International conference on Japan studies to be held at York

Japan scholars from around the world are expected to attend a four-day conference, Aug. 16-19 at York, hosted by the Japan Studies Association of Canada (JSAC).

The conference, chaired by York Prof. Norio Ota (left), will mark the achievement and progress made in the field of Japan studies and honour JSAC’s founder, the late Klaus Pringsheim. This year marks JSAC’s 20th anniversary. 

The theme of the conference is Japan and Its Eventuality: Pushing the Envelope Further. Scholars, researchers and graduate students from almost every continent will present papers and participate on panels intended to promote dialogue among disciplines ranging from anthropology to economics.

In memory of Pringsheim, a festschrift will be published and awards presented in his name to the  two best graduate papers presented at the conference. Born in Germany, Pringsheim spent his teenage years in Japan; as a trilingual, he was a useful translator during and after the Second World War. After studying in the US, he moved to Canada to teach political science at McMaster University for 23 years and, in retirement, became president of the Canada Japan Trade Council in Ottawa. The Japanese government presented him with the Third Order of Merit of the Sacred Treasures for lifelong service to Japan.

JSAC president Fumika Ikawa-Smith, a retired anthropology professor at McGill University, will give the opening remarks. The conference keynote speaker is Ken Coates, dean of arts at the University of Waterloo.

There will be four guest speakers: David Tsubouchi (left) (BA ’72, LLB ’75), a former provincial cabinet minister and a member of York’s Board of Governors, will give a talk titled "Tears of a Generation"; Alison Tokita, president of the Japanese Studies Association of Australia, will discuss "Marriage and the Australia-Japan Relationship"; Michiko Tanaka Nishishima, from El Colegio de Mexico, will address the subject of "Constitutional Revision and the Japanese Youth, Spring-Summer 2007"; and Viktoria Eschbach-Szabo, president of the European Association of Japan Studies, will speak about "Policy of Japanese Language Teaching in European Education".

Four panels will focus on a range of topics: the life of JSAC founder Klaus Pringsheim; business, politics and diplomacy; Sansei in action: pushing the envelope further; and the current state of Japanese studies.

Sheila Embleton, York VP academic, will host a welcome dinner Aug. 16 to which Koichi Kawakami, Japan’s consul general in Toronto, and Masayuki Suzuki, director of the Japan Foundation in Toronto, and other special guests have been invited.

Debbie Danbrook (right), Canada’s renowned master of the shakuhachi, the Japanese bamboo flute traditionally played only by men, will perform her original, contemporary compositions blending Eastern and Western musical traditions.

The conference is sponsored by York University, The Japan Foundation and Mitsui and Co. (Canada) Ltd.

For more information about the conference program and registration, see the JSAC Web site.