Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

TUFS at a glance

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) is a national university offering undergraduate and graduate programs related to the study of world languages, cultures and societies, and international relations. TUFS currently holds within its organization the Faculty of Foreign Studies, whose three divisions cover seven regions of study and twenty-six major languages and areas of specialization, the Graduate School of Area and Culture Studies, the Japanese Language Center for International Students, and the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA).

TUFS is currently undertaking three COE (Center of Excellence) programs: To establish Grammatological Informatics based on Corpora of Asian Scripts (ILCAA) Center for Documentation & Area-Transcultural Studies (Graduate School), and Usage-Based Linguistic Informatics (Graduate School) as part of the 21st Century COE Program promoted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. Since September 2003, a fourth program has been adopted. Research will soon start in the field of language education and pedagogy.

TUFS is the oldest institution in the field of international studies in Japan, and boasts a large number of graduates who play an active part in international exchange and academic research today. TUFS has always maintained and still continues to hold a unique role as a leading center of excellence in international studies, research and exchange.

a hundred years and more of history

In essence, the University is the oldest institution in the field of international studies in Japan, first constituted in 1899 as an independent educational and research institution as Tokyo Gaikokugo Gakko (Tokyo School of Foreign Languages), but with more distant antecedents in a government institute for translation, Bansho Shirabesho (Institute for Research of Foreign Documents) whose history can be traced back as far as 1857. With a focus on the translation of books from European languages (in particular, Portuguese, Spanish, and, latterly, Dutch, English, German and French), this Institute played a key role as a unique window on the outside world during Japan's period of isolation from other countries. The work of the Institute may be said to have prepared the ground for the massive influx of Western ideas occasioned by the Meiji Restoration of 1868, following which?adding educational functions to its previous research-oriented mission ?the Institute consolidated its leading role as a focal point for international studies and exchange. The name "Tokyo School of Foreign Languages" was first applied in 1873. After twelve years during which the School was absorbed within the Tokyo Commercial School, it was restored in 1897, and re-established on a firm footing as an independent educational institution in 1899. During the Second World War, the University was renamed "Tokyo College of Foreign Affairs," and in 1949 the University gained its present name: "Tokyo University of Foreign Studies."

The University has maintained a focus on the languages and societies of Europe and the Americas (with current provision for undergraduate and graduate studies in the following language-related areas: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and the two recent additions of Polish and Czech). At the same time, the University has continuously developed and now provides strongly for Middle Eastern and Asian studies, with studies related to Chinese (since 1899) and Hindi (since 1911) having been established relatively early on in the University's history, and current provision also including Korean, Mongolian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Philippine, Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Burmese, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Turkish studies. In addition, Japanese studies have been catered for since 1968, under the impetus of a perceived need for international exchange with non-Japanese students. In 1964, the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa was affiliated with the University as a research facility to be used by personnel at all national institutions of higher learning. The University also contains within its organization (to be relocated to the central campus from 2004) the Japanese Language Center for International Students, a national facility providing preparatory Japanese language training for students from abroad and engaging in research and materials development for the purpose of contributing significantly to the education of non-Japanese students in Japan.

In earlier days, research and teaching at the University was focused mainly on language description and literary studies, but since the 1960s, linguistics, culture and area studies have gained increasing importance. While the University continues to maintain its traditional emphasis on intensive language study as a prelude to further studies based on primary sources in the language of specialization, a major reform of the undergraduate curriculum in 1995 has introduced a greater emphasis on early development of the discipline-related knowledge and abilities needed to pursue specialized studies in a particular field of interest. Apart from majoring in a language area of specialization, undergraduate students now choose to follow one of three discipline-based programs: in language and information studies, culture and literary studies, or area and international studies.

In 1999, the University celebrated the 100th anniversary of its independence as well as the 126th anniversary of its original establishment. It subsequently moved its campus to a new location, where students can study in a modern and hi-tech environment. Having entered the 21st century, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies continues to play a leading role as a center of excellence in international studies, research, and exchange worldwide.

In April 2004, the University will become a semi-private institution. It will have more freedom and responsibility in policy-making than before. This can be a good opportunity for the University to engage more vigorously in academic activities and international exchange.

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