The Senkaku/Diaoyutai Incident One Year on: Islands Disputes and Maritime Strategy in Sino-Japanese Relations

Maritime issues in relation to disputed territorial boundaries are becoming a key theme in debates on regional security in East Asia. In the East China Sea, Sino-Japanese disputes over territorial ownership of the inhabited Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands matters strategically, economically and politically, because there is the potential to affect access and control of the sea and its resources, and shape the regional power balance. This would directly affect their ability to safeguard national economic interests and exert military influence in the region and beyond. However, the possession of these islands speaks to questions of national pride, historical sensitivity, and international status. This timely seminar explores how maritime territorial disputes are shaping Sino-Japanese relations, and the extent to which these issues are redefining the strategic relationship between the two countries and the United States. One year after the September 2010 collision between a Chinese fishing trawler and the Japan Coast Guard, Professor Buzan will bring perspectives of political and historical generalisation to Dr Patalano’s examination of the evolution of Sino-Japanese relations and assessment of the lasting impact of the incident on regional security.

The seminar will be chaired by Professor Chris Hughes.

About the contributors

Dr Alessio Patalano

Dr Alessio Patalano is Lecturer in War Studies at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, and specialises in East Asian security and Japanese naval history and strategy. He is also Research Associate at the King’s China Institute. Since 2006, he has been Visiting Lecturer in Naval Strategy and East Asian Security at the Italian Naval War College (ISMM), Venice. In Japan, Dr Patalano has been a Visiting Scholar at Aoyama Gakuin University and at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), both in Tokyo, and currently is Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies, Temple University Japan. Dr Patalano’s publications appeared in academic journals in English, Japanese and Italian language. His first book, Maritime Strategy and National Security in Japan and Britain from the First Alliance to Post- 9/11 (Brill/Global Oriental) is forthcoming in 2011, and he is currently completing a second book titled Reclaiming the Trident: Imperial Legacy and Japan’s Post-war Naval Power.

Professor Barry Buzan

Professor Barry Buzan is Montague Burton Professor in the Department of International relations at the London School of Economics, and honorary professor at Copenhagen and Jilin universities. From 1988 to 2002 Professor Buzan was Project Director at the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute (COPRI). From 1995 to 2002 he was research professor of International Studies at the University of Westminster, and before that Professor of International Studies at the University of Warwick. During 1993 he was visiting professor at the International University of Japan, and in 1997-1998 he was Olof Palme Visiting Professor in Sweden. He has published and broadcast extensively in the field of international relations. His publications include: ‘China in International Society: Is ‘peaceful rise’ Possible?’ (The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 3 (1), pp. 5-36, 2010), and Acharya, Amitav and Buzan, Barry (eds.) Non-Western international relations theory: perspectives on and beyond Asia (Routledge, 2010).

Professor Chris Hughes

Professor Chris Hughes (Chair) is Professor of International Politics and Japanese Studies at Warwick University. Previously, he was Research Associate at the Institute for Peace Science, Hiroshima University (IPSHU). From 2000-2001 he was Visiting Associate Professor, and in 2006 he held the Asahi Shimbun Visiting Chair of Mass Media and Politics, both at the Faculty of Law, University of Tokyo. He is an honorary Research Associate at IPSHU, and has been a Research Associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), and Visiting Scholar at the East Asia Institute, the Free University of Berlin. From 2009-2010 he was the Edwin O. Reischauer Visiting Professor of Japanese Studies at the Department of Government, Harvard University. He is currently an Associate in Research at Harvard’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, and President of the British Association of Japanese Studies. His research interests include Japanese foreign and security policy; Japanese international political economy; and regionalism in East Asia.

Bye Bye Kitty!!! – Beyond kitsch, kawaii and otaku in Japanese Contemporary Art: An illustrated talk by David Elliott

Kitsch, otaku (“geek”) and kawaii (cuteness, sometimes super-girly hyper-cuteness) – are all stereotypes frequently attributed to contemporary Japanese culture. It is true to say that Japanese society often embraces such images of itself, and some Japanese artists, such as Takashi Murakami and Kaikai Kiki, respond to, or exploit, these trends, making them even more widespread. Yet is this the whole story? Does this kind of work actually represent the most significant and powerful art being made in Japan today?

David Elliott, founding director of the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, who spent five years in Japan, thinks not. He sees an intensely reflective, self-critical, controversial, even political, spirit within contemporary Japanese art that is less easy to appreciate than the stereotypes but more rewarding to grasp. It was this which led him to curate the successful exhibition Bye, Bye Kitty!!! – Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art held at the Japan Society in New York earlier this year. This fascinating exhibition concentrated on diverse work by talented young and middle generation Japanese artists, many of whom have not yet been well enough represented on the international art scene.

In this talk, David Elliott will offer an overview of this exhibition and the artists he chose for it, mapping them in the social context of modern and contemporary Japan. Complementing his talk will be a discussion with sociologist and Japanese contemporary art specialist Adrian Favell. Together they will further explore how significant the exhibition is today, reflecting on Japanese aesthetics, social realities and global reactions.

This event is organised in collaboration with TrAIN Research Centre.

17 October 2011 from 6.20pm

The Banqueting Hall (Chelsea College of Art and Design)
16 John Islip Street
London SW1P 4JU

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to


Women Work in Wood (WoWoWo)

Women Work – in Wood is a touring celebration and showcase of leading female contemporary furniture designers and makers, working in wood, and will include work from London-based Tomoko Azumi, and Denmark-based Akiko Kuwahata, as well as various other international, established and emerging designer makers, who  have all responded to a design brief to develop and encourage innovative design in furniture using sustainable processes and materials.

The design development has in each case been documented to illuminate the decisions regarding techniques and process.  These narratives, as well as the more personal deliberations to do with career paths, will form part of the exhibition showing the richness of skill and approach and add to the debate about design, responsibility, opportunity, expectation and so forth.

The number of women furniture makers is on a steady increase in Europe and particularly the UK. This exhibition is the first dedicated showcase of contemporary work by woman designer makers.

24 September 2011 – 30 October 2011

Walford Mill Crafts, Dorset

For more information, please click here.

Art Weapons: Artist Talk by Tsuyoshi Ozawa

Tsuyoshi Ozawa is an intriguing Japan-grown contemporary artist. His works challenge the establishment and people’s existing systems, as well as perceptions about their daily lives. Yet Ozawa also approaches these issues with both gentle humour and clever irony, quite often throwing his viewers, with great relish, into a maze of the actual and the virtual: for example in works such as his Museum of Soy Sauce Art, a parodic look at Japanese art history, or his long running Vegetable Weapons project. Despite a conventional education at art university in Japan, where he studied painting, Ozawa, from the start of his artistic career, has always resisted creating his work in an isolated environment. He frequently collaborates with other artists, and often draws on audience participation, using his work as a kind of “art weapon” for opening dialogue.

In this artist talk, Tsuyoshi Ozawa will reveal to the UK audience for the first time the unique artistic path he has walked over the past decades, explaining the creative process behind many of his compelling works. In a discussion to follow, he will be joined by Adrian Favell, Professor of Sociology in Paris and a writer on Japanese contemporary art, to further examine Ozawa’s relation to contemporary Japanese society, his significance in a global context, and issues of “relational art” in his work, part of an important trend in contemporary art practice.

20 September 2011 from 6.30pm

The Japan Foundation, London
Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square
London WC1B 5EH

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to

Then and Now: Japanese Investment in the UK

Sierk A. Horn
Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Leeds

Monday, 19th September 2011 6.45pm

School of Oriental and African Studies
University of London
Khalili Lecture Theatre
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG

Japanese firms have a reputation as influential foreign investors. With this back-drop in mind, Sierk Horn’s lecture examines how Japanese firms are currently developing their presence in the UK. His research finds that Japanese investment behaviour is evolving. While benefiting from a strong presence within Europe, Japanese firms are in the process of reconfiguring their UK presence. Recent surveys show Europe losing ground as a promising region for medium-term overseas business operations. Japanese manufacturers have downgraded the attractiveness of the UK as a business destination. In the last decade the number of Japanese firms in the UK has declined considerably, indicating an appreciable slow-down in interest from Japan.

In light of the continued importance of Japan as an inward investment source country despite investment ‘newcomers,’ most notably from India or China, the long-term commitment of Japanese investors and their contribution to the regional regeneration of the UK represents a useful context in which to examine the current strategies and localisation behaviour of Japanese companies. A comparative and longitudinal analysis of the spatial distribution of Japanese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the UK over the past two decades help explore agglomeration economies, investment and exit scenarios and the changing role of regional industrial policies.

Dr Sierk A. Horn is Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Leeds. He was awarded a PhD in Japanese Studies and Habilitation from Freie Universitaet Berlin. He has published widely in the fields of consumer behaviour in East Asia, international knowledge transfer and strategic management of Japanese and European multinational enterprises (MNEs).

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 7828 6330 or email or submit the online booking form

Japan Matsuri 2011

Sunday 18th September 2011
County Hall

Riverside Building
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7PB

Join this fantastic celebration of Japan and its rich culture at the County Hall on the South Bank.

For more information please visit the official Japan Matsuri website.

Matsuri 2010

Junya Ishigami: Architecture as Air

nternationally acclaimed Japanese architect Junya Ishigami is one of the pioneering architects of his generation. Working between the spheres of architecture and art, he redefines the aesthetics of minimalism by playing with perception, materials and scale. For his first UK installation, Ishigami has conceived a new structure built in response to the distinctive Curve gallery, which he describes as “melting endlessly into space”. The structure comprises of a single curved line of delicate 4-metre columns running the entire 80 metre length of the space, which appear to be held in place by air and atmosphere alone. Only on close inspection are the transparent structural components revealed. This work is a development of Ishigami’s experimental installation, Architecture as air: study for château la coste, which was first shown at the 12th Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010 and won the Golden Lion for best project.

28 June 2011 – 16 October 2011

The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, London

For more information, please click here.

Special Screening: Family Ties (2006)

September 12, 2011, 7pm

Family Ties (2006)

Kim Tae-yong

The KCCUK has a special treat for all you Korean film fans out there. The Centre will be screening Family Ties (2006) along with a Q&A from the director of the film Kim Tae Young. RSVP needed, please visit the KCCK website to book, admission is free.

Mi-ra, who runs a small snack food restaurant, has a trouble-maker brother, Hyung-chul. After being discharged from the military, he goes missing. After five years Hyung-chul suddenly comes back home accompanied by a middle-aged woman, Mu-sin. He gives a bunch of flowers to Mi-ra and introduces Mu-sin as his wife, even though they have not had a wedding ceremony. Mu-sin looks at least 20 years older than Hyung-chul. From that moment, an eccentric family is born.

The film has won numerous awards including Best Director at Pusan and Blue Dragon as well as Best Picture at Pusan, AKOFIC, Thessaloniki and Daejong film festivals.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director; Kim Tae-yong.

Thai Spas: Elements of ‘Thainess’ found in Thai Spas

In recent years, Thailand has emerged as the region’s most active spa destination, breaking a new frontier as the hub of all things holistic. With new spa treatments migrating to Asia’s spa capital from regions near and far, Thailand has come to be known as Spa Capital of Asia – a one-stop destination for any type of international spa treatment you can imagine, ranging from traditional folk techniques to cutting-edge technology. Nevertheless, spa aficionados and holistic wellness seekers who travel to Thailand are equally keen to experience the home-grown, native Thai spa therapies and treatments unique to Thailand that they would not find so easily elsewhere.

Thai spas are considered the finest in the world. The mere mention of a Thai-style spa leaves international spa visitors intrigued. What makes a spa uniquely Thai?

Regardless of the presentation or packaging, it’s the authenticity of traditional Thai treatments such as Thai massage, Thai herbal steam, Thai herbal compress and indigenous herbal ingredients that constitute the real Thainess in the Thai spa experience. What many visitors may not realise is that the core of the Thai spa identity, and consequently the feel-good factor of Thai-style spa treatments, comes from their origins as ancient Siamese health and beauty therapies in healing traditions that have been practised by local people for centuries.

Traditional Massage for Healing
The most famous and popular spa therapy is traditional Thai massage. Also known as ‘massage for healing’, it is an age-old healing art that originated as a spiritual practice taken from the teachings of the Lord Buddha.

Massage was originally taught and practised only in temples. Even today, the most important massage school in Thailand is located at Bangkok’s famous Wat Pho – the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, or Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn, as it is officially known.

The temple was constructed in the reign of King Rama III to serve as a cradle of education for his people. Its walls have murals and a total of 1,360 inscriptions covering a wide range of traditional Thai knowledge, ranging from literature to health. These include numerous inscriptions on traditional massage and herbal healing practices.

On 31 March 2008, the temple inscriptions were given a historic certification by UNESCO, and were recognized as a Memory of the World documentary heritage. This knowledge has been used to create various courses at the Wat Pho Traditional Medical and Massage School, the country’s first traditional massage school, which was opened in 1955. Since then the school has expanded with four other branches, including one in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Over 200,000 Thais and over 80,000 foreign students have graduated from these schools so far.

Like many ancient Asian healing philosophies, Thai massage techniques are based on the concept of energy and the invisible energy lines running along our bodies. Thai massage focuses on ten key energy lines in our bodies and uses pressure techniques to release the blocked energy along those lines. The ancient massage techniques gained popularity for their healing abilities, relieving ailments such as backaches, headaches, nervous tension and fevers.

Aside from releasing blocked energy, there’s a spiritual element to Thai massage as well. Thai massage philosophy is based on the idea that when giving a massage, the masseur or masseuse is practicing the physical application of metta, or ‘loving kindness’, in Theravada Buddhism, the national religion of Thailand. The massage is in effect healing the recipient by conveying love through the hands of the giver. Originally, there were rites that preceded the giving of a Thai massage. These begin with a prayer to centre the mind in a meditative mood for the healing process that is about to be performed. True massage is performed in a state of mindful awareness and concentration. This meditative awareness gives the massage giver the power to sense the energy flow and blockages in the recipient’s body, thus enabling him or her to heal the ailing parts of the body. It may seem that giving a Thai massage requires a huge amount of physical exertion, what with all the straddling and bending and flipping and twisting the clients, but when done properly, the massage giver should feel as relaxed as the recipient. Thai massage is supposed to be an act of spiritual giving that nourishes both parties involved.

Thai Herbal Therapies
The power of the traditional Thai treatments comes from the demonstrable curative properties of plants. It was not just ancient healers, but local folk who knew that certain herbs, roots and flowers had specific abilities to rejuvenate the body and nourish the skin and hair. The herbs used in Thai health and beauty treatments have beneficial effects on the body both inside and out – for example, the same herbs used in the famous tom yum soup are also used as ingredients in typical Thai beauty treatments, thus nourishing the body from both inside and out.

Some of the most effective Thai herbal remedies are common ingredients in Thai cuisine, and are easily found in any household refrigerator, local supermarket, or plucked from the garden.

This famous indigenous herb is synonymous with Thai food and gives the zesty lemony scent that often greets visitors upon stepping into a Thai spa. It is easily found in any Thai supermarket and is very inexpensive. Lemongrass is a traditional remedy for skin irritations and in olden days was burned as a cleansing agent. As aromatherapy oil, it is useful for treating headaches and as an insect repellent. In spa treatments, it is used in herbal steam and herbal compresses, and when used in aromatherapy oil massage, it helps boost circulation and speed up healing.

This rhizome is member of the ginger family and is easily recognized by its bright orange-coloured flesh. It is easily found in any supermarket because it’s a popular and flavoursome ingredient in Thai curries. Turmeric is one of the key ingredients in traditional Thai herbal treatments, and you’ll find a wide variety of herbal soaps and skin products made of this miracle root, which is known for its antiseptic properties and ability to heal skin ailments. It is used powdered and crushed in skin healing concoctions.

Another relative of the ginger family, prai looks like bigger and more bulbous version of ginger. It’s recognizable by its bitter, soil-like smell. Prai has long been used in traditional Thai body treatments as an ingredient in hot compresses to relieve muscular aches and pains. As a beauty product, it’s been used by generations of Thai women as a natural moisturizer to tone and soften the skin. Prai oil is also used as a traditional scalp conditioner.

This rhizome is often mistaken for ginger, but can be distinguished by its whitish color with a pinkish tinge on the ends. It is a popular ingredient that gives certain Thai soups and curries their familiar tangy aroma. It was used traditionally to cure skin diseases and is now used in spa treatments as an ingredient in body wraps to soothe and nourish the skin.

Kaffir Lime
This bumpy green lime is a familiar ingredient in Thai cuisine and is easily found in any Thai supermarket. Its fragrant leaves add a distinctive lemony aroma to many Thai soups and curries. While the fruit itself is inedible, its juice and oil from the peel have been used as a natural hair and scalp treatment for centuries. It is still a popular ingredient in modern day shampoos to give hair a silky shine.

Thai Heat-based Therapies
In heat-based therapies, such as herbal sauna, herbal steam and heated herbal compresses (also commonly referred to as ‘herb balls’ or luuk prakob), heat acts as the catalyst. Practitioners of old knew that heat applied to the body helped relax the muscles as well as prepare the skin for treatment. For example, the use of steam and sauna opens the pores and softens the skin, enabling the skin to easily absorb the therapeutic properties of herbs.

While Thai spas have many unique aspects, perhaps the most unique and appealing aspect of Thai spa treatments is the charming natural warmth, gentle touch and graceful hospitality of the Thai people who administer the treatments. The most striking aspect of Thai spas that visitors cannot find in any other country is the famous Thai smile and the cheerful friendliness that is intrinsic in Thai culture. The warmth of the Thai touch adds that extra dimension to the Thai spa experience, and makes it stand out from others in the region.

With their ancient heritage of healing, spirituality and indigenous herbal ingredients, Thai spa therapies offer more than just superficial pampering treatments – they are a living manifestation of the country’s rich and ancient cultural and spiritual heritage, keeping the ancient traditions alive and relevant in contemporary modern life.

Article written by Chami Jotisalikorn.

Chami Jotisalikorn is the author of The Thai Spa BookThailand’s Luxury Spas; andThailand Chic (luxury travel guide), among many other books on Asian style, design, travel, and culture. Her books are sold worldwide in 6 languages and on She is a judge for the AsiaSpa Awards (Hong Kong), the region’s premiere spa industry awards.

Atsuko Tanaka and Japanese Women Artists in the Context of Conceptualism 1950 – 2010

Atsuko Tanaka was one of the foremost members of Gutai, a group which focussed on experimental art forms, their manifesto proclaiming a new relationship between the materials and the human spirit. Within this primarily male-orientated group, Tanaka was particularly unconventional and stood out from the other Gutai members, as indeed she did from other international avant-garde artists of her time. This was due not only to her radical and metaphorical expression, but also the relationship between the body of work created especially between 1953 and 1957, and her way of thinking.

In celebration of the exhibition, Atsuko Tanaka: The Art of Connecting, the Japan Foundation has invited Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (MOT) and exhibition curatorial team member Yuko Hasegawa, to discuss Japanese female artists and creatives from the 1950s to the present day, in the context of conceptualism. Going beyond Atsuko Tanaka, artists featured in her talk will also include Hideko Fukushima, a member of Jikken Kobo (Experimental Workshop) in the 1950s, Yoko Ono and Yayoi Kusama, both of whom are internationally recognised artists. Hasegawa will examine how the psychological deconstruction of images of women, both within social convention and common roles, function in the work of Tabaimo and Miwa Yanagi.  She will also explore the achievements ofKazuyo Sejima and Rei Kawakubo, some of Japan’s most influential creative minds.

By tracing conceptualism in Japan, and the significance of these various artists within a post-war framework, Hasegawa will explore the unique politics of Japanese female artists who were, and indeed are, conscious about the relationship between their work and body.

9 September 2011 from 6.30pm

The Japan Foundation, London
Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square
London WC1B 5EH

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to


Private view: The Light Field

Private view details:

14 September 2011, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Daiwa Foundation Japan House

Organised by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation


Exhibition information:

13 Sep 2011 – 20 Oct 2011

The Light Field

This first London exhibition by the Japanese artist, Daisuke Ohba, showcases his unique ‘light field’ paintings, achieved through the use of iridescent pearl paint to produce continual transformations, image shifts, and colour transitions, as the light varies or as the viewer moves.

Daisuke Ohba is a Japanese artist based inTokyo. One of the attractions of Ohba’s art is his use of iridescent pearl paint, ever-changing image shifts and colour transition as the light varies or as the viewer moves. By developing this relationship with the viewer, Ohba has been discovering new possibilities in pictorial space. Facing one of these works, the viewer is in the presence of a dazzling world of light, which seems to be produced somewhere beyond the canvas. This pictorial space can be thought of as a “light field”, which gives the exhibition its name.

Ohba was born in Shizuoka in 1981 and received his MFA at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. He was awarded the Shell Art Prize in 2004. His recent exhibition in Tokyo, The Light Field, was held as a joint exhibition by two galleries, SCAI THE BATHHOUSE and Magical ARTROOM. Ohba has been extensively showing in group exhibitions nationally and internationally including Vivid Material at Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, THE ECHO at ZAIM in Yokohama in 2008, VOCA 2010 at The Ueno Royal Museum, and Toki- no-Yuenchiat Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Aichi. His works are found in collections of The Pigozzi (New York), Japan Airlines and Dries Van Noten (Tokyo).

The artist will be introduced by Keith Whittle, International Projects Associate, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design and Japan Foundation Fellow.