Greeting  (April, 2024)

Cordial greetings to all members of the Japan Association for African Studies.

I am Shinichi Takeuchi, privileged to assume the esteemed position of President of the Japan Association for African Studies (JAAS) for the fiscal year 2024-25. I am deeply dedicated to executing my duties with the utmost diligence and proficiency, and I respectfully solicit the support of all our esteemed members.

Since my induction as a member in 1986, the JAAS has stood as my primary academic community. Through its array of activities, including annual conferences, branch initiatives, and scholarly publications, it has afforded me invaluable exposure to the highest caliber of African studies. This engagement has consistently captivated my academic pursuits. I am profoundly indebted to this association and the individuals who have steadfastly bolstered its endeavors.

The JAAS boasts a membership count that has consistently hovered around eight hundred individuals in recent years, rendering it a notably substantial entity among area studies-oriented associations and underscoring its status as a dynamic scholarly consortium. This vitality is sustained by opportunities for scholarly engagement across various academic disciplines pertinent to Africa. The board is committed to fortifying and expanding these avenues of academic exchange.

As a preeminent society dedicated to African studies in Japan, the JAAS confronts an array of challenges and calls for concerted action. Among these challenges, I deem the following five to be of paramount significance:

Firstly, the preservation and augmentation of the association’s multidisciplinary ethos. Central to the JAAS’s distinctiveness is the breadth and depth of its academic purview, fostering substantive interdisciplinary discourse. While my expertise lies in political economy, I have gleaned invaluable insights from scholars across varied fields, such as anthropology, primatology, medicine, and geology, whom I have encountered through this association. The preservation of this multidisciplinary ethos, wherein scholars from diverse disciplines converge, stands as an imperative endeavor.

In order to foster high-quality research across diverse fields, it is imperative for the JAAS members residing throughout Japan to contribute actively and equally. We firmly believe that assisting in the activities of regional branches is of paramount importance for enhancing the strengths of our association.

Secondly, the cultivation and augmentation of international collaborations. Building upon the foundation laid by the preceding board, efforts to bolster cooperation with entities such as the Korean Association of African Studies (KAAS) have garnered momentum. It is my aspiration to further cultivate these partnerships and foster collaborative endeavors with African studies associations across other Asian nations.

Thirdly, the reinforcement of bonds with African researchers domiciled in Japan. In recent years, the influx of African students pursuing degrees in Japan has engendered a burgeoning cohort of young African researchers undertaking postdoctoral positions within the country. It is imperative to cultivate an environment that is conducive to their active participation and scholarly engagement within the association.

Fourth is the adoption of inclusive outreach strategies to engage individuals interested in Africa. A hallmark strength of the JAAS lies in the active involvement of practitioners within its ranks. There exists a pressing need to formulate outreach initiatives tailored to diverse constituencies with a vested interest in Africa, encompassing both scholars and non-academic stakeholders.

Lastly, the fortification of institutional and financial frameworks underpinning the JAAS’s operational activities. In recent years, the expanding scope of association initiatives has precipitated a commensurate augmentation in requisite budgetary allocations. Furthermore, the membership growth has necessitated a concomitant increase in the logistical demands of hosting academic conferences. Consolidating a robust operational infrastructure is indispensable for ensuring the sustainable growth and development of the JAAS.

The effective resolution of these challenges hinges upon the understanding and collaboration of our members. I am committed to fostering an environment of open communication and collaboration, and I earnestly welcome candid feedback and insights.

Over nearly four decades, my engagement with African studies has been a source of profound enrichment. The insights garnered from my scholarly pursuits in Africa have indelibly enriched my academic trajectory. While the temporal confines of my tenure may be circumscribed, I am steadfast in my resolve to contribute, however modestly, to the advancement of African studies and the JAAS, in acknowledgment of the invaluable benefits bestowed upon me.

April 30, 2024
Shinichi Takeuchi
President, Japan Association for African Studies