In 1941, the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia was established at the University of Tokyo for the "comprehensive study of Eastern culture." Our research focuses on those regions where Asian languages are spoken, which include not only east Asia and Japan, but extend as far west as north Africa where Arabic is in common use; to the north, where Altaic languages are spoken, including the Russian Federation; and to the south, Indonesia. Our fields of study are just as wide-ranging - politics, society, law, economics, religion, thought, culture, anthropology, history, archaeology, literature, art - but all share the common goal of deepening our understanding of Asia, and indeed, the rest of the world, by examining its past and present so that we may contribute to its future. The diversity of specialties brought to the table by our researchers is what allows the institute to maintain its broad perspective.
All faculty members at the Institute have their own network in Japan and abroad for periodically conducting on-site research and attending international conferences to exchange and present ideas. The Institute also has academic treaties for scientific cooperation with other organizations and shares for example a library unparalleled in the world with its remarkable collection of classical Chinese books. We have also had the pleasure of hosting many colleagues from abroad for conducting short-term and long-term collaborative work with researchers based in Japan. The Institute has become a global center for Asian studies and is also home to the Research and Information Center for Asian Studies (RICAS), which catalogues a variety of data concerning Asian studies and provides worldwide access to its databases.
In addition, the Institute hosts many research fellows from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and plays an enthusiastic role in fostering young academics. The faculty at the Institute also teaches at the undergraduate and graduate school levels at the University of Tokyo, with an eye for readying the students for their future responsibilities as global citizens. Furthermore the Institute is active in two education-and-research networks within the University: the Network for Education and Research on Asia (ASNET) which brings together faculty from different departments for Asian studies and education, and Global Japan Studies, which highlights education and research in Japanese studies for an international audience.
The Institute aims to further its academic pursuits in today's turbulent climate through both interdisciplinary research and the exploration of new fields of study regarding Asia, by making steady progress and bringing to light the results of our research.
Since its establishment in 1941, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia has grown into one of the most distinguished centers of Asian studies in Japan. During its first two decades, the Institute mainly focused on the politics, economy, history, and culture of East Asia, especially China. Since the early 1960s, it has expanded the domain of its research beyond China to include South (including Southeast) and West( including Central) Asia. Today, the Institute consists of four departments; the Departments of Pan Asian Studies, East Asian Studies, South Asian Studies, and West Asian Studies. The research staff is composed of thirty-one specialists in humanities,social sciences and engineering, including such disciplines as history, literature, religious studies, art, political science, law, economics, geography, anthropology, and architecture.
The Institute has continuously emphasized interdisciplinary research combinining analyses of documentary materials and field research. Since the 1950s, it has conducted various kinds of field research. The Iran-Iraq Archaeological Expeditions the Misssion for Indian History and Archaeology, and the photographic collection of Chinese paintings are representative example of such activities. Today, virtually all Institue members have day to day academic contacts with international academic institutions and conduct field research throughout Asia. By establishing academic exchange agreements, the Institute has increased academic contacts with various research institutions in Asia, including the Center of Asian Studies at the University of Hong Kong, Fudan University in Shanghai, the Department of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore, and the Center for Japanese Studies, University of Indonesia.
The Institute has one of the best and the largest libraries for Asian studies in Japan. Its collection of Chinese books is especially well-known internationally. In addtion to the Library, in order to facilitate the use of documentation research materials for Asian studies, the Institute established the Documentation Center for Asian Studies in 1966, which was in 1999 expanded and renamedthe Research and Information center for Asian Studies(RICAS).The new center is aimed at collecting, and facilitating the use of, various forms of research materials in addition to text-based materials.