Today, every corner of the world faces threats of war, environment, urbanization, religion, ethnicities, and life and death -- the social and spiritual issues at the root of human destruction. The existential significance of humanities studies defined as “the academic field that comprehensively explores humans and its cultures,” is being brought to question. With the current prioritization for science and technology, the field of humanities studies in Japanese universities and research institutions exists under harsh conditions.
With more than 300 members across the fields of humanities and sciences committed to “human culture research”, the National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU) has the largest number of researchers in this field, and our mission is profound. In April 2016, in our third term as an inter-university research corporation, the six institutes that constitute NIHU, through cooperation with other institutions in Japan and overseas, launched 17 “NIHU Transdisciplinary Projects”. This is a six-year collaborative program that aims to establish new research systems that work extensively with local communities and industries, and contribute to the understanding of contemporary issues.
Perhaps among the most meaningful concepts that Japanese humanities research can convey to the rest of the world are “the meaning of true prosperity,” “the harmonious coexistence of human beings and nature” and “the creation of peace.” These three concepts provide new avenues not only for NIHU Transdisciplinary Projects but also for academic research in general, and are the new value systems of human cultures.
From that perspective, NIHU must play a central role in promoting humanities studies in Japan. The six institutes that make up NIHU must establish themselves as the core organizations in their respective fields in Japan and overseas. This will be possible by making full use of the accumulated cultural resources and personal networks the institutes have built in their own academic fields and promoting state-of-the-art research. In collaboration with universities and institutions throughout the Japanese archipelago, the research process and outcomes of NIHU’s new research model shall be made accessible to academic and local communities. Further we will advance our communication efforts to reach an international audience in our hope to promote Japanese humanities studies and raise domestic and international awareness of its significance.
Thank you for your interest and cooperation.
Minami Hirakawa, President
National Institutes for the Humanities
Inter-University Research Institute Corporation