President’s message

Thank you to the Japan Studies Association of Canada’s membership and executive for giving me the  privilege of serving as President from this fall.  I look forward to building on the good work Carin Holroyd (University of Saskatchewan) and the rest of the executive have done over the past six years. 

I particularly salute Norio Ota (York University) for his dedicated commitment as Secretary and Treasurer, and for building and sustaining JSAC’s virtual home.  Thanks also go to Norio,  Tom Waldichuk and Cara Cadre (Thompson Rivers University) for keeping JSAC going as they hosted two successful virtual conferences through the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.  We all appreciate the continued support the Japan Foundation provides to support Japan studies in Canada.

JSAC’s annual conference has been a special appointment in the calendars of an eclectic and friendly group of scholars, mostly engaged at Canadian universities.  The first conference was held at the University of Alberta in 1987, as Japan’s economic dynamism captured the world’s attention.  Through the 1990’s and 2000’s conferences have featured talks and papers on a broad range of topics, including Japanese language, international relations, religion, Japanese Canadians, pop culture, Fukushima, architecture and recently, Japan and the Gulf of St. Lawrence’s snow crab fishery. 

JSAC members developed their Japan interests  in different ways.  Several JSAC members were born in Japan and made the big step of choosing to live, study and/or teach in Canada, despite the weather! Other members have Japanese heritage.  Those without direct ties may have been introduced to Japan through their university studies, exchanges, friendships, English language teaching and/or simply encountering interesting and intriguing aspects of its culture. 

On a personal note, I began and am still engaged in this work because of a University of Alberta economics professor, Dr. Takashi Tsushima.  In 1981 his grad student took me to my first sushi lunch at Mikado in Edmonton, before I went to teach English in Hamamatsu-City.  (Mikado’s chef took part in JSAC’s 2018 conference, hosted by Aya Fujiwara). 

JSAC nurtures us as we work to sustain Japan studies in Canada, particularly as universities reduce their investments in the humanities and many arts and social science fields.  We agree that Japan remains endlessly interesting and offers lessons about social policy, politics, culture and indeed life itself.  I am reminded of this now as the cherry blossoms in Toronto’s High Park, a secret that now everyone knows about, reach full bloom.  

I am asking that you all actively engage in supporting JSAC activities.  It is our duty to make sure future students and teachers have the same opportunities to both learn from and teach about Japan as we have enjoyed!