In April 2015, the Institute for Asian Studies and Regional Collaboration (IASRC) was established from the merge of two institutions at Akita International University (AIU): the Center for Regional Sustainability Initiatives (CRESI), which conducted research on the sustainable management of Akita’s natural environment and traditional regional resources, and the Center for East Asia Research (CEAR), which sought Akita’s economic opportunities in East Asia. Thus, IASRC was created to further the activities of the two previous institutions in synergy and combine local studies with transnational studies to clarify the vision for Akita’s future in the larger context of East Asia.
The first mission of IASRC is to promote research on Akita from an East Asian perspective and conduct research on East Asia from an Akita perspective. If there is any viability for Akita’s business in East Asia, it is due to Akita’s comparative strength in Asian contexts, however, without a strong understanding of East Asia, any positive aspects of Akita cannot be utilized and promoted to East Asia. In addition, Akita is currently experiencing the fastest demographic decline in Japan and East Asia. From research and outcomes of Akita’s socio-demographic changes, East Asian cities with similar environments can learn, benefit, and better prepare for their future.
The second mission of IASRC is to promote interdisciplinary collaboration among all students and faculty in and out of AIU. One of the features of AIU’s international liberal arts education is to examine real-world societal issues and develop interdisciplinary skills of analysis and synthesis. The past and future of Akita’s characteristic cultures, history, industries and communities present a wonderful set of real-world learning and research material for our students and faculty.
The third and last mission of IASRC is to provide local governments with practical policy proposals in Asian and international perspectives, which will also provide important insight for researchers and other entities in East Asia.
IASRC is working diligently towards the promotion of its missions: 1) the promotion of sub-national regional studies of Akita in the context of the supra-national region of East Asia, 2) the promotion of interdisciplinary studies through inter-institutional cooperation, and 3) the engagement in local policy discussion. AIU is not a large university and neither is the IASRC as an institute, but through “collaboration” with researchers and other stakeholders in and out of the university, especially with the local citizens of Akita, we strive to produce tangible outcomes that will benefit Akita, East Asia, and the international community. We thank you in advance for your kind support and active cooperation.