A message from the head of the ITASIA Program to current and future students

Nov. 29, 2019

Dear Students of the ITASIA Program:

As the director of ITASIA Program, I wish to communicate to you my feelings and concerns. I strongly reject the recent comments of Dr. Shohei Ohsawa. I find his words racist, wrong, and unacceptable. His tweets have no place in any institution of higher education, let alone at the ITASIA Program, where we embrace diversity and strive every day to critically and constructively reflect on the meaning of Asia and beyond. As the director of the program and a member of the faculty, I am deeply ashamed and apologize for this egregious incident.

At this moment of crisis, I renew my commitment to promote an academic environment where every member of the community feels safe and free to pursue their academic interests. To do so, I have asked the Dean and Vice Deans to take appropriate actions to ensure that all of you feel supported and cared for, including giving you opportunities to voice your thoughts and concerns. I have also asked them to take clear measures against Dr. Ohsawa as expeditiously as possible. Moreover, I have requested a complete and thorough investigation of the whole affair so that there will be no recurrences of this kind of behavior.

No doubt many of you have been unsettled, saddened, upset and/or infuriated by the malicious comments of Dr. Ohsawa and those who support him. Students are the foundation of our university and our program. I deeply care about and respect how each of you feel. Should you wish to talk to a faculty member about this matter, please contact me. You may also contact the International Student Support Room. Their staff has been fully informed of this incident.

I will continue to fight racism and discrimination and shall do my best as the director to create a rigorous academic environment where freedom of constructive academic dialogs are celebrated. I will keep you updated about any further developments regarding this issue.

Kaori Hayashi

Professor of Media and Journalism Studies
Director of the ITASIA Program

Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies  
The University of Tokyo