What's New from the Secretariat February

The second Executive Committee meeting of this year was held on February 17. As the Program Leader, Prof. Kato Tsuyoshi, was on a fieldwork trip out of the country, the meeting was chaired by the Secretary GeneralIchikawa Mitsuo.

There was a piece of good news reported at the meeting. We received a request from an individual who visited our Website, and was impressed by one of the graduate student reports carried there. He asked for permission to reprint the report as part of a book that is currently in planning. It is a very welcome development for a graduate student report to be positively evaluated in this way, and to reach a wider audience. Basically, the negotiations on the publication will be handled directly by the author, based on the agreement of the program, which runs the Website, as well as the editorial board of Asian and African Area Studies, where the report was first carried. It was decided that for the time being, one of the supervisors would offer advice and other support during the negotiations with the publisher, to ensure that the intent of the report is not misunderstood, and that it is not used in an improper way.

A reminder was also given by the Area-Info Division on the provision of photographs and documents for the “Asian and African Eco-regional Database,” which is currently under construction. Confirmation was made that when providing such documents, adequate consideration needs to be given to the handling of copyrights, etc.

From the Field Station Division, there was a report on the recruitment of COE researchers, to be added starting in FY2005 in response to the comments received from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) in its mid-term evaluation. In addition to the researchers dispatched up to now to field stations in the Southeast Asian region, two to three people will be sent to Africa during next fiscal year. Also, there was an announcement from the Field Station Division on the status of recruitment of graduate students to be dispatched for the first semester of FY2005. One of the pillars of our program is to nurture young researchers by raising the research capabilities of graduate students through fieldwork, and in accordance with this policy, we have thus far sent a total of 80 graduate students abroad. We will soon see results from the students, in the form of many new publications of their achievements.

In terms of budget, a decision was made on the use of the leftover funds that had been set aside as a reserve for FY2004, and discussion was held on the FY2005 budget compilation, for which we will soon receive a notice of the semi-formal decision regarding the allocation. The amount of the grant is expected to be 98 million yen, along with 9.8 million yen to cover overhead costs. The Administration Bureau of Kyoto University doesn’t seem to have reached agreement yet on the use of the overhead costs, but in any case it is certain that our budget will be cut far below what was expected. In FY2005, there are plans for the International Symposium in Bangkok, as well as a subsequent study tour and workshops, and in the remaining two years we need to put energy into publishing the results of the program. As a result, it seems that we will be put in a tighter spot than ever in terms of budget management. The quota for divisional budgets for next fiscal year was made with the understanding that in the final fiscal year of the program, we will have to take substantial budgetary measures to cover the holding of symposiums and publication of results.

Based on the comments from the JSPS mid-term evaluation, which were issued at the end of November last year, we are expected to submit a “revised plan” at around the same time we make our final application for the FY2005 grant. We have been asked to make more concrete efforts in the program on the issues of “establishing a methodology for area studies using field stations,” “integration of social sciences and natural sciences (transdisciplinary integration),” and “comparative area studies between Asia and Africa.” Next fiscal year and thereafter, we will place a heavy emphasis on plans that incorporate those ideas.

As of March 31, 2005, the Program Leader, Prof. Kato Tsuyoshi, and Prof. Shiraishi Takashi, who was in charge of research in the political economic problem area, will transfer to other universities, and in their place, Prof. Hiramatsu Kozo, Division of Southeast Asian Area Studies, and Prof. Shibayama Mamoru and Prof. Mizuno Kosuke of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, will join the program as core members. Thus, we will be welcoming some new members next fiscal year, to push the program further along. (Ichikawa)

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