Emeritus Professor receives Japanese Foreign Minister's Award

Emeritus Professor Yoshio Sugimoto, an eminent sociologist and Japanese studies scholar based in the Department of Social Inquiry at La Trobe University, received the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation Award for 2017 in recognition of his outstanding research accomplishments and commitment to promoting Japanese studies in Australia.

The award presentation ceremony was held on 18 October at the Japanese Consul-General’s Official Residence in Melbourne in the presence of leading Japanese studies researchers.  Consul-General Kazuyoshi Matsunaga delivered the commendation, citing two of Professor Sugimoto’s key publications: An Introduction to Japanese Society (Cambridge University Press, 4th edition) and Images of Japanese Society (Routledge, co-authored with Ross Mouer).  These works have been deemed ground-breaking studies with their focus on cultural diversity and class completion and are reputed to have changed the paradigm of Japanese studies around the world.

A graduate from Kyoto University with a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, Professor Sugimoto has had a distinguished career since his arrival at La Trobe University in 1973.  Elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1988, he was instrumental in establishing the Japanese Studies Centre on the campus of Monash University and served as its Foundation Director.  Having taught and researched in the Sociology Department for more than three decades, he publishes both in English and in Japanese, a lifelong bi-cultural pursuit he claims has enriched his thinking and enabled him to challenge the prevailing mono-cultural stereotypical models.  Professor Sugimoto often notes that ‘writing is a liberating experience’.  Some of his Japanese-language publications have been used as texts for Japanese university entrance examinations.

With the aim of publishing English translations of Japanese-language social science books, in 1999, Professor Sugimoto established a publishing house, Trans Pacific Press, which has so far produced more than 130 titles. In the award ceremony gathering, many of the scholars present congratulated him on this work that has made prominent studies in Japan available to the international community. With no intention to be an academic until his early thirties, Professor Sugimoto joked that he happened to be an ‘accidental sociologist’ and an ‘accidental awardee’ but will nevertheless continue his critical analysis of Japanese society.

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