A $2.5 million gift from Tadashi Yanai, the chairman, president and CEO of global apparel retailer Fast Retailing and founder of Uniqlo, will help transform UCLA’s Department of Asian Languages and Cultures into one of the world’s leading centers for the study of Japanese literature and culture.

The gift will create the Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities in the UCLA College’s Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, establish long-term student and faculty exchanges, fund international symposia and workshops, and form a partnership with Waseda University, one of Japan’s most prestigious universities.

“This visionary gift underscores the resurgence at UCLA of the study of Japanese culture, language and literature,” said David Schaberg, dean of UCLA’s Division of Humanities. “Thanks to Mr. Yanai’s generosity, not only will our students be able to learn and research alongside some of the world’s leading scholars in Japanese studies, but UCLA is creating a fruitful partnership with Waseda University, one of Japan’s best universities.”

The gift, to be used over six years, will allow UCLA to host scholars and graduate students from Japan each year. UCLA, in turn, will send two graduate students to study at Waseda, one for a year-long fellowship and another for two months during the summer. It will also establish an annual international symposium and a workshop on Japanese literature and culture, both meant to attract the world’s leading scholars to UCLA. 

Courtesy of Michael Emmerich
Tadashi Yanai (center) with Michael Emmerich and Waseda University President Kaoru Kamata.

“I would like to express my sincere respect for the excellent academic performance related to the research into Japan at UCLA and Waseda University,” said Yanai, one of Japan’s leading businessmen. “I hope this project will help to spread Japanese culture and literature across the world, and attract more attention and enthusiasm. I am pleased that, in a small way, I am able to contribute to the development of Japanese studies overseas.”

Yanai’s gift coincides with recent high-profile additions to UCLA’s Japanese studies faculty, which have reinvigorated interest in the subject and catapulted UCLA into a leading center of study and research in the field.  

“Asia is where the future is taking shape, and this gift reminds us how vital the humanities will be in a globalizing world,” said associate professor Michael Emmerich, who will lead the program. “This initiative and our partnership with Waseda will solidify UCLA’s position as a global hub for the study of Japanese culture. But more than anything, I’m thrilled for our students, whose interest in Japan continues to grow.”