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Shoko Yamada, 12th President

Greetings from the President

Welcome to the Japan Society for International Development (JASID) website.

My name is Shoko Yamada of Nagoya University, and I was appointed the 12th President of JASID at the General Assembly in November 2023. For three years, the executive members and I will strive to make the experience with this Society fruitful and rewarding for everyone involved. For that sake, we will make necessary reforms to meet the current situations surrounding the field of international development and academia as a whole, while inheriting the foundation and wills of our predecessors, including the outgoing president Jin Sato.

Our policies for this term are

1. Redefinition of international development studies
2. Synergy from diversity
3. Creation of excitement

The first point, “Redefining international development studies,” is an idea to take advantage of the momentum of global changes to consider the relevance and advancement of this academic field.

More than 30 years have passed since the Society was established in 1990, and the environment surrounding international development has changed dramatically. The 2023 revision of Japan’s Development Cooperation Charter shows that the vertical relationship between donor and recipient countries has become multi-polar, the state’s role as the dominant actor in development has been shaken, and the way ODA is viewed in Japanese society has changed dramatically.

In addition, the promoted idea of sustainable development makes it difficult to apply a unified model of development to diverse societies. Given that sustainability cannot be achieved without reconciling different needs, we must consider the desirable state of affairs for people of concern according to the contexts, to realize the humanitarian and public welfare that “international development” aims to achieve. After experiencing the recent geopolitical crises and the coronavirus catastrophe, it seems obsolete to consider international development solely as an issue for developing countries, separated from domestic issues of developed countries.

In this phase of change, I would like to consider, together with the Society members, what role research will play and what kind of place this Society, where practitioners and researchers gather, should be, and create an enabling environment.

The second point, “synergy from diversity,” promotes synergy while respecting differences in academic fields, professions, and attributes.

I myself am the first female president of this Society. Putting gender aside, as the majority of this Society’s members have worked in various situations around the world, I assume that they have experienced being a minority in some attribute or have interacted with people who are. I believe that the attitude to respect differences from others will also lead us to the commitment to reconsider the essence of international development studies in today’s world, beyond national and social boundaries.

In order to redefine the academic field, our sites of academic exchanges, such as conferences, research groups, and journals, would be the foundation that leads diversity to synergy. Based on this consideration, in the 12th term, committees and working groups initiate some innovations.

Based on the preparations started in the earlier terms, a working group to promote reasonable accommodations for members with disabilities was established and started considering the guidelines and rules.

In terms of research, it is important for this interdisciplinary society to not only have people from various disciplines, research themes, methods, research target areas, and affiliated organizations parallelly and separately, but also to encourage them to cross disciplinary boundaries and collaborate.

To make it happen, this Society should be a place where members can look for academic stimulants that are not available in their ordinary places, such as gaining new ideas and encountering interesting people, and where such expectations will be realized as an actual experience. Therefore, for the next three years, we will do our best to make this an exciting place to be (“Creation of excitement”).

We will support the host universities of spring and fall conferences so that hosting will be an opportunity for them to communicate their unique features, research, and social activities in the community, instead of an overwhelming burden.

In addition, we would like to highlight young scholars doing good research and scholars in the areas that have not been well represented in this Society in the past. To achieve this goal, we will boost the selection of academic awards and student paper competitions and promote the exposure of award winners through the Society’s media and by encouraging their participation in activities within and outside the Society.

We would also like to actively show the paths for members with unique and experimental research ideas to establish research groups, which can organize sessions at the annual conferences or propose a special issue in the Society’s journal.

We are also considering events and mechanisms to reach out not only to those already active in the Society, but also to potential interest groups working on international and local development issues.

How far can we realize such a list of ambitious activities? It may depend on how much we, the board members, enjoy these activities and how far our fun spreads within and outside the Society.

Former President Sato used to say that running an academic society is a volunteer activity in its fundamental sense. We do this not to get direct compensations, but to contribute to the Society that has nurtured us, so that it will continue to be a place where members can disseminate their research, receive comments from seniors and other members, and grow by exchanging ideas and opinions with each other.

In order to create an exciting place for the Society members, we, the board members, must be the ones to excite first, make suggestions, and take action. I would also be very happy if you, the Society members, could contribute your ideas to the Board.

The 12th Japan Society for International Development
President Shoko Yamada