Dr Patokh Chodiev chaired the 9th Conference of the Association of Japanese Studies

7th March 2017

9th Annual Conference of the Association of Japanologists: “A Period of Major Transition in Japan”

The 9th Annual Conference of the Association of Japanologists, entitled “A Period of Major Transition in Japan” was held at the MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Affairs) on 22nd December, with leading experts discussing the current situation, problems and potential for Russo-Japanese relations and recent domestic and foreign policy issues, as well as other matters relating to the economy, social development, history and culture.

The conference brought together Russian and Japanese diplomats, experts, researchers and lecturers from numerous higher education and scientific research institutes, such as the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, Hosei University, Kobe University and other Japanese institutes, MGIMO, the School of African and Asian Studies at M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, Institute of Far Eastern Studies at the Russian Academy of Science, St Petersburg State University, Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, Ural Federal University, Institute of the CIS Countries, Minsk State Linguistic University and others. The conference was covered by Russian and Japanese journalists from various news agencies including NHK, Asahi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Kyodo Shimbun and Hokkaido Shimbun.

The welcome speech was given by the Head of the School of Oriental Studies D. Streltsov, who emphasised the conference’s importance in light of the improving Russo-Japanese relations in 2016 and the need to study the Japanese culture, given the complicated political climate that prevails internationally. Dr Chodiev, Honorary President of the Association and Head of the International Chodiev Foundation, which provides support for numerous scientists including Japanese researchers, stressed the need for highly professional experts on Japan, especially when so much attention is being directed towards relations between the two countries. In his opinion, the Association of Japanologists has made an important contribution towards the promotion of expert knowledge about Japan. Toyohisa Kodzuki, Japan’s ambassador to Russia, also referred positively to the role of the Association of Japanologists in the development of trust between the two countries. He drew attention to the positive changes in bilateral relations this year, the encouraging outcome of the meeting between the two heads of State in December 2016 and the need to sign a peace treaty, as mentioned by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As discussed by both State leaders, the cultural exchanges planned for 2018 should help to further develop Russo-Japanese relations. The Ambassador remarked that Japan is currently seeing a boom in Russian studies. V. Kondrashin, Member of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly, stressed the need to draw up regional development strategies for Russia and Japan. Wada Haruki, Honorary Professor of Tokyo University, remarked that the proposal for joint Russo-Japanese economic activities in the Kuril Islands, based on free access to the islands, was first raised about 30 years ago and he was delighted to see that it is now receiving attention at the highest level. He appealed to everyone to forget about all the negative events of the past and concentrate on beginning a new chapter in our countries’ relationship.

The conference saw a presentation of books published by the Association of Japanologists in 2016:

  • The “Japan” Yearbook.
  • A text book “The Social and Economic Geography of Japan”.
  • A collective monograph “Russian and Japanese Civilisations. A historical analysis of the establishment and development of national identities (similarities and differences): Under the editorship of A. Panov and Kazuhiko Togo).
  • Monograph by K. Sarkisov: “100 Years of Relations (1816-1917)”.
  • Annual collection of articles: “Current Problems in Contemporary Japan”.
  • Collection of articles: “The Soviet Union and Japan in the Second World War: Involvement and Consequences”.
  • Monograph by V. Kuzminkov: “A history of territorial demarcation between Russia and Japan: from a Japanese viewpoint”.

The journal “Japanese Studies”, founded in 2016, was also presented. The journal uses the Russian Science Citation Index and is the first journal of Russia’s Professional Japanese Studies Community. The plenary session was dedicated to Russo-Japanese relations and coincided with the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Soviet-Japanese joint declaration of 19th October 1956 (said D. Streltsov, conference moderator). Alexander Panov, Head of the Department of Diplomacy, gave a speech analysing the outcome of Vladimir Putin’s official visit to Japan in December 2016 and assessed it within the context of the development of relations between the two countries. Hosei University Professor Hobuo Simotomai, in his address, explained the problems facing Russian-Japanese relations following the shift of power in Washington.

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