Annual Newsletter of the Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University
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English News  No.10 , December 2002
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From the Director
SRC Summer Symposium in 2002
Foreign Visiting Fellowship Program
Our Current Staff
Ongoing Cooperative Research Projects
Guest Lectures from Abroad
Visitors from Abroad
Publications (2001-02)
The Library
Web Site Access Statistics
Essays by Foreign Fellows
Vladimir Buldakov
Sarah Paine
Panayot Karagyozov
Levon Abrahamian

From the Director

IEDA Osamu

As the Japanese state universities, thus our university also, are faced with their own transformation from budgetary institutions to agencies, “What is an agency in the world?” is a good question. We are now answering it, or “creating” a definition for it. British colleagues are well aware of it due to their forerunner experiences. The whole story, however, seems to me to be very funny because a political (not academic) decision-making has firstly been done, introducing “some” transformation; that is, all state universities should become independent agencies, preparing a balance sheet of their “business” performances. Therefore we are now discussing what that could be. The outcome is, legislatively, a quasi-privatization, I suppose . Each university would be the owner of its assets and need to behave, with full responsibility, independently from the ministry as a decision-maker over “the assets and incomes” naturally!
Being seated in various university-wide committees, as director of the center, unfortunately, this has been my main task since April of 2002. I began to realize an overwhelming atmosphere relating to the change over to an agency; almost nobody wants to change the system, it having existed and been functioning; orso it is assumed . This is the case not only for people within the universities, but also those in the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Technology. Thus, it is a deeply reluctant transformation without any enthusiasm. This is an essential deference from that of the socialist countries about ten years ago, I guess . The reluctance reflects the behavior pattern of the Japanese in preventing any drastic changes, in the eyes of a social scientist.
The most serious concern to us is an unforeseeable future of research grants. Since the center has enjoyed relatively high priority in financing during the last ten years, e.g., being given a big grant for the research project of “the Changes in the Slavic-Eurasian World” in 1995-1997, or qualified as a Center of Excellence from 1995 to 2001. Due to this advantageous budgetary background, we could have played integrating and coordinated roles in Slavic studies nation-widely and internationally as well.
I wish to remain an opportunist, because I still believe that the center can survive this transformation with success. A firm ground for opportunism is a strong emphasize on more Japanese contribution to the international academia. This is one of the most critical keywords of the Japanese privatization that would refer to a future major standard of research activities. Many thanks to you, our international colleagues, in applying for our visiting fellowship, giving papers at our symposia or seminars, providing valuable advices and information, etc, the center is highly recognized as an important institution for area studies in Japan by, among many, the Japanese authorities.
The international scholastic community is the center’s best legacy. When I make a balance sheet of the center, you, our overseas colleagues, would be our most valuable “assets” in the spiritual inventory. Thus I hope for further and more dedicated cooperation among colleagues across any kind of boarders, and this is, without any doubt the only way for each of us to stay active in the near and distant future.

(Italic phrases want to reflect the style in Hungarian, originating from the Nobel Prize winner of literature this year, Imre Kertesz. His way of expression on the concentration Lager life in the work, Sorstalansag or Fatelessness is composed by objective description of scenes with a subjective phrase at the end of a sentence.)

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