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Japanese Studies at Berkeley: Past, Present, and Future

December 18, 2009

The directors of many of the major Japanese Studies Centers in North America gathered at the University of California at Berkeley on December 6, 2009 for a symposium on the state of Japanese studies. The meeting, co-sponsored by the Japan Foundation and the Center for Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley, not only discussed the past and present status of the field but also featured a spirited examination of the special issues and challenges that lie ahead.

The public symposium, titled “Japanese Studies at Berkeley: Past, Present, and Future,” was also the concluding event in a year-long series of monthly events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Center for Japanese Studies at Berkeley. In addition to Berkeley, the universities represented were Columbia, Harvard, University of British Columbia, UCLA, University of Hawai’i, University of Michigan and Western Michigan University.

One of the day’s four panels featured sobering presentations on the clouded financial landscape by representatives of three major support organizations: the Japan Foundation, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission.

A luncheon lecture by University of Hawai’i Professor Patricia Steinhoff, editor of the Japan Foundation’s Directory of Japanese Studies in the United States and Canada, provided a comprehensive overview of the scope of Japanese studies and of the shifting social-economic forces that have shaped the evolution of the field.

A number of other scholars and individuals with ties to Japanese studies posed questions and offered comments from the audience.

(Duncan Williams, Director, Center for Japanese Studies, UC Berkeley)

Agenda and Participants
"Japanese Studies at Berkeley: Past, Present and Future"
Sunday, December 6, 2009, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Toll Room, Alumni House, UC Berkeley

9:00 - 9:10 am Welcome and Introduction by Duncan Williams, UC Berkeley, Center for Japanese Studies

9:10 – 10:40 am Roundtable Discussion: UC Berkeley, Japanese Studies, and Area Studies
Presentations by Former CJS Chairs
• Irwin Scheiner
• Mary Elizabeth Berry
• Andrew Barshay

11:00 - 12:00 pm Roundtable Discussion: Supporting Japanese Studies
Presentations by Major Foundation Representatives
• Isao Tsujimoto, Director General, Japan Foundation, NY
• Seishi Takeda, Director, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, SF

• Eric Gangloff, Executive Director, Japan-United States Friendship Commission

12:00 - 1:30 pm Lunch and Lecture: Japanese Studies in the U.S.: A Global View
• Patricia Steinhoff, University of Hawai’i

1:30 - 5:00 pm Roundtable Discussion: The Future of Japanese Studies in North America
Presentations by Current Directors/Chairs of Centers for Japanese Studies

East Coast Center Directors
• Steve Covell, Western Michigan University, Soga Japan Center
• Ken Ito, University of Michigan, Center for Japanese Studies

• Greg Pflugfelder, Columbia University, Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture

• Susan Pharr, Harvard University, Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies

West Coast Center Directors
• David Edgington, University of British Columbia, Centre for Japanese Research
• Robert Huey, University of Hawai’I, Center for Japanese Studies
• Michael Thies, UCLA, Paul I. & Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies
• Duncan Williams, UC Berkeley, Center for Japanese Studies

(A complete report of this symposium will become available later on this website.)