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Opening Remark: Special Research Project, Performing Arts and Conviviality.

On behalf of the National Museum of Ethnology, I welcome all of you to the inaugural meeting of the Special Research Project, Performing Arts and Conviviality. I am Yoshida Kenji, the Director General of the museum .

Although we cannot be together physically at our museum due to the continuing global pandemic, I am extremely pleased that the project finally begins with this inaugural event.

Let me start with introducing our institution, National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku in Japanese abbreviation),

Our museum, Minpaku, opened to the public in 1977 . Although it is called a Museum”, National Museum of Ethnology is basically a research institute for ethnology/cultural anthropology, founded as an Inter-University Research Institute. It is equipped with museum facilities as well as post-graduate educational facilities. Around 60 members of the academic staff carry out field work in various parts of the world.

Minpaku currently holds 345,000 artifacts in its collection, which makes it one of the largest collection of ethnographic materials that has been built since the late 20th century. As for the scale of the facilities, Minpaku is now the largest ethnographic museum in the world.

Our museum launched a multi-year special research project, Contemporary Civilization and the Future of Humanity: Environment, Culture and Humans, in 2016 in order to tackle serious challenges facing our contemporary civilization. We wish to discover how we could create a society that guarantees the coexistence of diverse values and to present a vision of a future.

As indicated in the title, the project has three large categories: Environment, Humans and Culture. Each category has two sub-projects and the sub-project you are part of belongs to the second category (Humans).

In recent years, we have witnessed the escalating cases of intolerance, xenophobia, racism and human rights violation across the world, which seriously questions the validity of the conventional ties among individuals and between communities.

Given this situation, I believe that the topic of the current project is both timely and important. I hope this project will ultimately provide a vision of the future, by foregrounding the potentials of performing arts in fashioning a new (and convivial) human relationship.

I understand that after this inaugural gathering there will be a series of online meetings for presentations and discussion throughout this year, with a possibility of organizing an in-person symposium around this time next year.

I assure you today that I extend my full support to the project, regardless of the uncertainties the pandemic may entail. Finally, I wish you successful meetings and look forward to your findings. Thank you very much.