In this issue:
Mitsubishi Corporation Gift (this page)
From the Chair(this page)
The Japan Studies Program is excited to announce a generous gift of $62,500 from the Mitsubishi Corporation. The gift will support the new Mitsubishi Corporation Lecture Series and will allow the program to bring internationally renowned experts from Japan to the University of Washington for three public events.
Seattle branch general manager of the Mitsubishi Corporation Americas (MCA) Shinichiro Kawazoe expressed “the pleasure of the Mitsubishi Corporation and the MCA Seattle Branch to keep the partnership with the UW through this program as it strengthens the relationship between Japan and the local community. This program will deepen the understanding of the Japan-U.S. relationship among both people on campus and in the local community. We are proud that our cooperation with the Japan Studies Program at the UW will contribute to the community of Seattle and the State of Washington.” This gift is part of a Mitsubishi Corporation program to contribute to the social, economic, and/or cultural development of each country or region that receives support. The Japan Studies Program was one of two recipients in 2013.
At the gift ceremony on October 7, Senior Consul Tomoko Dodo of the Consulate General of Japan in Seattle commented that “the Consulate General of Japan welcomes and appreciates the initiative taken by the Mitsubishi Corporation, in collaboration with the UW Jackson School of International Studies, to bring the Mitsubishi Corporation Lecture Series, a program of great significance and magnitude, to the Pacific Northwest community.” The Japan Studies Program is grateful for the opportunity to continue working with the Mitsubishi Corporation, which also provided scholarships for JSIS Japan Studies undergraduate and graduate students in 2011 and again in 2012.
Speakers in the Mitsubishi Corporation Lecture Series will be invited from diverse fields of interest, such as economics, history, and political science. Shinichi Kitaoka, a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, will talk about Japan’s constitutional revision issues and the rise of China on January 16, 2014, at 7:00 PM. Motoshige Itoh, a professor at the Graduate School of Economics, University of Tokyo, and president of the National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA), will discuss “Abenomics” on February 27, also at 7:00 PM. The complete schedule of speakers will be announced later this year on the Japan Studies Program events web page. All series lectures will be free and open to the public.
From the Chair
As always, it is exciting to be studying Japan. Abe Shinzo became prime minister once again (he was also prime minister 2006–7) in December 2012 and has embarked on a series of economic policies called Abenomics, which have lifted the Japanese stock market and growth rates and weakened the yen. He has promised much structural reform, and the long-term success of Abenomics will likely depend on these reforms. Abe is also tilting Japan toward revising the interpretation of the constitution and slowly toward actually changing the constitution for the first time since it was enacted in 1947 during the U.S. Occupation. Abe’s party, the Liberal Democratic Party, won both the Lower House in December 2012 and the Upper House in July 2013. The next Upper House election will be in July 2016, and Abe does not need to call a Lower House election until late 2016; this thus gives him a good three years with control of both houses, a period when he should be able to push through important policies.
Other stresses continue on Japan, such as conflict between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands and the problem of radioactive liquid from the Fukushima nuclear power plant leaking into the Pacific Ocean. Japan has joined the Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks and this is putting pressure on the agricultural sector. With all its nuclear plants shut down as of October 2013, energy policy issues loom large. Japan continues to grapple with a declining and aging population, problems related to lifetime employment commitments for people hired before the early 1990s, and the shortage of good employment opportunities for those who joined the work force since the late 1990s.
Recent events in the UW Japan Studies Program are outlined in this newsletter. We are especially honored to have received a major grant from the Mitsubishi Corporation to fund three prominent speakers this academic year. Professors Motoshige Itoh of the University of Tokyo and Shinichi Kitaoka of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies have already accepted our invitation to speak during winter quarter, and the third event in the Mitsubishi Corporation Lecture Series is being planned for spring quarter. We enjoyed hosting many speakers during autumn quarter and look forward to more UW Japan events in 2014. Of special significance this autumn was the Griffith and Patricia Way Lecture delivered by UW Professor Kenneth Pyle, who spoke on “Hiroshima and Historians.” This year we are celebrating Pyle’s 50th year of teaching at the University of Washington. And The Journal of Japanese Studies, which was founded by Pyle and other UW Japan faculty in 1974 and remains based at the University of Washington, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The Japan Studies Program also sponsored a half-day Business Roundtable, “Japan Update: Business Opportunities for 2013 and Beyond,” with keynote talks by Professor Koichi Hamada, Tuntex Professor Emeritus of Economics, Yale University, and Economic Advisor to Prime Minister Abe; and Dr. Joseph A. Massey, chairman, Global Reach (US) Inc., former assistant U.S. trade representative for Japan and China, and professor emeritus of international business, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
With one of the oldest and strongest Japan Studies Programs in the country, the University of Washington is committed to in-depth research, teaching, and outreach on these issues and all aspects of Japan.