10/28/2022 – Mikihito Tanaka

Date: October 28, 2022
Time: 1:30pm

Room: Luddy Hall Auditorium (Rm 1106)

Speaker: Professor Mikihito Tanaka, Waseda University, Japan

Topic: “Meanwhile in Japan”: A case study of different reactions toward the global pandemic"

Abstract: Pandemic Covid-19 swept the whole world, but nowadays, society is slowly entering the post-covid age beside continuing death of people, with insufficient reflection. Needless to say, both the virus SARS-CoV2 derived this disaster and scientific countermeasures —public health procedures and vaccines—— are common worldwide. Nevertheless, the reactions and consequences of each country vary in infection rate or death toll. Throughout studying the Covid-19 reaction in each country, we can learn the lesson that the risk could not only be estimated scientifically but socially constructed by its societal, historical, and cultural context.

The lecturer has been involved in Covid-19 countermeasures as a member of the expert advisory group of the Japanese government as a science/risk communication expert. Also, he has been a member of the international comparative research about Covid-19. In this talk, he will reflect on the Japanese reaction toward Covid-19 from the viewpoints of science and technology studies (STS), mass/social media studies, and computational social science.

From the above examination, we will see that the US and Japan had similar problems (e.g., conspiracy theories circulating beyond the border), or the problem in the US was not a problem in Japan (e.g., wearing masks), or vice versa (e.g., self-surveillance tendencies of Japanese society). Throughout these reflections, we would have a chance to reevaluate how the expertise and lay expertise should tame risk or rethink the meaning of a resilient society, beyond mere exoticism.

Bio: Mikihito Tanaka is Professor of Science and Media Studies in the Journalism Course at the Graduate School of Political Science, Waseda University, Japan. He earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Tokyo, and has more than 20 years of experience as a journalist. Currently, he carries out research related to issues between science and society, mass/social media, and science journalism with using both qualitative (e.g. critical discourse analysis) and quantitative (e.g. content analysis, social network analysis, natural language processing) methods. He is a founding member and research manager of the Science Media Centre of Japan (SMCJ).