We participated in Asia Pacific Conference 2021!

Asia Pacific Conference 2021 was held on December 4th and 5th at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu City, Oita. In 2020, the Conference took place entirely online due to the spread of COVID-19. In 2021 however, we were able to visit Beppu and make our presentations on sight as well as to an extended audience online. Some members of the Asia-Japan Research Institute also attended the Conference and held four panels in the form of presentations followed by Q&A sessions. The following is a report on each panel in the order they were held.


Panel 9:Asian Resilience to Climate Change, Disaster, and Social Transformation(Dec. 4)

In this panel, the panelists presented their research on the four diverse topics of coffee cultivation and production, the activities of religious groups, multistakeholder partnerships, and philosophical research on human memories.

While at a glance these topics seem to be unrelated, all the panelists shared the same core discussion which is on the topic of “Resilience”. During the session, the presenters highlighted the importance of developing a comprehensive approach to strengthening the resilience of communities that are under threat from climate change and natural disasters.

The approaches put forward included the application of the Terroir-based adaptation framework in agricultural communities presented by Dr. Ashardiono Fitrio, Faculty of Policy Science, Ritsumeikan University; the role of religious groups in providing disaster recovery assistance presented by Dr. Nurdin Muhammad, Asia-Japan Research Institute; multistakeholder partnership to enhance disaster preparedness by Ms. Resuello Marjorie, Asia-Japan Research Institute and the importance of sharing disaster experiences among individuals by Dr. Nobuyuki Matsui, Asia-Japan Research Institute; where all of these approaches directly contribute to strengthening the community’s resilience.

This session yielded a fruitful result where the panelists were able to exchange ideas and information, further deepening their knowledge and understanding on issues related to resilience building in climate change and disaster-affected communities. To effectively build the resilience of those communities, it is crucial to understand the characteristics of each local community and the available resources. Moreover, it requires cooperation among all the involved stakeholders to ensure successful resilience building.


Panel 17:Realizing Islamic Values in the Contemporary Muslim Communities in Asia(Dec. 4)

Professor Yasushi Kosugi (Director of the Asia-Japan Research Institute) presided over this session regarding the “realization of Islamic values” and the panelists respectively gave their presentations about the various values of Islam in a globalized world.

This session had four presenters, and their findings based on their literature research and fieldwork showed the overlapping views of developments in the Islamic world in terms of its transnational socio-economic activities and global intellectual movements.

The themes of presenters were shown in diverse focal points as follows: Dr. Fukiko Ikehata (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) presented her study on the formation of a new international consensus through the activities of Islamic jurists; Dr. Midori Kirihara (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) made her presentation on Halal certification standards under the provision of the Islamic law in Malaysia; Dr. Ayaka Kuroda (Asia-Japan Research Institute, Ritsumeikan University) focused on the importance of Khalid Abulfadr, one of the reformist thinkers in Islamic world, and Professor Yasushi Kosugi illustrated the dynamics of Islamic jurisprudence in the context of the revival of Islam and how it is entwined with contemporary issues.

In the Q&A session, panelists and attendees actively exchanged their opinions on the diversity of Muslims in the Islamic world today.


Panel 26:Asia as a Theater of Cultural Communication(Dec. 5)

This panel was held under the theme of cultural interactions based on kanji cultures. Chairperson Associate Professor Ayaka Kuroda introduced the historical experiences of cultural and literal interaction among the intellectuals of neighboring Asian countries based on their kanji cultures.

Four presenters gave their respective research reports and showed multidimensional insights and international perspectives about cultural exchanges in Asia that made contexts to understand and accept multiethnic cultures, construct identities, and provide education for minority communities.

The themes of the presenters were as follows: First, Dr. Chunyu Jin (Asia-Japan Research Institute) made her presentation about cultural exchanges between Japan, China, and Korea through the circulation of Chinese texts during the Song dynasty. Second, Dr. Kaihe Aishi (Kinugasa Research Organization, Ritsumeikan University) presented his research on the view of multiculturally spiritual words expressed in the works of Gu Taiqing, who was an elite Manchurian woman. Thirdly, Dr. Lee Jinhye (Asia-Japan Research Institute) described her study on the role of language and the right of independent publications in the Korean diasporas in Central Asia and focused on how their ethnic media projected their image as “their own”. And lastly, Dr. Jung-Eun Lee (Asia-Japan Research Institute) made her presentation on transnational mobility formed by the English education industry in Asia and picked up the case of English schools managed by Korean organizations in the Philippines.

In this session the presenters covered a wide period from ancient times to modern times and a broad area across East, Southeast, and Central Asia. Moreover, their informative presentations incorporated themes such as literature, history, ethnicity, identity, gender and education.

In the Q&A session, panelists and attendees enthusiastically discussed, for example, the procedure of "one-on-one lessons" in English education in the Philippines, the issue of visa applications, the length of stay for English training, and so on.


Panel 34: Asian Medicine: Tradition and Innovation (Dec. 5)

In this panel on “Asian Medicine: Tradition and Innovation” for the Asia Pacific Conference, panelists respectively tackled the multiple and complex dimensions of medical traditions in Asia. The presenters in this panel, Dr. Nara Oda, Dr. Kei Nagaoka, Dr. Jingjing Xian, and Dr. Dwijayanti Dinia Roziqi, approached this complexity of traditional medicines from the political, geographical, historical, economical, and actual aspects.

First, Dr. Oda showed how Vietnamese traditional medicine has been involved in its nation-building process and identity vis-à-vis the West and China. She focused on the historical process of medical institutionalization in South Vietnam, which existing studies of traditional medicine in Vietnam have never scrutinized. In her presentation, she emphasized that the institutionalizing process of the modern medical system in South Vietnam was closely bound up with the making of their own identity based on traditional medicine.

Second, Dr. Nagaoka made her presentation about Tibetan medicine, and how the Tibetan region and its medicine have become more and more exploited under global and regional circumstances. The context of using traditional medicine in Tibet has become entwined with larger contexts composed of surrounding political and economic environments such as India and China. Under this context, Tibetan herbs are being commercialized for the medical market. However, at the same time, international environmentalism also intervenes in the problem of losing bio-diversity in this area, and this also complicates Tibetan local contexts in which local people make their efforts to re-domesticate and diversify their traditional herbs.

Third, Dr Xian presented a historical investigation of Chinese doctors’ migration to Japan and the ensuing interaction between the doctors of the two countries, which left a deeply historical influence on the contemporary medical culture in Japan. She focused on a period from the sixteenth to the eighteenth-centuries and scrutinized historical materials about how the literatures of Chinese doctors were conveyed to Japanese doctors, especially through taking up the example of Kudzu (arrowroot) tea. Through her historical study, she proved that the medical tradition of Japan has been formed through an international network of intellectuals.

Lastly, Dr Dinia gave her scientific analysis of the Indonesian traditional drink called “Wedang Secang”, which has brought conflicts over its remedial uses by the public in Indonesia today. She is committed to proving the scientific efficacy of this traditional medicine of Indonesia in order to get official permission of its use for medical purposes. In this sense, her presentation was more performative, because she demonstrated the difficult process of gaining public recognition of locally traditional medicine based on scientific measurements.

Above all, the theme of traditional medicine has diverse histories and strategies in which people try to make their own local context. In the Q&A session for this panel, panelists and attendees had active discussions about more detailed explanations about the history of each traditional medicine, how diverse each tradition of medicine in Asia is, how much the efficacy of such traditional medicines could be proved and improved today and so on.


In each of these four panels, we were able to share lively and fascinating discussions, partly because we could meet face-to-face with our fellow researchers whom we hadn’t seen for more than a year, and our participation became quite meaningful for planning the further development of our research themes in future. Once again, we, the Asia-Japan Research Institute, would like to express our deep appreciation to all those involved in the Asia Pacific Conference. Thank you very much.