November 9, 2015

Japanese Government Funds Student Research Grants, New Endowed Chair

The Japanese government awarded eight Georgetown students with Georgetown-Japan 2020 fellowships to conduct research and present their findings in Tokyo during spring 2015.

The students, a mix of graduates and undergraduates, were selected for their potential to become the next generation of Japanese specialists on the basis of their excellent Japanese language abilities, research quality, and commitment to Japanese studies. 

The Georgetown-Japan 2020 Initiative, run by the Department of Asian Studies in the School of Foreign Service and sponsored the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, culminated with a $5 million gift establishing the Endowed Chair in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy within the Asian Studies Program. 

Phase 1: Research and Writing

Throughout the spring 2015 semester, students researched Japan and crafted papers on a variety of political, historical, and social topics under the individual guidance of professors Michael Green and Jordan Sand. Paper topics ranged from coalition politics and security policy to female reformers under the Allied occupation of Japan after World War II. 

“This was additional work above and beyond the already busy schedule of a Georgetown undergraduate, and the students rose to the occasion,” said Sand. Georgetown awarded one graduate and one undergraduate student a prize for the best research paper. 

The author of the best undergraduate student paper, Mina Pollmann (SFS’15), studied “The Politics and Strategy of Japanese Politicians’ Sensitivity to South Korean Feelings.” 

“I was already working on a paper for my honors thesis in my international politics major, but this program allowed me to conduct my own research in Japan,” said Pollmann. “I was grateful to be a part of it.” 

Both Pollmann and the winning graduate student received prizes funded by the Japanese government. 

Phase 2: Presentations

In March 2015, the fellows traveled to Tokyo to present their initial findings at a conference with students at Sophia University. While in Japan, the students continued to conduct research for their papers and also met with leaders in government, think tanks, and academia. 

“We met with a number of young politicians, including senior defense officials, staff from Japan’s National Security Council, the president of Canon, and some journalists,” said Green. 

“The students did extremely well, and I think people were really impressed with their questions and their expertise.” 

Japanese Chair

The Georgetown-Japan 2020 Initiative helped demonstrate the quality of faculty and student scholarship at Georgetown to Japanese government officials. 

“Our students were asking the tough questions [in Japan], and they really performed,” said Sand. 

The students’ excellence ultimately convinced the Japanese government to endow the Georgetown Asian Studies Program chair in modern and contemporary Japanese politics and foreign policy.

The new chair will prepare the next generation of U.S. scholars—like the Georgetown-Japan 2020 Fellows—to focus on issues within academia, the private sector, or public service in Japan. 

For more information about the Georgetown-Japan 2020 Program and the Department of Asian Studies, visit the department’s website.