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  December 1999    

UNU launches Akino Memorial Research Project
In March 1999, the UNU received a 100 million Japanese Yen contribution from the Government of Japan in memory of Dr. Yutaka Akino, who was killed in July 1998 while on active service as a Civil Affairs Officer with the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT). The UNU and Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs have agreed that half of this money, or 50 million Japanese Yen, will be used to fund a new 5-year "Akino Memorial Research Project" on Eurasia, particularly Central Asia.

The main purpose of this project will be to help train young Japanese scholars in Central Asian studies. "Peace and Environment in Central Asia" has been selected as the project's overall theme, reflecting the UNU's two main programme areas of Peace and Governance, and Environment and Sustainable Development. The theme is broad enough to accommodate a variety of specific research on the political, economic and social factors affecting peace and stability in Central Asian counties as well as a number of environmental issues (such as desertification) endemic to the region. Each year, the UNU will award Akino Memorial Research Fellowships to several deserving young Japanese scholars, including Ph.D. candidates and post-doctoral fellows, based on research proposals that can include up to one year of field study in Central Asia. The Fellowship proposals will be reviewed by a committee consisting of two UNU In-House Organizers - Prof. Hideo Sato, Senior Adviser to the Rector, and Prof. Iwao Kobori, Programme Adviser - and three Core Research Scholars - Prof. Hisao Komatsu (University of Tokyo), Associate Prof. Tomohiko Uyama (Hokkaido University), and Prof. Tsuneo Tsukatani (Kyoto University).

The Core Research Scholars will supervise the Akino Fellows while they are in Japan. Central Asian scholars may also be involved in supervising them while they are conducting field research.

Four successful applicants for the first-year Akino Fellowships were chosen at the Selection Committee meeting held on 24 November 1999. The first-year Akino Fellows and their proposed topics of research are:

  • Ms. Yoko Hirose, graduate student, University of Tokyo; "The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: In Search of the Peaceful Settlement of Ethnic Conflict in the Former USSR";
  • Mr. Tetsuro Iji, Ph.D. student, London School of Economics; "Multiplicity, Contingency, and Complementarity in Peacemaking: Conflict Management in Tajikistan";
  • Dr. Yoshiko Kawabata, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Kanazawa University; "Geochemical Analysis of the Pollution of Zerafshan River Basin"; and
  • Mr. Katsuyuki Shimizu, doctoral course student, Osaka Prefecture University; "Appropriate On-Farm Water Management in Kazakhstan through Developing the Water and Salt Balance Model."

These scholars will go to Central Asia for field studies early in 2000. The Akino Memorial Research Project will be formally launched in January 2000 with an introductory seminar by the Core Research Scholars. Thereafter, occasional seminars based on the research by the Akino Fellows will be held, as well as annual or biannual public conferences on Central Asia at the UNU Centre. Papers written by the Akino Fellows may be made available as part of the UNU Occasional Papers Series and/or collected and published as a book by UNU Press.

Further information about the Akino Memorial Research Project and Akino Fellowships is available online at

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