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Interest in East Asia began at the University of Michigan as far back as the 1880s when President James B. Angell went to Peking as United States Minister to China. A few Japanese students arrived even earlier, in the 1870s, not long after the Meiji Restoration. One of the early Japanese students was Ono Eijiro who attended the University of Michigan in 1887 and received his Ph.D. in political economy in 1889. He was later to have a distinguished career as a scholar and financier, especially in his role as Governor of the Industrial Bank of Japan. The significance of Michigan in this regard was recognized in the mid-1970s with a generous endowment gift to the Center for Japanese Studies from the Industrial Bank of Japan.

The first classes in Asian subjects were chiefly devoted to the Near East, but courses in East Asian languages were offered by 1935. In 1936 an Oriental Civilizations program emerged, growing out of a decision to foster interdepartmental studies conducted by specialists on Asia; it combined courses in Far Eastern and Near Eastern languages (including Japanese), anthropology, fine arts, geography, and literature. Summer institutes in Far Eastern Studies began in the same year. Though in the war years of 1941-45 regular students did not have full benefit of this program, its development was an important reason for the Army's selecting the University of Michigan as its major training center for intensive Japanese language instruction. Professor Joseph K. Yamagiwa, Chairman of the Department of Far Eastern Languages and Literatures, played a major role in these developments.

After World War II, academic concern with Japan did not slacken, but strengthened. In 1947 the University founded the Center for Japanese Studies to administer an interdisciplinary graduate training program. This was the first independent Center for the study of Japan at a major academic institution in the United States. It came to serve as a model for many such centers, which later were established at major American universities.

The Center also served as a model at the University for the establishment of other area center programs. The receptive environment at the University of Michigan for this new kind of interdisciplinary activity opened a quarter century of growth that places this University among the two or three most distinguished and broadly developed centers of Japanese studies in the United States.

At the same time, the University of Michigan's distinction in graduate training has drawn consistently large numbers of exchange students and research scholars from Japan over a period of many years or even decades. The following sections review the character of Japanese studies supported at the University in the postwar period.

The Center for Japanese Studies was established under the leadership of its first director, the noted geographer, Robert B. Hall. Its purpose was to facilitate multidisciplinary research and contact among specialists on Japan, to supervise graduate training in Japanese studies, and to promote research facilities such as the collection of Japanese research and reference works in the Asia Library. In the course of its development, the Center for Japanese Studies has acquired a clear identity in the United States and Japan. None of the academic staff, however, is attached exclusively to the Center; all faculty members hold primary appointments in various disciplinary departments and units: Anthropology, Asia Library, Economics, Far Eastern Languages and Literatures, History, History of Art, Law, Linguistics, Music and Ethnomusicology, Political Science, Public Health and Sociology. This institutional arrangement provides the bases for the widespread acceptance of Japanese studies in the scholarly community.

Financing. Foundation grants have supported administrative expenses, some salary and library costs, and have provided lifeblood for research, student fellowships, visiting scholar appointments, and the other varied activities of the Center. Funds for the first fifteen years of operation came from the Carnegie Corporation; thereafter, the principal supporting grants were from the Ford Foundation, in the form of a ten-year grant, a five-year grant, and a three-year terminal grant. Government funds through the National Defense Education Act and the Office of Education have been important for student fellowship financing, and as supplement to other funded activities. This outside support spurred a remarkable growth in the number of high quality Japan-related professional staff in the 1960s. The University of Michigan came to have the greatest overall coverage of the Japan field in mainland United States as measured by the disciplines represented by our professional staff. Over the years, however, the University has come to bear a larger share of staff salaries and other related expenses including the development of a major collection in Japanese studies at the Asia Library. This collection totaled 140,000 volumes as of 1975 and represented the fourth largest university collection in the country.

With the termination of institutional support from foundations in 1974, and a concomitant reduction in federal funding, an endowment campaign endorsed by the University became the immediate imperative for program stabilization. The 1974 endowment gift of one million dollars from the Japan Foundation provided encouragement to seek private gifts. The addition of endowment gifts from Japanese corporations in 1977 has contributed significantly to strengthen the program and to assuring future growth.

The Instructional Program. Teaching and training have always been central to the Center's functions. The Center administers an undergraduate and an M.A. program in Asian Studies (with Japan, China, and Southeast Asia as optional branches); within this program the Center has primary responsibility for a multidisciplinary seminar on Japan. Students in Japanese Studies choose from among approximately seventy-five other courses in the several departments, to complete their studies in the M.A., then enroll in a department to pursue the discipline of choice for the Ph.D., though continuing to receive guidance and support from the Center. The total number of students (graduate and undergraduate) enrolled in all courses approximates 500 annually.

The Japanese Studies Staff. Helping to recruit and maintain an excellent staff in the several departments, for training and research on Japan, has been, and continues to be, a high-priority Center function. This is reflected in the wide range of academic fields represented and in the distinctions won by our staff members, present and past. The succession of Japan scholars who have passed through the University of Michigan can be said to have shaped the field in a profound fashion. In the humanities, Edward Seidensticker, (now at Columbia) has won celebrity as a translator and has been especially prominent in introducing the works of the Nobel prize winner Kawabata Yasunari to the Western world. In 1972, Professor Seidensticker won a citation from Mombushō, the Japanese Ministry of Education, for his contribution in bringing greats works of Japanese literature to the attention of the non-Japanese speaking world. Robert Brower, Chairman of the Department of Far Eastern Languages and Literatures, is one of the two principal American scholars and translators of Japanese poetry. As an outstanding Japanese musicologist, William P. Malm has published the basic works in English on Japanese music, and has been sponsored by the governments of Australia and Malaya on lecture tours among their respective universities. He also lectures widely in the United States.

The Center has shown strength also in the social sciences. The late Emeritus Professor Robert B. Hall, geographer and founding Director of the Center, was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, the highest decoration granted by the Japanese Government to a foreign national, and the Second Order of the Sacred Treasure. He also received a citation from the Tokyo Geographical Society. John W. Hall, historian and Director of the Center before moving to Yale University, has won the Miki Award for International Understanding offered by Okayama Prefecture. He and Robert E. Ward, also Director before recently moving to Stanford University, are members of the United States Advisory Committee of the Japan Foundation; and Professor Ward's distinctions in the United States including his serving simultaneously, in 1972, as president of the American Political Science Association and the Association for Asian Studies, after completing a term as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Social Science Research Council.

The late Professor Richard D. Beardsley, one of two experts on Japanese prehistory and archaeology in the United States, served as Director of the Center for Japanese Studies and the Association of Asian Studies from 1961 to 1964, and again as Center Director in 1973-74. Professor Beardsley was the founding Director of the Far Eastern Prehistory Association in 1957, and co-authored the work Village Japan (1959), the result of a contemporary community study in Okayama Prefecture. The Michigan Okayama Field Station was, in fact, the first American research station to be established in Japan after the war and remains as a monument to early postwar social science research on Japan. Roger F. Hackett, historian has served as Director of the Center (1968-71) and has been Acting Chairman and Chairman of the Department of History. During the 1960s he was editor for the Journal of Asian Studies, and in 1971 authored the major study Yamagata Aritomo in the Rise of Modern Japan.

As the first wartime generation of Japan Scholars passes from the scene, the Center for Japanese Studies has actively recruited new and promising scholars. Many of these scholars are already on the way to leaving a mark on their respective fields. Professor Calvin L. French is a leading authority on Japanese painting and the author of In Pursuit of Western Culture: Shiba Kokan (Columbia University Press, 1974). Professor Luis Gomez, noted Buddhologist, has published several studies in textual criticism, tracing the development of Mahayana sects throughout East Asia.

Associate Professor Gary R. Saxonhouse of the Department of Economics is thought by many experts in the field to be one of the most promising analysts of Japan's economy. He has published numerous articles in the major journals of economics and Asian studies, and has participated in several bilateral conferences between Japanese and Americans concerned with the complex trade and communications relationships between the United States and Japan. Professor Robert E. Cole of the Department of Sociology served as Center Director from 1974 to 1977, and is Chairman of the Joint Committee of Japanese Studies of the Social Science Research Council. He is author of Japanese Blue Collar: The Changing Tradition, a participant observation studies drawing on his experiences in Japanese factories. Professor Cole frequently serves as consultant to American industrial firms and labor unions.

Research and Publications. The staff of the Center are noted among colleagues in Japanese Studies for their collaborative fieldwork projects. Their capacity for collaboration was fostered in part by their joint participation in major projects undertaken by the Center as a whole. The first major project was in Community Studies; the Center maintained a field station from 1950 to 1956 in Okayama City, which was a base for all Michigan staff and graduate students doing research on Japan. The field station also served as a base for American researchers from other institutions. From this base, community studies were undertaken in a plains farm village, a foothills village, a mountain village, and a fishing village. The major results appeared in a basic multi-authored volume, Village Japan, as well as three other monographs published through the Center's Occasional Papers series.

The second major project, Political Modernization in Japan, extended from 1961 to 1966, and involved a series of studies, which appeared in the six-volume series on Modern Japan published by Princeton University. In addition to these major projects, the Center has materially assisted individual staff research, and staff members have been extremely successful in winning grants from other sources in support of their research efforts.

Early experience in collaboration among Americans has been subsequently applied to collaborative research with Japanese scholars. The earliest effort, more parallel than collaborative, grew out of the Okayama field station period, 1950-56, when Japanese scholars, forming the Inland Sea Joint Research Society, published three volumes of multi-disciplinary community research. Another example is found in the massive and comprehensive bi-national bibliography on the Allied Occupation, where a Japanese team compiled all Japanese works and an American team compiled all works in Western languages.

Since the late 1960s the Center for Japanese Studies has engaged in a concerted effort to develop service and public activities that will both enhance training on Japan and heighten community awareness of the field. An expanding list of activities includes weekly colloquia, presentations, demonstrations and performances, film showings, and prominent lecturers. A more recent development, since 1972, is found in the Project on Asian Studies in Education. This is the pivotal organization for coordination of Michigan's Asian Studies "outreach" to elementary and secondary schools, and to non-academic communities throughout and beyond the State of Michigan.

The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey Supplement, pages 24-29

History of the University of Michigan

Center for Japanese Studies