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Cambodian Studies

About Us

Cambodia is a country surrounded by Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and the sea; its area is about 180,000 km2 (about half that of Japan’s), and has an estimated population of 13 million people. A prosperous nation from ancient times, it boasts of the Angkor Wat and linguistic epitaphs from the beginning of the 7th Century. Recently, it has received attention not only as a tourist attraction, but also as a country where international co-operation in restoration of cultural monuments and education takes place.

The Cambodian Studies was set up in 1992. It is a four-year course where students can learn about Cambodia systematically. We are the only university in Japan which has a student exchange agreement with the Royal University of Phnom Penh, allowing students from both universities to study at each other’s campuses.
Each year, only 10 students are enrolled and 3 staff members (including one Cambodian lecturer) are specially assigned to teach not just the language, but also about Cambodian people and society. In addition, students doing research for their graduation theses will find that there are many resources written in Cambodian which can only be found here.

Many areas still await research in Cambodian Studies. We eagerly welcome those who are curious and love to take on the challenge of the unknown: people who have the patience, tenacity and interest to translate literature, interpret paintings found on temple walls, collect riddles, analyse political and economical trends from daily news… in other words, people who would be willing to make these activities their life-long interest regardless of their chosen careers!

Angkor Wat
Photographer: Tomohiro Hayakawa

Characteristics of the Curriculum

Our objective is for students to not just cram in knowledge but also to learn how to look at things logically and express themselves well while learning the language in four years. To this end, we make use of beginner’s texts, dictionaries and AV materials designed by our staff, as well as textbooks (supplementary readers) acquired from Cambodia in our lessons which are conducted according to the modular system of categories and difficulty levels.

Students spend most of their first two years learning the language. As students use a beginner’s text which is meticulously written based on a Japanese-Cambodian comparative grammar approach, they are able to graduate from grammar studies and start reading folktales within two months without trouble, despite the seemingly tough schedule. From the second year onward, students hone their practical language ability through lessons with Cambodian lecturers or Cambodian students and interpretation training. In addition, our ties with NPOs also allow us to create opportunities for internship programs, translation and production of materials.

In the third and fourth years, students start to prepare for their graduation theses and research. The output of previous years can be viewed on our website.

Careers After Graduation

The majority of our students have secured jobs with private companies such as Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Hino Motors, Terumo, Otsuka Foods, Ajinomoto and Enjapan. Others have gone on to graduate schools such as TUFS, Tokyo University and Tohoku University; some have sat for public exams (the National Museum of Modern Art, Embassy of Japan in Cambodia ) or work for international co-operative agencies such as JETRO, JICA, Pacific-Asia Resource Center and the Disabled People’s International.


UEDA, Hiromi Associate Professor Cambodian linguistics
OKADA, Tomoko Associate Professor Cambodian literature
KEP, Sokunthearath Visiting Professor Cambodian linguistics