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Note from Chair
by Gary Hamilton, Interim Chair
The second decade of the 21st century promises to be a decisive one for East Asia. In the last decade, China moved ahead of Japan and Germany as the second largest economy in the world as ranked by GNP. This statistic, however, is deceptive. China’s move forward has not been Japan’s move backward. Rather, what we witnessed in the past decade has been the beginning of a profound integration of East Asian economies, with China increasingly serving as the manufacturing platform for firms across East Asia, including Japanese firms. China’s rise is the tide that raises East Asian economies. In the second decade of the new century, this integration will be tested, and if it holds, as I think it will, then it will extend to cultural and social spheres as well. We can already see this happening with the spread of tourism and popular culture across the region and beyond.
At the University of Washington, traditional area studies programs reflect these same trends. We no longer study different cultures in isolation, but rather we study them as they interact with other cultures within a region within a complex and changing world. The UW Japan Studies Program works in concert with China and Korea Studies, and is supported by the East Asia Center, one of eight National Resource Centers at the UW, which the U.S. Department of Education has recently renewed with Title VI funding. The centers are housed in the Jackson School of International Studies, but the faculties affiliated with these centers are in different departments all across campus.
Diversity and integration are our strengths. The UW Japan Studies Program is one of the oldest and strongest area studies programs at the university. The program has changed with changing times, but it still offers core instruction in Japanese language, literature, and history, while at the same time emphasizing Japan’s integration in the new world order emerging in the 21st century. With renewed energy and dedication to Japan Studies, we look forward to the promises of this decade.
Each spring quarter the Japanese Language and Literature program has hosted a visiting scholar from Japan to participate with students and faculty first at the graduate level, and in 2010-11 also at the undergraduate. Discussions are held in Japanese. The significance and potential of the program has been acknowledged by the Japan Foundation which has awarded faculty with a grant that will more than double the visiting scholar program.
The program will expand to encompass fields from across campus in addition to language and literature. Professor of Japanese Davinder Bhowmik, who oversaw the long application process, noted that the grant application benefited from the input of six faculty members. In true collaborative style, faculty from the Department of History, Art History division, School of Art, and Department of Architecture have joined with faculty from Japanese Language and Literature in support of each other’s students and studies. Professor Cynthea Bogel explains why the expansion of the program is significant: “It provides a special opportunity to engage my students and colleagues with the expertise of Japanese scholars in a range of fields, including my own area--art history and visual culture. It also allows UW Japan Studies faculty to collaborate with regional institutions.” Bhowmik adds, “That is, we aim to strengthen regional ties by taking our respective scholars on the road. Several colleagues in the area have shown us their enthusiasm for this idea in the form of letters of support.”
For students in particular the visiting scholar program affords an increased opportunity to learn from Japan’s scholars without the full commitment of study abroad, which has become out of reach for some students. The most recent example was this past Spring when two scholars from Tokyo provided students with firsthand experience of the performance of classical literary forms. Professors Nobuyuki Kanechiku of the Faculty of Letters at Waseda University and Kiyoe Sakamoto of the Department of Japanese at Japan Women’s University, who were sponsored through the Visiting Japanese Scholar program, lent their expertise to help both graduate and undergraduate students develop a greater understanding of waka poetry and jōruri recitation styles. Both visiting professors taught completely in Japanese. Professor Paul Atkins notes, “Very few universities in North America do this on a regular basis, so the program is attracting attention from other leading programs seeking to duplicate our success. My colleagues and I were particularly pleased by the opportunity to expand the program this year to the undergraduate level.” (Read the full article “Visiting Scholars Bring Classical Japanese to Life” at the Department of Asian Languages and Literature website: http://depts.washington.edu/asianll/news/newsletters/2010.html#Visiting
The program is not without challenges, however. Visiting scholars come in the spring, which is the easiest time for them to leave their own teaching in Japan and spend a short time in the U.S. But, in order to accomplish the task of scheduling, arrangements must be made well in advance. “We were notified rather late about the award, and it will be tough to schedule visiting scholars for Spring on this short of notice,” commented Professor Ted Mack, who is working on solutions that may include bringing more scholars here for more intense shorter periods in the coming year.
The East Asia Center (EAC) is pleased to announce it has received four more years of Department of Education Title VI funding, and will focus its activities in the coming grant cycle on strategic priorities such as increasing advanced language proficiency, filling critical gaps in area studies, training teachers, and expanding educational outreach to educators and the community. For 2010-2013, the EAC has been awarded nearly $1 million to support East Asia activities across campus and over $1 million for Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships for UW students. Japan-related activities include three courses a year over the course of the grant on Japanese Anthropology, Japanese language pedagogy workshops and conferences, a lecture series on literature and culture, funds to build on the Japanese language collections, and international travel funding and course development awards for faculty.
Two Technical Japanese Program (TJP) students, Laura Marshall (CSE MA) and Ben Leinweber (EE MA), returned in Spring 2010 after successfully completing year-long internships (two years total for Ben) at Fukui Byora in Fukui, Japan. Fukui Byora is a manufacturing company for products such as screws, rivets, and computer pins. An internship at a Japanese company is required for TJP graduate students to earn a master’s degree. Both interns were also coincidentally in the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) program for two years prior to enrolling in graduate school.
“This was the first time doing professional programming in an industry setting for me,” said Marshall. “I was the only one in our six-person IT group with a Computer Science degree.” For Leinweber, it was similar. “It was my first professional programming experience.” Leinweber’s goal upon gaining his master’s in electrical engineering is to bridge the language and cultural divide in his field. “One group is not enough to move technology forward. We need many people from different areas. I want to be an intermediary for that.”
“TJP courses prepare our students to be able to work effectively with Japanese engineers and scientists in a research or business environment. Through these courses, students learn advanced skills for reading technical literature, culturally competent oral communication, oral presentation, and business and social customs”, says Masashi Kato, Associate Director of the program. In efforts to enhance the program, Kato is working on a research project regarding “Formal Speech in the Japanese Workplace” with grants from the UW Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER). This research attempts to find if attributes of companies (industry type, size, history, location, department, etc.) and attributes of speakers (gender, age, rank, length in company, etc.) predict correlations with variations in the use of formal speech in workplaces.
by Brian Mayer (MAIS 2011)
This past summer I participated in the Japan Legistlative Internship coordinated through the University of Washington. For two weeks, I served in the campaign office of Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) representative and UW alum (JD ’78) Takashi Shinohara in Nagano Prefecture. During my time in Nagano, I assisted in Shinohara’s official support of fellow DPJ member Toshimi Kitazawa in his July 2010 Upper House election campaign. While Rep. Kitazawa was re-elected on July 11, his success did not come without hard work. In preparation for the election my duties included distributing campaign materials, conveying information to constituents by telephone, and organizing Kitazawa’s campaign rallies. As the current Defense Minister of Japan, Kitazawa is a popular, yet controversial figure, given Japan’s current security issues related to the U.S. Marine base dilemma in Okinawa Prefecture. Following former Prime Minister Hatoyama’s resignation, the result of a broken promise to move U.S. bases out of Okinawa, the DPJ and Defense Minister Kitazawa came under heavy scrutiny prior to July’s Upper House election. However, regardless of his prominent role in Japanese politics and the serious ramifications of this summer’s election, Kitazawa’s campaign was conducted almost entirely at the local community level. With increased tension among the staff and long hours on the campaign trail, I truly felt a sense of urgency among the DPJ while petitioning for votes in rural Nagano. By participating in this internship, I was able to experience the personal side of Japanese politics, an aspect that cannot be replicated in a college classroom.
In addition, I also was invited to participate in the second annual Japan Travel Program for U.S. Future Leaders sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. This trip consisted of fifteen graduate students from Association of Professional Schools for International Affairs (APSIA) member institutions, and included ten days of research and travel in Japan. The main purpose of the program is to generate interest in Japanese affairs among graduate students of all disciplines, not just Japan specialists. For this reason, I was able to interact with students of varying academic backgrounds, further adding to the intellectual experience of the trip. The program itself included not only group visits to the U.S. Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo, but also a day of independent research at government ministries, agencies, and private corporations. As a member of the Economics team, I interviewed officials at the Bank of Japan, the Japan External Trade Organization, and Mitsubishi UFJ/Morgan Stanley. During these meetings, I witnessed the concern among Japanese officials regarding Japan’s current economic issues, including a sluggish recovery from the global financial crisis and the appreciating value of the yen. The insight gained from these site visits will be published in a final report by the Japan Foundation and sent to policymakers in Washington, D.C. However, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this program was the establishment of personal connections in both business and government, which will greatly assist me in furthering my study of Japan.
Brian Mayer is a second year graduate student at the Jackson School of International Studies. His trip was supported in part by the generosity of alumni donations.
Last year a ‘global classroom’ was set up in Thomson Hall on the UW Seattle campus. It was created to enhance the opportunities of faculty and students to add a new dimension to their teaching (and learning) experience via interactive Internet hardware. During a summer 2010 trip to Japan, I met with Jim Foster (PhD in Political Science at the University of Washington), of Microsoft Japan, and also an adjunct professor at Aoyama Gakuin University. Together we are working on offering a pilot course in spring 2011 on technology and politics through the global classroom. Jim will be the featured teacher (located in Japan) and I will teach and coordinate from Seattle. There are many academic and logistical issues to work out, the least of which is overcoming the time differences. The goal, assuming issues can be resolved, is to offer the course simultaneously at universities in Japan, the U.S., Korea, and China. This is a prototype of what we hope to see courses in international studies become in the digital age, a new, exciting, and inexpensive element in education that brings students and educators closer together.
The East Asia Library welcomed Saeko Suzuki, Tateuchi Japanese Cataloguer, in January 2010, to catalog the Japanese non-cataloged old materials. Her position and project are funded by the Tateuchi Foundation and are critical to making materials accessible. Keiko Yokota-Carter was appointed Chair of the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC) and chaired the Third Decade Conference of the NCC in March in Philadelphia. UW colleague Rob Britt, acting Head and Japanese Legal Materials Specialist of the Gallagher Law Library East Asian Law Department, also attended the conference and gathered participants’ opinions on ways to improve access to Japanese databases. A recommendation to funders and participants for the best strategic aims over the next ten years will come out of the process.
The Japan library on-line collection expanded in August to include Nikkei.com, and the full-version of Nikkei Telecom 21 service. Also, the library is collaborating on a preservation project with Yushodo, Waseda, and Keio University Libraries which has produced the most complete version to date in microfilm format of Trance-Pacific, which was a pre-war English newspaper published weekly from 1919-1940 dedicated to a review of Far Eastern political, social and economic developments. The library also received an Allen Grant of almost $8,800 to purchase the Nikkei Amerika bungaku zasshi shusei and Taiwan nichi nichi shinpo microfilm (Showa Part I.)
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