From April 2014, the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS)offers a comprehensive course dedicated to the Catalan language and culture, thanks to an agreement signed with the Institut Ramon Llull (IRL), the public body in charge of promoting Catalan culture abroad. The TUFS, one of the most prestigious institutions for language studies in Japan, will be the second university in the country to provide such training after the private Hosei University - also in Tokyo - implemented a similar course in 2010. The Head of the new program, Professor Junke Kume, insisted through a statement to the Institut Ramon Lull, that thanks to such an agreement, the Tokyo University would “successfully implement a strong course” that “includes not only language but also history and culture”.
Professor Junke Kume added that her desire was that such a course “will contribute to greater interest amongst Japanese for the incredibly rich historical and cultural tradition of Catalonia”.
A Symposium on independence
Coinciding with the start of the new course, the TUFS will also host various academic and cultural events to strengthen the bonds between Catalonia and Japan. Among them is the symposium ‘Realitat i ficció sobre la independència, una mirada plural sobre Catalunya’ (Facts and fiction about independence, a plural view on Catalonia), scheduled for the 20th of March, and co-organised by the Japanese university and the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat).
Among the invited participants are notably Professor Koichi Kobayama, the Director of the Tokyo Printing Museum, who will address ‘Catalonia as a topic’; Doctor Ryuichi Narita, Professor at ‘Japan’s Women’s University’, who will discuss ‘Independence and fiction: political issues in the novel Kirikiri-koku by Hissahi Inoue’; and Professor Yukari Yashima, of Keio University – one of the oldest universities in Japan - who will focus on ‘The historical background of Catalan nationalism’.