Universität Bonn

Abteilung für Japanologie und Koreanistik

30. September 2022

Social-Media-Kampagne „International Days“ / Buchankündigung Japantag Social-Media-Kampagne „International Days“ / Buchankündigung Japantag

"Tokyo 2020" during the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Mirror of the Japanese and German Media: A Study on Multimedia Representations of the 2021 Summer Olympics

Joint book publication planned by members of the Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies (Japanology) for December 2022 in cooperation with a group of Japanese sociologists from Waseda, Tsukuba, Hōsei, Seijō and the International Christian University (Japan)

The Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympic Museum, Tōkyō (photographed by Dr. T. Nishiyama, 2022/09)
The Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympic Museum, Tōkyō (photographed by Dr. T. Nishiyama, 2022/09) © Dr. Takahiro Nishiyama
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As is well known, the Summer Olympics “Tōkyō 2020” were postponed by one year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and did not take place until the summer of 2021 amid clear rejection by the Japanese public. According to the political calculations of the Japanese establishment around the former Prime Minister Abe Shinzō, who was assassinated in the summer of 2022, the Games were to be instrumentalized with the slogan “Games of Reconstruction,” thus providing proof before the eyes of the world after the triple disaster of Fukushima (2011) that Japan had recovered and that Tōkyō was absolutely safe as a venue. Historically speaking, the event was also intended as a repeat of the highly successful first Japanese Olympics in 1964, which brought Japan additional recognition in the world community barely two decades after the devastating Pacific War. This whole plan was thwarted by the fact that the Games were completely overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which also raged more threateningly in Japan during the first half of 2021. The joint anthology on the media’s portrayal of “Tōkyō 2020,” currently in print, emerged from a collaboration of highly respected Japanese sociologists and media scholars with a team of Bonn-based Japanologists. The 13 contributions recapitulate and discuss Japanese as well as German-language reporting against the background of a rapidly changing media landscape. The individual contributions focus critically on the role of the old print media and TV broadcasts in contrast to the new online media and social networking services (SNS). The volume will provide insight into the growing mood of rejection and indignation in the host country during the months and weeks leading up to the Games, while also contributing to a more accurate grasp of a particularly difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan.

Initially, the main editors of the anthology, Japanologists Prof. Harald Meyer and Dr. Takahiro Nishiyama, came together at the beginning of 2021 with their long-time research partner and well-known media sociologist Prof. Mamoru Ito (Waseda University). The regular exchange with the Japanese research group led by Prof. Ito enabled submission of six Japanese essays on various aspects of multimedia representations concerning “Tōkyō 2020,” which were translated into German by the Bonn group of Japanologists and supplemented with contributions of their own, the content of which also takes into account German-language coverage as well as several other reactions to the Olympic Games to be held under such great restrictions.

Some results of the project consist in the fact that a considerable loss of importance of the traditional media with regard to the formation of public opinion was observed, while the importance of the social networking services increased remarkably. This led to severe consequences for the perception of the Olympic Games, which consisted primarily in the fact that the extremely uncritical tone of the traditional print media and television was supplemented in a pluralistic manner by diverse voices on the Internet that in contrast did not practice self-censorship but openly criticized the organization and execution of the Games. The COVID-19 pandemic clearly intensified this effect, so that the fact, that before the Games were held around 80% of the Japanese population had spoken out against the Games, was openly revealed on the social networking services. Besides these medial aspects, the joint project is also intended as a contribution to the study of a section of the COVID-19 pandemic during a particularly critical period of time in contemporary Japan.


Prof. Dr. Harald Meyer,

Dr. Takahiro Nishiyama,

MA Hendrik Groth,

MA Daniel Gerichhausen,

MA Paul Schoppe,

MA Julia Sugawara

(Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies, Japanology)

東京2020夏季オリンピック大会と日本におけるCOVID-19パンデミック : メディア表現とその分析



Themenheft der Zeitschrift ORIENTIERUNGEN 2022, erhältlich voraussichtlich ab 12/2022 im OSTASIEN Verlag
Themenheft der Zeitschrift ORIENTIERUNGEN 2022, erhältlich voraussichtlich ab 12/2022 im OSTASIEN Verlag © OSTASIEN Verlag
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