פרס מ.החוץ היפני לחוג ללימודי אסיה

HUJI Asia studies dept. won Japanese government's prize

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היכנסו לדף הפייסבוק המתחדש של החוג

מוזמנות ומוזמנים לעשות לנו לייק ולקבל את העדכונים האחרונים במחקר אסיה, פעילויות ואירועים בחוג.

הוקרה חשובה ממשרד החוץ היפני, שניתנה עבור הישגי החוג בתקופה האחרונה

ביום חמישי שעבר, 11 בדצמבר, בבית שגריר יפן, התקיים טקס מיוחד ובו הוענק פרס הוקרה של משרד החוץ היפני לחוג ללימודי אסיה באוניברסיטה העברית בירושלים. הטקס התקיים במעמד נשיא האוניברסיטה, פרופ' מנחם בן ששון, ובהשתתפות מורי החוג ומזכירות החוג לדורותיהם.


הפרס הוענק עבור קידום יחסי יפן-ישראל בשנים האחרונות, והוא עדות להוקרה חשובה שניתנת עבור הישגי החוג, המתווספת לפרס הרקטור שקיבלנו ב- 2011. פרס משרד החוץ היפני מוענק מדי שנה למוסדות ויחידות ברחבי העולם שמקדמים יחסים תרבותיים עם יפן. החוג שלנו הוא הראשון מבין האוניברסיטאות בישראל שמקבל את הפרס.

זוהי הזדמנות טובה להודות לעוסקים והעוסקות במלאכה ולקוות להצלחות רבות מסוג זה בהמשך הדרך!

נאומו של ראש החוג, ד"ר אוטמזגין, בטקס:

His Excellency, Ambassador Matsutomi and Mrs. Matsutomi

Prof. Menachem Ben Sasson, President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Prof. Menahem Blondheim, Academic Director of the Truman Institute

Dr. Ilana Singer, recipient of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Award

Members of the Japanese Embassy in Israel,

Dear colleagues and guests,

I wish to thank the members of the Japanese Embassy in Israel for organizing such a wonderful reception and particularly for the members of the cultural section for the hard work and for putting everything together.

We are honored and proud to be the recipient of this year's prize, the first department in Israel to receive it, and it encourages us to continue to excel in what we are doing: research, teaching, and more broadly bringing Israel closer to the other side of the Asian continent (or, I should say, to the rising side of the Asian continent).

In academic terms, Israel of the past few decades has become one of the thriving centers for research and teaching about Asia. Our department is one of the two biggest in the humanities, together with Middle East studies. It now has approximately 300 students majoring in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Indian studies. In addition, thousands of other students chose to take one or two selective courses in our department.

The students who chose to major in Asian studies do so not only because of their interest and appreciation of the culture and societies of East Asia but also because they expect that in the near future Japan and other countries in the region will play a bigger global role, not only economically but also culturally and diplomatically.

Our department is also the oldest in the Middle East. Courses on Japan and China started as far back as 1958. Thanks to the solid foundations provided by the departments professors, many of whom are present here and some are still teaching: Prof. Meron Medzini, Prof. Ben-Ami Shillony, Prof. Ehud Harari, Dr. Uri Epstein, Dr. Yakov Cohen, together with Prof. Tzvi Shifrin, Prof. Irin Iber, Prof. Tzvi Werblowski, Prof. Avraham Altman, Prof. Yitzhak Shichor and Prof. Eli Yoffe and others, and to a new generation of scholars you see here, the department has been growing ever since.

Acknowledging our achievements, in 2011 our department has received the Hebrew University Rector award for outstanding academic unit, not only in the faculty of humanities but among all the academic units in the university.

In Japanese studies, specifically, we have approximately 70 students who for 3 years study compulsory and selective courses related to Japanese history, politics, society, culture and art, in addition to Japanese language. While in the 1980s many of the students chose Japanese studies because of the economy and managerial system, in recent decades many do so because of their interest in contemporary Japanese society and culture.

From the many projects our department is running, I would like to mention only two.

In recent years, we have established an Asian languages library, which is the biggest academic library of its kind in the Middle East. Thanks for the support of the Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies and to private donations (Mr. Jim Blum), the library includes a collection of approximately 10,000 books in Japanese, Chinese and Koreans and access to database in Japanese and Chinese. We put a lot of efforts to secure donations for this library because we think it is crucial that our students learn about Japan in Japanese, and not only read about it in English.

More recently, we have established a manga library with over 300 books that focus on issues of history (featuring the works of famous mangaka such as Tezuka Osamu, Mizuki Shigeru). As you can expect, the library has been extremely popular among students.

The High school project. Over the past 7 years, we have been sending outstanding students from our department to high schools in Jerusalem to teach introductory classes about Japan. More than teaching, the purpose is to incite the interest of the students in Japan, showing pictures, teaching some words and interacting with them. For our students, who volunteer to do it, it is an opportunity to teach about what they are interested in. For the teachers and the school principle, it is an opportunity to unveil some of the mystery about the university. For us, it is an opportunity to plant the seeds about coming to our university and offer a service to the community.

Beside the continues efforts to excel in research and teaching, as the new head of the department I would like us to advance in two major fields. First, increase the international visibility of our department and have more collaboration with institutions and researchers in Asia. Forming new agreements with universities in Japan and inviting students and scholars to come to Jerusalem is one way to go forward.

My second wish is that we continue to play a proactive role in Israel's public life. Our scholars are often invited to comment on Asia related issues in the mass media and for consultations in various forums. But more than that, I would like to encourage our graduates to take what they have learned about Asia and try to change things in Israel in a variety of issues: in education, in business, in communication, and hopefully form new transnational ties with Japan.

Lastly, in this time of joy, I would like to mention Mr. Tsujita Kiyoji and his wife Tsujita Mariko. Tsujita sensei, who was the recipient of the MOFA award in 2009, was for many years a member of our department and was in charge on the Japanese language teaching. He was not only a wonderful teacher but also a true friend working endlessly to promote closer relations between the Hebrew University and Japan. These days, he is struggling sever illness and we wish he will recover soon and come back to visit us in Israel.

I would like to thank again the Japanese foreign ministry for choosing us for this award, and for the Japanese embassy and the Japan Foundation for continually supporting our department and for Japanese studies in particular.

Thank you.