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Vortrag von Dr. phil. Harald Kümmerle, M.Sc.: „Japan‘s Covid-19 response and the recalibration of East Asia“

Januar 25 @ 18:30 - 20:00

Coming out of the pandemic, Japan has maintained one of the lowest COVID-related per-capita mortalities worldwide while enacting relatively mild restrictions within its borders. In face of this, it seems paradoxical that not only one, but two prime ministers resigned within roughly a year importantly because of the handling of the pandemic. As late as February 2021, some Japanese health experts suggested that Japan should pursue an elimination strategy, pointing out the successes of other East Asian countries at that time.

Contributing to a reappraisal of pandemic measures, this talk discerns several reasons why the Japanese response did not follow the „Covid consensus“ (Green & Fazi) that importantly included mass PCR testing and lockdowns. While legal constraints and a dearth of PCR testing capacity in the beginning did contribute, the strategy adopted by Japanese health experts, more „bricolage“ than „model“, encompassed justifications and digital techniques that have hitherto been given little attention in international comparisons.

The talk also looks at arguments given by German science and technology experts who argued in favor of an elimination strategy. While the portrayal of pandemic responses in East Asia tended to be very reductive, the dynamics of Orientalization at work were intricate and deserve further study.

Harald Kümmerle is senior research fellow at the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) in Tokyo. He studied mathematics and computer science at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Japanese Studies at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), and Japanese as a Foreign Language at Keio University in Tokyo. His doctoral thesis (Japanese Studies; defended in 2019) concerned the institutionalization of mathematics as a science in Meiji- and Taisho-era Japan. His research interests include the history of mathematics, digital humanities, new materialism, and critical data studies.

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Januar 25
18:30 - 20:00
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