Home   About the Survey    General Summary (English)    Foreword

General Summary (English)

Charts and Tables

General Summary
Naofumi Nakamura (Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo)
Hiroshi Shimizu (London School of Economics and Political Science)
In June 2003 it was announced that the Department for East Asian Studies (DEAS) at Durham University would be closed. Largely due to the fact that Durham was seen as one of the core institutions for Japanese Studies in the UK, the news was reported widely, viewed as a turning point for international Japanese Studies. (John Westerly/Nobuko Kosuge °»Durham no Kiki: Kirisuterareru Nihon Kenkyu°… (The Durham Crisis: The Write-Off of Japanese Studies) UP, 374, December 2003 p. 18-24)

From the end of the 1980s to the beginning of the 1990s, interest in Japan rapidly expanded on a global scale because of the strong economy in Japan. In 2001 in the UK, 20 of the 49 universities which offered Japanese or Japanese Studies, were either established or expanded during 1989-91, the height of the bubble economy (Japan Foundation and Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation ed.2002. °»Japanese Degree Courses 2001-2002°… The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation).

Following this period of expansion, Japan then battled with its long-term economic slowdown, also known as the °»Heisei Recession°…. However, at this point there was no immediate effect on Japanese Studies in the UK as overseas interest in the Japanese economy did not wane. In fact, between 1992-98, 16 universities either began to offer new Japanese Studies or Japanese courses, or expanded their existing programmes in the UK. Nevertheless, from the end of the 1990s to the beginning of the 2000s, it became apparent that some universities were cancelling their Japanese programmes, and eventually, Stirling University and Essex University closed down their Japanese Studies degree courses in close succession. In the midst of this trend, the news of the closure of DEAS at the University of Durham was viewed as a symbol of the UK°«s declining Japanese Studies. Just like the Japanese economy, international Japanese Studies was perceived to have suffered its own °»bubble burst°…. Set against the back-drop of sluggish Japanese Studies, another problem emerged; University reform process which has a general tendency to cut back provision for cost ineffective study, such as Area Studies, which needs small group teaching. As the problems with cost ineffectiveness were originally countered by various grants from Japanese companies, the slow down of the Japanese economy and the subsequent reduction of these grants, had a direct relationship to the slow down of Japanese Studies.

Four years on from 2001 and the Japanese economy began to emerge from its long dark tunnel. The world°«s interest in Japanese Pop Culture also increased. What kind of effect, if any, did this external environment have on Japanese Studies/Japanese language education in the UK? Understanding the current situation of Japanese Studies in this country has relevance beyond just the UK as it provides important insights when considering the trends of Japanese studies as a whole, all around the world.

This survey was carried out in 2006-7 by the Japan Foundation London in order to understand the nature of Japanese Studies and Japanese language education in UK universities. Similar surveys were carried out in 1996-7 and 2001-2. For that reason, as far as possible, the basic categories of the survey were set the same to allow comparison with the results from the 2001-2 survey. However, when compared to previous surveys, which sought to understand degree level Japanese language education, this time, the emphasis of the survey was moved towards understanding the state of Japanese Studies in its broader sense. In addition to the problems that evolved with broadening the survey°«s scope, problems also developed on the following levels:
  1. At times the person to whom the survey was directed had changed from previous years which meant they interpreted the survey questions based on different criteria to the earlier surveys.
  2. The response rate to the survey was not high (59%), despite some of those universities that did not reply having Japanese Studies or Japanese language education.
With regards to number 2, it can only be seen as a great shame that despite several calls for the survey to be completed, responses were not submitted. To correctly understand the state of education and research is an important element in the promotion of Japanese Studies in the future. We sincerely hope for open disclosure and provision of correct data in the future.

For the reasons given above, despite creating the survey along the same lines as last time, we could not simply compare the answers and collate the new results with the old ones. Therefore, in the General Summary following, we have tried to avoid simply making a comparison between the 2006-7 results and the 2000-1 results. This time, we have had to base the results of the survey on the data included in the results that were received (out of 54 sent only 32 were returned). If you refer to the summary, please take into consideration the fact that there is an element of °»survival bias°… in the results because not all universities responded, including some of those universities that cancelled Japanese Studies between 2000-1 and 2006-7.
Furthermore, this survey did not ask about the nationality of the students, what Major those students taking a module in Japanese language were studying for, so it is not possible to make any judgements about what the trigger is for the increase in the number of students taking a module in Japanese language. Despite taking these problems into consideration, the significance of this survey remains high in ascertaining the general overall trends and tendencies in Japanese Studies and Japanese language education in the UK. For that reason, we believe it can be said that this survey has attained its goal.

The following is a summary of the 2006/2007 Japan Foundation Survey on Japanese Studies/Japanese at university level in the UK. The Japan Foundation distributed 44 questionnaires to universities still teaching Japanese Studies/Japanese. It sent slightly different surveys to 5 universities that have ceased teaching these programmes (University of Ulster and University of Buckingham which had already decided to phase out its courses at the time of the 2001/2002 survey, and University of Durham, University of Essex and University of Stirling which cancelled their courses between the 2001/2002 and 2006/2007 surveys). It also sent questionnaires to 2 universities that focus on Japanese Studies, do not have Japanese language courses, and were not in the 2001/2002 survey, and 3 universities which have started Japan-related courses since the 2001/2002 survey. In total, 54 surveys were sent. In total 35 questionnaires were returned to the Japan Foundation, 3 of which were from universities which had discontinued Japanese Studies. This report is based on 32 questionnaires returned to the Foundation from institutions still continuing Japanese Studies.
Of the surveys not returned, 5 contacted the foundation to say the survey was irrelevant and they chose not to take part. This was because either they do not teach Japanese Studies anymore or they have minimal teaching. The remaining universities also had a very small teaching department, mainly with part-time staff or have ceased the teaching of Japanese Studies altogether. There is at least one notable exception to this: the University of Edinburgh which has a good Japanese Studies department but did not reply to the survey.

General Student Number Trends
This survey reveals that despite the general feeling that interest in Japanese Studies is in decline, in most areas, student numbers either remained consistent or increased between 2000 and 2006. The number of undergraduates on titled Japanese Studies degree courses (Single honours, major, minor, joint, dual) increased overall between 2000 and 2006 (132 - 171) and the number in postgraduate studies increased from 82 in 2000 to 118 in 2006. The number of students completing a module (accredited and non-accredited) in Japanese language or non-language modules steadily increased from 2001 (Table 1) by around 40%.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate
The number of students has increased in many universities at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The number of graduate students in titled Japanese Studies/Japanese Degree Undergraduate Courses (over all) marginally declined from 132 in 2000 to 116 in 2004 (Table 2). However, it began to increase in 2005 and reached 171 in 2006. 2 universities showed a clear rising trend in the number of undergraduate students (Oxford Brookes and Newcastle). The overall number of undergraduate students was stable in 10 universities (Leeds, Birmingham, Oxford, Reading, Nottingham, Liverpool John Moores, Central Lancashire, Manchester, Cambridge and SOAS), although there were some fluctuations. 1 university showed a decrease in the number of undergraduate students (Cardiff).

The number of students graduating in titled single honours Japanese Studies/Japanese Degree Undergraduate Courses (in Oxford, SOAS, Leeds, Cambridge and Sheffield) has increased from 32 in 2000 to 62 in 2006, a substantial increase. (Table 3) SOAS and Leeds showed a clear rising trend, and the others were stable.

The number of students studying Japanese/Japanese Studies in a postgraduate course increased from 78 in 2001 to 118 in 2006 (Table 4). Postgraduate studies showed a more rapid rate of increase (51%) from 2001 to 2006, compared to that of undergraduate studies (over all approximately a 30% increase). 3 universities showed an increase in the number of MA students from 2001 to 2006 (SOAS, Leeds, and Birkbeck) (Table 5), while the number of students was quite stable at 4 universities (Oxford, Bath, Cambridge and Sheffield). In contrast, Sheffield University and Oxford University showed an increase in the number of PhD students across the time period (Table 6). SOAS, University of Sheffield, and University of Oxford attained a quite stable increase and were the "big three" institutions in terms of number of students.

Range of Courses
This survey reveals that many universities offered courses focusing on socio-cultural or business-economic aspects of Japan, as well as joint courses with other areas of study.

28 universities offered Japanese Studies and Joint/ Dual /Combined Degree Courses for undergraduates. Of these institutions, University of Leeds offered a very varied choice of "Japanese with" Joint/Dual/Combined courses and Oxford Brookes also offers courses which can be combined with a range of other BA/BSc Hons courses. Among the 11 universities offering postgraduate courses, University of Leeds and University of Sheffield offered the most varied courses such as Japanese Studies, Japanese Business, and Asia Pacific Studies.

University of Essex, University of Durham and University of Stirling, which used to offer Japanese Studies, have cancelled and closed their Japanese Studies courses since the previous survey.

Institutional Links
Identifying 11 universities (Abertay Dundee, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool John Moores, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Oxford Brookes, SOAS and Sheffield) that returned questionnaires for both the 2001/2002 and the 2006/2007 surveys, it was revealed that many of the universities showed an increase in the number of institutional links with Japanese institutions from the previous survey.

Of the 11 universities, the number of institutional links increased at 8 universities (Cardiff 6-8, Leeds 8-11, Liverpool John Moores 5-8, Manchester 6-7, Newcastle 2-11, Oxford Brookes 4-7, SOAS 11-13 and Sheffield 13-21). 2 universities showed a decrease in the number of institutional links (Birmingham 7-5 and Oxford 6-1) and 1 remained stable. (Abertay Dundee 1-1) (See Table 7 for further information about Institutional Links and Study Abroad)

Study Period Abroad
Of the 32 universities in the UK which were surveyed by the Japan Foundation, at least 16 have a study abroad programme. (Table 7) As for the duration of the programme, 12 months is the most common at 10 universities, while 2 universities have shorter programmes lasting less than 6 months and 1 stipulates at least 8 months. 7 universities send their students to Japan in Year 3, but there are some universities, for example, Oxford, that send their students for a compulsory stay in Japan in the third term of Year 1. (Oxford also gives students the chance to spend an optional year in Japan between the third and fourth years of their course either on placement or at a university.) The Politics and International Relations course at Kent offers students the chance to study in Japan, in English, for one year. Furthermore, all the universities that have a study abroad programme have agreements with Japanese host universities. The number of agreements each university has with Japanese universities is varied, for example Oxford only has an agreement with just 1 university, while Sheffield has agreements with 21 universities in Japan. For those UK universities that have multiple agreements, their host universities are found all over Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu. This range of host universities all over Japan is beneficial for British students to fully understand the true picture of Japanese society and culture.

As of 2006/2007, the number of staff engaged in Japanese Studies and Japanese language education was 196 in 32 universities altogether, of which 152 are working full time, while 44 are part time. The number of full time staff breaks down as 47 in Japanese Studies, 41 in Japanese language education, and 64 Japan specialists working in sections other than Japanese Studies. This shows that there are many full time staff working in various sections other than just Japanese Studies. When compared, SOAS has a significantly larger number of staff working in Japan related courses having 23 staff, followed by Cambridge, Oxford Brookes, Sheffield, Oxford and Leeds, each having on average 11 - 15 staff. Cardiff, Newcastle, Liverpool John Moores, Birkbeck, and Manchester have slightly less staff averaging 7 - 9 each. Looking at just the number of staff in Japanese Studies departments, Sheffield and Oxford have most, with 8 staff, closely followed by Cambridge with 7, demonstrating the priority these institutions give to Japanese Studies.

Looking at the number of staff in Japanese language teaching, Sheffield has 5 full time staff, Oxford has 4, and Cardiff, Oxford Brookes, SOAS, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester all have 3 full time staff. This also shows how these universities give high priority to their Japanese language education. There are 12 other universities that run Japanese language studies with only 1 full time staff member together with some part time staff, or run it only with part time staff. Among the 12 is Imperial College, which has seen a sudden increase in the number of students taking Japanese language classes, and this gives rise to some concern about the imbalance between the supply and demand in Japanese language education.

This is an overview of the situation of higher education institution in the UK conducting Japanese Studies or language teaching based on their staff numbers. However, please bear in mind that the figures in this report do not necessarily reflect the true number of Japanese researchers in the UK, because the figures do not include those institutions which have either not returned the survey, or were not included in the survey. (See Table 8 for further information about staff numbers.)

Library Resources
Many universities did not reply to the survey questions regarding the size and budget of their library, therefore it is difficult to make a statistical analysis (Table 8). However, SOAS, having been teaching Japanese Studies since 1946, (110,000 books in Japanese and 3,5000 English books on Japan related issues) has the largest number of books. It should be no surprise that this figure is followed by Cambridge (established Japanese Studies in 1947, has 100,000 titles in Japanese and 10,000 English books on Japan related issues), and then Oxford (established Japanese Studies in 1963, has 75,000 books in Japanese and 16,200 English books on Japan related issues) and Sheffield (established Japanese Studies in 1965, has 20,000 books in Japanese and 8,000 English books on Japan related issues). Without doubt, these 4 universities have the largest collection of books in Japanese in UK universities. With regard to the annual library budget, Oxford has the largest with 90,000 pounds, followed by Cambridge with 46,000 pounds. However, as Sheffield and Leeds have recently won the title of Centre of Excellence, which will be explained in later sections of this summary, their budget on Japanese/Japan related books will probably increase.

On the other hand, those universities that have only Japanese language courses are obliged to provide books within a limited budget of around 100 to 600 pounds. As a result, these universities°« book collections are limited and they hold less than 1,000 books, most of which are Japanese language textbooks. However, library budget and size does not necessarily reflect the demand for Japanese language education. For example, Imperial College only has an annual budget of only 300 pounds and holds just 200 books, yet it has a large number of students completing its Japanese language courses. Suffice to say the aforementioned imbalance between supply and demand in Japanese language education appears severe.

Future Developments and Problems
A major topic in Japanese Studies/Japanese in 2006/2007 was the joint venture between Sheffield and Leeds which won a bid to set up The White Rose East Asia Centre, a Centre of Excellence in Japanese Studies and Chinese Studies in 2006. A °Ú4 million investment from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), has helped to set up The National Institute of Japanese Studies (NIJS) and The National Institute of Chinese Studies (NICS) within this Centre. The NIJS will aim to strengthen Britain°«s international competitiveness in Japanese Studies over the next 5 years using this government grant of around °Ú2 million. The establishment of the NIJS is a landmark event as it shows the British government has started to seriously invest in Japanese Studies. Another development was from Manchester University, which absorbed the Japan Centre North West, a previous collaboration between several universities in Manchester, and started to expand its Japanese Studies at the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures. The School started accepting students both at undergraduate and postgraduate level in 2007 and the university is expecting to expand the number of undergraduate students from around 20 in 2007 to over 80 in 2010.
The establishment of the Centre for East Asia Studies at Bristol University in 2005/2006 was also significant for the expansion of Japanese Studies. This Centre is now striving to supply both human and material resources in Japanese Studies.

Of the 32 universities who took part in the survey, 13 said that they were encountering some kind of difficulties in running the Japanese Studies/Japanese programmes, the breakdown of which is listed as follows: (In cases of multiple replies, the number inside the brackets relates to the number of replies.)
· Funding problems (scarce funding for library, lack of funding for students) (6)
· Insufficient resources, lack of staff and facilities (5)
· Low student demand, declining student numbers, low numbers of postgraduate students (5)
· Difficulties relating to Study Abroad Period(expensive for students, not enough university links in Japan)(2)
· Not enough time for language training (2)
· Drop-out rates after Grade 1 are high (1)
· Teaching technique for language (1)
· Owing to the university system students cannot take Japanese with another course despite demand for this (1)

The answers above reveal interesting trends in Japanese Studies/Japanese. The most common problem was insufficient resources, lack of staff numbers and facilities. This shows that universities cannot keep up with the increase in demand, namely the sudden increase in the number of students taking Japanese courses, and not being able to prepare education and research facilities. Problems relating to study abroad programmes are also caused by the increase in the number of students who are interested in Japan. However, at the same time, several universities are suffering from a decrease in the number of students who take Japanese courses and a decrease in demand for Japanese Studies. The reasons for this bipolarisation should be examined in greater detail in the future.
It was also pointed out that despite students having a great interest in Japan and having started Japanese language courses at university, some drop out after the initial stage and do not proceed to intermediate level.

Concluding Remarks
The following highlights certain trends in Japanese Studies/Japanese between 2000 and 2006 drawn from the data available from this survey. In part due to the long recession in Japan, Japanese Studies in the UK has gradually been scaled down in size from the end of 1990's to the beginning of 2000's. Over the course of this, universities such as Essex, Stirling, and Durham, which had been significant for Japanese Studies, closed down their Japanese Studies departments and the UK experienced a period referred to as the so-called "Durham Crisis". However, this critical period had reached its peak by 2004, at the very latest, and since 2005 the number of students taking Japanese Studies/Japanese has clearly started to rise at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Moreover, Bristol University set up its Centre for East Asian Studies in 2005/6, in 2006/2007 the NIJS was newly established and Manchester University developed and expanded its new Japanese Studies degree.

However, in contrast, there are universities that are concerned about the decline in the number of students taking Japanese language courses. Imbalance between supply and demand has become apparent. While the number of students in Japanese language courses is declining at some universities that have sufficient resources and staff, the opposite is taking place at universities that have insufficient resources. This imbalance is caused by the change in the nature of people's interest towards Japan. Up to the 1990°«s, people were mainly interested in the Japanese economy but now this has rapidly expanded into Pop Culture, typified by Manga, animation and computer games.

In any case, there are two specific traits visible in 2006/2007, one is the "Scrap and Build" process taking place in Japanese Studies, and the other is the emergence of the imbalance between supply and demand for Japanese language courses. How can universities and research institutes cope with the change in students' demand, namely, the change in their interest from Japanese corporate management to Japanese Pop Culture? How can these organisations link people's recent interest towards Japan to the development of Japanese Studies/Japanese? We will continue to watch future developments with great interest.