The first Executive Committee meeting of the year, held on January 20, began with a report on the state of budget execution. It appears that the budgets allocated to each division and section are being used on schedule, but when the Secretariat asked for requests from the divisions on the use of the reserve fund held by the Secretariat, the amount of funds requested came to three or four times the available amount. It was decided that the Executive Committee would discuss how to allocate the remaining reserve fund. Following this, there was an explanation of a questionnaire sent out by the 21st Century COE Program Committee at the end of last year, and the request for the provision of data related to the Program. The questionnaire included a request to provide data necessary for the self-evaluation of the 21st Century COE Program, and we were asked to provide one example of a significant educational outcome of our program. It was decided to provide the book, Bose of Nakamuraya, written by NAKAJIMA Takeshi, who completed the ASAFAS in March 2005. The book, which describes the interaction with Japanese people of Rash Bihari Bose, an Indian independence activist who is also known as the “father of Japanese curry,” won the 17th Asia-Pacific Grand Prize in December last year, as well as the Jiro Osaragi Prize in January this year. NAKAJIMA became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Asia-Pacific Grand Prize.
The next report concerned the state of preparations for the International Symposium and satellite workshops scheduled to be held next fiscal year. Prof. OHTA Itaru, the chairperson of the preparatory committee, reported that an unexpectedly large number of proposals were expected to be submitted by graduate students and young researchers for satellite workshops by the deadline at the end of January, and discussions were held on methods for selecting among them. Also, the Public Relations Section gave a report on the updating of the website, and presented plans to establish a new section on the website for “comparative area studies,” and to upload some of the reports and video images from the study tours conducted after the Bangkok International Symposium there, as well as a plan to establish a section to introduce works of people involved in the Program, such as the previously mentioned book by NAKAJIMA Takeshi. As a further report item, opinions were exchanged on the employment of support staff (part-time staff, etc.) for the final year of the Program.
As items for discussion, a selection was made regarding the requests from the various sections for the use of the reserve fund. Approval was given to allocate the fund to the library budget, which is expected to be deeply cut next fiscal year, as well as for increasing the English-language content of the website, maintenance costs for the FSs, assistance to workshops held at FSs, and preparatory expenses for the symposium to be held in the last fiscal year of the Program. Discussions were carried out on the budget formulation for the next fiscal year, based on the premise that the total sum would be the same as last fiscal year, since we have not yet received a notice of the semi-formal decision. It was decided for next fiscal year’s budget to prioritize the symposium and related workshops as well as expenses for the publications of outcomes, etc. With regard to the publication of outcomes in particular, a proposal was made to collect approximately 20 papers written mainly by graduate students and COE researchers, and to publish them as a special issue of the Asian and African Area Studies, and it was agreed to start working on this project. In addition, approval was given to collecting the English language papers presented at the Bangkok International Symposium that were relevant to the Program, and publishing them as a book.
This year, we will enter the final fiscal year of the five-year program. We hope to keep invigorating the Program, keeping in mind the fact that what we have achieved and will achieve in these five years will have a large bearing on our program’s future after the completion of the COE Program. (Ichikawa)