On the morning of November 9th, his excellency Mr. Takechi Okubo, Ambassador of Japan in Lebanon, members of the Japanese embassy in Lebanon, along with management, faculty and staff members from AUB's Office of Advancement and the University Libraries attended the online inauguration for an exhibit of books, donated to the University Libraries, under the “Read Japan: 100 books for Understanding Contemporary Japan".
After both national anthems and the AUB alma mater, Dr. Mariette Atallah, Associate University Librarian for Collections welcomed the attendees on behalf of the University libraries and commenced the event by thanking The Nippon Foundation for their generous contribution.
Describing the donation, Dr. Atallah said that it “comprises of a unique assortment of books… and will help the Libraries instill cross-cultural understanding and appreciation of modern Japanese culture by offering current and relevant sources of information for our research community."
Dr. Imad Baalbaki, AUB's Vice President for Advancement and Business Development, also thanked the Read Japan program and the Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture (JPIC) for their partnership, and added that “ The donated books will support AUB and its Libraries' missions, in serving the local, regional, and international community of researchers, learners, and readers by providing resources and knowledge."
He added that the “donation will ensure that we keep the cross-cultural conversations going at our liberal institution and will, particularly, cultivate appreciation of the Japanese culture."
Baalbaki also said that under the current circumstances, not just at the local level with the country's economic and political inconsistency, but also at the international level with the entire world battling COVID-19 and other hardships, AUB strives to remain a beacon of hope and culture.
Mr. Takechi Okubo thanked AUB and the Nippon Foundation and reaffirmed that the Government of Japan will stand ready to continued cooperation in the academic and cultural fields.
He then spoke about the similar patterns of modernization movements between Japan and the Middle East, describing the Japanese Meiji era as “the period in which Japan was pushing forward its policy of strengthening wealth and power of the state through drastic socioeconomic reforms after a long period of its isolation policy. . .It marks a true departure from the premodern history of Japan."
Okubo added that this “coincides with a similar pattern of state-run modernization movements in the Middle East, such as the initiative of Mohammed Ali in Egypt and Tanzimat in the Ottoman Empire. Japan rapidly gained power to the extent that it defeated Czarist Russia in only several decades after changing the course towards modernization, and to which an Egyptian poet, Hafiz Ibrahim, expressed his admiration in his "غادة اليابان", writing:
إنْ لم أُحسنِ الرميَ ولم
تستطع كفّايَ تقليبَ الظُّبا
أخدم الجرحى وأقضي حقَّهم
وأُواسي في الوغى من نُكِبا"
He ended his note addressing the attendees saying, “My strong message to you all is “Look East" “Look Japan" “We are from East".
You can view the recording of the online inauguration, including an overview of the donated books below.
For more information about the exhibit, please contact the Collection Development Department via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or via phone on extensions 2624/2628.