countdown has finally started toward the end of 2003. This year’s
last Executive Committee meeting was held on the 18th. The key agenda items
this month boiled down to budgetary matters. There is “disquieting” talk
that if we do not use up the funds we have received for this year by the
end of the year, the balance will be considered income of the COE leader,
and subject to income tax. So, where we stand now in terms of the implementation
of the current year’s budget is a major concern. Basically, the budget
execution itself has been smooth. However, as the dispatch of students
on field work overseas and purchases of books from abroad do not necessarily
go as smoothly as planned, it seems unlikely that we will be able to spend
all the funds received so far by year-end. All we can do is pray that the
COE leader does not receive a strange New Year’s monetary gift.
The meeting also discussed how to use the funds in the care of the Secretariat.
These funds, in excess of 5 million yen, stem from personnel expenses, part
of which became unnecessary. The Secretariat presented its proposal on
the use of these funds, and this was approved after a round of discussions.
The funds will be mainly used for the promotion of the digitization of
bibliographical information concerning the collection of books at the Center
for Southeast Asian Studies, the proofreading of English papers presented
at the workshop in Ethiopia, and proofreading of English articles and translation
of some articles for the further improvement of the English Web site. Members
of the Executive Committee represent the interests of their respective
divisions or subdivisions. However, they put the interests of the program
as a whole before anything else when it comes to topics such as those taken
up at the latest meeting. This may be natural, but the Secretariat still
cannot but appreciate their attitudes.
The meeting also addressed the preparation of the budget for the next
fiscal year. On December 10, 22 COE leaders of Kyoto University gathered
for a meeting to exchange views about their respective 21st Century COE
programs at the university’s administrative building. There, they
were told that a semi-formal decision on the allocation of funds for fiscal
2004 would probably be made in early February next year. As the semi-formal
decision will be quickly followed by a budget proposal deadline, we should
be starting to polish ideas now to ensure that our budget proposal be mapped
out in time. On this matter, the Secretariat also prepared three kinds
of overall plans for internal budgetary allocations. We originally sought
an allocation of 150 million yen for the next fiscal year and we expect
a reduction of roughly 30% from this amount, as was the case for the current
fiscal year; it will leave us with a budget of 100 million yen. This means
that we are preparing a budget that is already 20 million yen less than the
actual allocation for the current year, and we anticipate having difficulties
in cutting back on the planned projects. The Secretariat presented three
alternative overall plans with differing allocation ratios for the Field-station
division, Area Info division, and the Secretariat, and one of the three
was approved at the meeting. From now on, each division needs to come up
with its own budget plan for its internal allocations, and an overall adjustment
has to be made when the semi-formal decision comes.
The above-mentioned meeting among the 21st Century COE leaders reportedly
addressed the issue of an impending interim evaluation of the COE Programs.
Discussions on the matter at the meeting included reports that officials
from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science came to make an inspection
of some of the COE programs at Kyoto University from late October through
mid-November; that a questionnaire survey is likely to be conducted on
the progress of the programs prior to the interim evaluation; and that
evaluation hearings are highly likely to be based on the results of this
questionnaire survey. For our own program, the Executive Committee meeting
last month launched a working group to prepare an interim report. This
working group will handle the preparations for the interim evaluation as
A working group report was presented on a domestic workshop scheduled
for the coming fiscal year. The current plan is for the workshop to be
held in Tokyo for two and a half days around late October, with a total
of 20 to 25 graduate students selected from among applicants both within
and outside ASAFAS to make presentations. Applications will be accepted
from about late May. The program will include poster sessions and the introduction
of on-site education at field stations through audio-visual materials.
Approximately 10 outside researchers will be invited as commentators. The
title of the event will likely be “Graduate Student Workshop – Reports
from the Field,” with a separate overall title. There was an exchange
of views on the merits and demerits of the workshop being held in Tokyo,
such as the feasibility and the costs and difficulties that may emerge
in relation to co-sponsorship. The working group will develop the plan
further, including the possibility of moving up the application period
for graduate students planning to participate in the workshop.
As a major development between now and the end of the fiscal year, ASAFAS,
CSEAS and the Center for African Area Studies (CAAS) will establish a Center
for Integrated Area Studies (formerly named Area Studies Information Center).
The center will play a pivotal role in the accumulation, processing and
dissemination of information on Asian and African area studies at Kyoto
University. We are aiming to establish the center in April of next year
through a reorganization of CAAS. The Executive Committee was briefed on
steps to be taken before its establishment. One of the objectives of our
Program is to expand and improve the function of the new center, and the
afore-mentioned funding for the promotion of the digitization of bibliographical
information concerning the collection of books at the Center for Southeast
Asian Studies is considered to be part of this objective.
As we expect to remain as busy as ever even after the turn of the year,
we hope all of you will take good care of your “mind and body” and
make sure not to catch colds. We are counting on the continued cooperation
of Program participants next year.