Today I added the 400th book to my library! OK, just to the virtual catalogue of my real library, which still contains roughly half a bookshelf of uncatalogued books… But I just found the number 400 to be so nice. The new acquisition is a facsimile of the 1750 first edition of Lessing’s Beyträge zur Historie und Aufnahme des Theaters (“Articles on the history and reception of theatre”), Germany’s first theatre periodical.

Perception and representation of the yakuza in contemporary Japan


This literature review aims to analyze how 20 different academic, official, and public sources represent the phenomenon of yakuza, the organized crime of Japan. Additionally, it will be attempted to show how these sources can be contextualized in the broader scope of Japanese society regarding attitudes towards crime and punishment thereof in general. Although the terms 「ヤクザ」 “yakuza” and 「暴力団」 “bōryokudan” may have distinct meanings and connotations within contemporary Japan, for the purpose of this literature review they will be used interchangeably to refer to the groups and members of the various crime organizations in Japan in its entirety.

With their origins dating back to the 17th century, the yakuza have enmeshed their existence deeply into Japanese society over a long time. As one of the largest crime organizations in the world, their influence and presence on both national and international levels pose severe social questions as to interference with and safety of public life and political and legal actions against that. Since the structure of the yakuza is a reflection of Japanese hierarchical ideas in general (「家」“ie” and 「親分子分」 “oyabun-kobun”) and their self-proclaimed values are known to center around traditional and nationalistic ways of thinking, their public perception can indicate how the public agrees or disagrees with both the values themselves as well as the self-attribution of those values.

Battles Without Honor and Humanity

Due to a lacking topical alternative, I hereby decide to definitely announce the upcoming post. It will be a text on the perception of yakuza in contemporary Japan. The reason for the definite announcement is that I was planning to publish this article quite some time ago, but since always felt that I needed to post something of a different kind before this one. Well.

I started to prepare this article – which is based upon a seminar paper I finished in February of last year – in September for this blog; and I was finished by December with it. At this time, the desire to publish the article grew stronger because apart from the fact that the more I read the text, the more insight-less I found it to be (OK, now I got used to that), there were circumstances that made the yakuza overly present in media again. These were the following.


I am back in Germany. OK, I arrived a little bit more than a month ago but as always I didn’t have time until now to tell you that. Shortly before my flight back home I was planning to post a somewhat polemic article on the political landscape in Japan (see below), but as always I didn’t finish the article and I have been swamped with work since my arrival.

So, as a small compensation, I firstly present the somewhat polemic article that I only wrote in English:

The calm … during the storm?

It has recently been a little bit quieter on this blog. I missed to mention many things of importance that would have had its place in the thematic spectrum of this blog. From the commemoration days of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th 1945, and the following end of the war on August 15th (with the formal signing of the Surrender on September 2nd and how it was celebrated in China this year, for instance) to various travels of mine from Matsumoto to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route to Okinawa (not in one trip).

And as much as I would have liked to write about everything, time was – despite the end of classes – not on my side. It was for a greater part occupied by thinking about my academic future and trying to find a place in Heidelberg.

Now, as it’s raining outside due to the 18th typhoon by now (the 19th is already on the weather map but is said to narrowly pass Japan), I finally get to post again. There will be a musical piece matching this weather in the next post, so be prepared: fluctus excitare in simpulo.


Quick Links

For a change of pace here’s a somewhat extensive selection of interesting articles and videos regarding all kinds of things. I hope that everybody will find something to his or her liking!


– In light of current events since it just became a World Cultural Heritage site: a little bit on the history and background on the controversy of 軍艦島 Gunkanjima (“battleship island”).

Who ever wanted to call a 3.8 meter high and 5 tons heavy robot his own… Currently sold out, but it was recently priced at 120 Mil. Yen (ca. 970,000 USD). A Video:

Japan: Assessing Changing Security Situations in the Asia-Pacific


This short essay aims to analyze the evolution of Japan’s perspective on security in East Asia over a period of ten years as articulated during the annual Shangri-La Dialogues. More specifically, eight speeches from 2005 to 2015 will be considered for this analysis.1 As will be demonstrated, two overall phases can be detected in this period. The first centers on the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in the region whereas the second phase shifts towards maritime and territorial issues. Furthermore, in the second half of the latter period, a change in the perspective on Japan’s own role in these security issues becomes evident. Aspects of the security environment that have remained mostly unchanged will be briefly mentioned as well.

Post Idus Martii

Sorry, this entry is only available in German. For the sake of viewer convenience, the content is shown below in the alternative language. You may click the link to switch the active language.

Nachdem am 17. Januar dieses Jahres der 20. Jahrestag des Erdbebens von Kōbe (兵庫南部地震 Hyōgo nambu jishin) und am 11. März der vierte Jahrestag des Grossen Erdbebens von Tōhoku (東日本大震災 Higashi nihon daishinsai) waren, ist heute in Japan ein weiterer historischer (Gedenk)tag. Allerdings wird dieser wohl den Wenigsten außerhalb Japans bekannt sein, weswegen ich kurz – neben ein paar Worten zu Fukushima – darauf eingehen möchte.

Es handelt sich dabei um den 20. Jahrestag des Saringasanschlags auf die U-Bahn von Tokyo am 20. März 1995 (地下鉄サリン事件 Chikatetsu sarin jiken), ausgeführt von der neu-religiösen und apokalyptischen Aum-Sekte (オウム真理教 Aum Shinrikyō).

Bevor ich dieses Ereignis näher beleuchte, möchte ich jedoch, wie gesagt, zunächst ein wenig auf Fukushima zu sprechen kommen.

Broken News

Sorry, this entry is only available in German. For the sake of viewer convenience, the content is shown below in the alternative language. You may click the link to switch the active language.

In aller Kürze das, was in den vergangenen Tagen geschehen ist:

1) Die zweite japanische Geisel, Gotō Kenji, ist tot.

2) Japan wird wahrscheinlich erneut nichtständiges Mitglied des Sicherheitsrats der Vereinten Nationen.

3) Artikel 9 der jap. Verfassung ist erneut im Rennen um den Friedensnobelpreis.

4) Unter Artikel 9 könnten künftig Geiselbefreiungen im Ausland ermöglicht werden.