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Yohei Sasakawa
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Addressing Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in Nordic Countries [2022/04/22]
Participating in the Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in the Nordic Countries, “Japan and Japanese Studies in the 21st Century,” hosted by Copenhagen Business School of Denmark on March 24, 2022.

In step with China’s rapid economic growth, Chinese studies have spread fast in many countries, thanks largely to Confucius Institutes, the Chinese language and culture centers partially financed by the Beijing government. Some of these have since been closed amid growing concern that they may be what some critics have called a “propaganda tool” of China. Be that as it may, there is no denying they have helped to promote Chinese language studies.

In comparison, Japanese studies have lagged behind, despite the interest in Japan among young people created by its pop culture and the worldwide popularity of manga and anime.

To help promote Japanese studies, The Nippon Foundation and its partner organization, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, have been providing support to 13 prestigious universities in the United Kingdom since 2009.

For Nordic countries, The Nippon Foundation and the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation launched a new grant program in April 2018, designed to support the development of contemporary Japanese Studies in five Nordic countries−Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Japanese studies programs at institutions of higher learning in the Scandinavian countries have been assuming an important role in cultivating experts on various aspects of Japan. They have also been playing key roles in advancing the understanding of Japanese culture and society in these countries.

However, budget constraints have meant that departments and institutes offering Japanese studies have not been able to expand into new areas of teaching and research on Japan, as desired. The grant program offers the possibility of strengthening and enhancing the provision of contemporary Japanese studies in the Nordic countries.

The grant program operates for a period of five years from April 2019. It consists of two parts: 1) the establishment of lectureships in contemporary Japanese studies, and 2) the provision of research grants for PhD candidates in contemporary Japanese studies.

On March 24, Copenhagen Business School hosted an online Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in the Nordic Countries “Japan and Japanese Studies in the 21st Century.”

The event, which I had the privilege of addressing, was attended by Dr. Elisabeth Nilsson, Chairperson of the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation, Professor Soren Hvidkjrar, Dean of Copenhagen Business School, and Japanese Ambassador to Denmark Manabu Miyagawa as well as Japanese studies lecturers and fellows in the Nordic countries.

“It is my great pleasure to offer support to you who have a strong desire to engage in research on Japan,” I told the participants, adding that The Nippon Foundation’s scholarship as well as our human resource development programs are not limited to funding research and studies but provide opportunities for life-long exchange.

“For this, we already have a network linking more than 30,000 (Sasakawa) fellows all over the world. I hope you too will make good use of this network.”

I sincerely hope that the researchers enjoy their studies, find much of interest in Japan’s culture and traditions, and serve as a bridge in further strengthening ties between the Nordic countries and Japan.


The Nordic universities we support under the program follow:

Aarhus University
Copenhagen Business School
University of Copenhagen

University of Helsinki
University of Turku

University of Iceland

Norwegian University of Science and Technology
University of Bergen

European Institute of Japanese Studies, Stockholm School of Economics

The text of my online message to the Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in the Nordic Countries “Japan and Japanese Studies in the 21st Century” on March 24 can be seen here.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:11 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)