Greetings from the Director

What comes to your mind when you hear “Central Asia”? I am sure most people would think of majestic nature, historical structures, and traditional arts and music.

In Uzbekistan, there are beautiful places designated as World Heritage sites by UNESCO, such as blue Samarkand, brown Bukhara and the Holy City Khiva. Indeed, Uzbekistan has an attractive ancient capital that should be visited at least once in your lifetime.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, five independent republics emerged: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. Twenty years later, Central Asian studies are now very popular in different parts of the world including Japan.

The University of Tsukuba has been promoting and extending international exchanges focusing on “the birthplace of civilization”. In 2007, the International Center for Central Asian Research and Education was established as the university’s official overseas office in the Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies in Uzbekistan. It is now known as the University of Tsukuba’s Tashkent Office which continues to actively promote global cooperation projects.

There are three universities in Uzbekistan: Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies, University of World Economy and Diplomacy, and Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages. Although there was only one foreign exchange student from Uzbekistan in 2000, this number has now grown to more than 25 in 2010. As for the whole of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan, the number of students accepted into the University of Tsukuba is considered the largest in Japan. From Tsukuba, four students are studying in Uzbekistan ably supported by staff in the Tashkent Office.

I plan to do my best to support academic studies and international exchanges of students and researchers in Uzbekistan in whatever fields of study they focused on, whether it is in the area of natural sciences, the human and social sciences, and especially Central Asian studies.

Junichi Akashi
Associate Professor
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Tsukuba