Purpose, Structure, and Activities

Interdisciplinary and international perspective

Based on an interdisciplinary approach, the VSJF stands for strengthening the institutional presence of social science-oriented Japanese research in German-speaking science. A particular concern of the association is to bring Japan-related issues into the relevant general disciplines. Its members are engaged in the discussion about education and research policy. Among other things, the association’s goals are to sustainably promote relevant research projects and to anchor Japanese social science research even more strongly in higher education as well as in non-university research.

Japan-related social science issues can often only be meaningfully worked on in a comparative, international context. Here, the VSJF plays an important role as a forum for contacts, because it actively promotes the international networking of Japanese-related scientific associations.

In addition to interdisciplinarity, the VSJF is interested in linking Japan-related research with the relevant general disciplines. This approach is lived and further developed in section meetings at the annual conferences where various research questions are brought together with a broad number of theoretical and methodological approaches. Another purpose of these annual section meetings is to provide members with the most up-to-date information possible for discussion in the various scientific disciplines and their relationship to Japan-related research. In addition to that, workshops present and discuss current research results, especially about topics of an interdisciplinary nature beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines.

A prime example for such a workshop is the “Gender Workshop” that has been taking place directly prior to the VSJF annual conferences since 1999. Other topics of workshops conducted over the years are “Temporality in Japan”, “Magic, Religion, and Science”, “History of Science in a Cultural Context – the Development of Modern Sciences in Japan”, “Small and Medium Enterprises in Japan”, and “Order and Organisation in the Japanese Economy”.

Knowledge transfer to society

Since the 1980s, social science research on Japan has made great strides towards a more differentiated picture of modern Japanese society. But these advances have barely affected the stereotypical perception of Japan in public. One goal of the VSJF’s work is thus to communicate the knowledge gathered by research more effectively and to make the expertise concentrated in the association accessible to the media, decision-makers in politics, business and society and the general public.


With more than 200 members, the VSJF is three decades after its founding one of the most important networks of Japan-related research in Europe. Its members mainly include academics from higher education and outside university, as well as students. A special focus of the association is the promotion of young scholars.

Membership in the Association is open to anyone working or interested in social science research on Japan, e.g. Japanese studies’ scholars as well as social scientists in the broadest sense. The association is explicitly open to students of these disciplines, in general it welcomes all who support the purposes of the association.