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Greetings from the Director

KOMATSU Kazuhiko

Director General
KOMATSU Kazuhiko

The mission of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken), an inter-university institute funded by the government, is to promote and support the study of Japanese culture and history through international collaboration and cooperation and to support the work of scholars in Japanese studies in other countries. In order to fulfill this mission, Nichibunken organizes team research projects involving scholars both in Japan and overseas and holds international symposiums on diverse themes every year in Japan and in other countries. It invites numerous scholars in the humanities and social sciences to Japan to cooperate in projects based on the latest findings and information and to engage in the gathering of information on scholarship overseas.

The field of Japanese studies is mature and well established in some countries and regions of the world, reflecting their level of political and economic interest in and relations with Japan. In others, the field is growing and developing, and in still others it is just getting started. Nichibunken endeavors to foster ever-deeper and more genuine understanding of Japan by carrying out research exchange and assistance programs tailored to the needs of the field in each country and region. Through its efforts to facilitate networking among specialists in the field, it has become a key locus of scholarship in Japanese studies unlike any other in Japan or overseas.

In the globalized world of today, it is not enough for Japanese studies to confine itself to Japan’s territorial borders or to investigation of the structure and characteristics of Japan’s culture alone. It requires a broader comparative perspective that takes into account Japan in a global or regional (Asian) context through research on historical change in Japanese culture and interaction with other cultures. Responding to these new conditions, Nichibunken prizes scholarly inquiry that transcends the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines, encourages scholarship in an international and interdisciplinary perspective, and works to identify distinctive themes and open up new fields of research. The success of its programs in this respect has been substantial. One current emphasis at Nichibunken is the field of Japanese popular culture—which has received a great deal of attention from other countries but remains largely undeveloped. This is essential to our exploration of a “new image of Japan.”

Nichibunken is not only a hub of research for scholars in Japanese studies in Japan and overseas, but a repository for the collection and preservation of valuable materials necessary for the study of Japan. It has a particular mission to collect publications from other countries that introduce Japanese culture, and present the results of original research. Our library resources are highly valued, and scholars and graduate students both from Japan and other countries consult Nichibunken’s databases and make extensive use of the library collection. In addition, Nichibunken endeavors to cultivate a broad understanding of its mission. It shares the results of its diverse international activities with a wide audience through public lectures, the Nichibunken Open Day, and its publications and website.

In May 2017, Nichibunken celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. We hope to mark this auspicious occasion by looking back at what we have achieved. We also plan changes that will enable us to function as a research institute which keeps pace with a world changing rapidly as a result of the information and communications revolution. We hope too to continue to produce more advanced and original scholarship. In this endeavor, we look forward to your goodwill and continued support.

KOMATSU Kazuhiko, Director-General
July 2017