2. The Institute Today
The following discussion focuses mainly on developments at ISS since the adoption of the division system in 1985.
1) Flexible Research Fields Under the Division System
The Institute of Social Science continues to operate on the division system established in 1985, whereby ISS was reorganized into four divisions: Comparative Contemporary Law, Comparative Contemporary Politics, Comparative Contemporary Economics, and Comparative Contemporary Societies. Including the staff of the Information Center for Social Science Research on Japan, it now has the total of 23 professors, 15 associate professors, 12 research associates, 2 visiting professors from within Japan and 2 visiting professors from overseas.
These four divisions are divided into a total of twenty-two research fields. The advantage of the division system is that fields of research do not have to be fixed or follow established disciplinary lines but can function flexibly in accordance with the needs of new research tasks. In this context, when a faculty post falls vacant, it is not necessary to appoint a replacement from exactly the same disciplinary field. Faculty recruitment can instead begin by reaching a consensus on what kind of field of specialization should be targeted for recruitment.
Specifically, the following procedure has become established since 1990: the Research Organization Council (Kenkyu Soshiki Iinkai) set up by the Faculty Council considers personnel matters on a medium-term basis and makes proposals for what kinds of fields are desirable for individual posts, and the Faculty Council makes the final decisions.
This procedure does exact the price of consensus building. However, by paying this price, it has been possible to achieve change in the organization by recruiting outstanding researchers in new fields needed to grapple with new topics of research and, at the same time, to assure that there is a stable staff of scholars in the basic fields considered indispensable to ISS. The introduction of this new procedure can be seen in, first, the expansion of research on other countries (at first limited to study of the United States, Europe, China, and the Soviet Union) to cover Southeast Asia as well; second, the addition of the fields of international law and EU law in order to provide perspectives in law that transcend the framework of single states; and third, expansion of the framework of social sciences at ISS from the two main traditional fields-law/politics and economics-to include sociology and information studies.
In this way, considerable growth is taking place in the research fields covered by ISS. The size of the Institute’s staff, nevertheless, is limited, so expansion of the scope of its research fields cannot go on without limit. One of the ways that these limitations are being overcome is through what might be called the “skill diversification” of individual members of its staff. Such diversification is making it possible not only for researchers in a variety of specialized fields to come together in the same institution, but for them to create a unique blend of scholarship that is guided by the principles of both comparative and interdisciplinary study. Indeed, this blend is already becoming the hallmark of ISS. Another area of growth that transcends the physical constraints on expansion is the emergence of research networks in ISS research extending outside the Institute. From now on conscious and concerted efforts to enhance such networks will be an important thrust of ISS activity.
2) Comprehensive Empirical Social Science Research from an International and Comparative Perspective and Its Central Topic of Japanese Society
Having availed itself of the special combination of human resources described above, what is the Institute of Social Science attempting to accomplish ?
ISS was founded for the purpose of research on Japan and the advanced nations of the world. Inasmuch as even research about other countries was ultimately pursued in order to gain a better understanding of Japanese society, it is safe to say that all research undertaken at ISS was essentially aimed at studying Japanese society. Social science research, needless to say, is by definition the study of the society that has produced us. Today, however, we are more strongly conscious of Japanese society as the direct subject of ISS research than ever before, and two developments have contributed to that awareness.
One is the changed perceptions of Japanese society. Previously, perceptions of Japanese society were shaped by what was seen as the laws of the historical development of capitalism and the “backwardness” that had to be overcome by comparison with the countries of the West. With the emergence of Japan as a major economic power following the period of rapid economic growth and features resulting from the multilayered, complex interactions of law, politics, and society, we are now conscious of the need for a better understanding of the special traits of Japan’s social system (the so-called Japan model).
The second, which is closely connected to the first, is the heightening of interest by other countries in the Japanese social system and the particular development of Japanese studies in the social sciences resulting from that interest. In this context, ISS has become keenly aware of the need for Japanese scholars to more actively make available the results of their research on Japanese society throughout the world, engaging in interchange with social scientists from other countries specializing in Japanese society, and working for the mutual enhancement of scholarship in these fields.
A major factor that paved the way for this new posture vis-a-vis research on Japanese society was the institute-wide Joint Research project undertaken between 1985 and 1992 entitled “Contemporary Japanese Society,” to be described in further detail below. This project for the first time situated Japanese society itself as the direct subject of interdisciplinary joint research at the Institute, and was directed at clarifying both the bright and the dark sides of the Japanese system through the particular perspectives of analysis of “the corporate society” (kigyo shakai) and the “company-centered system or companyism” (kaisha shugi). This project was followed by another institute-wide Joint Research project from 1994 to 1998 entitled “The Twentieth-century Global System.” This project consisted of analyzing the evolution and transformation of Japan’s social systems in global historical and structural contexts, and it displayed the distinctive features of research on Japanese society being done at ISS.
The features of Japanese studies at ISS, restated briefly, are (1) the interdisciplinary approach, (2) the perspective of “social” research, (3) the relativization of “society” through the perspective of international comparison, and (4) empirical research. Based on these approaches, research in Japanese studies at ISS has earned the respect of scholars both in Japan and overseas. When ISS makes Japanese society a central subject of research, therefore, the research is by no means carried out by Japanese studies researchers alone. The analysis of global phenomena themselves is indispensable to study of Japanese society in an increasingly globalized world. Research on Japanese society cannot be adequately pursued without analysis of Japan in comparison to and in relation to other countries and other parts of the world. Not only are these comparative and relational studies considered to be the premise of research on Japanese society, they are pursued for their significance as independent original research as well. For this reason, the staff of ISS is composed of a balance of specialists on Japan and specialists dealing with other countries. Also taken into account is a balance between historical research and analysis of contemporary affairs. These kinds of balance, considered in the context of the various issues we tackle in the social sciences, will also have to be accorded due attention henceforth.
Comparison of contemporary societies and analysis of contemporary conditions carry much weight not only in institute-wide research projects, but also in the research of individual staff members. This research by its nature includes research on and critique of public policy. One challenge for ISS is to move beyond simply studying and criticizing past policies and to engage in its own brand of policy recommendation research. Research activities at ISS do play a central role in society by presenting basic and empirical understandings that can be used for making choices regarding possible options for Japanese society, but one of the tasks ISS must address is how to pursue research expressly aimed at policy recommendation.
3) Three-tiered Research System
The research discussed above forms a three-layered structure.
The first layer of the research structure of ISS is formed by basic research in specialized fields, namely, the research themes set by individual scholars in their respective fields of specialization. On this level the talents of each individual researcher are exercised and his/her achievements compiled, and in the sense that research of this type forms the foundation of the Institute as a whole, it may be considered “basic research.” At this level, individual staff members are assured complete autonomy. Staff members are assured equally the use and benefits of ISS facilities, but must fulfill by their own efforts any additional needs they may have for their research.
Starting in 1971, Monthly Study Meetings were held as venues of interchange among ISS staff members and mutual critique of each other’s work. At the Monthly Study Meetings, the presenters were limited to members of the staff, but in 1995, the name was changed to Monthly Staff Seminars and their modus operandi altered in order to make them occasions for encouraging scholarly interchange both within the Institute and with researchers from outside.
The second level of the research structure is made up of ongoing Group Research projects led by staff members that bring together researchers from inside and outside the Institute. The more than twenty-five Group Research projects currently underway comprise several types. First, a distinction can be drawn between discipline-specific projects that bring together researchers in a particular field (e.g., law, political science, economics, sociology) and interdisciplinary projects organized by scholars across disciplinary lines. Second, Group Research projects may be distinguished between project studies with specific objectives, methodology and a time-schedule for compilation of the results, research-exchange projects that are intended mainly for ongoing exchange of views and information among scholars, and combinations of both kinds. Researchers are free to organize as well as participate in such Group Research projects at their own initiative, and fixed amounts of funding support are provided by the Institute for registered Group Research projects. The collegial networks that are built through these Group Research projects are one of the most valuable assets of the Institute.
At the third level of the research structure are the institute-wide Joint Research projects for which ISS is best known. The features of these projects are: (1) selection of a unified theme through discussion among staff members; (2) participation in each project by the majority of staff members; (3) substantial participation by researchers from outside the Institute; (4) a series of task-oriented and institute-wide study groups as well as symposia and seminars for discussion of the project theme, culminating in a final report or published work compiling their results; (5) a span of five to six years for the research, including the period for publication of its findings; (6) publication in a multi-volume series.
The series published so far as a result of these projects include: Kihonteki jinken [Studies on Fundamental Human Rights] (5 vols.), Sengo kaikaku [The Postwar Reforms] (8 vols.), Fashizumu-ki no kokka to shakai [The State and Society During the Fascist Era] (8 vols.), Fukushi kokka [The Welfare State] (6 vol.), Gendai Nihon shakai [Contemporary Japanese Society] (7 vols.), and Nijusseiki shisutemu [The Twentieth-century Global System] (6 vols.).
As these projects are central to the research activity at the Institute, a large portion of its resources is funneled to them. The invitation of visiting professors from other institutions in Japan and the hiring of part-time researchers, for example, is considered with particular attention to the needs of these projects.
The Joint Research projects are carried out on the groundwork provided by the basic disciplinary research of individual staff members as well as Group Research projects, and they provide the focal point of research activity at the Institute. At the same time, participation in these projects helps to stimulate research staff to explore new topics and territories of research and identify new perspectives in their research.
The publications resulting from these Joint Research projects are designed to be-although their success in this regard must be judged by third parties-not simply collections of separate studies but cohesive collections of scholarship with a clearly defined theme and message. It is not necessary for the authors’ views to be united, but it is considered ideal for the results, despite some divergence of perspective, to display certain organic linkages. Once emphasis is placed on cohesiveness of content, joint projects are made open so as to actively seek the cooperation of outside researchers suitable to the theme being addressed, and, indeed, ISS joint projects are being pursued in this way. On the other hand, since as many members of ISS staff as possible are expected to participate in Joint Research projects, there is a tendency for participation to be somewhat superficial and for cohesion in terms of content to be sacrificed to a certain degree. This problem is one that needs to be adequately considered at the time a project is organized.
Keeping the Institute open to the outside while encouraging ongoing Joint Research projects that maintain the scholarly tension and involvement of all staff members of the Institute requires efforts to develop a more appropriate way of organizing projects. Currently in the planning stages are a number of projects that are relatively independent and open to extra-Institute involvement but linked in terms of shared objectives as well as perspective. The implementation of these linked-type or multilevel developmental projects by their nature requires extra innovation in order to maintain the administrative support base and procure necessary research funds.
4) International Network Node for Social Science Research on Japan
As the Institute of Social Science began to take up Japanese society as a more direct topic of research, it became increasingly aware of its important role in the network of international research on Japanese society. Based on this awareness, the Institute organized the international symposium “Confusion and Choice in Advanced Countries,” held under the sponsorship of the University of Tokyo in 1988. In 1990 ISS began publishing its “Discussion Paper Series” consisting of series written in Japanese and series in other languages. In 1992, a division for visiting professors from overseas was set up, and since 1996 interchange has been facilitated by the presence of more than one overseas visiting professor on ISS staff at any one time. In the fall of 1992, ISS concluded an academic exchange agreement with the Berlin Free University, which further strengthened a close relationship with the Free University’s Oste Asiatisches Seminar (OAS) with which the Institute of Social Science had maintained research exchange over the previous ten years on the basis of department-level agreements. ISS has subsequently drawn up a number of academic exchange agreements [See II 4. 3) (3) to be discussed below], and the visiting professorship posts have been useful in further steadily expanding the international network of researchers. (At the time of writing, the networks still center around Europe and the United States, but bases for exchange are also in the process of being formed in Asia.) In 1994, ISS inaugurated its English-language newsletter, Social Science Japan - Newsletter, focusing on research on Japanese society. In 1995, with the Berlin Free University’s East Asia Research Institute and Oxford University’s Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, the Institute of Social Science cosponsored the international conference, “Contemporary Japan from the Perspective of the Social Sciences,” held at Berlin Free University. In 1997-98, ISS published the two-volume The Political Economy of Japanese Society (Oxford University Press), an English edition of the seven-volume Gendai Nihon shakai [Contemporary Japanese Society] resulting from its 1985 to 1992 Joint Research project. Since 1997 it has been in charge of the JAICA project supporting the activities of the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Indonesia, where staff members have been sent for scholarly exchange. The Institute for Oriental Culture of the University of Tokyo cooperates with this project.
The internationalization of the Institute of Social Science has thus made remarkable progress in the past ten years. Building on these achievements, ISS should focus on making use of the international networks formed over the last decade to expedite Joint Research projects that form the core of its programs.
Today there is nothing particularly remarkable about international symposiums, academic exchange agreements, visiting professors from overseas, and English-language publications. Two features of the “internationalization” at ISS do deserve special mention, however.
First, ISS has made available facilities for more than 400 young researchers from over 30 countries to pursue research in Japan for periods of a few months to two years. Many of them are now leading specialists on Japanese society in their home countries. Among established social scientists specializing in Japan anywhere in the world, in fact, it is difficult to find any who have had no relation with the Institute of Social Science.
A second special feature of ISS is the Social Science Japan Journal, an English journal of social science research on Japan inaugurated in 1998 and published twice annually. SSJJ is a refereed journal with an editorial board made up of both ISS staff members and researchers outside ISS supported by an international advisory board. It is co-published and distributed by Oxford University Press. ISS has invested enormous energy in this journal, which represents a pioneering endeavor unlike any other journal of its kind in Japan.
It can be said, therefore, that ISS serves as the key node in the international network of social science research on Japan, not just in terms of researcher training but also in the dissemination of the results of research in these fields. Limitations in the physical facilities and personnel of ISS, however, make it difficult for the Institute to fulfill completely its potential role in meeting international needs. At present, the research facilities ISS can provide researchers from overseas remain inadequate. In publishing the English-language journal, SSJJ, moreover, ISS staff members on the editorial board have had to devote considerable volunteer time and effort to the routine work of maintaining editorial standards suited to a scholarly journal with an international readership. Native speakers of English with both editing expertise and social science research skills are needed to staff the journal, as well as other professional personnel for translation and copyediting. Improving conditions in these areas is an important challenge for ISS.
5) More Media for Transmitting Research Information and Results
The internationalization of ISS has been accompanied by an increase in the number of media for transmitting research information and achievements. The traditional ISS periodicals for publication of research results are: Shakai kagaku kenkyu [The Journal of Social Science], a Japanese-language bulletin published six times a year; multivolume publications of the results of institute-wide Joint Research projects; Chosa hokoku [Research Reports] and Shiryo [Materials], both not-for-sale ISS publications compiling the results of Joint Research projects and research by ISS staff members with the cooperation of outside researchers; Kenkyu hokoku [Research Reports] compiling the results of Group Research projects; and Kenkyu sosho [Research Series] compiling the results of basic research by ISS staff members. The last two publications are for sale. Annals of the Institute of Social Science, an English-language publication, became the Social Science Japan Journal, mentioned earlier. Two other media for English-language publication are the Social Science Japan- Newsletter and the “Discussion Paper Series.” Despite its thin format, the Social Science Japan- Newsletter contains feature essays and a list of references, as well as comments from overseas visiting researchers at ISS, and plays the role of an information guide to research on Japanese society. Following the example set by the aforementioned The Political Economy of Japanese Society (2 vols.), ISS aims to produce other English-language publications based on the results of the Institute-wide research projects.
Now tracing its publication back nearly half a century, Shakai kagaku kenkyu (The Journal of Social Science) refurbished its format completely starting with its fiftieth edition in 1998. Until then it had followed the traditional style of an academic bulletin containing essays, notes on research trends, and book reviews written by staff members. Now, with the support of the editorial board the members of which include researchers from other parts of the University of Tokyo, each issue carries essays under a feature topic, and contributions are invited from researchers in Japan and overseas so as to make the publication a forum that transcends the framework of ISS.
The Japanese periodical Shakai kagaku kenkyu and the English periodical Social Science Japan Journal are the major ISS media of transmitting research achievements the outside ISS. As in the case of the English journal, editorial experience is required to maintain the academic quality of Shakai kagaku kenkyu and make it function as a forum for scholarly research. Eventually it may be necessary to consider moving beyond the traditional bulletin (kiyo) style format. Developing the potential of these two journals is one of the major challenges for ISS.
6) The Role of the Information Center for Social Science Research on Japan
Established in 1996, the Information Center for Social Science Research on Japan (ICSSRJ; hereafter, the “Center”) has played a key role in internationalizing the Institute’s overall activities and in markedly improving its capacity and function as a disseminator of information in the social science field.
The Center was set up as a subsidiary organ of the Institute to operate for a ten-year period. It consists of two research divisions-“networks organizations” and “survey research analyses”-as well as a visiting non-Japanese scholars division (2 posts). With a steering committee headed by the Center director (a post held concurrently by the ISS Director) and formed around a core group of full-time ICSSRJ faculty members, ISS as a whole supports the operations of the Center. The Center’s establishment has both added information studies to the research fields covered by the Institute and enabled the development of a diverse program of other projects carried out by the Center itself. Those projects may be divided into four areas of activity.
First, the Center collects, stores and processes survey data on Japanese society and makes it available for online retrieval. Leading this aspect of the Center’s operations is the Social Science Japan Data Archive (SSJ Data Archive). A data archive (or data bank) is a facility for gathering and storing survey data (in this case data from social and statistical surveys), preventing such data from being scattered and lost, and making them available for secondary educational or scholarly use. Whereas in most Western countries such data archives have been used in social science research and education for some time, until now Japan has lacked such a systematic data archive for the social sciences. Consequently, despite the vast number of surveys carried out by Japanese researchers, in the past much of the data thus obtained was gradually lost once the original survey work was completed. The SSJ Data Archive was established as one of the Center’s main projects in order to redress this situation. In addition to compiling and maintaining a data base of the statistical and survey data produced by the Institute’s own activities, the SSJ Data Archive also functions as a general data base of existing statistical and social survey data deposited from other sources.
A second area of the Center’s activities is aimed at the international dissemination of research-related information, including the results of ISS research activities, and the organization of channels for communication among researchers at the international level. The Social Science Japan Journal, the Social Science Japan-Newsletter, and The Political Economy of Japanese Society all began as Center projects. The Center has also established the “SSJ Forum,” an Internet-based forum for discussion on social science topics with a focus on the politics and economy of contemporary Japan. The SSJ Forum currently has an international membership of 670 researchers.
Third is the development of international channels of communication among researchers. Whereas the SSJ Forum provides an arena for the exchange of information and views in English only, the Center also operates “Language and Power,” a trial multilingual intranet forum aimed at facilitating electronic communication on the Internet in as many languages as possible. In discussions conducted in Japanese, English, Chinese, Hangul, and Indonesian, the forum is currently addressing the question of the relationship between language and the state.
The Center’s fourth area of activity concerns its role, as mentioned above, in the formation of an international network for research on Japanese society. Non-Japanese scholars invited to the Center as visiting professors-so far from leading universities in Germany, the United States, Taiwan, Italy, Russia, Great Britain, France, China, Israel and Australia-have played a crucial part in keeping the Institute’s standards of social science research abreast of those in other countries and regions of the world. In addition, the University of Tokyo’s agreements on academic exchange managed by the Institute of Social Science encompass five institutions in four countries (the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China; the Berlin Free University, Germany; the University of Milan, Italy; Ludwigs-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany; and El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico); while the Institute itself has inter-departmental agreements with four institutions in four countries (the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland; the Center for Japanese Studies, University of Indonesia, Indonesia; the Department of East Asian Studies, Sheffield University, U.K.; and the Institute of East Asian Studies, Lyon II and III University, CNRS, France).
The tremendous potential of the Center has yet to be fully realized for the Institute as a whole. The task the Center now faces is to determine how to promote the Center’s fundamental purpose of contributing to social science research on Japan throughout the world and what new directions in social science research can be explored by utilizing the resources of the Center.
7) The ISS Library
The Institute of Social Science purchases some 6,000 to 7,000 publications each year. Its library currently holds around 280,000 titles, most in such fields as law, politics, economics, labor and social issues. Many of its resources relate to the West, China, the former socialist countries, and the modern and contemporary history of Japan, a breadth that reflects the Institute’s comprehensive and comparative approach, one of its founding principles. Among its collection of foreign-language publications, the library is particularly well stocked with works on the former socialist countries, while it also has many works on modern and contemporary China (complementing the Institute of Oriental Culture’s extensive collection on ancient and premodern China). Among the Japan-related holdings are numerous materials on labor issues and the Special Police (Japan’s prewar and wartime “thought police”); industrial, legal and political documents; local histories (of prefectures, cities and towns); collected works of individuals authors; and biographical works. The library also features a large collection of materials on microfilm.
In gathering materials for the library, the Institute employs a combination of methods including (a) the allocation of fixed book allowances that make it possible for staff members to order publications relevant to their particular areas of specialization or research; (b) selection by the Library Committee, three times a year, of key publications of importance to the Institute as a whole and across the spectrum of research specializations; and (c) maintenance of a special budget for expensive materials such as multivolume sets, the purchase of which is requested by staff members and subject to the approval of the Library Committee. The Institute also maintains subscriptions to some 950 Japanese and foreign periodical publications, and a special committee for the selection of periodicals is convened twice yearly to consider new subscriptions.
Having made greater progress in data input for its collection than have many other departments and institutes, and a catalogue that can be searched via the Internet, the ISS library has attracted an increasing number of outside users in recent years. The nine-member library staff has been widely praised, particularly by foreign researchers, for its helpful and accommodating response to the growing demand.
The library’s most pressing problem is its shortage of stack space. For the last decade or so, it has dealt with the problem by turning its underground level into a densely-packed stack room. With even that space now approaching full capacity, however, it has initiated efforts toward establishment of a new library facility.
8) The Institute’s Educational Activities
With a few exceptions, research staff of the Institute of Social Science are engaged in full-time teaching in the University of Tokyo Graduate School in either law and politics or economics. (Associate professors of the Information Center for Social Science Research on Japan are expected to devote their efforts to their research duties at the Center and, thus, are not, as a rule, appointed to teach in the Graduate School.) A few ISS staff members teach graduate courses in the Division of Humanities and Sociology and the Division of Frontier Sciences. ISS staff also jointly conduct independent research seminars for students in the University of Tokyo College of Arts and Sciences. Through analysis of given themes from several points of view, these seminars play an important role in awakening students to the appeal of the social sciences.
As mentioned above, the Institute of Social Science has long provided a base from which young Japanese studies researchers from various countries conduct research in Japan. Many such visiting researchers from overseas use this opportunity to complete their doctoral degrees, with ISS staff as their advisors. While this host role is not regarded as an educational activity in the formal or institutional sense, it nonetheless illustrates the Institute’s actual function in international education. How to evaluate that role, whether or not to fulfill it under a more institutionalized framework, and what this would entail in terms of material and human resources, are issues that remain to be addressed.
Social science research on Japanese society is developing amid a broader context of international networking in the social sciences. With the aim of applying the results of that research to graduate-level education, and on the basis of the experience and achievements described above, the Institute of Social Science has devised a proposal for the establishment of a graduate-level independent research course on “Japanese society in international perspective.” In a related activity, the Institute now offers a major in “Japanese society in international perspective” (2 posts) in cooperation with the newly established Frontier Sciences division’s environmental studies program at the graduate level.
Since the completion of the process of establishing the Graduate School as an independent administrative unit, the University of Tokyo has begun to shift its emphasis to graduate education. In that context, the Institute of Social Science needs to consider more deeply the nature of its relationship to graduate-level education, both as one of its defining characteristics and in terms of the contribution it should make to the development of the University’s role in research education.
The Institute administers a research associates program for young researchers with masters degrees (or higher) in law or politics and for those who have completed doctoral course work (or possess a higher qualification) in economics. By allowing them to devote themselves full-time to their research for a number of years, the program is designed to help each one to complete a research project that will establish his or her professional standing as a fully-fledged specialist. The program has been highly commended for its role in thus cultivating the successors to Japan’s social science research tradition.
In light of the role the Institute is expected to play from now on, however, the research associates program must be reviewed. That is, it is necessary to reconsider the nature of research associates’ activities at the Institute in the context of advancing the Institute’s Joint Research projects, its increased role as an international center for research on Japanese society, the diversification of its overall program, and so on. Because research associates are appointed for a fixed term, it will also be important, of course, to ensure that they are able to conduct sufficient research work during that period. Nonetheless, from now on the research associates program should be geared toward bringing in young researchers who will develop their own expertise as social science researchers while also helping to accomplish the aforementioned goals of the Institute as a whole. Deliberations are currently under way toward a revision of the research associates program on this basis.
The Institute’s limited number of research associate positions have long been utilized to maintain sufficient staff numbers for project research support and for production of English translations. Staff appointed to these positions have played an extremely important role in the Institute’s overall research support structure. Particularly now, it is crucial that the research support structure be substantially improved so as to ensure the stable development of the Institute’s greatly expanded range of activities.
Three areas of activity are of particular importance in the enhancement of the research support structure: (1) support for the Institute’s burgeoning activities in research exchange and international dissemination of information; (2) support for Joint Research projects being conducted both within the Institute and elsewhere; and (3) compilation and maintenance of the Institute’s data base and computer systems. While some of these duties should be fulfilled by specialists appointed as regular staff of the University, in practice it is extremely difficult to have such administrative positions established. Particularly in the case of activity type (1), for which non-Japanese staff are required, appointing such staff to regular administrative positions is difficult. For this reason, the support structure is being formed by the appointment of non-Japanese staff to research associate positions. The smooth development of the Institute’s activities depends on the maintenance of sufficient numbers of personnel in this category.
In recent years, as part of the structure of support for institute research activities, systems for the appointment of “institute research staff,” “research support staff” and “research assistants” have been established and a quota of staff in each category has been appointed to the Institute of Social Science. Appropriate utilization of these personnel categories is of the utmost importance and demands skillful personnel management. In light of the University of Tokyo’s plan to set up a joint administrative department for its humanities/social sciences institutes (ISS and three others), ISS calls for an adequate staff of administrative specialists suitable to the Institute. The lack of such staff could significantly limit the extent of research support provided by the administration. This factor, too, must be given due consideration in the utilization of research associate positions for research support.
10) Self-review and Self-evaluation
The Institute of Social Science’s activities are assessed and its raison d’etre examined in terms of the quality of its overall research program (exemplified by the institute-wide Joint Research projects); the quantity of research considered appropriate for a specialist research institute; the diverse undertakings of the Information Center for Social Science Research on Japan; and the Institute’s various other operations. It is necessary to expose these activities to ongoing public evaluation from various perspectives and through various avenues of critique. At the same time, it is also crucial that these activities be assessed through self-review and self-evaluation by the Institute as a whole and by each member of its staff.
Since 1990, the Institute has published the Tokyo Daigaku Shakai Kagaku Kenkyujo nenpo [Annual Report of the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo] for public dissemination. The Annual Report is a radically revised version of Kenkyu jisseki narabi ni keikaku [Research Results and Plan], an internal self-review report compiled annually beginning in 1964. While the Annual Report remains an important reference for self-assessment within the Institute, it is hoped that its accounts of the overall activities of the Institute, including the research and educational activities of its individual staff members, will also serve as a basis for external evaluation of those activities. Importance is also attached to disseminating information about the Institute and its staff’s activities through the ISS Internet website.
In 1998, furthermore, a new system was adopted for the publication of a report on the selection procedure for each new appointment to a professorial or associate-professorial position. For the time being, Shakai kagaku Kenkyu (The Journal of Social Science) introduces the details of the appointee’s research achievements in the social sciences and, as does the ISS website, gives a summary of those achievements and the reasons for his or her appointment. In addition, a second new system was introduced in April 1999 that requires each staff member who has held a professorial post for ten years or more to submit a research progress report to the Faculty Council and to undergo evaluation by researchers outside the Institute.
In conjunction with these measures, it has been determined that the activities and organization of the Institute of Social Science as a whole will hereafter undergo comprehensive external evaluation. Because this external evaluation will be conducted not as a one-time assessment but rather as a continuous evaluative process, it is essential that the Institute maintains a system of ongoing reform based on internal self-review and self-evaluation measures and incorporating assessments from various third parties.