Advancing Research


The Institute endows six professorships within FAS in Anthropology, Cultural History, Japanese Politics, Japanese Religions, Japanese Religions and Society, and Sociology and provides for two junior professorships in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Government. Since fall 1982, RIJS has sponsored the Edwin O. Reischauer Professorship in Japanese Studies, allowing senior faculty to devote up to an academic year to full-time research during their time at Harvard and, in alternate years, allowing the appointment of a leading scholar in Japanese Studies as a visiting professor.


The Institute’s mission is carried out by a 50-member Full Committee composed of tenured professors, junior faculty, emeritus faculty, Japanese language faculty, and librarians from across the University whose research and teaching relate to Japan. A smaller Executive Committee (EC) of 17 tenured faculty forms the governing body of the Institute. Across all schools within the University, RIJS supports faculty research and teaching related to Japan, awarding grants for faculty projects, and funding course-related events and other departmental activities.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Initiated in 1980, the RIJS Postdoctoral Fellowship Program provides funding to 4-5 awardees in Japanese Studies each year. The program is designed for those who have received their doctorate within the past five years. Most devote their year at Harvard to producing publishable work from their dissertations, and they present their research in the Japan Forum series. Since 2011, at least one postdoctoral fellow each year has been engaged in digital scholarship, and in 2018-19 RIJS established the Digital Fellowship/Digital Postdoctoral Fellowship in addition to its regular number of awards.

Visiting Scholars

Since 1973, RIJS has welcomed scholars from other universities and institutions in Japan and other parts of Asia, North America, Europe, and across the world. These scholars typically spend one year at Harvard doing research, hosted by a Harvard faculty member. They enrich the Harvard community by attending classes, pairing with students, participating in seminars, and offering students advice and assistance on their research as well as providing contacts for students’ future research in Japan.


The Institute contributes to Harvard’s print resources through subventions for Japan Studies monographs published by the Harvard University Asia Center and distributed by Harvard University Press through the Harvard East Asian Monograph (HEAM) series. To date, more than 150 monographs on Japan have been published with RIJS support. The works deal with all aspects of Japan, with particular emphases on Japan’s history, culture, society, and literature. Other works, particularly in the humanities, are published in the Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series, funded by the Harvard-Yenching Institute. Works in both series are selected by the Asia Center Publications Committee, made up of Harvard faculty members, on the basis of peer reviews.


The Institute is also able to contribute to Harvard’s print resources with the support of the Harvard-Yenching Library, which holds one of the largest collections of Japanese books outside Japan. A print and digital library, the Documentation Center on Contemporary Japan (DCJ), was established by the Institute in 1988 and served for almost three decades as an important resource for scholars and students of contemporary Japan in the social sciences. In 2017, the DCJ was transformed into the Japan Digital Research Center (JDRC) to reflect the recent shift toward online media and to expand its electronic resources on Japan. This new center seeks to build new digital collections; develop services in support of research, teaching, and learning; and initiate various digital projects related to Japanese Studies, in collaboration with faculty and library staff across the University.

Digital Initiatives

To date, RIJS has established and maintains two major digital initiatives designed in response to current events, which gather and organize data that exist only online, so-called “born digital.” The Constitutional Revision in Japan Research Project (CRRP) was created in 2005 at the inception of Japan’s reexamination of its postwar constitution. The Japan Disasters Digital Archive Project (JDA) was formed in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. Both projects are housed in the Japan Digital Research Center. These web-based projects have enriched the Institute’s research activities and offerings while creating new networks among scholars and members of the public across the globe.