SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Dulwich Boys and Beyond: 100 Years of Japanese Studies at SOAS

Wartimes language students at SOAS

Date: 1 February 2016Time: 6:15 PM

Finishes: 1 February 2016Time: 8:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Panel Discussion

This event on 1st February will launch the SOAS centenary. It will mark 100 years of Japanese Studies at SOAS, focusing on the story of the Dulwich Boys and their achievements, as well as celebrate the expansion and diversity of Japanese studies over subsequent decades. 


  • Professor Ronald Dore (Dulwich Boy)
  • Sir Hugh Cortazzi (Wartime Language Student)
  • Mr Martin Hatfull (Diageo, SOAS Foreign Office Scheme Alumnus)
  • Ms Caroline Bennett (moshimoshi, SOAS Alumna)
  • Ms Branwyn Darlington (Harro Foods, SOAS Alumna)
  • Professor Laura Hein (SOAS Centenary Fellow)

Chaired by Mr Nick Higham (BBC)

Opening remarks by Dr Helen Macnaughtan (Acting Chair, Japan Research Centre (JRC), SOAS)


SOAS celebrates its centenary in 2016-17. The School received its Royal Charter in 1916 and the first students were admitted in January 1917.  Japanese language was taught from the outset and both the army and navy sent students for language training during the 1920s. However, the teaching of Japanese expanded in 1942 when the Board of Education, at the behest of the War Office, established a scholarship scheme for boys from secondary and public schools aged 17 and 18 to study languages critical to the war effort. Accommodated at Dulwich College, the ‘Dulwich Boys’ as they came to call themselves, attended language courses at SOAS every morning, and returned to the college each afternoon to study the regular Dulwich curriculum. On completing their 18 months of language training, each student was inducted into the military or intelligence services. By the 1944-45 academic session, there were 183 Japanese languagestudents at SOAS including those in the armed forces. The story of the Dulwich Boys as featured in the  BBC One’s Today Show  and included interviews with the last surviving members of SOAS’s wartime Japanese Studies alumni.

The SOAS Japanese programme’s close links with the government continued in the post-war period, with special language training programmes being run for the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.  A new degree syllabus for a BA Honours in Japanese was introduced in 1946, and in the 1960s there was an expansion of Japanese studies at SOAS to include several new posts in language and in social science disciplines.  The Japan Research Centre (JRC) was founded in 1978 and now brings together some 30 SOAS academic and language staff as well as research associates.  Japanese Studies at SOAS now encompasses the fields of language, linguistics, literature, film and media, history, anthropology and sociology, economics, management studies, politics, art history, religious studies and music.

We look forward to welcoming the Japanese studies community as well as SOAS alumni to this centenary celebration of Japanese Studies. If you are interested in getting in involved, please get in touch with Ms Nenna Chuku on

Recording of the Event

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Dulwich Boys and Beyond, 100 Years of Japanese Studies at SOAS

Speakers Biographies

Ronald Dore
Ronald Dore (Dulwich Boy)

Ronald is a British sociologist specialising in Japanese economy and society and the comparative study of types of capitalism. He is a fellow of the British Academy, the Japan Academy, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The citation for his eminent scholar award from the Academy of International Business describes him as "an outstanding scholar whose deep understanding of the empirical phenomena he studies and ability to build on it to develop theoretical contributions are highly respected not only by sociologists but also by economists, anthropologists, historians, and comparative business systems scholars". 

With the outbreak of the Japanese war, Ronald was one of the "Dulwich boys", - one of 30 sixth form students chosen to study languages at SOAS. After injuring himself before he could take part in active service, he returned to the UK to teach Japanese, and complete his external degree at London University. His first trip to Japan was in 1950. 

Hugh Cortazzi
Sir Hugh Cortazzi (Wartime Language Student)

Hugh joined the RAF on May 1943. He studied Japanese on joint services language course at SOAS from Sept 1943 through to Dec 1944. He was commissioned as acting Pilot Officer May 1945 and served in India, South East Asia and Japan (British Commonwealth air contingent of occupation force). Hugh was demobilized in Nov 1947 and again studied Japanese at SOAS graduating (BA) in July 1949. He then went on to serve in the diplomatic service from October 1949 to May 1984; overseas posts included Singapore, Bonn and Washington as well as Tokyo (1951-54, 1961-65, 1966-70 as commercial and economic counsellor, 1980-84 as British Ambassador). Hugh was appointed GCMG 1984. After retirement Hugh acted as director to three investment trusts and as adviser to Japanese and British firms. He was Chairman of the Japan Society 1985-1995. He received the Yamagata Banto prize in Osaka 1991 and the Grand Cordon of the Sacred Treasure in 1995. He has researched and written extensively about Japan and edited books about Anglo-Japanese relations.

Martin Hatfull
Martin Hatfull (Director, International Public Affairs, Diageo)

Martin joined Diageo in 2013. He is responsible for Diageo’s public policy agenda, international government relations and geopolitical risk analysis. Before joining Diageo, Martin built a career of over 30 years in the UK Diplomatic Service, with two postings to Japan, first in the 1980s and latterly as Minister (deputy Ambassador) from 2003-8. Among other senior roles, he served as UK Ambassador to Indonesia from 2008 to 2011, Ambassador to East Timor and the first ever UK Representative to ASEAN. As well as East Asia, he has in-depth expertise in EU affairs. Martin is, among other things, Vice-Chairman of the Board of the UK-ASEAN Business Council and a member of the Board of the UK-India Business Council. He was also a member of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group (2012-13). He studied at SOAS from 1981-2 for the first year of his Foreign Office Japanese language course. He was also educated at Dulwich College (though not in Japanese!) and Oxford University.

Martin speaks French, Italian and Japanese fluently, and has conversational Finnish and Indonesian. He is married with two grown-up sons (one of whom was born in Tokyo).

Caroline Bennett
Ms Caroline Bennett (Moshi Moshi, SOAS Alumna)

Caroline’s first encounter with Japan was a home stay in Hikone in Shiga ken in 1985 during her gap year. She left the UK with an open mind having no knowledge and no preconceived ideas as to what to expect.  A trip to Kyoto with the family convinced Caroline to extend her return flight. She moved onto Tokyo where she stayed for two years, deciding whilst she was there that she wanted to change her degree from Biochemistry to Japanese and Economics. On her return to the UK to study Japanese at SOAS Caroline remembers constantly craving sushi. Founder and owner of the restaurant Moshi Moshi Caroline brought the first kaiten (conveyor-belt) sushi bar to London in the early 1990s  Moshi Moshi’s aim is to represent contemporary Japan in the UK. Actively involved in marine conservation though work managed by WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature, on a fisheries project called ‘Invest in Fish’, and more recently on a project linking small scale UK fishermen to restaurants, the Responsible Fish Restaurant. Moshi Moshi has been recognised for its work on marine conservation and received the Green Apple Award in 2006 and the RSPCA’s Innovation Award in 2007. 

Branwyn Darlington
Branwyn Darlington (Harro Foods, SOAS Alumna)

Branwyn was born and raised in Berkeley, California. A lifelong love of languages took her to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania to study Japanese, after which she participated in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme as an Assistant Language Teacher in Nagano Prefecture during preparations for the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. Returning to California, she taught Japanese to American students before deciding a few years later to pursue her MSc at SOAS in International Management for Japan (2004-05). Branwyn currently works at Harro Foods Ltd, a Japanese food wholesaler and distributor based in Chessington. Branwyn lives in SW London with her husband, son (4 yrs), and daughter (21 mos), who know that when mummy says ‘ikimasho!’ it is time to go.

Laura Hein
Laura E. Hein (SOAS Centenary Fellow / Northwestern University)

Laura publishes on a variety of topics related to twentieth century Japan within a transnational context.  Her most recent book is Imagination Without Borders: Feminist Artist Tomiyama Taeko and Social Responsibility, co-edited with Rebecca Jennison, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, 2010.  She is spending the 2015-16 year at SOAS completing a book on Japanese efforts after 1945 to extricate themselves from what they saw as fascism.

Laura Hein is a coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, a peer-reviewed, open-source, electronic journal and archive on Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, which includes over 3,000 essays. 

She also serves on the editorial board of Critical Asian Studies, an inter-area, interdisciplinary journal, and was its Northeast Asia editor for a decade.

Organiser: SOAS Japan Research Centre & the SOAS Alumni team

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Contact Tel: +44 (0) 20 7898 4893/2