Japan budgets over $15 million for overseas universities in soft power push

By Takashi Umekawa

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It is interesting that China calls its China funded study centers "Confucius Centers", rather than, say "Mao Centers". I wonder what does that means. And what will Japan call its study centers? "Abe the Great" centers?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Not saying it isn't good for promoting Japan in general, but I think one textbook whitewashing or one comfort women denial has easily done the equivalent of 15 million dollars in damage to Japan's reputation.

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Note that Kevin Doak, a favorite among Japan history revisionists and Yasukuni nationalists, is the Nippon Foundation Endowed Chair in History at Georgetown University. Fancy that.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Also, 15 million is such a tiny amount of money. Small change.

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@gokai> As I was reading, I realized that this is total fpr 9 Univ not for 1 Univ for 1 year.

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Disregarding the wartime history factor, Japan has fallen out of favor for university studies ( a variety of reasons, but for the most part mostly economic) I don't have a problem with spending a modest $15 million in this instance.

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The notion that Japan studies is in trouble on campuses is also related to the precipitous decline in the number of Japanese students in American universities. The Chinese are number one in absolute terms while the Koreans are number one in per capita terms (number three in absolute terms behind China and India).

It is not merely the endowed chairs that count. The presence of people and future scholars count, too.

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I believe Univ students are more interested in studying Information Technology than studying history. Students are more interested in subjects that will make them employable. Legal study? Business Administration, Marketing, Engineering, etc. In this kind of era, who want to study Japanese history in Univ?

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Japan as usual too little FAR TOO late. And this reeks way way too much like propaganda $$$ these Uni's may do well to refuse these funds if Japan tries attached stupid terms to the funds.

IF Japan had been smart, back in the 80s & early 90s Japan could have done SO MUCH to better connect with the gijin world both inside & outside Japan but alas Japan didn't care, figured the world would always be at its feet ready to buy all its cars & stereo's, my what a difference a couple decades make, Japan TOTALLY missed the boat & is now well into its decline

And these "funds" look like they are going to make Japan look worse rather than better, getting it wrong again, way to go Japan, NOT!

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It's hard to actually complain about any group spending any amount of money on education.

What will be interesting to see is if the Abe administration has learned its lesson from the push-back over their attempts to push US textbooks to whitewash Imperial Japanese history. Also, if it has learned the difference between soft-power and propaganda.

If they actually use this money for soft-power, as in exposing students overseas to Japanese people as they truly live today, I think it will probably be quite effective at enhancing Japan's image. It's pretty obvious to anyone who actually lives here day-to-day that no matter what rhetoric comes out of Abe or his allies in the far-right, the Japanese people aren't interested in warfare and are unlikely to embark on anything remotely like the atrocities in the nation's past.

If they try to use that money to hide the atrocities, then all it's going to do is draw the rest of the world's attention to them and increase people's anxiety that if Japanese people (because most people in the US don't know the ins and outs of Japanese politics, anything Abe does is going to be mistaken for the sentiments of Japanese people in general) are so keen to hide the truth, then it must have some relevance to them.

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Japan's best soft power is anime, manga, J-pop/AKB. They should fund courses dealing with these. Add geisha and Japanese camera arts, then you will attract more than just the nerds.

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Hmmm....a university course on AKB? What would you title such a course?

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Hmmm....a university course on AKB? What would you title such a course? "applied studies of pedophilia"

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In addition, the Japan Foundation, set up by the government to promote cultural exchange, will allocate 25 million yen ($206,356) per school to six yet-to-be selected foreign universities in the United States and elsewhere, the official said.


foreign universities in the United States. Do any of you know the name (s) of foreign Univ in any States?

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toshiko: foreign universities in the United States. Do any of you know the name (s) of foreign Univ in any States?

I guess all the Catholic universities such as Notre Dame, Loyola Marymount, count as foreign, but aren't really considered as such.

I thought Sophia University was one, but that's because local Sofia U. is a homonym, I was wrong. And I thought Oikos University was foreign, but it is local, founded by a 1st-gen Korean-American.

Anyway, because the official is saying it, I think he means universities foreign to Japan, such as Harvard. Not foreign to US.

Why spread be-friendly-to-us funds to USA campuses of Japanese universities that are already Japan-friendly? No greasing needed there.

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bribe money to peddle and whitewash US history text books on Japanese WWII history.

Japan going lower and lower.

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In Japan, there is a university that has a parent univ in Ohio, I heard. So, Japan Foundation could have thought there must be foreign university in USA. Or Japan Foundation told could be misinterpreted. @turbo: Thank you. I was lazy and so I was hoping you will find out. Thank you again. Or they might not have stuffs who visited USA.

($206,356) per schoolyear. Isn;t the amount quite less than annual salary of an instructor?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You're welcome :).

"Salary" isn't what the instructor costs the university, there's benefits to be paid for as well, including that every so often professors can take a year or so off of paid sabbatical leave which (at least at some schools) they're supposed to use for academic enrichment or research.

I guess professors don't make what you thought, still, they get pretty good pay, great benefits, sabbaticals, and tenure if they're successful at getting tenure. Lot of people would love to have all that.

Most full-time professors are paid by a college or university on nine- or ten-month contracts. Salary data for professors is typically reported as a "9 month" salary, not including compensation received (often from research grants) during the summer. ... [Academic year] salaries for full-time faculty averaged $73,207. By rank, the average was $98,974 for professors, $69,911 for associate professors, $58,662 for assistant professors, $42,609 for instructors, and $48,289 for lecturers. Faculty in 4-year institutions earn higher salaries, on average, than do those in 2-year schools. ... Full professors at elite institutions commonly enjoy six-figure incomes, such as $123,300 at UCLA or $148,500 at Stanford. ...

Rice University Policy 208 - Sabbatical Leaves of Absence

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Sounds way too much. A few AKB tours, some plush mascots doing the rounds and an anime/manga /cosplay conference or 2 and seems to me job done.

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@kaeri: The article is talking about Japan going to spend only over 15 million dollars in USA to have Japan study curricurum. What do you mean too much?

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Rather than wasting money on Japanese "image curriculum" money should have been used to help fund bright Japanese college kids study abroad. Doesn't the Japanese government understand that the best way to PR Japan is to invest in it's youth who in turn will become more globally competitive and pave way for smarter, brighter and prosperous future for Japan? So sad that Japan is so backward thinking.

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Japan’s government has budgeted over $15 million to fund Japan studies at nine overseas universities, including Georgetown and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as part of a “soft power” push to counter the growing influence of China and South Korea. - See more at:

If Japan had fully reconciled with its neighbours this softpower initiative would not be necessary

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Great post CoaconutE3. Waste of money. . . . Wouldn't have been so during the "bubble years" or prior. But, seriously- Japan has fallen off the map in higher ed institutions stateside. It's up to the bright Japanese youth go abroad & be the unofficial ambassadors.

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Are there PhD people who qualify to teach /Japan Study in any USA Univ? US univ teach in English and students kearn in English/ Not in Japanese/ Chances are universities will decline offerings. They are used to receive more than one mukkuon dollars donation with no string attached.

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