The Sasakawa Japanese Studies Postgraduate Studentship Programme Reception
Thank you Ambassador Hayashi for your very warm welcome address.
It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be with you all this evening and may I extend a special welcome to the members of the Sasakawa Japanese Studies Postgraduate Studentship Programme.
Over the course of history, many nations and Japan have enjoyed a close relationship in a number of multilateral contexts. Those who have been instrumental in fostering and sustaining such relationships have been experts with a deep knowledge of each other’s countries. It makes me very happy to know that even today this trend is a driving force in the academic sphere.
However, in the last 10 to 15 years, Japanese studies here in the United Kingdom, have been faced with reductions in government funding and increased competition from other Asian countries. As a result, many institutions have been forced to cut back with some even having to close their departments. Learning of these dire circumstances, I became very concerned for the young Japanese experts-to-be who were missing the opportunity to pursue their careers.
This was the reason why The Nippon Foundation and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation established the Sasakawa Lectureship Programme and over the past five years set up 13 full-time teaching and research posts in Japanese studies at leading UK universities. We are very indebted to the universities themselves who have contributed so much to the total success of the Programme. It was then agreed by all that this good momentum should not only be maintained, but accelerated and the conclusion was that it in order to do this we would set up this new programme, the Sasakawa Japanese Studies Postgraduate Studentship Programme. It is gratifying to know that both this year and last year every university received a large number of applications from aspiring Japan researchers.
I have great expectations of this Programme and as I look at the list of our Studentship Programme fellows, there is as much diversity of topics as there is of countries from where the fellows originate, extending from Europe to Africa, Asia, and Central Asia.
I am truly excited and should have liked to have read out the entire list of research topics to all of you here this evening, but time does not allow me to do so. But I can assure you that your research work will certainly give me, and I am sure others, the opportunity to re-discover our country, Japan.
I must extend my deepest respects to the UK academic institutions for it goes without saying that we owe so much to them for their hard work in preparing this multidisciplinary environment to enable further studies by our future Japanologists. Lastly, I should like to thank my colleagues in the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for administering this Programme so successfully and effectively.
During your studentship, I should like each of you to remember that YOU are the next generation of Japan experts. As the proud funder of this Programme, we The Nippon Foundation, together with the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, look forward to the day when you will all be playing instrumental roles in further strengthening the strong ties between Japan and other nations of the world.