The Genesis of the Japanese Association of Sociological Criminology
A Greeting from the Newly Appointed Chairman
The term “Genesis” refers to the biblical story of creation found in the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. The term means “in the beginning” in Hebrew and corresponds to “creation” and “birth” in Greek. Recently, in 2011, the film Planet of the Apes: Genesis, the newest in the film series that started back in 1968, depicts the beginning of the fall of human beings and the domination of the apes. (As it happens, the Japanese Association of Sociological Criminology is just a few years younger than the Planet of the Apes series.)
The Japanese Association of Sociological Criminology (JASC) was founded in 1974 with the goals of “further developing and spreading sociological criminology and facilitating cooperation and collaboration among researchers” (charter, clause 2). Incidentally, 1974 was the year I graduated from high school.
At the time our organization was founded, it opened a new direction in research led by the first generation of veteran scholars in our field, Nasu S?’ichi, Iwai Hiroaki, Kashikuma K?ji, Shikata Hisao (among others), with the support of the second generation (Sawanobori Toshio, Tokoro Kazuhiko, and Hoshino Kanehiro) and a group of young researchers (Yokoyama Minoru, Araki Nobuyoshi, Morita Y?ji, and Yajima Masami)
The JASC began as a synthesis of two currents of research. The first of these can be found in the lineage of research into social pathology conducted with a reliance on the Japanese sociological theory, which already had more than 100 years of history. The second line of research can be traced to researches into criminology that began after the Second World War with Hirano Ry?’ichi and Miyauchi Hiroshi’s translation of E. Sutherland’s book Criminology.
In the 1970s, during a period during which liberal political thought enjoyed widespread popularity, a new wave of scholarship under the banner of “labeling theory (interactionism)” heavily criticized the traditional Chicago School of Criminology. In Japan, many researchers with an interest in sociological criminology already had doubts on the existing sociologists and legal theorists who posed as critics and had pro-authority dogmatism. At the same time, within the Japanese social sciences, both hardline Marxist social theory and democratic legal studies began to emerge as a left wing after WWII. The JASC was an open space in the middle of conservative and reform-minded scholars, where it was possible for us to engage in free debate and discussion. Members of the JASC are not limited to professional researchers from universities and research institutions. We also incorporate practitioners from the courts, correctional facilities, rehabilitation services, and education fields. Recently, we have seen a diversification of our membership body with an increase in members from NPOs and social work organizations.
Upon my appointment to the chairmanship of the JASC, I have been entrusted with a mission to pass on the thought and legacy of a previous generation of scholars to the next generation of young researchers in our field. The 15th board of directors will open an office at the Osaka University of Commerce, and while we continue to rely on the support of our Vice Chairman Tanioka Ichir?, we will move forward with the management of our organization centered in our general affairs committee and financial committee.
Furthermore, in addition to the planning of our annual conference and the continued publication of our central research journal Researches in Sociological Criminology (『犯罪社会学研究』) through our editorial committee, I would like to announce three new goals.
First, it is my earnest hope to expand our membership to 500 persons in the coming years. In pursuit of this goal, it is not enough simply to expand the research areas from which our membership is drawn. We must encourage and support the younger generation of scholars and practitioners to join in our work. For this reason, I have asked our planning committee to hold “Criminology Literacy Seminars” in various locations nationwide and to expand the reach of criminology.
The second goal is to establish firm foundations for the continuation of the cycle of academic development in the three critical areas of research, education, and social contribution. At present, training for the legal professions has entered a period of confusion, and university posts in criminology and criminal policy are declining. These developments cast a dark shadow on the prospects of the training of graduate students in our field.
The third goal is to expand research and education programs in criminology in universities at the undergraduate and graduate levels in order to firmly establish a continuous cycle of research, education, and social contribution.
Our forebears in the genesis of criminology in Japan belonged to sociology or law departments, and there, by providing education through rigorous seminars, they raised the generations of graduate and undergraduate students who went on to found the JASC.
To protect this legacy, I cannot let it be said that “scholarship in the field of sociological criminology in Japan went downhill after the retirement of the 15th president of the JASC, Ishizuka Shin’ichi!” That will not do. We must not only preserve, but improve the prospects of our important discipline within both public and private universities throughout the country. We must therefore see to it that we bring about the genesis of educational and research programs that combine criminology and criminal justice studies under the auspices of our field, sociological criminology.
I have three dreams for the JASC, and I believe that in the near future, with the help from my colleagues, they will all come true. Shall we work together to advance the field of sociological criminology in Japan?
Here’s looking forward to a new genesis for the JASC!
January, 2015 Fukakusa, Kyoto.