Russian Japanology Review

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Vol 5, No 2 (2022)
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5-33 64

As a result of the ageing of the population, shifts in the structure of households, changes in the labor market in the last two to three decades, in Japan, there is a gradual strengthening of the initial income disparity, as well as some increase in the relative poverty rate. However, through the mechanisms of redistribution of income embedded in the social security system and tax system, as well as through the provision of material support to the least protected segments of the population, the state has managed to restrain these processes. The measures taken to support families with children in recent years have been particularly important. They made it possible to reduce the rate of relative child poverty and keep income inequality among this group of families at a relatively low level.

Obviously, current income, by which the level of relative poverty and income inequality are measured, cannot clearly indicate that a family or a particular person live in poverty. In addition to the current income, the standard of living also depends on the amount of financial savings, the availability of real estate, the possession of securities, etc. For example, older citizens, who are among the least well-off in terms of current income, have the largest share of the country’s accumulated financial assets. The results of opinion polls conducted annually by the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office show that the changes taking place in the country have not led to the transformation of the Japanese “middle-class society” into a “divided society”.

For more than half a century, the absolute majority of the Japanese, about 90 percent, when asked how they would rate their families’ standard of living, chose the answer “middle level”. At the same time, in the composition of the middle class, there was a shift towards the increasing share of the more well-off (middle and higher) strata. In general, Japanese society remains healthy and prosperous. As for poverty, unlike Russia, where it is a consequence of blatant social injustice and extreme social contrasts, in Japan, in our opinion, it is not systemic and arises as a result of some particularly unfavorable, exceptional circumstances in which a family or a person find themselves.

34-58 45

This article presents an analysis of the contemporary perception of Japan by the Vladivostok citizens, as well as their views of the current state of Russia-Japan relations and their prospects. The research is based on the results of a survey conducted in May–September 2021 by the Public Opinion Studies Laboratory of the Institute of History of the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The data obtained are compared with the results of similar investigations of previous years and Vladivostok people’s views of other countries that are significant for Vladivostok, namely, China, the USA, India, and the two Koreas.

The authors point out that the Japanese factor has played an important role in the history of the city, and therefore Japan attracts so much attention of the city’s dwellers. In their opinion, the high level of attractiveness of Japan which, in the past two decades, has been recorded by public opinion surveys in Vladivostok and other centers of Pacific Russia is based, primarily, on the people’s interest in the unique culture of the Land of the Rising Sun, their high assessment of the economic and technological development of Japan and the prosperity of the Japanese people. At the same time, the historical experience of Russia-Japan relations and the political contradictions existing between the two countries make a large part of the respondents (about one-third of their total number) believe that there are threats to Russia from Japan, which are naturally associated with Japan’s territorial claims. Yet, the Vladivostok residents, for the most part, demonstrate a fairly high level of trust in Japan, positively assess the quality of current Russia-Japan relations and prospects for their future, and favor their active development. 

59-84 45

This paper shows that Japan, despite being the most technologically and economically advanced country in the Asia-Pacific region, is demonstrating slower adaptation rates of fintech. The country is currently at fintech 1.0 stage and its banking system has only partially crossed the bank 4.0 threshold. Thus, overall, fintech in Japan is catching up with the levels of other developed and emerging economies even though the speed of the catch-up has increased in recent years. The paper highlighted the fact that development of fintech in Japan remains heterogenous in terms of market segments and major financial institutions promoting fintech services.

The most developed segment of fintech in Japan is digital payments; neobanking and digital investment are raising in popularity even though they remain at the pre-maturing stages. Digitalisation of the financial sector is predominantly driven by the collaboration of large banks with fintech firms, which are establishing spillover effects and encouraging banks to further adopt digital technologies. The findings of this paper demonstrate that further promotion of DX in Japan’s financial sector will require future reforms in its corporate culture and regulatory environment. The problem of double shortages (the lack of financing for ICT and the lack of digital talents) shall also be addressed. The government has a big role to play in this process and needs to proactively stimulate cooperation among the private and financial sectors and fintech firms.

85-94 38

Using the example of the article “The Centenary of the Japanese Revolution” (1968) by the outstanding Japanologist Nikolai Konrad, the author examines his understanding of the “Meiji Revolution”. Holding on, by and large, to the Marxist views on history, Nikolai Konrad turned out to be surprisingly close to “bourgeois” historians in understanding the Meiji Revolution. The “bourgeois” and Soviet historians (including Konrad himself), who were in conflict relations, consistently qualified the Meiji Revolution as a “progressive” (positive) event that introduced Japan to the “world” (i.e., Western and the only one possible) civilization. Marxist and “bourgeois” thinkers differed in their assessment of the future (whether or not communism was the highest stage of progress), but their view of the Japanese past showed amazing unanimity. The keenness on the theory of progress was so allembracing that Nikolai Konrad’s assessments of specific historical phenomena of the Tokugawa period demonstrate outright error and bias. None of the “advanced” European countries could boast of such a long-lasting social peace as that which we observe in the Tokugawa period, which, however, did not prevent Konrad (as well as other Western historians) from branding the Tokugawa rule as “reactionary” and “stagnant”. 

95-115 53

The article describes two theater performances: the first took place in the Chinese Theater of Tsarskoye Selo in the summer of 1803, and the second one (or, rather a series of guest performances) – a hundred years later, in 1902, in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The first performance was shown for Emperor Alexander I and his guests including the Japanese sailors who were leaving for their motherland with Ivan F. Kruzenshtern’s global circumnavigation. The description of the performance the Japanese sailors left became part of the manuscript Kankai Ibun (“Surprising Information about the Seas Surrounding [Earth]”) written in 1807. The performances of 1902 were presented by the Kabuki guest company headed by Otojirō Kawakami with actress Sada Yacco, the star of the company, attracting most attention. The performances shown in Russia aroused a mixed reaction among spectators and art critics, which is proven by periodical editions of those days. The article analyzes specific perception of foreign-language theater culture reflected in the spectators’ descriptions and concludes that, regardless of the reaction to strange and unusual things, the acquaintance with other culture dramatically broadens the spectator’s horizons and allows discerning something new in one’s national culture.

116-135 39

The article attempts to generalize and analyze the materials dedicated to Japan, its folklore, culture, and literature in the children’s literary and art magazine Murzilka since its founding up to the present time. It traces the evolution of the image of Japan in the pages of the magazine for almost a hundred years, taking into consideration the historical circumstances, the SovietJapanese relations, the change in the approach to showing the peculiarities of daily life of other peoples in children’s literature. One can single out five periods of interest towards Japan in the magazine. In the second half of the 1920s, there is no unity in the image of Japan. Individual publications present it either as a capitalist country, where even small children must work, or as a collection of clichés (geishas, national clothing, Boys’ Day). The topic of Japanese aggression in China appears. During the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, the clashes at Lake Hassan and Khalkhin Gol, as well as during the first year after the war with Japan, the abstract “Japanese” are presented as aggressors, enslavers of the Chinese people, fascists encroaching on Soviet borders. The class nature of the Japan-China conflict and the liberating nature of the war against Japan are emphasized. While the Neutrality Pact between the USSR and Japan was in effect, the “Japanese” material was absent from the magazine. In the period of the Thaw, Japan turns out to be a country with an interesting and peculiar culture. In 1955–1966, the magazine publishes poems and songs by Japanese poets, fairy tales, descriptions of folk festivals and daily life, the kamishibai “paper theater”. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Japan fascinates the readers of Murzilka with its unity of material and spiritual culture, presented in ikebana, origami, and tea ceremony. In the publications of 1991–2001, this is a country existing outside of time, and the life of the Japanese is based on ancient traditions and exquisite festivals. In 2016–2021, Japan is presented, first and foremost, by daily life culture. Besides, for the first time during the existence of the magazine, the topic of technical progress appears. 

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ISSN 2658-6444 (Print)
ISSN 2658-6789 (Online)