SOAS University of London

Celebration of 40 Years of the SOAS Japan Research Centre

15 October 2018

On 10th October 2018 the Japan Research Centre (JRC) held an event celebrating 40 years since its establishment at SOAS in 1978. The JRC was established in May 1978 by Professor William Beasley, a historian of Japan who was at SOAS from 1947 until his retirement in 1983, and was founded with 3 core remits: (1) to assist in the coordination and promotion of academic research on Japan across SOAS; (2) to provide seminars on topics of scholarly and public interest; and (3) to organise a regular programme of Visiting Scholars from Japan. These still remain the core activities of the JRC, but it has also greatly added to these over the past 40 years. While Japanese language and culture had been taught at SOAS from the outset, and was marked by the JRC in a 2016 Centenary event, the JRC was set up in 1978 when the study of Japan was expanding in the UK, with SOAS at the forefront of that expansion. SOAS had for many years provided courses relating to Japan in the fields of language and literature, geography, history and sociology, but by 1978 was enlarging its range of courses in the social sciences to include economics, law and politics. The JRC commenced its activities in the Autumn term 1978, with Professor Beasley establishing the JRC Seminar Series, inviting both SOAS and external speakers to present their research in a diverse range of fields relating to Japanese Studies, a seminar series which continues to this day, attracting both a scholarly and public audience.

JRC 40th HE Tsuruoka 2

The activities of the JRC have flourished and expanded over the past 40 years, and include activities such as the Meiji Jingu Annual Lecture, the W.G. Beasley Memorial Lecture series, the awarding of postgraduate scholarships and staff research grants, regular seminars, sponsored workshops and conferences, the hosting of Visiting Scholars from Japan and the editorial of research publications. The fields of Japanese Studies now taught across SOAS and linked to the JRC through its membership now include language and linguistics, literature, anthropology, art and archaeology, economics, history, politics, film and media, business and management, religion and music. The JRC is the institutional home of the British Association for Japanese Studies and with one of the largest concentration of Japan specialists outside Japan, the JRC acts as a national and international centre for Japanese studies. The 40th celebration was attended by the Japanese Ambassador to London, His Excellency Mr Koji Tsuruoka who gave welcome remarks, reinforcing the Centre as vital for mutual growth and cooperation between the UK and Japan. JRC members gave short presentations highlighting the range and depth of Japanese Studies research, and the celebration was attended by SOAS staff, students, members of the public, and long terms supporters of the JRC including the Japan Foundation London and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. The Celebration was in the spirit of ‘Fuwaku’ (translation: “following the right course after 40 years”) and launched the “40-40 Fuwaku Fund”, an initiative which aims to target 40 sponsors over the next 40 years to sustain and expand the research activities of the Japan Research Centre up to 2058, and beyond.

JRC 40th Group 2

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