Events by year: 2014

16 December 2014

The Power of Politics

This seminar took place just two days after the Japanese Lower House election, while the clock is also ticking towards a General Election in the UK next year. It seemed a timely moment to consider the power that politicians wield in the two countries, and the extent to which they can actually affect the lives of their citizens. How easy is it for politicians to push their policies through the legislature? And when they succeed, how much impact do those policies have?

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9 December 2014

Dealing with North Korea

North Korea is arguably the world’s most troublesome country. It is expanding both its plutonium and enriched uranium paths to a nuclear weapon and it is also presumed to have the world’s only active chemical weapons programme. Meanwhile, its deplorable human rights situation is without parallel.
Pyongyang hasn’t taken any steps that would enable resumption of the long-stalled Six Party Talks. What is hindering the process and what is the underlying historical context of the Talks?

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4 December 2014

Japanese Tree Burial: Ecology, Kinship and the Culture of Death

Tree burial (樹木葬, jumokusou), a new form of disposing the remains of the dead in Japan, was initiated in 1999 by a Zen Buddhist temple in the northeast region of Tohoku. Unlike conventional cemeteries filled with ancestral gravestones, its graveyards are vast woodlands where newly planted trees and small wooden tablets inscribed with the names of the deceased mark the burial sites. Although varying in style and scale, over fifty cemeteries are now popularizing tree burial as an alternative mode of dealing with death in Japan.

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2 December 2014

Shizuka Yokomizo

Shizuka Yokomizo explores the phenomenon of the photographic image by looking at its different visual and non-visual spaces in its various stages of making. In her new work shown here, she takes instead the residual material of a previous project, engaging with it as a material in limbo, disconnected but not disavowed from its original conditions. The images derive from the out-takes of one of several shoots in 2008/9 when Yokomizo was involved in meeting various women in hotel rooms and photographing them in their trade as sex workers.

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20 November 2014

Film Screening: My Atomic Aunt

Director Kyoko Miyake, having lived outside of Japan for more than a decade, feels compelled to revisit Fukushima. She wants to find out the fate of her family’s home-town Namie, which with its golden beaches and friendly neighbours used to be her childhood idyll. Following her aunt Kuniko, Miyake begins to question her nostalgic childhood memories and in so doing understand the harsh economic realities and sacrifices that her Aunt and the people of Namie had to make in order to survive.

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18 November 2014

Surviving the Tsunami: Salvaging and Digitalising Historical Photographs

Rikuzentakata, a city in Iwate Prefecture, lost more than 1,500 people and 80 percent of its homes in the tsunami in March 2011. The city’s museums, too, were not spared: The Rikuzentakata City Museum, which held an important collection on the history, folklore and natural history of the region, was completely destroyed. Much of its collection was swept away and its entire staff was killed. Keishi Mitsui, curator at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, talked about the salvaging operation underway to preserve these photographic materials and share lessons learned in order to plan for future disasters.

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11 November 2014

Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima was the most internationally acclaimed Japanese author of the twentieth century: prodigiously talented, dazzlingly prolific and a prime candidate for the Nobel Prize. Yet in 1970 Mishima shocked the world with a bizarre attempt at a coup d’état, which ended in his suicide by ritual disembowelment. In his radically new analysis of an extraordinary life, Damian Flanagan moves away from the stereotypical depiction of Mishima as a right-wing nationalist and aesthete and presents him as a man utterly obsessed with time – time-keeping devices and symbols – arguing that this compulsion was at the heart of the author’s literature and life.

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30 October 2014

Fukushima Daiichi: Coping after a major nuclear accident

It is clear from the accidents at Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima Daiichi (2011) that severe nuclear accidents can occur, even if infrequently, meaning that coping strategies need to be developed in advance. Any mitigation strategy adopted will find itself in the spotlight of national and world opinion, and needs to be capable of rigorous justification, both to experts in the field and also to politicians and the general public, who have a particular fear of nuclear radiation.

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22 October 2014

The Power of Art

What is the power of art? What can art do? Can art deliver a social message, or any messages at all?

We invited Mami Kataoka, Chief Curator of the Mori Art Museum, one of Japan’s most active and prestigious galleries and James Lingwood, Director of Artangel, which commissions and produces exceptional projects by outstanding contemporary artists across Britain and beyond, to talk about the power of art.

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