Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Kokkiken Japan Study Award

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Kokkiken Japan Study Award

Purport of the inauguration of the Kokkiken Japan Study Award

We estab-lished the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals with our sincere wish to rebuild the solid foundation of Japan and let this nation embody its true self. What we envisage is a Japan that, while retaining the values unique to it, serves as a decent member of the international community by maintaining a broader perspective on world events. First and foremost, it was our earnest desire to contribute as much as we could to the rebirth of Japan by dealing squarely with national issues including the Constitution, national security and education. Indeed, this was the prime motivation for inaugurating our institute.

To make this aspiration a reality, it is imperative to help the international community deepen its understanding of Japan and generate mutual respect between this nation and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this goal remains far off. Japan remains misunderstood on many accounts. This is particularly true in respect to issues of history, over which Japan is often confronted by a tall wall of misunderstanding even today. Even Western countries that share the same values as Japan are no exception in this regard.

What should be specifically done to dispel such misperceptions? The best answer is to help people abroad increase their knowledge of Japan. To do this, we were considering how to foster talented people as Japan study specialists or Japanologists. Just at that time, Ms. Mari Terada made a very kind offer to JINF. It is my great honor to have been involved in establishing the Japan Study Award, which reflects the great aspiration she shares with all of us.

We sincerely hope this new award inspires researchers in the 21st-century international community to undertake thorough academic research about Japan—everything from its features, history, culture and civilization to politics, the wartime past and values unique to it. We would be delighted if the Japan Study Award helps promote free and sincere studies on Japan.

I am confident that the candid findings—positive or negative—of these researchers on various aspects of Japan—including its successes and failures—can help break down the wall of prejudice toward Japan. Research backed by academic honesty and integrity will always provide a precious source for learning.

It is my sincere hope that the Kokkiken Japan Study Award will increase the number of genuine friends of Japan around the world. At the same time, I believe Japan’s culture, civilization and its values that shape Japanese people’s thinking can contribute to the betterment of the 21st-century international community.

By Yoshiko Sakurai
President of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Outline of Kokkiken Japan Study Award

The Japan Institute for National Fundamentals encourages and honors outstanding works in the field of Japanese studies at home and abroad that contribute to the furthering of understanding of Japan in the areas of politics, national security, diplomacy, history, education and culture, among others.
Every year, the Institute bestows the Japan Study Award on an individual, in principle, and a prize of US$10,000. The annual Japan Study Award program also includes a Japan Study Encouragement Award, which carries a prize of US$5,000. A Japan Study Special Award may be added.
To be eligible for these awards, a research work must be published in book form or in a national or international journal in either Japanese or English in recent years by a researcher who is a foreign national including a first generation naturalized person. However, this provision does not apply in the case of a Japan Study Special Award.
Members of the Japan Study Award Recommendation Committee and relevant experts are asked to recommend a wide range of candidate works by the end of each year. Based on these recommendations, the Japan Study Award Jury selects winners of the Japan Study Award program by the spring of the following year.
An award ceremony and a reception for the winners are held in July each year.

The 11th [Kokkiken Japan Study Award]

The works of Recipients of Kokkiken Japan Study Award

Japan Study Award
John Mark Ramseyer
Mitsubishi Professor of Japanese Legal Studies, at Harvard Law school
  • Ianfu Seidorei Setsu wo Harvard Daigaku Ramseyer Kyoju ga Kanzen Ronpa (Heart Shuppan, 2023)
    ―Engrish translation:[ Complete Refutation by Prof Ramseyer]
Japan Study Special Award
Tei Taikin
Professor Emeritus at Tokyo Metropolitan University
  • Ringoku no Hakken(Chikumashobo, 2023)
    ―Engrish translation:[Discovering Your Neighboring Country]

Remarks on the selection of award recipients

John Mark Ramseyer
Ianfu Seidorei Setsu wo Harvard Daigaku Ramseyer Kyoju ga Kanzen Ronpa (Heart Shuppan, 2023)
―Engrish translation:[ Complete Refutation by Prof Ramseyer]

The so-called comfort women, especially Korean comfort women, for Japanese troops in World War II were not sex slaves. It is thought in Japan that the issue of comfort women has now been resolved as such. Nevertheless, the allegation that they were forced into sex slavery remains widespread in the rest of the world.

The author of this book became interested in indentured contracts for prewar prostitutes and geisha from the standpoint of economics and economic law in which he specializes. In 1991, he wrote an academic paper on that subject.

The issue of wartime comfort women flared up in the first half of the 1980s. Especially as the Asahi Shimbun spent a long period of time running a host of articles about allegations that Korean women had been conscribed to work as comfort women for Japanese troops or engage in war-supporting jobs, the narrative of Korean comfort women being sex slaves became widely known. The newspaper covered the statements given by Seiji Yoshida as if they were true but later admitted that Yoshida gave it false testimony. Yoshida himself acknowledged the use of indentured contracts to recruit Korean women as comfort women. For his part, Prof. Ramseyer became interested in the issue and consequently found that Korean comfort women had been recruited under indentured contracts, not at bayonet point. Then, the author wrote a paper on wartime comfort women.

In January 2021, the Sankei Shimbun carried an article about the author and his viewpoint on comfort women. Right afterward, Prof. Ramseyer came under a volley of personal attacks, including life threats. Even a political propaganda against him occurred, collecting signatures by thousands of scholars to demand the retraction of his journal paper.

The author refuted the criticism in a sincere and academic manner, but to no avail. This illustrates how regrettable the situation surrounding the academic world of the United States now is.

This book is comprised of four papers on comfort women the author had earlier written and translated into Japanese by a group of Japanese editors and translators, who gave relevant explanations. Prof. Ramseyer’s papers in the book include the 1991 paper on prewar indentured prostitutes and his response to his critics. The book also carries translations from the author’s description of developments pertaining to those papers and three appendices.

As people read this book, they will become aware of a totalitarian atmosphere in the U.S., which is otherwise regarded as the icon of liberal democracy, and what state of academic conscience the country is in.

This book deserves a Kokkiken Japan Study Award.

By Katsuhiko Takaike
Vice President of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals,
Japan Study Award Jury

Tei Taikin
Ringoku no Hakken(Chikumashobo, 2023)
―English translation:[Discovering Your Neighboring Country]

As the biography shows, the recipient is a multi-cultural intellectual, and many of his studies are about Japanese-Korean relations in a wider perspective. Wider because his perception is more international than narrowly national. Born of a Korean father and of a Japanese mother in 1948 in Iwate prefecture in Northern Japan, Tei Taikin graduated from Rikkyo University, Japan, and successively studied at UCLA, USA. On his return to East Asia, he began his multi-faceted university career first in South Korea, then in Japan and finally at the Tokyo Metropolitan University, of which he is a professor emeritus.

He is ironically critical not only towards those nationalistic Japanese media personalities, who taking advantage of recent anti-Korean sentiment prevalent in Japan, speak ill of their neighboring country, but also towards the Korean opinion leaders who obstinately repeat anti-Japanese fixed expressions. Tei’s well-balanced attitude is shown clearly in his opinion that those second and third generation Koreans living mostly in Tokyo and Osaka areas and who claim that the ballot should be extended to them by the Japanese government had better take voluntarily Japanese citizenship. As a Korean-Japanese living mainly in Japan, Professor Tei keeps his Japanese nationality. Professor Tei confides us his anxiety and dissatisfaction towards the Korean official descriptions of the Annexation period of 1910--45: only Japanese oppression and exploitation and Korean resistance and their grievances have been one-sidedly told and retold after the Korean independence. The indoctrination of these negative clichés, however, does not make either Koreans or Japanese happy.

In this book the author Tei describes in detail what the Japanese saw in Korea during the Annexation period. He discusses objectively how Korean people and landscape were depicted by writers such as Tanizaki Jun’ichiro; how the blind Miyagi Michio was attracted by Korean music: how Asakawa Takumi and Yanagi Muneyoshi discovered the beauty of Korean folkart. This book becomes a kind of anthology of Japanese discovery of Korea. Among them the conspicuous figure is Abe Yoshishige whose essays are highly appreciated.

There are of course many Japanese records with strong negative views of Korea, among them Nitobe Inazo, who categorized the Koreans as an ethnic group that “belongs to the prehistoric times.” Professor Tei is equally critical also of some Japanese who have become famous for their exaggerated accusation of the cruelties of Japanese colonial administration. Kajimura Hideki, who was sanctified in the Republic of Korea as a “conscientious Japanese” is an example.

In the closing chapter the author sheds light on a hitherto little known Japanese scientist Hazama Bunichi (1898-1946), who taught at the Keijo (Seoul) Medical College before and during war years. He was a specialist of luminous insects. Hazama was nominated in 1938 as one of the candidates for Nobel Prize (Medicine and Physiology). As Hazama died soon after his repatriation in January 1946, his name was almost forgotten. Thanks to Dr. Tei some passages of his diary, essays by this travelling scientist, even a Korean folklore of fireflies are presented to today’s readers.

 Come, firefly, come firefly.
 Light up the groom’s room.
 Light up the bride’s room.
 Light up the road at night
 When dad is returning from the mart.

The author Tei Taikin is free from the victimizer--victimized historical perspective, and we know through this kind of three-point survey, what the Japanese have been given by their neighboring country as well as what they have given to the Koreans.

By Sukehiro Hirakawa
Director of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals,
Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo,
Japan Study Award Jury

Award Jury

ChairYoshiko Sakurai President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals (JINF)
Vice ChairTadae TakuboJINF Vice President and Professor Emeritus, Kyorin University
Takashi ItoProfessor Emeritus, University of Tokyo
Sukehiro HirakawaProfessor Emeritus, University of Tokyo
Toshio WatanabeExecutive advisor, Takushoku University
Katsuhiko TakaikeJINF Vice President and lawyer

Award Recommendation Committee

George Akita Professor Emeritus, University of Hawaii
James E. AuerProfessor Emeritus, Vanderbilt University
Brahma ChellaneyProfessor of Strategic Studies, Center for Policy Research, India
Kevin DoakProfessor at Georgetown University
Vassili MolodiakovRussian professor at the Institute of Japanese Identity, Takushoku University
Brandon PalmerAssociate professor of history at Carolina Coastal University
Koh Se-kaiProfessor Emeritus, Tsuda College
Arthur WaldronProfessor, University of Pennsylvania
Edward MarxAssociate Professor, Ehime University
David HanlonProfessor, University of Hawaii at Mānoa
Yang Haiying, aka Akira OhnoProfessor at Shizuoka University
Chen Rou-jinColumnist, former political reporter of United Daily News
Robert D. EldridgeFormer Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff (G-5), Marine Corps installations Pacific/Marine Forces Japan
June Teufel DreyerProfessor of Political Science at the University of Miami
Robert MortonProfessor, Chuo University
Tosh MinoharaProfessor, Graduate School of Law and Politics, Kobe University
Pema GyalpoProfessor, Takushoku University
Ikuhiko HataModern Historian
Rhee KenjiProfessor of Sociology at Kwansei Gakuin University
Minggad BulagWriter, Translator, Interpreter
Toshi YoshiharaSenior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
Lee Woo Youngformer Research committee member at the Naksungdae Institute of Economic Research
Ewa Pałasz-RutkowskaPhD, Professor, University of Warsaw
Lee Dae KeunProfessor Emeritus at Sungkyunkwan University
Jason MorganPhD, Associate Professor at Reitaku University