About the Centre

Message from the Director

Welcome to the Centre for the Study of Global Japan. Since its establishment in 2017, our Centre has already become a vibrant place for the exchange of ideas and information about contemporary Japan. This is in great measure thanks to the leadership of interim director, Louis Pauly. As inaugural director, I will build on his running start.

My goal is to make our Centre the first place scholars, students, policymakers, and the general public seek out to understand more about contemporary Japan. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues at the University of Toronto and beyond to realize this vision. Japanese politics and foreign policy are shaped by challenges that cannot be addressed through the narrow lens of a single academic discipline. We will thus seek collaboration with many counterparts.

In managing the Centre, I will adopt an inclusive approach that reflects the wide range of perspectives and experiences that shape contemporary Japan and Japan studies. The free exchange of ideas and open debate is a defining characteristic of both Canada and Japan, two longstanding liberal democracies. It is also a core value outlined in the mission of the University of Toronto: “Within the unique university context, the most crucial of all human rights are the rights of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of research.” Understanding contemporary Japan requires listening to and engaging with many different voices.

It is a fascinating time to study Japan. The country has been among the most stable democracies since the end of World War II, but its political system has undergone fundamental shifts. Japanese foreign policymakers face tough challenges navigating emerging regional threats and a broader crisis of the liberal international order. The Japanese economy – the third largest in the world – remains healthy but faces headwinds like an aging population, impediments to entrepreneurship, and longstanding concerns about diversity and gender equality. Aside from being a fascinating country to study on its own terms, Japan offers valuable lessons for other societies navigating similar challenges.

A little bit about myself: I spent much of my childhood in Tokyo attending an international school. This experience – as well as my mixed-race, multicultural background – shaped my early interest in international relations and Japanese politics. I completed my Ph.D. at Harvard University and began my academic career as faculty at Stanford University. At Stanford, I worked with my colleagues to establish the Japan Program in 2011 and developed various initiatives to promote Japan studies. I am co-editor of volumes on the Democratic Party of Japan, which ruled from 2009-2012, and the Abe government, which has been in power since 2012. My research also uses Japan as a case study and source of data to examine broader topics in political science, such as the renegotiation of international institutions, the politics of financial crises, and energy and climate change policy.

I hope you will join us at various Centre events. We also welcome your suggestions and ideas for collaboration. Finally, I thank the Government of Japan, our many institutional partners, affiliated faculty, and staff for their support of the Centre.

Phillip Y. Lipscy
Director, Centre for the Study of Global Japan

About the Centre for the Study of Global Japan

Established on July 1, 2017 on the basis of a generous gift from the Government of Japan, the Centre for the Study of Global Japan facilitates research, teaching, and public outreach about contemporary Japan. Within the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, it helps develop research networks, convenes lectures and workshops, hosts guest researchers, and seeks out new opportunities for faculty and student exchange between Canada and Japan.  The Centre aims to deepen understanding between two G-7 partners on global issues and policy challenges.

Meric Gertler (left), and Yasunori Nakayama.

University of Toronto President Meric Gertler and Consul-General Yasunori Nakayama. Photo: Jackie Shapiro.


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