BAJS History

A History of the British Association for Japanese Studies (BAJS)

Caroline Rose [1]

Origins and development

BAJS was established in 1974, and its first President was Douglas E. Mills, University Lecturer in Japanese at Cambridge.  The Association was launched in order to promote the study of Japan both in the United Kingdom and internationally, in particular by stimulating teaching and research. The initial idea behind BAJS originated in discussions during a European Association of Japanese Studies conference, and was formed by a relatively small group of scholars working in the main centres for Japanese Studies in the UK.

When BAJS was launched, the annual BAJS Conference was the showcase event, hosted annually by the then few, but increasing, centres of Japanese Studies around the UK. The Conference has received regular support from the Great Britain-Sasakawa Foundation to fund, in particular, the costs of plenary speakers. Funding has also been provided by the Japan Foundation, and the Embassy of Japan has also played a supportive role in the growth of the Association, with attendance in some years by the incumbent ambassador. While the Conference was a relatively small event in the initial period, attended mainly by historians (reflecting the field at the time), this soon changed as Japanese Studies began to attract new PhD students and junior scholars working across the humanities and social sciences. As the conference calendar became more crowded, the schedule was adjusted to a three-year cycle alternating between BAJS Conference, the European Association of Japanese Studies Conference, and the Joint East Asian Studies Conference (a collaborative effort by BAJS, the British Association of Chinese Studies, and the British Association of Korean Studies). In EAJS years, BAJS runs a one-day postgraduate workshop.

BAJS membership was boosted in the 1980s and 1990s as Japanese Studies flourished in the UK, and managed to maintain healthy numbers despite the closures of centres in the early 2000s. BAJS Council played an active role in lobbying the government against the closures, and worked with the Embassy of Japan and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to voice the concerns of the Japanese Studies community about the potential loss of much-needed language-based expertise. The contraction in the number of Japanese Studies centres during this period did not, however, lead to a reduction in interest in Japan from the many undergraduates and postgraduates seeking to study Japanese, and BAJS was able to increase its support for training and scholarship from the early 2000s with a number of funding initiatives (see below).   

A further boost to BAJS development came in 2009 with the launch of the BAJS Japan Chapter, which reflected the increasing number of UK-trained Japanese Studies academics based in Japan. Coordinated by Philip Seaton at Hokkaido University, its two main aims are to hold symposia and workshops in Japan presenting the research of members and other invited guests, and to promote links and collaboration between Japan-based BAJS members. In addition, it affords Japanese Studies scholars and students from the UK a virtual home and ready-made network during periods of research or study in Japan. The success and popularity of the BAJS Japan Chapter means that it is able to hold two events per year (in spring and autumn), which alternate between Tokyo and other parts of Japan.

[1] With thanks to former BAJS Presidents for their help in compiling this chapter.

Governance

As the Association expanded over the years, so too did the administrative work associated with it and the need for willing pairs of hands to ensure its smooth running.  BAJS is run by Council, which is comprised of the President, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, BAJS Secretariat representative (ex officio), the Immediate Past President, a Japan Forum representative (ex officio), elected members, and co-opted members. Council meetings take place twice a year, with the Annual General Meeting held during BAJS, or JEAS conferences.  Since 1991, the normal term of office for the president has been three years, while other officers have a two-year term. There have been 26 presidents since BAJS was established.  As Japanese Studies in the UK experienced its boom in the 1980s and the membership increased in size, it was agreed that the Association would benefit from dedicated administrative assistance.  The Secretariat was, therefore, set up in 1991, with generous pump-priming from the Japan Foundation, in order to support the day-to-day work of the Council. BAJS has also developed a strong on-line presence in the last decade or so,  with a website (re-launched in spring 2016), a Facebook page and Twitter account (see http://www.bajs.org.uk)

Japan Forum

The proceedings of the BAJS annual conferences were published in the Proceedings of the British Association for Japanese Studies until 1989, when Japan Forum was launched as the official journal of the Association, published by Oxford University Press.  From 1996 the journal was published by Routledge (later Taylor and Francis), a major publisher in the area of Japanese Studies. The primary objective of Japan Forum is to publish original research in the field of Japanese Studies, making available scholarship on Japan to an international readership of specialists and non-specialists. It is a multidisciplinary journal, publishing contributions from across the arts and humanities and social sciences.

A significant development in BAJS history was the renegotiation of the publishing contract in 2001, when BAJS entered into discussions with a number of publishers who submitted competitive bids. Ultimately, the decision was made to stay with Routledge, but under much improved terms, which in turn created a sound financial basis for BAJS to develop its activities and funding opportunities for the Japanese Studies community. Linked directly to Japan Forum, two new annual prizes were created in the early 2000s in cooperation with other funding bodies: the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation/Japan Forum Prize, which ran from 2001 to 2013, was awarded to the best article published in Japan Forum by a junior scholar, and the Toshiba International Foundation/Japan Forum prize, which ran from 2002 to 2011, was for the best article submitted to Japan Forum during the year. Many of the recipients of these prizes have gone on to pursue highly successful academic positions in Japanese Studies centres around the world

In 2010, as a result of a review of the editorial team structure of Japan Forum, significant changes were made. An editorial team based at the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield were appointed, and the post of Managing Editor was created to oversee the day-to-day running of the journal. This latter role was supported through the Japan Forum PhD Scholarship, filled by a PhD student at Sheffield from 2010-11, and a PhD student at Leeds from 2011-2014. In addition, the journal adopted an online system of submission. It also moved from three to four issues per year, reflecting the increase in high quality submissions and demand for the journal. With the intention that the responsibilities and benefits of hosting the journal could be shared across the country, the Yorkshire-based team completed their term of appointment in the summer of 2014 and were succeeded by a team based at SOAS from 2014 to 2017. In 2015, the Japan Forum contract was renewed, with Taylor & Francis continuing to provide a competitive service. 

BAJS activities

The continued success of Japan Forum has provided BAJS with the financial means to provide generous support to the Japanese Studies community in various ways. In addition, generous benefactors and close cooperation with UK-based Japanese funding bodies has resulted in a number of prizes and funding opportunities which have helped to raise awareness of the high-quality research being carried out by UK-based Japanese Studies scholars.

BAJS has been keen to nurture the new generation of Japanese Studies doctoral and masters’ students through schemes such as:

BAJS Studentships.  These are awarded once per year to students registered for doctoral study in the UK. They were introduced in response to the increasingly competitive funding environment in the UK and the need to continue to attract high quality research students into the field. While the studentships only partially cover maintenance costs or fees (awards are up to £4000), they have proved to be essential in enabling students to embark on a PhD who would otherwise have been unable to do so for lack of funding.[2]  

John Crump Scholarships (since 2008). In memory of former BAJS President John Crump, these awards are intended to help students who are in the final writing-up period of their doctoral studies. Successful applicants are expected to submit an article for consideration by Japan Forum upon completion of their PhD, as a means of encouraging them to embark on their publishing career.

BAJS also offers a conference attendance fund for postgraduates presenting papers at conferences either in the UK or internationally.

BAJS has been working closely with the Japan Foundation since 2011 to run an annual BAJS/Japan Foundation Postgraduate Studies Workshop aimed at bringing together postgraduate students, early career fellows and more senior academics to discuss research, funding strategies, and career development. The events have regularly attracted 30-40 postgraduate students every year, and have helped to develop a network of junior scholars. 

BAJS has also been fortunate to receive support from various sources to award prizes to those at different points in their academic careers.  BAJS administers the annual Ivan Morris Memorial Prize for an outstanding piece of work (extended essay, dissertation or thesis) in Japanese Studies. The funds for the IMP were provided by an anonymous benefactor to BAJS in 1979, with a Board of Trustees appointed to maintain oversight of the prize.  The Japan Forum Prize (formerly the Daiwa-Japan Forum prize) is awarded to the best article by a junior scholar.

Finally, BAJS support has not been restricted to the postgraduate community, but has been offered, on a competitive basis, to more established scholars. The 2009 Daiwa Foundation/BAJS scheme supported projects on ‘The Economic History of Everyday Life in Modern Japan’ (see Janet Hunter and Penny Francks, The Historical Consumer: Consumption and Everyday Life in Japan, 1850-2000, Palgrave Macmillan 2012); ‘Re-presenting the past: Japan, China and World War Two in the Twenty-First Century’ (Caroline Rose, Leeds); and ‘Words and Things in Early Meiji Japan’ (Angus Lockyer, SOAS).  In 2014-15, BAJS project funds were awarded to SOAS for their Translation Initiative in Japanese Studies: Translations from the Japanese History of the Senses, and to Sheffield for a project on Post-Doctoral Career Progression in Japanese Studies.

[1] The Toshiba International Foundation also funded postgraduate studentships from 2000 to 2011.

In conclusion.

Having passed its fortieth anniversary, it is safe to say that BAJS has achieved, indeed surpassed, its original aims. The Association boasts a growing membership and a highly successful journal. It offers a range of funding schemes for postgraduate students and established scholars, and runs a busy calendar of research and training events in the UK and Japan. In cooperation with the other Japan-related organisations in the UK, BAJS has played a significant role in the maintenance and development of Japanese Studies. The number of participants at BAJS events, and high quality applications for the various scholarship and prize schemes reflects the currently healthy state of affairs, and the Association remains committed to nurturing scholarship and teaching in this thriving field.

 


President

3 year term started *

Hon Secretary

2 year term

Hon Treasurer

2 year term

From

April

To

April

D.E. MILLS

I. NISH

G.H. HEALEY

1974

1976

G.R. STORRY

I. NISH

G.H. HEALEY

1976

1977

C. DUNN

P. LOWE

J. HUNTER

1977

1978

I. NISH

P.LOWE

J. HUNTER

1978

1979

L. ALLEN

J.P. LEHMANN

G. DANIELS

1979

1980

P.G. O'NEILL

J.P. LEHMANN

G. DANIELS

1980

1981

C. BLACKER

J. HUNTER

R. AKROYD

1981

1982

G.H. HEALEY

J. HUNTER

R. AKROYD

1982

1981

D. STEEDS

I. NEARY

B. BOCKING

1983

1984

P. LOWE

I. NEARY

B. BOCKING

1984

1985

K. GARDNER

J. HENDRY

P. FRANCKS

1985

1986

G. DANIELS

H. BALLHATCHET

R. BOWRING

1986

1987

K. THURLEY

L. OKAZAKI-WARD

M.G. BROWNING

1987

1988

B. POWELL

R. GOODMAN

M.G. BROWNING

1988

1989

W. MENDL

R. GOODMAN

M.G. BROWNING

1989

1990

M. COLLICK

M. WILIAMS

N. WARD

1990

1991

I. NEARY*

M. WILLIAMS

N. WARD

1991

1992

I. NEARY

M. CONTE-HELM

D. STARR

1992

1994

A. STOCKWIN

H. PARKER

K. SUGIHARA

1994

1995

J. HENDRY

H. PARKER

K. SUGIHARA

1995

1996

J. HENDRY

C. ALDOUS

W. McCLURE

1996

1997

J. McMULLEN

C. ALDOUS

W. McCLURE / J. WESTE

1997

1998

J. CRUMP

J. BREEN

J. WESTE

1998

2000

G. HOOK

J. BREEN

J. WESTE

2000

2001

G. HOOK

I. ASTLEY

J. WESTE

2001

2002

G. HOOK

I. ASTLEY

C. HOOD

2002

2003

J. HUNTER

P. MATANLE

C. HOOD

2003

2004 +

J. HUNTER

H.MACNAUGHTAN

D.KELLY

2004 +

2006 +

M. WILLIAMS

H. MACNAUGHTAN

D. KELLY / G. OLCOTT

2006 +

2007

M. WILLIAMS

H. MACNAUGHTAN

G. OLCOTT

2007

2009 +

M WILLIAMS / C HUGHES

A COBBING

M. DUSINBERRE

2009 +

2010

C HUGHES

A COBBING

M. DUSINBERRE

2010

2011

C HUGHES

A COBBING

U. HEINZE

2011

2013

C. ROSE

S.TOWNSEND

U. HEINZE

2013 +

2014

C. ROSE

S.TOWNSEND

P. MATANLE

2014

2015

C. ROSE

S. TOWNSEND

P. MATANLE

2015+

2016

C. HOOD

E. BAFFELLI

P. MATANLE

2016+

2017

C. HOOD

E. BAFFELLI

P. MATANLE

2017

2018

C. HOOD

E. BAFFELLI

I. RAPLEY

2018

2020

C. HOOD

E. BAFFELLI

I. RAPLEY

2020

2021

C. HOOD

J. COATES

I. RAPLEY

2021

2022

P. F. KORNICKI

J. COATES

I. RAPLEY

2022

2023

 

 

 

 

+ Sept AGM