Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange
Supporting Japanese Studies Institutions
We support key Japanese studies institutions overseas such as universities and research centers. It is to reinforce their base and to develop specialists. The support can come in diverse forms suiting the institution's needs. It can be subsidies for research and international conferences, staff expansion, library materials, training in Japan, and publications. We can also send visiting professors. Such comprehensive and continuing support is helping to develop and expand Japanese studies overseas for the long term.
Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand)
We sent a modern literature specialist from Japan as a visiting professor to Chulalongkorn University. The professor gave lectures to graduate students majoring in Japanese language and Japanese literature. The lectures introduced two of Jun'ichiro Tanizaki's famous novels. They read the novels and examined Japan's modernity and modern literature. They studied the perspective of consumer culture in the novel's urban setting in a modern culture. The visiting professor also discussed urban cultural differences between Tokyo and Kansai which were the settings of the novels. Besides the literature class, a special lecture called "Haruki Murakami and the 1980s — America of the Youth" was also given.
Also, three graduate students spent about two weeks in Japan to obtain books (difficult to find in Thailand) necessary to write their master's thesis. They even received thesis guidance from Japanese university instructors. The three students also attended a study meeting at Osaka University where they gave research presentations.
Ain Shams University (Cairo, Egypt)
Ain Shams University's Faculty of Languages is among Egypt's finest in the humanities field. The Japanese-language department was established in 2000, and their students maintain a high level of Japanese ability.
The Japan Foundation gave financial support to the department to employ a Japanese instructor. The instructor provides thesis and research guidance to undergraduate and graduate students and gives lectures about Japanese culture and society. This results in higher quality Japanese-language education.
Japanese-language class at Ain Shams University
Beijing Center for Japanese Studies and Peking University Research Center for Contemporary Japan (China)
The Beijing Center for Japanese Studies was established in 1985 upon an agreement by the Japan Foundation and the Ministry of Education of the Government of the People's Republic of China to train people in Japanese language, Japanese studies and China-Japan exchange activities. Currently, the center is jointly operated by the Beijing Foreign Studies University and the Japan Foundation.
In fiscal 2013, nine Japanese scholars were sent to the center for a short term to lecture and give guidance to Japanese studies graduate students. Also, ten graduate students in the master's degree program were invited to spend about four months in Japan for research. Seven Ph.D candidates were also invited to spend one year in Japan. The center produced 36 students graduating with master's degrees and three doctorates.
The Peking University Research Center for Contemporary Japan aims to produce Chinese specialists having a good knowledge of modern Japan and specialized knowledge. It is jointly operated by Peking University and the Japan Foundation.
In fiscal 2013, specialized Japanese studies lectures were given to a total of 40 doctoral candidates in the social sciences. Ten scholars from Japan were sent to the center to lecture for a short term. From the center, 19 students were invited to a 15-day training program in Japan.
Supporting Japanese-Studies Scholars
The Japan Foundation offers research fellowships to the Japanese studies scholars abroad to conduct research in Japan. In the fields of humanities and social sciences, we have short-term and long-term fellowships, as well as one for doctoral candidates to complete their dissertations. Many Japanese studies scholars from around the world are doing research in Japan on a Japan Foundation fellowship.
During fiscal 2013, scholars on fellowships reportedly gave 227 presentations at study meetings and other gatherings in Japan. For example, Italian fellow Giulio Pugliese's debate with a well-known scholar was published in the June 2013 issue of Chuo Koron magazine (What ought to be Japan's pivot? The U.S. or China? Ronald P. Dore × Giulio Pugliese, Judge: Ezra Vogel).
Hungarian fellow Júlia Néma gave a talk as part of the Japan Foundation's overseas traveling exhibition called "Beautiful Handicrafts of Tohoku". She talked about her experiences as a fellow who was researching pottery in Japan. Many of the visitors who attended her two lectures and her exhibition tour really appreciated her detailed explanation on the exhibition because they understood it better. This is just an example of good synergy between a fellow's specialty and a related event.
In January 2014, about 75 fellows from various countries doing research in diverse fields gathered in Tokyo. They actively exchanged information and networked with each other.
Facilitating Japanese Studies Networking
We support international networking among Japanese studies scholars across organizational and cultural boundaries. We also support domestic and regional associations and networks around the world. By strengthening networks among Japanese studies scholars, we aim to advance scholarship of Japanese studies abroad.
Central Asia Japanese Studies Seminars
We held a lecture tour in Central Asia for young scholars, Japanese-language learners, and university students interested in international relations. Covering Japan's current condition and direction, the lecture titled "Japan After the 2011 Disaster — its Role in Asia" was given by Akio Kawato, former Japanese ambassador to Uzbekistan in the beginning of the 21st century (2002–2004). He is an expert on Central Asia and has continued to survey Central Asia and published his findings. He also has a wealth of experience as a diplomat assigned to the United States of America, Western Europe, and the USSR, Russia. His lecture touched upon a few aspects of the Great East Japan Earthquake and gave a detailed account of Japan's politics, economy, and society today.
The lecture was held in the capital cities of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Kazakhstan. The audience showed a strong intellectual curiosity, and they had lively Q&A sessions with Mr. Kawato after each lecture. Rather than just promoting positive aspects of Japan, a wide range of current issues the country is struggling with were also covered. This gained the empathy of the Central Asian audience. We hope that the young people who attended the lecture and got acquainted with the latest insights on Japan will someday serve as a bridge between Central Asia and Japan.