Message from the Chairman   ◆ What is JAHS?    ◆ Constitution   ◆ Organization  ◆ Offices

Dear Members,

Upon the occasion of my being chosen as the new JAHS Chairman in fiscal 2016, I would like to extend my greetings to the organization, and touch on its current status and my hopes for its future.

JAHS was founded in June 1949 with 201 members. According to reports issued in May 2016 at the 69th General Meeting held at the University of Tsukuba, the membership has grown to 2,443 members. This twelve-fold increase over 67 years indicates the current flourishing state of art history research in Japan.
I believe we must reconfirm our commitment to the JAHS aim of supporting art historical research activities.

JAHS operations are carried out by the Eastern and Western Divisions of the Standing Committee (with 18 Administrative Officers in the Eastern Division and 12 in the Western Division). A General Assembly is held once a year, while the Eastern and Western Divisions each hold five Regular Meetings per year, along with General Meetings and the co-organizing and support of other related activities each year. The late Tsuji Sahoko, Professor Emeritus at Ochanomizu Women’s University and Nagoya University, bequeathed funds to JAHS which have been used to establish the Sahoko Tsuji Memorial Fund for the Promotion of Art Historical Study. This fund supports visits to Japan by foreign scholars.
The results of these activities and the research reports given at the General Assembly and Division Meetings are published in the scholarly journal Bijutsushi. Published semi-annually, Bijutsushi features articles that have undergone a strict review by the Editorial Committee and external readers. The Bijutsushi Prize is awarded annually to one to three articles that have been judged to be superior by the Prize Committee from amongst those published in that year’s Bijutsushi issues.
At present, work is progressing on Art History in Japan, a two-volume publication containing 20 of the previous Bijutsushi Prize winning articles translated into English. This publication is being jointly produced by Singapore University Press, Columbia University Press and the University of Tokyo Press. The aim of this volume is to disseminate Japan’s rich cultural heritage and superb art historical research to audiences worldwide. This project was begun from the decision that not only through the efforts of individual scholars, but also JAHS as a whole should take a more active stance in conveying information about Japanese culture and the state of research in Japan to worldwide audiences. We look forward to this book’s release in the near future.
Further, JAHS has specific officers in charge of our liasons with other organizations, such as our member who liases with the Japanese Association for Art Studies that brings together academic art-related societies such as The Japan Society for Aesthetics, along with others who each liase respectively with the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA) and the Conference of Eastern Studies and Asia Research.

As seen above, JAHS offers opportunities for research reports and publications, carries out its activities not only with the cooperation of universities and research institutes, but also art museums and related organizations, and strives towards internationalization. All of these projects and events fall within our stated aim to further art historical research activities.
Regarding the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI), the efforts of all JAHS members to increase the number of KAKENHI grants applications and those awarded have made an extremely important contribution to art history research. In the current KAKENHI List of Categories, Areas, Disciplines and Research Fields, the Research Field of art history is successfully maintained in the Discipline of Art Studies. All in all, further effort is needed within this current organizational structure.

And yet, it is true that JAHS currently faces various issues and challenges. In sum, membership numbers may have peaked or indeed slightly decreased, and there has been a slight decrease in member fees collected. Further, the percentage of members voting in the Standing Committee elections is too low. As well, it is increasingly difficult to convince universities to host our annual General Assemblies. The burden borne the universities holding the General Assemblies, as well as the day-to-day operations of the Head Office and Eastern and Western Division Offices are also problems to be resolved. It is therefore necessary to reduce the administrative work of the JAHS offices in general, with one possible solution the efficient use of information technology. Thus, we must reconsider our cooperative relationship with the Academic Society Assistance Center. And, it is essential to gain the understanding and cooperation of each committee member and individual member.

Finally, we have been examining the JAHS response to the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, offering relief from Society dues to members in earthquake-affected areas, and participating in activities for the preservation of artworks in the disaster areas. We are currently discussing relief from Society dues plus other measures for members in the areas affected by the Kumamoto Earthquake that occurred in April 2016.

JAHS continues to strive to provide an environment that supports advances in art historical research. I hope that each society member will continue to give their cooperation and support to our efforts.

Toyama Koichi
Chairman, JAHS

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