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Greetings from the Director

Welcome to the IJS

Since its foundation in 2004, Institute for Japanese Studies in Seoul National University has strived to establish an ‘international base’ for academic efforts in the field of Japanese Studies. Under the leadership of former directors—Professors Kim Young-Dok, Han Young-Hae, Park Cheol Hee, and Kim Hyun-Chul—IJS has endeavored at organization and institutionalization levels to find an academic infrastructure that allows for more systematic operation of various research and academic activities, as well as distribution of the achievements to the public and to the international community. For this purpose, IJS has continued its efforts to become the global center for Japanese Studies by exploring research topics that are compatible with those of the works in Japan, as well as those that could be better discussed by scholars outside Japan depending on the field.

From 2008, IJS has conducted HK and HK+ projects with the support of Korea Research Foundation. IJS achieved some excellent results in areas of research and academic activities; publications, archiving of printed materials; Japan-related databases, social contributions, and fostering of future Japan specialists. Upon such accomplishments, IJS was recognized by Seoul National University’s internal review as the Best Research Institution four times in a row. IJS also received an evaluation of excellence in the HK project’s overall assessment of its 10-year project, becoming one of the exemplary cases of university affiliated research institutes.

In retrospect, what IJS has always pursued was ‘proper knowledge on Japan.’ This may be something obvious but something that could not be overlooked as for us Koreans, Japan has long been a subject embodying a certain degree of ‘awkwardness.’ While Japan was the country to overcome in regard to historical issues, it was also the country to catch up as a development model. More recently, Japan has even become a subject of indifference to Korea that rapidly developed upon successful industrialization and democratization. It is rather the exacerbating relationship between the two countries that paradoxically sustains Korean society’s interest in Japan, and there are also voices pointing out the ineffectiveness of regional studies amid the boom of geopolitics.

In the midst of these difficulties, IJS has kept its orientation to see Japan as a region as it is. In addition, it also strived to comprehensively analyze fragmentary facts that are sometimes adopted for certain ideological or practical purposes; sometimes often exaggerated and underlined in favor of certain positions. This process extended the Institute’s scope from an universal view on Japan to that on the world. This could, in fact, be described as the ultimate goal and the raison d'être of regional studies.

I believe that IJS has entered the stage where it starts to share its achievements with a greater community. Seoul National University’s Institute for Japanese Studies is now ready to enthusiastically contribute to opening a new horizon for Japanese Studies, as new regional studies by sharing and exchanging its unique experience of studying Japan in Korea with researchers around the world. I ask for your continued interest and support. Thank you.
Seoul National University Institute for Japanese Studies Acting Director Nam, Ki Jeong