[Nichibunken-IHJ Forum] Japan’s Road to the Olympics in the Meiji Era: An Attempt at “Sports Civilization” Theory

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  • Lecturer: Ushimura Kei (Professor, Nichibunken)
  • Commentator: Mitani Hiroshi (Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo)
  • Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2019, 6:30-8:00 pm (Doors open at 6:00 pm)
  • Venue: Lecture Hall, International House of Japan
  • Coorganized by International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken)
  • Language: Japanese (without English interpretation)
  • Admission: Free
  • Seating: 100 (reservations required)
Japan was forced to sign unequal treaties with the Western powers at the end of the Edo Period. Only after the abolition of consular jurisdiction in 1894, participation in a military coalition with the powers in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1899-1900, signing of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1902, victory over Russia in 1905 and recovery of tariff autonomy in 1911, did Japan become a “civilized” or “first-class” nation in theory, but in reality the country continued to struggle to win equality in the international community. Should there be any arena where the newcomer could stand on an equal basis, it was the field of sports in which the same rules apply to all participants, the most prestigious being the Olympic Games. Participating in the modern Olympics can thus be seen as proof that the country had finally entered the circle of “civilized nations.” Based on this assumption, this lecture will examine Japan’s path to joining the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.

Ushimura Kei (Professor, Nichibunken)
Ushimura KeiSpecializes in comparative culture and Japanese intellectual history. He did his graduate work both at the University of Tokyo (Comparative Literature and Culture) and at the University of Chicago (History). He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo. Before joining Nichibunken, he served as Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta and Associate Professor at Meisei University. He has published “Bunmei no sabaki” o koete [Beyond “the Judgment of Civilization”] (Chuokoron-shinsha, 2001) and “Senso sekininron” no shinjitsu [The Issue of the Discourses on “War Responsibility”] (PHP Kenkyusho, 2006), and edited Bunmei to shintai [Civilization and the Body] (Rinsen Shoten, 2018). Winner of the Yamamoto Shichihei Award in 2001 and the Shigemitsu Mamoru Award in 2008.
Mitani Hiroshi (Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo)
Mitani HiroshiProfessor at Atomi University and Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo. His main research interests include Japanese political history during the 19th century, especially the Meiji Revolution, East Asian regional history and comparative history. His recent publications include Escape from Impasse: The Decision to Open Japan (I-House Press, 2008), Aikoku, kakumei, minshu [Nationalism, Revolution, Democracy] (Chikuma shobo, 2013), Ishinshi saiko [Rethinking the Meiji Revolution] (NHK Publishing, 2017), and Toward a History beyond Borders: Contentious Issues in Sino-Japanese Relations (edited with Daqing Yang, Jie Ryu and Andrew Gordon, Harvard University Asia Center, 2012).