August 1 marks the fiftieth anniversary of a one-million dollar endowment grant from the Government of Japan to the University of Washington to support and promote Japanese Studies. The announcement of this prestigious award in 1973 affirmed UW (with nine other recipient institutions) as a leader in teaching and research about Japan in the United States, and the annual income has enabled the UW to achieve remarkable things over the last five decades.
The study of Japan and Japanese language was established in the UW curriculum in 1909, and by the 1950s “one of the great constellations” of scholars was found at the university in the Far Eastern Institute. Members of the Japan faculty have made landmark contributions in specialized fields and built enduring legacies for the UW and global communities–through their own scholarship and by increasing knowledge about and understanding of Japan among generations of students from the State of Washington and around the world. In 2009, the UW Japan Studies Program received the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Award for its outstanding contributions to the mutual understanding between Japan and other countries.
The transformational grant enabled UW to expand its fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students, research support, active speaker series and occasional workshops, film series, library acquisitions, new courses and curriculum, and publication subsidies. The inspiring achievements of faculty and students are regularly highlighted here on our website.
In addition, funds from the grant allowed UW faculty to move forward with what they called the “outrageous idea” of creating an academic journal devoted entirely to Japan studies. The Journal of Japanese Studies first appeared in December 1974 and is now in its forty-ninth year.
We are grateful for what this grant has made possible in the last fifty years and excited to envision where it will take UW Japan Studies in the next fifty years.