Helle Arop

A conference on inequality through the examples of Japan and Europe

In every society, there are bottlenecks related to inequality. Because of that, it is necessary to become aware of the existence of inequality and how it evolves, if we want to create possible solutions. For this purpose, The Asia Centre organized the conference "Open and Closed Societies: Historical Causes and Contemporary Expressions of Inequality in Japan and Europe," where the origin and nature of inequality in education and the labor market were analyzed using examples from different countries.

The conference was opened by Elo Süld, head of the Asia Center, Toomas Asser, Rector of the University of Tartu, and Väino Reinart, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Estonia to Japan. On the second day of the conference, Yukihiko Matsumura, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Estonia, gave the welcome speech. The presentations and workshops of the conference were multi-planned and inclusive, providing an opportunity for researchers, doctoral students, and master's students to share knowledge. Sara Park (University of Helsinki), Miloš Debnár (Ryukoku University), Maria Erss (Tallinn University), Wako Asato (Kyoto University), David Chiavacci (University of Zurich), Joanna Kitsnik (Sofia University) gave presentations at the conference. Doctoral students Rennan Okawa (Osaka University), Kristjan Kaldur (University of Tartu), Mohammad Abu Sayed Toyon (Estonian Business School) and Anastasia Sinitsyna (University of Tartu) also presented their research.

The diverse presentations included discussion and examples of the historical causes of inequality in Japan and EU countries. They talked about the development of inequality as a phenomenon, the spread of meritocracy as a worldview and its wider impact on individuals and society, local attitudes and practices towards foreign labor and their integration, and solutions to improve the segregation of different social groups. Participating students were able to discuss in the workshops held on both days how to solve the complex and multi-disciplinary problems they heard. The workshops were led by Hanna Kerstina Kartau and Ilmar Branno (University of Tartu). The days of the conference were moderated by Mai Beilmann and Tiit Tammaru (University of Tartu). Conference was organized by Ene Selart, Coordinator of Japanese Affairs at the University of Tartu Asia Centre

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