Nikkei Global Literature: Diaspora, Race, Identity & Belonging (Principle Investigator, Kyoto Notre Dame University)

This project pioneers a novel approach to understanding the experiences of Nikkei diaspora communities in the United Kingdom and Australia. By combining meticulous close reading of key literary works (including those of Kazuo Ishiguro) with advanced digital textual analysis, the project aims to uncover nuanced representations of diaspora, race, identity, and belonging within Nikkei literature.

Preliminary findings suggest that the formation of transnational Nikkei identities is not solely driven by national affiliations or politics. Rather, it is increasingly shaped by a burgeoning global sense of Nikkei belonging, fostered through shared cultural heritage, experiences, and narratives. This research promises to make significant contributions to literary studies, diaspora studies, and critical race theory, while enriching our understanding of the evolving complexities of Nikkei identity in an interconnected world.

Key Contributions:



The Literature of the Japanese Diaspora: Identity beyond Japan (British Academy JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship, Kyoto University; Host, Professor Yasuko Takezawa, Kyoto University)

This project investigates contemporary Nikkei literature in English to illuminate the complex dynamics of cultural identity and racial representation among Nikkei communities worldwide. Through a thematic analysis of recent literary fiction, the research aims to identify recurring patterns and motifs that reveal a shared global Nikkei identity that transcends linguistic, cultural, and national boundaries.

Findings suggest that Nikkei writers are actively challenging and redefining dominant historical narratives surrounding racialised Nikkei experiences. By centering their own voices and perspectives, these authors contribute to a more nuanced and inclusive understanding of Nikkei identity and advocate for a future of multicultural coexistence.

Key Contributions:



Research on the Construction of Jomon People's iPS Cells and Their Applications (JSPS Kakenhi Researcher, The University of Tokyo; Principle Investigator, Professor Hiroki Ota, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo)

Built upon previous cross-disciplinary and cross-regional collaborative projects spearheaded by the principal investigator over the past fifteen years, this project has been carried out with strong emphasis on humanities-science and international collaboration. It consists of three sub-groups: History (e.g. history and culture); Society (e.g. politics, economics, law); and Science (e.g. genomic studies, medicine, and pharmacogenomics). 


Integrated Research into the Processes and Mechanisms of Racialization (JSPS Kakenhi Researcher, Kyoto University; Principle Investigator, Professor Yasuko Takezawa, Kyoto University)

The Jomon people, who were hunter-gatherers, were isolated from the East Asian mainland and adapted to the unique environment of the Japanese archipelago. The fact that many genetic traits differ between the Jomon people and modern Japanese is probably due to this. However, how this "Jomon genome and epigenome adapted to a hunting and gathering lifestyle" is linked to the phenotype has hardly been studied. The purpose of this study is to establish iPS cells carrying fragments of the Jomon-derived genome, induce their differentiation, and conduct a comprehensive and chronological analysis of gene expression and metabolic profiles, comparing them with those of modern Japanese. This will establish an experimental system to analyse the adaptive phenotypes acquired by the Jomon people, which are difficult to understand from genomic primary information alone, in vitro.