April 16 Delegation of Danish Broadcasting Corporation

On April 10th, there was the orientation meeting of the Biotope Salon for the new academic year of 2014.

The Biotope Salon on April 16th was an exchange meeting with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) delegation. They are students of the Danish School of Media and Journalism, and now receiving on-the-job training at DR. They are colleagues of another Danish delegation who had visited the Biotope Salon on December 2013.

After Shin Mizukoshi’s brief introduction of Japanese media landscape, Gift-san, Ms. Rujirat Vinitphol, a PhD student of the GSII gave a vivid presentation about Japan’s online creative industry and people’s media practice.

(Shin Mizukoshi)


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March 6 New Perspective on TV Studies by Novella Gremigni

Ms. Novella Gremigni, an international research fellow of the iii, and a doctoral student of the Birkbeck, University of London provided her general vision of  the PhD dissertation. Bridging the political economy and cultural studies of the television studies, that is the basic perspective of her ambitious project. (Shin Mizukoshi)

Farewell party of Joonwoo and welcome party of Novella at Morikawa Shokudo

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Feb. 20 Index Magic of Jyouhouka (informatization) by Joonwoo Son

Mr, Joonwoo Son, an international student of the GSII gave a presentation, Transformation of the National Measurements in Globalized Market: The Development of the Jyouhouka Index in Japan during 1980s.

A series of research has continued that understands the measurement of society as a part of socio-political practices forming and transforming public sector. On the one hand, prior research has mainly focused on the rise of the modern nation-state institutionalizing census, national statistics, and opinion survey in attempt to facilitate public mobilization. On the other hand, measurements introduced by contemporary market organizations (e.g. municipal evaluation and industrial index) have been explored as a force which facilitates trans-national market transactions and which at the same time competes with the local values and practices embedded in modern national and public institutions. However, the transitional process from the period in which the measurements have developed as a part of the institutionalization of the modern nation-state during the 19th and the early half of the 20th century to the period in which the measurements reformed the nation-states’ public sectors through marketization since 1980s has not been examined sufficiently. Joonwoo Son’s prospective doctoral research attempts to shed light on this transition by exploring the development of Jyouhouka Indexes in Japan since the late 1960s, especially focusing on its reconstruction during 1980s.

Jyouhouka (情報化, Informatization) Indexes, with their diverse definition of Information, have measured the extent to which a factor termed “Information” increases in its portion within a given society; the concepts, models, methodologies, and data composing the indexes have diversified and transformed since 1960s. Joonwoo Son attempts to examine how these diverse indexes represent “information” and “society” differently and to interpret transition between these discrete ways of representations within their socio-political contexts. He asks what kind of socio-political interactions, cultural systems, and local practices the production of Jyouhouka Index has been embedded since 1960s.

Moreover, by focusing on the emergence of Jyouhouka indexes as a main reference of the local and the national policy of Japanese government, Joonwoo Son takes the indexes as an exemplary case in which nation-states maintained their initiative in terms of producing social measurements. He is especially interested in exploring socio-political contexts which have decentralized Jyouhouka indexes from Japanese government. His pilot research points out that the reconstruction of Jyouhouka indexes during 1980s provides an adequate object of the case study (a) because the indexes has been based more and more on the approaches imported from America and IGOs instead of on the Japanese innate ones and (b) because those indexes has gradually shifted their object of measurement from the inter-local communications to the inter-organizational market transactions. Joonwoo Son’s prospective research will attempt to explain the relationship between these two tendencies within the context of macro socio-political changes. The presentation was followed by meaningful time of comments and discussions, mainly in terms of suggesting the macro socio-political events and trends needed to be studied further.

After the meeting, there was the farewell party of Joonwoo Son and the welcome party of Novella Gremigni at the restaurant “Moriwaka” near Hongo Campus and we continued our discussion there.


(Joonwoo Son: International student of the GSII)

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Jan. 23: Future of Biotope Salon

In this session of the Biotope Salon, the members shared their thoughts about the Salon, as well as their opinions about how the Salon (or other similar informal gatherings) can be organized in the future.

To begin with, Prof. Mizukoshi talked about how the Salon can mean to him.
Firstly, besides the “formal” academic activities such as research conferences or laboratory seminars, one needs some “informal” occasions (such as this Salon) to nourish those still vague and not-so-logical ideas, which are nevertheless the seeds for future intellectual work. Secondly, this Salon can be seen as part of the “colony” or “coral” that consist of several media forms such as magazine, website, salon, and radio station (the last being the latest project of Prof. Mizukoshi, which will be discussed later).

The other members then shared their experience of informal gatherings with academic friends. Lin first talked about a study group in Taiwan, of which the focus is on classical works and the members include retired and young professors as well as graduate students. Son from Korea talked about lunch gatherings among graduate students, in which one person will present his work and receive feedback from the floor. Iwona talked about study groups in Poland that “live and die” from time to time but nevertheless provide opportunities for young professional scholars to get feedback that are more difficult to get in formal settings.

Small sized media colony

Prof. Mizukoshi then revealed his new project: creating a small-sized media colony. One of them is a low powered radio station, of which the broadcasting range will be only around the Fukutake Hall. This radio project has been supported by one radio artist, Hiroki Kehara who has been also running a low powered radio station to explore a new media experience among neighborhood communities. While the range may not be very large, Prof. Mizukoshi believes this is what makes the medium precious.

Mizukoshi has been also working on a new magazine and website. These ideas were inspired by the legendary media artist, Nam June Paik, who demonstrated the importance of having one’s own media to Mizukoshi. This project also echoes Prof. Mizukoshi’s book, titled Media Biotope: Designing Media Ecology. The details of the small-sized media colony are to be worked out.

The next Salon session will be on February 20th.

(Yi-Ren LIN: PhD student of  the GSII)

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Jan.9: Poverty socially constructed in Japan by Minjoo Lee

The social construction of poverty under the neoliberal transition in Japan since 1990

In the first Biotope Salon of the new year of 2014, Ms. Minjoo Lee provided her basic vision of the PhD dissertation. That was a really important exploration. (Shin Mizukoshi)

Poverty tends to be considered as a phenomenon already happened-therefore-existed, thus that we should take actions upon in order to ‘solve.’ However, have you ever doubt what actually poverty is and who are considered as “the poor” within a particular socio-cultural context? And there, who do you think have involved with what purpose and how?With raising these questions urging us to re-think about poverty/the poor more carefully, at the Biotope Salon meeting on January 09, 2014, Minjoo Lee introduced a brief overview on her on-going Ph.D. dissertation project, tentatively titled “The social construction of poverty under the neoliberal transition in Japan since 1990.”

In this research, by investigating related video-text-materials, she attempts to chronicle who has been incarnated as the figure of the withdrawn or outcast since 1990 till the present, the era characterized that neoliberal transition has been accelerated in Japan, and to elucidate the process that those figures are constructed as social realities by various agents within socio-cultural power-relations. This research, eventually, aims to re-historicize Japanese society since 1990 through the lens of poverty, which would be explicating the process of re-formulating the relation between the social and the political, as well as questioning how each ought to be re-imagined under the neo-liberal transition in Japan since 1990.

Snapshot of the discussion

Snapshot of the discussion

After the presentation, the Biotope Salon members eagerly asked questions and suggested insightful comments on it, of course without forgetting warm advice and encouragement. Based on those invaluable discussions at the meeting, we hope her to laboriously elaborate her research with trenchant and thoughtful analysis.

(Minjoo Lee: PhD student of the GSII)

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Dec.12: Meeting with Danish Journalists&Students

The Biotope Salon meeting on December 12, 2013 was devoted to the meeting with Danish students at Journalism school who are now receiving on-the-job training in Danish Broadcasting and Danish national radio.
The meeting were organized by professor Shin Mizukoshi and Dr. Iwona Merklejn (an international research fellow in Shin Mizukoshi Lab, originally from Poland, Nicolaus Copernicus University). It was a rare opportunity to share knowledge and opinions regarding East Asian as well as Northern European media environment.

Professor Shin Mizukoshi briefly introduced to Danish students currently undergoing shifts in Japanese media biotope, mostly in terms of mass media and mobile communication. He presented how the network of few Japanese mass media and telecommunication corporations has performed oligopolistic power in the Galapagos like media environment that it has built up and how the current sociotechnical changes both on a local scale and on a global scale are challenging the existing network. The presentation was followed by meaningful time of discussion. The discussion was largely divided into three parts.

Japan's Mass Media in "55 regime" has been changing...

Japan’s Mass Media in “55 regime” has been changing…
(Drawn by Shin Mizukoshi)

First, we talked about the online User Created Contents (UCC) in Japan. Taking Hatsune Miku and Niconico Douga as examples, we discussed about two conflicting characteristics of Japanese UCC ecosystem, the expending user participation and on-going pressure of commercialization.


“Serious” discussion at the Izakaya “Chimney” near to the Hongo campus

Second, we shared East Asian and Danish stories about the independency of mass media. We made it clear that both Japan and Denmark share a similar legal environment prospectively reforming the relationship between national governments and mass media. Moreover, thanks to Yi-Ren Lin (a Ph.D. student of GSII in the University of Tokyo, originally from Taiwan), we were able to talk about how increasing influences of Chinese capitals on Taiwanese media affect the independency of media ecosystem.

Finally, the discussion was also focused on the news subscription through the Internet. While Danish newspaper companies are actively making use of the Internet in order to deal with the decreased number of offline subscriptions, their efforts are mainly concentrated on operating companies’ own online news sites; online news portals such as Yahoo in Japan and Daum in Korea, in which a user can access to and compare news articles from various individual media companies, are not prevalent in Denmark. We discussed about the advantages and disadvantages about the two different systems.

After the meeting, we continued our discussion at the Izakaya “Chimney” near Hongo San Chome Station. The discussion with drinking was really fruitful and we exchanged our opinions about each country’s journalist education system and other various topics.
(Joonwoo Son: International research student of the GSII)

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Nov.28: Traveling & Globalizing 80s Korea by Jiyoon Kim

The Literacy of Globalization:
Cosmopolitan Imagination and Traveling Youth in 1980s’ Korea

Ms. Jiyoon Kim provided her first outline sketch of the PhD dissertation at the Biotope Salon of November 28th, 2013. Thanks a lot and fighting, Jiyoon. (Shin Mizukoshi)

Among many different perspectives and focus on the big globalization theory, this research approaches ‘globalization’ as a process and the ‘global’ as a social imagination. Therefore, it historicizes the theme by looking at Korean situation from 1980s and introduces traveling youth as an important actor/agency or a symptom of ‘globalizing’ Korea.

Cover image of the travel essay written by a college student in 1981

Cover image of the travel essay written by a college student in 1981

Similarly to Japanese situation in 1960s, Korean society in 1980s can be said as an incubation period of a dream toward the ‘world out there’. For example, several international events were held in sequence, and meanwhile, overseas travel and study was freed, officially. At the same time, the society also went through the fierce pro-democracy movement after its long authoritarian and military political regime.

Based on the idea above, a rough outline of her PhD dissertation in progress was given in the presentation. The dynamics of globalization process as well as contemporary Korean society are expected to discuss more in detail by conducting this research.
(Jiyoon Kim: PhD student of the GSII)

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Oct.17: Polish media landscape by Iwona Merklejn

The Polish media landscape: historical background and current situation

The Biotope Salon meeting on October 17, 2013 was devoted to the Polish media. Dr. Iwona Merklejn, International Research Fellow of the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies gave a presentation about the Polish media system. As this topic is rarely discussed in Japan, the presentation offered a general overview of the largest media market in Eastern Europe.

Located between Germany and several former Eastern bloc nations, Poland has been a member state of the European Union since 2004. It is a nation of about 38 million people sharing one language – Polish and a relatively homogenous culture. Estimates vary, but according to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, one should add to the home population about 15-16 million Polish living abroad. The diaspora has been historically very significant in the formation of Polish language and culture, and with the rise of the “new” online media, one can expect it to play an even greater role.

The recent trends in the Polish media need to be explained against the historical background of the postwar history of Poland. The contemporary Polish media system is functioning within a framework set in the process of transformation from authoritarian communism to liberal democracy, and its present condition is impossible to understand without some knowledge of that transformation. Therefore, the presentation consisted of three parts: the postwar communist authoritarian system (1944-1989), the transformation from authoritarian communism to liberal democracy (1989-2004) and the recent trends including the rise of the “new” online media (2004-2013). Recently, the “new” online and social media have been growing in Poland at a very fast rate. Facebook has 14.9 mln users and is on the rise (source: wirtualnemedia.pl, last access: 15.10.2013). Twitter with 1.5 mln users (2012) is still niche, but popular among youth, celebrities and politicians trying to boost their image (data source: Megapanel Gemius, last access: 15.10.2013).

One factor in this growth is the fact that the population is relatively young – the last baby boom in the country happened in the early 1980s, hence there is a large generation of “digital natives” in their late 20s and early 30s. These young people are also well educated (two college degrees are not unusual). For those of them who emigrated after the opening of the EU job markets, social media are the way of keeping in touch with the home country.

Applebaum, A. (2012). The Iron Curtain. The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956.Allen Lane (Penguin Books).
Dobek-Ostrowska, B. (2012). “Italianization (or Mediterreanization) of the Polish Media System?” In: Comparing Media Systems Beyond the Western World, ed. Hallin, Daniel C., Paolo Mancini. Cambridge University Press.
Goban-Klas, T. (1994). The Orchestration of the Media The Politics of Mass Communications in Communist Poland and the Aftermath. Westview Press.

(Iwona Merklejn: International fellow of the iii)

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June30: Keep in touch, Mikko-san

After 9 months stay (October 2012 to June 2013) in the Shin Mizukoshi lab, Dr. Mikko Villi had gone back to Helsinki. He has been a wonderful member of our research community and also of our drinking community!
Now, he became a lecturer at the Media and Communication Studies, the Department of Social Research, the Faculty of Social Science, the University of Helsinki. And the director of the Communication Research Centre CRC in it.
Such a wonderful news!!


This is the poster of his research meeting in the Kaori Hayashi & Co., iii, the University of Tokyo.

Mikko-san, please keep in touch, and take care. I don’t say Sayonara to you. We will develop a collaborative research project from now on, and, actually, I will meet you very soon.

(Shin Mizukoshi: Professor of the iii)

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April 18: Biotope Salon Resumed


We have resumed the Biotope Salon biweekly Thursday early afternoon at the Commons of the Fukutake Hall.

This year, we make this salon as an informal seminar with English language among doctoral level students, post-doc researchers, and international researchers in and around Shin’s lab.


In this meeting, Iwona Merklejn, Tadahisa Hamada, Mikko Villi, Yonnie Kim, Jiyoon Kim, and Shin Mizukoshi did their self introductions, talked about the schedule and recent states of Japan’s media.



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