Ritsumeikan Center for Korea Studies
Kita-ku,Tojiin kita-cho 56-1
Shugakukan, Second Floor
Institution Objectives / General Characteristics
Whilst Korea found itself under the rule of an authoritarian military body-politic following it’s liberation, the accomplishment of democratisation coupled with the rapid development in the areas of politics, economics, society and culture that took place from the second half of the 1980’s through to the 1990’s has led to its global recognition. During this time, in contrast to an ever strengthening relationship with Japan, both countries still harbour deeply rooted historical grievances, leaving many issues to be dealt with in the future. Yet for both countries the other’s existence is vitally important, and in moving towards transparency in international affairs as well as a North-East Asian community, it seems likely that this relationship will only further increase in importance.
Particularly since the appearance of Kim Dae Jung’s administration in the late 1990’s, together with improving the Korean economy through the implementation of large scale economic reforms the Korean government has pursued policies of reconciliation and cooperation with North Korea, strengthened its voice in the arena of international politics and, in addition to further raising its profile, has adopted policies liberalising Japanese culture and pursued the strengthening of exchange and historical reconciliation at a grass roots level. The appearance of the Roh Moo-hyun administration which followed symbolised the maturity of Korean democratisation, and led to advocacy for the formation of a peaceful and prosperous “North-East Asia Era”, the entrenchment of peace in the Korea peninsula and the pro-active propositioning towards the formation of a North-East Asian community. It goes without saying that for Japan, Japanese-Korean relations will occupy a critical position when looking towards the future of East Asia.
Since the 1990s, Ritsumeikan University has continued to rapidly develop contemporary Korean and North-East Asian research projects. As well as having received scientific research support from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and promoting large scale Japanese-Korean collaborative research such as “The Transformation of Contemporary Korean Legal-Political Sructures” and “Empirical Research of Contemporary Korean Security Guarantees and Political Security Measures”, receiving news of North and South Korea’s historic mutual declaration in 2000 the university established the “North-East Asian Specialists’ Meeting” and conducted research of contemporary Korea within the context of its relationship with the North-East Asian region. Through these developments the university has formed solid research networks and deepened the exchange of collaborative research activities with leading universities in Korea. In this capacity it aims for the development of the formation of a North-East Asian community which will be based on the strengthening of productive relationships in future Japanese-Korean relations, and continues to formulate and promote multi-faceted research. In the meantime the university has produced a multitude of results, holding a large number of symposiums, Japanese-Korean collaborative research projects, public lectures, specialist meetings and cultural events, bringing together researchers of Japan and Korea and specialists and citizens from around the world. Furthermore, with Ritsumeikan working to develop its North and South Korea related teaching and Korean language education, coupled with the establishment of Ristumeikan Asia-Pacific University in April, 2000 and the large number of Korean students that both institutions admit, even in the field of education Ristumeikan continues to further promote a strengthened relationship with Korea.
Considering these issues, the establishment of a proper contemporary Korea research centre as a focus point for the promotion of the research and education of contemporary Korea became essential. Having already judged that we were approaching this era it was thus that, under the label of “Ritsumeikan University Korea Research Centre”, we commenced with the proliferation of knowledge and culture with a focus on contemporary Korean research, as well as the research of the Korean peninsula, the various regions of the North-East Asian area linked to it and Japanese-Korean relations.