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Joel Matthews

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Member profile

Background information and interests

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies at Kobe University in Japan. I completed a Bachelor of Asian Studies (Specialist - Japanese) double majoring in Communication and Cultural Studies at Murdoch University, Perth Australia.

Masters Research
I was researching Internet suicide subcultures in Japan. The mid-2000s spate of Internet-related group suicides received a lot of media attention and I looked at the many sociological, cultural, psychological, political and emotional aspects of this unique cultural phenomenon.

Doctoral Research
I am looking at issues of racial and ethnic diversity in Japan and how that intersects with media conceptualizations of "foreign crime". Crime committed by foreigners has been on the rise according to government agencies such as the NPA (National Police Agency) and the media. However, with an ever-strengthening Japanese sense of national pride, along with the need to bring in foreign workers to prop up the post-bubble economy, Japan has increasingly targeted "foreigner crime" as a justification for the vilification and denigration of foreigners. I argue, however, that the media discourse that has become known as "foreigner crime" (gaikokujin hanzai) is problematic in itself for a number of reasons. Firstly, the notion of a foreigner in Japan is one with such broad a meaning that anyone from a fluent Japanese speaking third-generation Korean, to a freshly arrived Iranian, and all those (including myself) in-between are included. In addition, the reportedly alarming increase in "foreigner crime" comes almost exclusively from the NPA's huge bank of statistics, yet rarely takes into consideration the numerous other factors operating behind the scenes that may have led to a set of statistics such as these. I argue that despite recent trends towards a more open immigration policy, the rise in foreigner-focused social control measures have been brought about hegemonically through domestic media institutions and government agencies.

Media and Asia Research Group (MARG) 
Media and Identity in Asia, Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak, Malaysia (February 2006)

Media-Asia Research Group's Media and Identity in Asia in Sarawak, Malaysia (February, 2006)

ARC Asia Pacific Future's Research Network's "Media: Policies, Cultures and Futures in the Asia Pacific Region" at Curtin University in Perth, WA (November, 2006)

Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Conference, Shanghai University (June, 2007)

Japanese Studies Association of Australia Conference, Australian National University (July, 2007)

International Convention of Asian Scholars ‘Sharing a future in Asia’ Conference in KL, Malaysia (August, 2007)

Korean Association of Japanology, Incheon, Korea (February 2008)

“Is it all bad? Japan’s Internet Suicide Subculture”, in The Revolution will not be Downloaded: Dissent in the Digital Age, Brabazon, T. (ed.), Oxford: Chandos, 2008

"Suicide and the Japanese Media: On the Hunt for Blame", Electronic Journal of Japanese Studies, July 2008,

English — Native

Japanese — Fluent

Chinese — Beginner

Walter Benjamin, Jurgen Habermas, Dick Hebdige, Stuart Hall, Ien Ang, Emile Durkheim, Zygmunt Bauman, Michel Foucault, Charles Taylor, Paul Gilroy, Wataru Tsurumi, Masahiro Morioka, Stanley Cohen, Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Doreen Masey, Kuan-Hsing Chen, Judith Halberstam, Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Benedict Anderson


Member for
14 years 5 weeks