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JCAS: Japan Consortium for Area Studies

About Us

Why and How Was the JCREES Born?

Shigeki Hakamada,
Professor Emeritus of Aoyama Gakuin University,
the former President of the JCREES (2005-13)

Shigeki Hakamada

On July 24, 1998, five Slavist associations of Japan, the Japanese Association for Russian and East European Studies, the Japan Association for the Study of Russian Language and Literature, the Japanese Society for Slavic and East European Studies, the Japanese Society for the Study of Russian History, and the Russian and East European Division of the Japan Association for International Relations, established a national center called the Japanese Council of Russian and East European Studies. Currently, the center council is composed of six organizations with the recent addition of the Japan Association for Comparative Economic Studies.

In the prior years to this event (1995-1998), the Slavists in Japan conducted a large-scale collective project "Changes in Slavic Eurasia," funded by the Japan Ministry of Education. As a result, the Japanese Slavists became aware of the need to intensify interdisciplinary cooperation between various research areas and, accordingly, Slavist associations. The Soviet bloc ceased to exist, therefore there was an urgent need to venture on a quest for new identities of the region in which we were involved in; this was achievable only through interdisciplinary cooperation. Another purpose of the establishment of the JCREES was to have a legitimate representative of Japan's Slavist community in the world Slavist organization, ICCEES. The JCREES assigned this role to Professor Hiroshi Kimura at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, which was succeeded by Professor Kimitaka Matsuzato at Hokkaido University in 2005.

During the eleven years since the founding of the JCREES, Japan's Slavic studies have become much more internationalized. It has become a usual phenomenon for young Japanese scholars to deliver papers at international conferences and submit articles to international refereed journals. On the other hand, both the declining number of youth and the state budgetary crisis have greatly affected universities, and it proved much easier to curtail the positions of area study specialists than those of disciplinary sciences. Many young and talented scholars are suffering from being short of opportunities for self-realization and we cannot be indifferent to this situation.

In contrast to the AAASS, the German Society for Research on Eastern Europe (DGO), and the Korean Association of Slavic Studies (KASS), which are monolith organizations, the JCREES is a loosely integrated umbrella organization. This is a result of the historical development of Japan's Slavic studies and has its strengths and weaknesses. Recently, the JCREES established close cooperation with the Chinese Association for East European, Russian, and Central Asian Studies and the KASS. The first East Asian Conference for Slavic Eurasian Studies, held in February 2009, marked a great success, and currently (December 2009) the Korean colleagues are preparing for the second conference scheduled in February 2010. Thus, we are endeavoring to present an alternative, non-transatlantic approach to the Slavic Eurasian regions, which will perhaps be our most valuable contribution to the world's Slavist community.

December 9, 2009

[Secretariat] Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University
Kita-9, Nishi-7, Kita-ku, Sapporo 060-0809 JAPAN
e-mail:src@slav.hokudai.ac.jp fax:+81-11-706-4952
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