At this point, I think the most important task for the IJS is to pursue “Studies on New Japan.” This thought partly originates from personal experiences in Japan during the early 90s. As a student researching on the Japanese business strategies, I had a chance to observe and experience the reality of Japanese enterprises. The reality revealed a different story. Textbooks were full of articles praising and glorifying the Japanese style of business, but enterprises were greatly suffering due to the collapse of bubble and low growth rates. Thus, I decided to step out from textbooks, investigate the reality of enterprises through field works, and theorize my new discovery. It was possible partly because I was not Japanese.
It is important to properly understand past Japan, but it is also necessary to know new Japan, different Japan. Japanese studies in Korea is no exception. So I was delighted to know that the institute has started its work on reviewing Japan after the Bubble Collapse just at the right moment. The institute will continue its research on “New Japan,” and this theme will be the central focus in future projects.
Moreover, I would like to suggest “Japanese Studies for Korea” as another pathway for the institute. Japan can be perceived as a “future mirror” for Korea, which had experienced diverse phenomena prior to us. So it would be partially true that we can predict the future of Korea through Japanese studies. This is one of reasons why we must study our neighbor, Japan.
Unfortunately, there is no organization conducting systemized and continuous research on Japan. Even in the field of business, there aren’t many Japanese expertise in notable institutes, such as Samsung Economic Research Institute (SERI) and POSCO Research Institute (POSRI). Those institutes occasionally study Japan following the trends or the necessity of organization.
However, the IJS in Seoul National University is different. Within the boundary of national university, the IJS is in a position to pursue its own research projects independently from general trends, and at the same time, it has a responsibility to deliver proper information about Japan to the society through continuous research. Realizing its function and obligation, the IJS will continue its research on Japan that are necessary to Korea.
Director of Institute for Japanese Studies