Why are the Japanese so into robots?

According to Jennifer Robertson (Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan) on the latest edition of the ever-fabulous Thinking Allowed (Radio 4, latest edition available as podcast for a week), it probably has something to do with the Japanese still believing in the animist religion that is Shinto and so easily believing that a robot can have a soul. Sounds like a load of tosh to me, but all explanations of things Japanese are welcome on JapanExplained! She also mentions the more humdrum reasons of wanting to solve the shortage of manpower without immigration, and the Japanese government trying to find a high-tech industry that they can still dominate when the Koreans and then Chinese are catching up with everything else. I’m sure she couldn’t suggest that Japanese service already has a robotic quality to it on the BBC, so let me be the first to do so here…

More on the main topic of her research:

Gendering Humanoid Robots: Robo-Sexism in Japan
Body Society June 2010 vol. 16 no. 2 1-36
doi: 10.1177/1357034X10364767

http://sitemaker.umich.edu/jennifer.robertson/selected_articles__pdf_

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1 Comment

  1. alexcase said,

    August 8, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Oh, and also heard or read a theory that it all comes down to loving anime and comics on robots, most especially Astroboy


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