chapter  52
Japanese Studies in Britain, 1945–88
Pages 8

AT THE CLOSE of the Pacific War Japanese studies in Britain appeared active and flourishing. Conflict with Japan had stimulated the creation of military language programmes and unprecedented increases in staff and student numbers.1 However, these appearances were deceptive. The School of Oriental and African Studies in London was the only university institution where Japanese was taught and Japan seriously studied, and most of its teachers were employed on temporary wartime contracts.2 Furthermore, Japan’s position in British consciousness was soon to decline into near obscurity.3 Britain’s imperial interests still dominated her view of the non-European world and estimates of future trade saw post-war China as far more promising than defeated Japan4 Symbolic of these attitudes were the views of the Scarborough Commission which reviewed the future of ‘Oriental, Slavonic, East European and African Studies’ in 1947 in its report to the Foreign Secretary. According to this influential body, one of the principal reasons for studying Japanese was its importance in the world of international Sinology.5 The Scarborough Commission did propose the creation of a series of postgraduate studentships for training in Japanese studies but these were to be drawn from a pool of twentyfive Far Eastern awards, a small fraction of the 195 studentships allocated to stimulate academic activity in East European, African and Asian studies.6 This handful of training studentships was to play a significant, if limited, role in the development of Japanese studies in the United Kingdom. These awards firmly anchored Japanese studies in the British university system and enabled some wartime students and teachers to develop their linguistic and analytical expertise. Soon the teaching of Japanese spread to Oxford and Cambridge, and the creation of posts in the social sciences and modern studies was seriously discussed. As a direct result of the Scarborough Report a new BA in Japanese was established in the Oriental Faculty at Cambridge. At Oxford Japanese became a new subsidiary element in degree courses in Chinese.7