Conference Showcases Japan Studies at Dartmouth


Dartmouth will host a two-day conference, “Japan Studies at Dartmouth: Educating Global Citizens,” on November 8 and 9, celebrating the past, present, and future of Japanese studies at the College.

Yusaku Horiuchi

The Mitsui Chair in the Study of Japan Yusaku Horiuchi says that Mitsui & Co., Ltd., has played an integral role in supporting Dartmouth Japanese studies. (Photo by Rob Strong ’04)

The conference, sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, will commemorate the storied history between Dartmouth and the Tokyo-based company, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., which in 2011 established the Mitsui Professorship at Dartmouth.

“For more than 100 years, Dartmouth College has had a connection to Japan beginning with Kan’ichi Asakawa, Class of 1899, the first Japanese student to graduate from the College, and Mitsui has been an integral part of that long connection,” says Yusaku Horiuchi, the inaugural Mitsui Chair in the Study of Japan , an associate professor of government, and co-organizer of the conference. “We welcome the participation of anyone interested in Japan, Japanese studies, and Dartmouth’s global initiatives in general.”

Among the conference’s speakers will be New York Times’ Tokyo bureau chief Martin Fackler ’89; Mark Davidson ’82, the minister counselor for public affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo; and modern Japan expert Carol Gluck, the George Sansom Professor of History at Columbia University.

“Thanks in large part to the generous support of Mitsui & Co., Dartmouth is gaining recognition among its peer institutions for having a vibrant and growing program of Japanese studies, in contrast to the national trend of declining emphasis on the study of Japan,” says co-organizer Steven Ericson, associate professor of history and an expert on modern Japan. “This conference celebrates Mitsui’s contribution to making this growth possible, building on Dartmouth’s strengths in Japanese studies.”

Steven Ericson

Associate Professor of History Steven Ericson says the conference will build on Dartmouth’s strengths in Japanese studies. (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Mitsui’s history with Dartmouth dates back to Takanaga Mitsui, Class of 1915. When, as an undergraduate far from home, Takanaga contracted acute appendicitis, then-President Ernest Fox Nichols and his wife helped him receive medical treatment—and then hosted a delegation of top Japanese diplomats, including the consul general and Japanese minister, who came to make sure the heir to the Mitsui corporation was in good hands. The Mitsui family sent President Nichols a temple bell as a token of their gratitude. Two of Takanaga’s sons, Takanobu and Mamoru, graduated from Dartmouth in 1943 and 1958, respectively.

Starting in the late 1950s, Mitsui & Co. sent nine students to study at Dartmouth for one year. Former Mitsui president and CEO and current chairman Shoei Utsuda came to Dartmouth in 1969 as the last of this original group of students. More recently, in that same tradition, an additional eight Mitsui employees have had the opportunity to study for one year at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and then complete a yearlong internship with an American corporation.

Here is the lineup of the events open to the public:

  • “A Journalist’s View of the Fukushima Accident and Japan’s Missed Opportunities for Change,” by New York Times Tokyo Bureau Chief Martin Fackler ’89, from 3:15 to 5 p.m. on November 8 in Room 3 at the Rockefeller Center. A reception will follow the lecture from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Hinman Forum at the Rockefeller Center.
  • Alumni in academia and writing fields will give panel presentations from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on November 9 in Room 1 at the Rockefeller Center.
  • Dartmouth students will conduct a panel discussion from 2 to 3 p.m. on November 9 in Room 1 at the Rockefeller Center.
  • Alumni from various professional fields will give panel presentations from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on November 9 in Room 1 at the Rockefeller Center.
  • The public events will conclude with a round-table discussion from 5 to 6 p.m. on November 9 in Room 1 at the Rockefeller Center.
Keith Chapman