Yanai Initiative to promote globalization of Japanese studies

A major gift from leading international entrepreneur and 1971 graduate Tadashi Yanai has established the Yanai Initiative, which will place Waseda at the center of globalizing Japanese literature and culture studies.

Tadashi Yanai, Chairman and CEO of Fast Retailing

The initiative builds a network for international collaborative studies of Japanese culture and literature. Waseda will share its distinctive knowledge and experience across the English-speaking world, while also creating innumerable opportunities for cooperation between Japan and the United States. Specifically, a new partnership with UCLA, a leading center for Japan studies overseas, will facilitate multiple exchanges of personnel. Waseda will send professors, critics, novelists and graduate students to UCLA, and host visiting faculty and graduate students from UCLA. Furthermore, the two universities will convene a variety of symposiums and workshops. The program is distinguished by its openness, as joint committees centered on various themes will chose the best personnel from the greater community to participate, not limited to Waseda and UCLA. Waseda’s efforts will be led by Professor Sungsi Lee, former dean of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “As the humanities face profound challenges around the world, there is a critical need for a vehicle to take Japan culture studies to the forefront of global academics. We are deeply appreciative of Mr Yanai’s most timely initiative, and committed to realizing the potential of this project.” Likewise, associate professor Michael Emmerich, UCLA’s leader for the project, also expressed high expectations. “Mr Yanai’s gift reminds us how vital the humanities will be in a globalizing world. Our partnership with Waseda, at the center of the initiative, will solidify UCLA’s position as a global hub for the study of Japanese culture.”

(L-R) Prof Emmerich, Tadashi Yanai, Waseda President Kamata

Waseda University, based on its Vision 150 strategic plan, is building key partnerships in six internationally competitive model centers with the world’s best universities, including Columbia University and UCLA.

Mr Yanai added his thoughts. “I would like to express my sincere respect for the excellent academic achievements in Japan studies at UCLA and Waseda University. I hope this project will help to spread Japanese culture and literature across the world, and attract more attention and enthusiasm. I am pleased to be able to contribute, in a small way, to the development of Japanese studies around the world.”

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