Recently, the Japanese government announced a new era name. When Crown Prince Naruhito will succeed to the Chrysanthemum throne on 30 April 2019, years will be counted as Reiwa, a period of ‘order and peace’. The Abe government seems to be hopeful that after a period of economic troubles, disasters and societal changes, the country will stabilise and prosper again.
JAWS has also witnessed changes in the past months. Several of our long-serving officers have stepped down, leaving the field open to a new generation of engaging members. On behalf of all members, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for their high-spirited work for JAWS over many years. At the same time I would like to use this opportunity to welcome a number of new members on the officers team. Dōzo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu!
In autumn 2017, Anne-Mette Fisker Nielsen moved from London to Tokyo to take on a new appointment at Soka University. The new JAWS Treasurer and Membership Secretary is Ruth Martin (Oxford Brookes) who has been braving the bank bureaucracy ever since and makes sure that our finances and membership are well organised.
The most obvious sign of recent changes is our newly developed website. We have been aiming to integrate the website with our newsletter and to make it readable on your smart phones and computers alike. Stephanie Oeben and Urara Satake have spent many hours of work to allow this to happen. The changes will allow our new editors to develop a more dynamic and reader-friendly website and encourage members to stay in touch about their exciting projects.
Together with these technical changes, the old editorial team – Emma Cook (Hokkaido University), Andrea De Antoni (Ritsumeikan) and Blai Guarné (Universitas Autonoma de Barcelona) – felt that after almost a decade on the job it was time to hand over to a new team. Pia Maria Jolliffe (Oxford) and Jennifer McGuire (Doshisha) are now getting ready to take over.
The JAWS Routledge book series has continued to grow under the experienced editorship of Joy Hendry. Christoph Brumann (Halle) and Henry Johnson (Otago) have joined her team. We now also have a ‘landing page’ on the Routledge website for our members at JAWS, introducing some of the new titles on Ainu, religion, family and happiness as well as information on members’ discounts.
2017-18 were years of major awards for JAWS members. No less than three anthropologists have been awarded with the Order of the Rising Sun for their contributions to Japanese Studies and to improve relations between Japan and their home country, Joy Hendry (Oxford Brookes), Ted Bestor (Harvard) and Jane Cobbi (École des Hautes Études en Science Sociales).
In more good news, despite our decision to move to Life-Membership with its reduction in regular income, JAWS finances are healthy. This has enabled us to offer travel grants to JAWS conferences to early career scholars as well as English language editing grants. We are happy to have been able to welcome so many young and enthusiastic scholars in our midst. JAWS membership has now reached 299.
As I write these lines, we are getting ready for the 29th JAWS conference, organised by Anemone Platz at Åarhus University in Denmark. JAWS conferences are highlights in anyone’s academic life, and the programme looks exciting and diverse.
I wish you all a great conference and look forward to meeting you.
Brigitte Steger, Secretary General of JAWS
12 April 2019