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Ritsumeikan signs Research Cooperation Agreement with the University of California, Berkeley
April 10, 2020(Fri)

On February 25, 2020, Ritsumeikan University and the University of California, Berkeley ("UC Berkeley") held an event commemorating the conclusion of signing a research cooperation agreement.

This follows after the Art Research Center ("ARC") at Ritsumeikan University, one of the pioneers in digital humanities, was designated as the International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC) by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in October last year. With such recognition, the ARC strives to push internationalization of research activities that transcends disciplines and geographic boundaries.

For almost 15 years, a research team of the ARC, led by Prof. Ryo Akama (College of Letters), has been steadily expanding their partnership with the UC Berkeley in the field of digital archiving. The collaboration began when the ARC digitized a collection of sugoroku, Japanese board game sheets, for the UC Berkeley's C.V. Starr East Asian Library (EAL) which boasts one of the world's largest collections of Japanese cultural resources. Subsequent joint projects also include the creation of digital archives of old and rare books, copperplate prints and Kadenshū manuscripts, amongst others.

Since adopting the ARC model of digital archiving based on the three pillars of (1) database creation, (2) its publication, and (3) utilization of digital resources, the EAL has been able to speed up digitization and dissemination of its research resources. Furthermore, this collaboration has enabled the ARC to share Berkeley's famous collections as its portal databases. Through this, the ARC aims to facilitate the establishment of a sustainable "digital ecosystem" wherein researchers can create their own databases from the ARC's portal databases and publish research which in turn may serve as a basis for new research endeavors around the world.

In recent years, both universities have expanded their collaboration from database creation to student exchange activities to promote research and knowledge exchange. Moreover, Prof. Akama recently held a workshop at the UC Berkeley on his latest research about "An Online Education System for Transcribing Japanese Cursive Texts from the Edo Period with AI Assistance".

As the cooperation agreement with the UC Berkeley is a comprehensive one with no restrictions on research fields, Ritsumeikan University highly hopes to advance joint research in fields well beyond digital archiving as well.

The commemoration ceremony held at the UC Berkeley was attended by Ritsumeikan University's Vice Chancellor Yoko Matsubara, the ARC's Director and Deputy Directors, Prof. Koichi Hosoi (College of Image Arts and Sciences), Prof. Akama, Prof. Keiji Yano (College of Letters) and Prof. Keiko Suzuki (Kinugasa Research Organization). Meanwhile, the UC Berkeley was represented by the Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, the Director of the Center for Japanese Studies, and the Director of the Center for East Asian Studies, amongst others.

Prof. Akama and other ARC delegates are hopeful that the conclusion of the collaboration agreement with the UC Berkeley would open doors to other future partnerships with US universities that have displayed an interest in digital archiving.

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■ Photos: Ritsumeikan faculty chat with UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor; presentations at UC Berkeley's C.V. Starr East Asian Library; meeting with the Director of the Center for Japanese Studies (CJS), UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley (English)