Japanese Studies Association of Australia Conference 2021 - 'Sustainability, Longevity and Mobility' – Virtual Conference

Due to the continuing uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the JSAA Biennial Conference will take place completely online.

A series of disastrous catastrophes in 2018 saw summer heat waves, earthquakes, landslides and flooding take the lives of many and disrupt that of others in Japan. The 41 degrees reached in this year was declared a natural disaster by the Japanese government with 30,000 people hospitalized. This ‘new normal’ continued into 2019 where, just as Japan was bracing for its most violent storm in over 60 years a 5.7 magnitude earthquake rattled many parts of the east coast. During the October storm 6 million people were advised to evacuate due to flooding and the possibility of landslides.

In 2020, action over the growing problem of plastic waste finally reached Japan. As the second largest producer of plastic waste per capita in the world Japan has been slow to react. However, from July 1 2020 Japan aims to make plastic bag fees mandatory. Also, in 2020 Japan, like the rest of the world, is dealing with the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic. This has already led to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics being postpone by 12 months and increasing concerns over the rising infection rate and the possibility of high death rates among the aging population.

Concerns over aging and low birth rates have plagued Japan for many years. What was seen as a radical, and controversial, plan to address the resulting severe labour shortages in the country was introduced in late 2019. The plan was meant to entice over 300,000 lower and semi-skilled foreign workers, but it has only attracted a little over 200 individuals in its first 6 months. With Japanese language demands for foreign workers in the aged care industry and this latest setback, labour shortages and the problems of an aging society don’t look like they will be solved anytime soon.

These issues and their effects can, and are, being studied through numerous fields of research from history to literature, from economics to human rights. We invite participants to contribute knowledge and understanding of Japan in a global context of sustainability, longevity and mobility from within their own disciplinary/field interests.


Please consider how you can decrease our carbon footprint and waste.

General Info

Participants will need a device (computer, tablet, or smartphone) to experience the conference virtually. Presenters should use a computer for their panel session.

There is a registration fee to attend the conference, please visit the registration section below.

The webinar platform for the conference will be via Zoom, the link will be sent out once you've registered.

Safety and Security are utmost in mind in organising the conference. Only registered users will be able to access the virtual sessions.

There will be opportunity to network with other attendees in virtual meeting rooms.


Registration fees:

JSAA members $50
Non-members $100


JSAA members $20
Non-members $50

Early bird registration:  

JSAA members $40
Non-members $80

Early bird postgraduate registration:

JSAA members $10
Non-members $30

Registration includes access to attend all panel sessions, welcoming events and informal/formal virtual gatherings.

Registration will open in 2021, further details coming soon. 


The draft conference Program will be uploaded in early 2021.

Keynote Speakers:

Julia Adeney Thomas
Department of History, University of Notre Dame

Julia Adeney Thomas grew up in the coal country of southwest Virginia. Her sharp interest in environmental questions comes from her love of those mountains and worries about mountain-top removal.  As an intellectual historian, Julia writes on concepts of nature, political theory, historiography, and photography in Japan and comparatively. Her publications include  Reconfiguring Modernity: Concepts of Nature in Japanese Political Ideology (winner of the AHA John K. Fairbank Prize), Japan at Nature's Edge: The Environmental Context of a Global Power, and Rethinking Historical Distance as well as more than forty essays including "Not Yet Far Enough" and "History and Biology in the Anthropocene: Questions of Scale, Questions of Value," both in the American Historical Review.  Her current projects include Visualizing Fascism: The Twentieth-Century Rise of the Global Right (Duke 2020), The Anthropocene (co-authored with Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams, Polity, forthcoming) and The Historian's Task in the Anthropocene (under contract with Princeton University Press.)  Educated at Princeton, Oxford, and Chicago, she taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Wisconsin–Madison before joining Notre Dame’s history department. 

Keijiro Suga
Meiji University, Tokyo Japan.

Professor Suga is a poet and academic of critical theory at Meiji University where he founded the graduate program called “Places, Arts, and Consciousness.” 

He has published ten books of critical essays and travelogues of which Transversal Journeys was awarded the Yomiuri Prize for Literature in 2011. He has also published seven collections of poetry in Japanese of which The Dog Search / My Dog Papyrus (2019) is the latest.  His English poems are published by the University of Canberra's International Poetry Studies Institute as a chapbook titled Transit Blues (2018) and its Spanish translation appeared in 2019. His poems have been translated into English, French, Romanian, Serbian, Slovene, Albanian, Chinese, Spanish, and Italian and he has been invited to read at literary festivals and universities at many occasions.

He is also a prolific translator from English, French, and Spanish to Japanese in human sciences and literature. Among his more than thirty translations are: Poétique de la Relation and Le quatrième siècle by Edouard Glissant, La vie scélérate by Maryse Condé, La fête chantée and Raga by J.M.G. Le Clézio, Le postmoderne expliqué aux enfants by Jean-François Lyotard, At the Bottom of the River by Jamaica Kincaid, Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender, El árbol del conocimiento by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, Paula by Isabel Allende. 

He was a former president of ASLE-Japan (2012-2016) and co-edited, with Hisaaki Wake and Yuki Masami, Ecocriticism in Japan (2017). 

Professor Hiroshi Usami
Department of Linguistic Information Science, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo

PhD in Japanese Linguistics/Pedagogy. Professor Usami took up his current position at the Graduate School of Arts and Science, the University of Tokyo in 2015, after working for the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics for sixteen years. He teaches Japanese language for academic purposes to international undergraduate students as well as language education theories to graduate students. Professor Usami’s research interests include the individuals’ sense of values and norms that affect their linguistic behaviour. His recent publications include Usami, Y., ed. 2016. 「評価」を持って街に出よう―「教えたこと・学んだことの評価」という発想を超えて [Go out of classrooms and take assessment with you: Beyond the concept of teaching and learning assessment], Kuroshio Publishers: Tokyo.



Virtual Conference