Tenri Association for Taiwan Studies Holds 20th International Conference

On September 10 and 11, the Tenri Association for Taiwan Studies―an academic association headquartered at Tenri University―held its 20th international conference at National Taiwan University and Chinese Culture University, both of which are located in Taipei, Taiwan. Tenri University President Masahiko Iburi and ten scholars from the university participated in the conference, which featured commemorative lectures and presentations by scholars from both Japan and Taiwan. Co-sponsored by Chinese Culture University, which has an adademic exchange program with Tenri University, the present conference marked the second time the association organized its conference in Taiwan.

This association was launched in 1991 to facilitate the development of academic studies on Taiwan as well as to promote academic exchanges between scholars. Currently having more than 220 members, the association has developed into an international association. It organizes a conference every year, mainly at Tenri University, as well as publishes an annual journal. In 2005, the association held its first conference in Taiwan at National Taiwan University and Chinese Culture University.

On the first day of the conference, commemorative lectures were given at National Taiwan University. Professor Sakujiro Shimomura, president of the association, who specializes in Taiwanese literature, gave a lecture under the title “Reading Taiwanese Aborigines’ Literature through Translations” while Dr. Deng Shiang-yang, a scholar of Taiwanese history, spoke on the topic “The Academic Value of ‘Taiwan Anli Manuscripts’ (official documents on Taiwanese aborigines) Archived in Tenri University Sankokan Museum.”

On the second day, the conference was held at Chinese Culture University. At the opening ceremony, Tenri University President Masahiko Iburi delivered an address, in which he looked back on the history of the association and said: “This association, with its doors opened to wider academic circles, has been welcoming many young, promising scholars. Today, this association’s conferences, considered to be a stepping-stone for the careers of young scholars, attract many wishing to give their papers.” While touching upon the previous day’s commemorative lectures, he stressed the importance of the official documents on Taiwanese aborigines―documents that are archived in Tenri University Sankokan Museum. He then concluded his address by saying, “At this milestone of the association’s 20th conference, I sincerely hope that research findings and people-to-people exchanges developed through this association will further promote mutual understanding between Japan and Taiwan as well as offer an opportunity that allows us to make a great contribution toward the realization of world peace.”

Following the opening address, a total of six working sessions were conducted under such themes as history, religion, and literature. The working sessions, which included presentations by 28 scholars, attracted some 130 scholars and students from both inside and outside Chinese Culture University. During the session on religion, Professor Koji Sato and Mr. Kao Chia-fang, both of whom teach at Tenri University, gave their papers under the titles “The Reordering of Taiwanese Buddhist and Taoist Temples during the Japanese Colonial Period” and “The Century-Long History of Tenrikyo’s Mission to Influential People in Taiwan: Retrospect and Prospect,” respectively.

“I find it very significant that we have been able to hold this conference in Taiwan in commemoration of the association’s 20th conference,” comments Professor Shimomura. “I am glad that many young, highly capable scholars participated in this conference. I have this sense of hope that this association will further develop as an international association.”

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