Institute

Research Activities, USJI Voice Vol.22
"December 2016 - What we can learn from the Abe-Putin Talks: how should Japan and the US deal with Russia?


February 5, 2017 CAFS/NIHU Seminar 「Debunking the myths of Northeast Asia's borders」

CAFS/NIHU Seminar 「Debunking the myths of Northeast Asia's borders」

Date: February 5, 2017
Venue: Kyushu University Nishijin Plaza
(2-16-23 Nishijin, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka-ken, 814-0002 Japan)

For details, please click here.

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