From left: Consul General Akira Muto; Indra Levy, inaugural recipient of the Irene Hirano Inouye Memorial Award; Yuko Kaifu, president of Japan House Los Angeles; Hitoshi Abe, UCLA Terasaki Chair for Contemporary Japanese Studies.

On June 3, the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles and UCLA Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies held a reception to celebrate the Irene Hirano Inouye Memorial Award at the Consul General of Japan’s Official Residence, as a memorial event to celebrate the 30th founding anniversary of Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies.

The award was launched by the UCLA Terasaki Center to honor the life and work of Irene Hirano Inouye (1948-2020). As a leader of the Japanese American National Museum, U.S.-Japan Council and other organizations, she dedicated herself to contribute to the development of Japanese American communities and the relationship between Japan and the U.S.

Irene Hirano Inouye

The award was also established for the purpose of helping to ensure that future generations of Japanese studies students are cognizant of and inspired by her contributions to all dimensions of Japanese American communities and Japan-U.S. relations, as she wished.

“We, the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, agree with the purpose of the award and consider it a great honor to co-host the first award ceremony with UCLA Terasaki Center,” the consulate said in a statement.

The award’s first honoree was Indra Levy, associate professor of East Asian languages and cultures at Stanford University. She has been focusing her study on humor in Japanese literature from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries, but her wide research interests also include modern Japanese literature and criticism; critical translation studies; gender and language; modern Japanese performance, especially in the Meiji and Taisho eras; and modern Japanese women’s intellectual history.

She is being honored not only for her contributions in academic research, but also for her tremendous contributions in the field of Japanese language education for Japanese studies students through the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language (IUC).

The IUC, based in Yokohama, has been providing unparalleled Japanese language training to young scholars doing research in Japan and has been producing many leading experts of Japanese language studies since its founding in 1963 by the initiative of Stanford University.

Levy, as the executive director of the IUC, has enabled the center to survive and continue by fundraising and making structural changes and reforms to the organization.

“We strongly hope the fruits of her work will be shared among people in the U.S., which we also hope will lead to the deeper understanding of Japan,” the consulate said. “We would like to sincerely express our great appreciation and respect for her contribution to nurturing Japanese studies.”

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