Global Issues: Japan/Peace Movements & Peace Museums/Kyoto World Peace Museum
This case study examines Ritsumeikan University and their Kyoto Museum for World Peace. Ritsumeikan--initially established as a military school focusing on law, politics, and military strategy to support and defend the emperor and Japan--has drastically changed over the years to emphasize peace and democracy across, not only Japan, but the world. As such, they have established the Kyoto Museum for World Peace which seeks to portray honest and truthful facts and depictions of World War II as well as displaying their hopes and visions for a peaceful future.
Included in this short case study are Ritsumeikan and the Kyoto Museum of World Peace's missions and goals, their locations, partner nations and organizations, an abbreviated historical timeline, their local significance, and their global impact.
Mission & Goals
“Ritsumeikan, as a Japanese institution located in the Asia Pacific region, is committed to sincerely reflecting upon history and to building an institution where many cultures coexist in the spirit of international mutual understanding. … Ritsumeikan will foster learning and the development of individual talents in order to nurture just and ethical global citizens. Ritsumeikan, as an institute of education and research, pledges to promote peace, democracy and sustainable development in Japan and throughout the world, in keeping with the spirit of this Charter.”
Kyoto Museum for World Peace
“Located just outside of the campus of Kyoto's Ritsumeikan University, the museum is in part the school's attempt at atoning for its war-time misdeeds. Like nearly all institutions, Ritsumeikan actively cooperated with the government and military in the pre-War build-up.”
“The Kyoto Museum for World Peace is the first peace museum in the world created by a university. Ritsumeikan University’s decision to establish this peace museum was based on a desire to represent Japanese war history as accurately as possible.”
- Ritsumeikan - Suzaku Campus
- Ritsumeikan University - Kinugasa Campus
- Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) - Beppu City
- Biwako-Kusatsu Campus (BWC) - Kusatsu City
- Ritsumeikan Keisho Junior and Senior High School - Ebetsu City
- Ritsumeikan Junior and Senior High School
- Ritsumeikan Primary School
- Ritsumeikan Uji Junior and Senior High School - Uji City
- Ritsumeikan Moriyama Junior and Senior High School - Moriyama City
- Kyoto Museum of World Peace
- Located approximately two blocks south of Ritsumeikan University - Kinugasa Campus at 56-1 Kitamachi, Toji-in, Kita-ku, Kyoto, Postal Code 603-8577, Japan.
“In the near future, Ritsumeikan plans to expand the peace museum by creating three new museums devoted to various aspects of peace education. The academy will establish the Museum of Science and Technology for Peace at RU’s Biwako-Kusatsu Campus (BKC) and the Museum for International Understanding at APU. … At the affiliate schools, the academy will build the Digital Resource Museum for Peace Education that will unite each school and open the museum’s educational resources up to the world as well as facilitate further developments in peace education curricula.”
Partner Nations and Organizations
“Recognizing the importance of international exchanges, Ritsumeikan University has actively pursued building academic ties with universities and education and research institutes around the world. Ritsumeikan maintains cooperative relationships with 339 universities and education and research institutes in 56 countries and regions around the world (as of May 1st, 2008).”
For a full list of partners, please visit the Ritsumeikan Partner Website.
Below is a brief timeline highlighting key points in Ritsumeikan's history, however a more in-depth timeline is available at the Ritsumeikan Official Website in their historical section.
1869 – Prince Kinmochi Saionji founds Ritsumeikan “as a private academy on the site of the Kyoto Imperial Palace.”
1900 – Kojuro Nakagawa establishes the Kyoto Hosei Gakko, or the Kyoto School of Law and Politics.
1905 – The Kyoto Hosei Gakko formally adopts the name Ritsumeikan.
1913 – Ritsumeikan is given University status and becomes Ritsumeikan University.
1928 – Ritsumeikan University organizes the Ritsumeikan Imperial Guard to protect the imperial palace during the enthronement ceremony of the Showa Emperor.
1949 – Under the leadership of Dr. Suekawa Hiroshi, Ritsumeikan University changes its focus from war and military training to peace and democracy after pressure from General Douglas MacArthur and the Allied Powers following Japan’s surrender in WWII.
1952 – Ritsumeikan Junior & Senior High is established.
1953 – The Wadatsumi Statue is displayed at Ritsumeikan University depicting the grief and anger of war. A peace ceremony is held on Dec. 8 and for every year afterward, an anti-war ceremony is still held on that date.
1965 – Kinugasa Campus is established.
1990 – Professors and students collaborate and decide to establish a peace museum.
1991 – A partnership with University of British Columbia in Canada is established.
1992 – The Kyoto Museum of World Peace is established.
1994 – Ritsumeikan Biwako-Kusatsu Campus and Ritsumeikan Uji Junior & Senior High Schools are established.
1995 – Ritsumeikan Keisho Senior High School is established.
2000 – Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University and Ritsumeikan Keisho Junior High School is established.
2006 – Ritsumeikan Primary School, Ritsumeikan Moriyama Senior High School, and Ritsumeikan - Suzaku Campus are established.
2007 – Ritsumeikan Moriyama Junior High School is established.
Ritsumeikan University has been a respected educational institute of Japan for over a century and their Kyoto Museum for World Peace is a testament to their mission and goals. Both the Kyoto Museum for World Peace and the education which Ritsumeikan offers at its institutions serve to enrich the citizens of Japan and their diverse group of transfer students as well as encourage peaceful and democratic ways of thinking.
The location of the Kyoto Museum for World Peace is only two blocks away from Ritsumeikan University's main campus. Since Ritsumeikan University was a military school which contributed to the war efforts of WWII and, after the war, drastically changed their emphasis to training their students for peaceful relations, it is only fitting that they open and maintain their museum close to the site of their main campus.
Considering that the Kyoto Museum of World Peace has hosted over 520,000 visitors and school groups from over 3000 different schools, it would seem that the Japanese people seem to be interested in learning more on the whole truth of the war and on maintaining peace which the museum strives to display.
Global Impact & Significance
Ritsumeikan University’s goal for the Kyoto Museum of World Peace is to tell the whole truth of the war; an effort few organizations or nations attempt. If anything, Ritsumeikan serves as a prime example (in the opinion of the author) of what a peace organization should be: honest and forthcoming about past transgressions. This helps everyone--Japanese as well as other nationalities--to move past these issues and move forward toward a more peaceful future. It is the author's hope that more organizations and countries will realize this.
Ritsumeikan has affected the United States as well as many countries around the globe in that they have affiliations with over 300 universities, organizations, and institutions. This facilitates multi-cultural learning, experience, and tolerance between Japan and these other nations--key factors in maintaining peaceful relations.
Impact on the Author
While researching for this case study, the author has found that Ritsumeikan has opportunities for Summer study abroad programs which cater to both experienced and non-experienced Japanese language students. From what I have learned thus far, Ritsumeikan seems to be a very warm and accepting environment which I feel would be a huge plus should a student wish to participate in such a program. I, for one, am considering it, and I am looking forward to visiting the Suzaku campus while in Kyoto.
As for the Museum, I very much look forward to visiting and hope to report back with more in-depth information, insights, and pictures after doing so.
- The Ritsumeikan Charter., Ritsumeikan University (2006). Retrieved on May 16, 2009.
- Japan Visitor. Japan Visitor: Kyoto Museum for World Peace (2000). Retrieved May 16, 2009.
- Ritsumeikan University Online Publication. Ritsumeikan: Vol. 1, Issue 3, Summer 2005. Retrieved May 16, 2009.
- Ritsumeikan Trust. The Ritsumeikan Trust (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2009.
- Ritsumeikan Partners. Ritsumeikan Partner Institutions (2008). Retrieved May 16, 2009.
- Ritsumeikan History. Ritsumeikan: A Brief History (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2009.
- Timeline. Ritsumeikan Timeline (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2009.
- Peace Museum. Ritsumeikan Peace Museum (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2009.