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North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC): News

Librarian in the News--NCC Chair Haruko Nakamura

by Tara McGowan on 2020-05-18T13:01:00-04:00 in Research_Access | Comments


It has been a while since NCC last celebrated a "Librarian in the News" in our ongoing series, and recognition of NCC Chair Haruko Nakamura’s publication of two important chapters on the contributions of Kan’ichi Asakawa (朝河貫一, 1873-1948) is long overdue. Given the growing global tensions around the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the topic of Kan’ichi Asakawa and his efforts to achieve world peace and a universal humanities transcending East and West seems particularly timely. 


Nakamura’s  more recent chapter, titled “Kan’ichi Asakawa and the International Auxiliary Language Association (IALA): On Asakawa’s connection with Alice V. Morris,” appears in the volume Kan’ichi Asakawa and the Development of the Humanities (朝河貫一と人文学の形成), which was published early last year by Yoshikawa Kōbunkan. This chapter began as a paper presented at the symposium “Kan’ichi Asakawa: The Building of the Humanities and His Legacy,” which was  held Japan in 2018 to mark the 70th anniversary of Kan’ichi Asakawa’s death. Asakawa was born in the city of Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, and the symposium was attended by members from the Fukushima-based Asakawa Peace Association. Like the symposium, the volume is divided into three parts, focusing on (1), Asakawa as a historian; (2), Asakawa as the builder of the foundations for Japanese studies in the US; and, (3) Asakawa as a pacifist. Nakamura’s chapter appears in section three.[1]
Kan’ichi Asakawa was the first Japanese national to become a professor at Yale University, and he also served as curator of the East Asian Collection from 1907 until his death in 1948. While visiting Japan in 1906, he acquired 8,120 volumes of Japanese library materials, which became the foundations of the Yale University Library Japanese collection. He was also instrumental in the selection and donation of rare Japanese works, the Yale Association of Japan Collection, which was acquired by the Beineke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in the 1930s (a downloadable pdf about the Yale Japanese collection is also available). In addition to his contributions to Yale, Asakawa also acquired 3,160 titles for the Library of Congress, which became the foundation of their Japanese research collection. Asakawa left his own unpublished academic work and letters, which are now archived in the Yale University Library as the Asakawa Papers. Haruko Nakamura’s second chapter, focusing on Asakawa’s contributions to Yale University’s Japanese collection, appears in the volume Asakawa Kan’ichi and Medieval History Research in Japan and the West (朝河貫一と日欧中世史研究),  which was published by Yoshikawa Kōbunkan in 2017. NCC would like to congratulate Haruko Nakamura for her contributions, which bring this important aspect of the history of the development of Japan Studies in North America to light!
NCC’s “Librarians in the News” series is meant to highlight the publications and other remarkable achievements of Japan Studies librarians, who manage to accomplish so much in addition to their regular jobs. If you know someone who you think should be honored in this series, please contact NCC executive director, Tara McGowan ( Thank you!

[1] For those interested in learning more about Asakawa Kan’ichi’s legacy, here are some other related links. In March 2007, the Council on East Asian Studies co-sponsored an international conference at Yale University with the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership in honor of Asakawa’s memory entitled Japan and the World: Domestic Politics and How the World Looks to Japan.  The conference was followed by the spring 2008 publication of the second volume of the CEAS Occasional Publication Series entitled “Japan and the World: Japan’s Contemporary Geopolitical Challenges – A Volume in Honor of the Memory and Intellectual Legacy of Asakawa Kan’ichi,” which was edited by Frances Rosenbluth (Yale University) and Masaru Kohno (Waseda University).


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