Tetsuo Najita Distinguished Lecture Series in Japanese Studies
The Tetsuo Najita Distinguished Lecture series was launched in 2007 by the Japan Studies Committee to honor the legacy of Tetsuo Najita, Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History and of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and his contribution to the university during his long career.
About Tetsuo Najita
Educated at Grinnell College and Harvard University, Tetsuo Najita joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1969. His many publications on Japan’s early modern and modern intellectual history include Hara Kei and the Politics of Compromise (1967), which was awarded the John King Fairbank Prize in East Asian History, and Visions of Virtue: The Kaitokudô Merchant Academy of Osaka (1987), which won the Yamagata Bantô Prize. Since his retirement in 2002, Tetsuo Najita has continued his work. In 2008, he published a new work in Japanese on the topic of “doing intellectual history,” and in 2009 the University of California Press published his most recent monograph in English, Ordinary Economies in Japan: A Historical Perspective, 1759-1950. This impressive body of scholarship, which combined theoretical rigor with rock-solid research, and which was ordered by the assertion that historians must always engage with the moral and political issues of our time, served as an inspiration to the many undergraduate and graduate students whom he trained.
In addition to this distinguished record of scholarship and teaching, during his thirty-three year tenure at the university, Tetsuo Najita dedicated much energy to building the Japan Studies program, while playing a leading role within the History Department and the Social Science Division. He served as Director of the Center for East Asian Studies from 1974-1980, Master of the Social Science Collegiate Division from 1984-1987 and Chair of the History Department for 1994-1997 and in spring 2001.
About the Committee on Japanese Studies
The Committee on Japanese Studies is comprised of all University of Chicago faculty with a scholarly interest in Japanese subjects. The committee coordinates and supports Japan-related programs throughout the university and presents a wide variety of Japan-related outreach activities both on and off campus. It also seeks to partner with other entities locally, regionally, nationally and globally to build Japan awareness and strengthen Japan studies.
Chizuko Ueno, "Forty Years of Japanese Feminism: What it has achieved...and what it has not"
International House1414 E. 59th St. Chicago IL. 60637
The University of Chicago Committee on Japanese Studies is pleased to welcome Chizuko Ueno, Professor Emeritus of Tokyo University, for the 2013 Najita Distinguished Lecture in Japanese Studies. A sociologist by training, Professor Ueno is one of the leading feminist critics and public intellectuals in Japan. She is the author and co-author of more than fifty books that address issues of the family, patriarchy, gender, capitalism, and nationalism.
Sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies and International House Global Voices Program. If you require assistance to fully participate, please contact the programs office in advance of the program at 773-753-2274
Akio Igarashi, "A Structure of Deceit: The Japanese Nuclear Energy Program"
Akio Igarashi is a political scientist and Professor Emeritus of law and politics at Rikkyo University. His recent publications include Japanese Politics (Nihon seiji ron), 2010 and It’s Time Women Change Politics (Jyosei ga Seiji wo Kaeru Toki), 2012.
Sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies and International House Global Voices Program.
Nobukuni Koyasu, "Japanese Intellectuals and China"
The author of more than twenty books, Nobukuni Koyasu, Professor Emeritus of Osaka University, is one of the best-known and most influential intellectual historians in Japan. Professor Koyasu revitalized the study of early modern intellectual history through his engagement with contemporary critical theory, his careful, close readings of the texts themselves, and his concern for rethinking its significance for Japanese modernity. He is also a prominent public intellectual, who has written widely on contemporary political issues including Japanese nationalism, the Yasukuni Shrine controversy, and the legacy of the Showa era and World War II for contemporary Japan.
Read the Chicago Maroon article about Professor Koyasu's lecture.
Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel Laureate: "A Novelist Re-Reads Kaitokudo"
In this lecture, Kenzaburō Ōe, recipient of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature, discusses the contemporary relevance of Tetsuo Najita’s approach to intellectual history, including Najita’s Visions of Virtue in Tokugawa Japan: The Kaitokudō Merchant Academy of Osaka (1997), a landmark study of the rise of an independent school of economic and moral philosophy in eighteenth-century Japan.
Mr. Ōe spoke in Japanese, with simultaneous English translation provided by University of Chicago Associate Professor Michael Bourdaghs. For ease of viewing, we have edited the videos so you may select either the original Japanese version or the English translation.
About the Speaker
Born in 1935 in rural Shikoku, Ōe is one of modern Japan’s most respected novelists and public intellectuals. He began publishing fiction while still a university student and in 1958 was awarded the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s most prestigious literary award. Since then, he has published many celebrated novels and stories, including A Personal Matter (1964), The Silent Cry (1967), Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness (1969), The Pinch Runner Memorandum (1976), and Somersault (1999). His most recent novel, Suishi (Death by Drowning), was published in Japan to great acclaim in late 2009. His works have been translated into many languages, and in 1994 he became the second Japanese writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
In addition to his fiction, Ōe has throughout his career provided a model for the engaged intellectual. He has written widely on the dangers of nuclear proliferation, on Japan’s history of military aggression, and in defense of Article 9, the peace clause of Japan’s postwar constitution.
Kenzaburo Oe delivering the 2010 Najita Lecture
Dr. Yuki Tanaka, Hiroshima Peace Institute: “Crime and Responsibility: War, Indiscriminate Bombing, and Mass Killing”
In his lecture Dr. Tanaka examines the question of the criminality of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the responsibility of American political and military leaders who were closely involved in the decision-making and execution of the order to drop the bombs. Criminality is examined in accordance with international law effective at the time that the bombs were dropped and in the light of the Charter of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.
Dr. Tanaka also examines the history and present situation of indiscriminate aerial bombing of civilian populations. He examines how the use of this tactic started, what kind of military logic was used to justify it, and why it is still being widely sanctioned despite the fact that large numbers of civilians are repeatedly victimized in various war-torn regions of the world. He further explores how we should utilize the result of the International Peoples’ Tribunal of Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to increase understanding of the fact that killing civilians is a crime against humanity, regardless of the asserted military justification.
About the Speaker
Yuki Tanaka is Research Professor at Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University. Since the mid-1980s he has been concentrating his research on war crimes and is the author of several books, including Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation (2001) and Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II (1997).
Listen to Dr. Tanaka's interview on NPR's "Worldview" program for February 2, 2009.
2007 Inaugural Lecture
Professor Tetsuya Takahashi, University of Tokyo: "Postwar Japan on the Brink: Militarism, Colonialism, Yasukuni Shrine"
March 6, 2007
View the Video