SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

49th SGRA Forum “Looking for New Paradigm of Japanese Studies”

49th SGRA Forum -“Looking for New Paradigm of Japanese Studies”- was held on July 18 (Sat.), 2015 at “The Okuma Kaikan” (Okuma Memorial Hall) in Waseda University.  About 20 researchers in Japanese Studies assembled in a conference room to have animated discussions on how new Japanese Studies should be conducted and presented. They are active at the front of the organizations representing China, Korea and Taiwan. Despite the multi-national attendance the forum was managed in semi-open style, There were nearly 100 participants, a number  which was more than we expected.


Ms.Junko Imanishi, Managing Director of Atsumi International Foundation, representing SGRA, made an opening address. According to her, many people have misgivings about present Japanese Studies and worry about its future at the round-table discussions on Japanese Studies in the Asia Future Conference which had been held two times in the past. Taking advantage of this 49th SGRA Forum, we called out to organizations of Japanese Studies which represent China, Korea and Taiwan and the Japan Foundation and the International Research Center for Japanese Studies . As a result, to our surprise, many of the head or his assistant and researchers,who are active at the front lines, of each organization participated in this forum. We had to revitalize again the importance of the theme of the forum..



“Keynote Speech”by Dr. HIRANO Ken-ichiro


 Professor Emeritus, Waseda University and Executive Director of “Toyo Bunko (Museum)” (The Oriental Library)


He emphasized the following two points in his keynote speech, titled “What we seek for New Japanese Studies in Asia”


(1)   When we elaborate “shared space for wisdom” which spans across national borders, we have to consider interdependence, commonality and universality of culture. Specifically, we have to consider“Understanding of Mutual Relations” which means to first understand culture individually and then understand culture as a phenomenon of international common experiences. And we have to go further to “Multi-layer Understanding” of Japanese Studies in the context of Asia and other areas globally; and


(2)   We better add a new theme – “Peace and Security ”in Japanese Studies hereafter. What we take up as Japanese  experience after the War as an issue of peace would give an important suggestion to other countries of not only  wrong consciousness about history. Peace can be built by strong will.  Researchers of not only Japan but also of Asia  can take part in the establishment of peace, in other words, East Asian Community through establishing intellectual  community.


His speech suggests exactly “New Japanese Studies in Asia”.





Following his keynote speech, three panelists reported about the present and the future of Japanese Studies in their respective  countries.They are :

Professor Yang Bojiang, Deputy Director, Institute of Japanese Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Science.

Dr. Shing-Ching Shyu, Director, Center for Japanese Studies, National Taiwan University, Dept. of Japanese Language & Literature,.

Cheol-Hee Park, Director/Professor of Seoul National University


Mr. Junichi Chano, Executive Director of The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, reported about the present and prospect of their support to Japanese Studies.



“Round-Table Discussion”


In the afternoon, we had a round-table discussion in open style, composed of about 20 panelists including the above speakers. Young researchers in the conference the discussion.


Professor Liu Jie (Graduate School of Social Science, Waseda University) summarized the discussion as follows.


(1)   As a cultural phenomenon, Japan is taking a growing interest and new research for Japan is growing. This is different from traditional Japanese Studies in a field of studies and personalities. Such a growing interest in Japan, however, is not always directly related with the concept of “deepening of Japanese Studies”. It will be important for “New Japanese Studies” hereafter how such growing interest link with “shared” Japanese Studies in Asia.


(2)   “Japanese Studies as a method” in this area are especially important now. It has a meaning that Japanese Studies reflects, like a mirror, how a nation or people ought to be. In other words, it will be a way of self-recognition. We could confirm the importance of “Japanese Studies as a method” through this forum.


(3)   I am sure that “Japanese Studies as a method”would link to reconciliation of East Asia, namely peace of East Asia. An important tool for the stabilization of reconciliation shall be “Wisdom”. By utilizing Japanese Studies as a method, we can establish not only “shared space of wisdom” and “community of wisdom”, but also reconciliation of the area.  In other words, we can contribute to possibilities of peace and stabilization of the area.


(4)   We could reach common consensus that we aim at building “Japanese Studies as shared wisdom in Asia”.


When we discussed how to utilize our network which was established this time, Park, Cheol-Hee, Director/Professor of Seoul National University suggested to hold a “Conference for scholars of Japanese Studies in East Asia”. We decided to form an environment to discuss what kind of works would be needed to be done and how to proceed with such works. We decided also that we send such message to the outside.


After this forum, we had a social gathering. Researchers, lecturers and panelists,  together with scholarship students and Raccoon members (ex-scholarship students) talked and discussed until late at night.


More than 20 researchers and panelists for Japanese Studies in East Asia who are active and are at the forefront of this endeavor assembled at the forum this time.  It was very lively, with an excellent moderator of the round-table discussion, Nam Ki-jeong, Professor, Seoul National University, Institute for Japanese Studies / SGRA member. The forum accomplished its objective despite the limited time.


I am deeply grateful to all the lecturers and panelists and I do hope that the network which has been formed this time would make a rapid progress hereafter.




Aggregate results of questionnaires of the day (in Japanese)


Photos of the day


(Written by Eiichi Tsunoda, Secretary General, Atsumi International Foundation)



Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Mac Maquito


SGRA News in Japanese (original)