The continued existence of the Japanese Studies Department of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg is at risk. The university has drafted a so-called “Hochschulentwicklungsplan” (University Development Plan) in response to the cost-cutting measures demanded by the state government. In this plan the Japanese Studies Department is not acknowledged as belonging to the so-called “small disciplines worthy of sponsorship”, which would make the Japanese Studies Department eligible for federal funding. We demand that the University Development Plan be modified to acknowledge the Japanese Studies Department as one of the “small disciplines worthy of sponsorship”, just like the Ethnology Department and the Oriental Studies Department which have already been acknowledged in such manner. We also demand that sections of the University Development Plan which could prove detrimental to the continued existence of the Japanese Studies Department be deleted.
The current version of the University Development Plan which proposes an incorporation of the Japanese Studies Department into the Department of Political Science or a merger with the Japanese Studies Department of Leipzig University is not acceptable – both would spell the end for the Japanese Studies Department in Halle.
In the Department of Political Science the subject of Japanese Studies would be reduced to a minimum, e.g. as an optional course for political science students. A merger with the Japanese Studies Department of Leipzig University would amount to a complete close-down. Firstly, the Japanese Studies Department of Leipzig University doesn’t have the personnel or funding to accommodate the students from Halle. Secondly, the field of research of the Japanese Studies Department of Leipzig University is different from Halle – the scientific approach in Halle is based on social sciences whereas Leipzig uses methods from cultural science.
The Japanese Studies Department in Halle stands for a discipline of contemporary social sciences with importance beyond the regional level. It complements many other disciplines of the university and thus enhances the range of subjects as a whole.
A close-down of the Japanese Studies Department would scarcely take off the financial burden of the university, particularly in view of the fact that most of the funding for the Japanese Studies Department is not obtained from the state or the university. The Japanese Studies Department was able to obtain more external research funding per chair than all other disciplines of the Philosophical Faculty I. The Japanese Studies Department is very capable in other respects as well: considering the number of students it is the fourth largest department at the Philosophical Faculty I which is quite remarkable for a so-called “small discipline”.
The Japanese Studies Department collaborates closely with other departments of the university. Together with the Oriental Studies Department, which is already acknowledged as being worthy of sponsorship, it offers the only doctoral program at the Philosophical Faculty I. The Japanese Studies Department also works on an international scale: in 2007 the Japanese Studies Department initiated the Internationales Graduiertenkolleg Bürgergesellschaft, an international graduate program. Furthermore, the Japanese Studies Department has student exchange agreements with seven Japanese universities; among them the most highly regarded universities of Japan: Tokyo, Keio, Waseda and Sophia.
These exchange programs bring Japanese students to Germany. Also, these programs, especially through the double degree program which is offered in cooperation with the Keio University, serve to train experts for the German-Japanese cultural exchange. Thus the Japanese Studies Department contributes significantly to the internationalization of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, and serves to find new ambassadors for the international relations of the Federal Republic of Germany.