The objective of this research center is East Asian humanities and information studies as a new interdisciplinary science rather than the pursuit of pure information science, conventional humanities and social sciences. China, Japan and other countries in East Asia have cultivated flourishing cultures for a long period of time with Chinese characters as a medium. East Asian humanities, embodying such traditional cultures, are subject to an extremely provocative challenge in the information society of the 21st century. While computer science has not created a full-fledged environment friendly to Chinese characters, academic circles that use Chinese characters as an important tool have failed to make efforts to adapt themselves to the environment. To preserve tradition intact and aim at development in the new computerized world, it is necessary to reorganize East Asian humanities through information studies. It is now required to establish methods and theories for that purpose.
The purpose of the formation plan of this research center is to reorganize cultural research and studies in or about the cultural sphere of Chinese characters, through the techniques of information studies, with research on Chinese characters as the core. With regard to the computerization of Chinese characters, an idea seems to be prevalent that it is sufficient to create a database with encoded text. However, the purpose of this research center is the total preservation and recreation of Chinese-character-based literature including that part that will be lost in digitization, which means after all the complete inheritance and development of Chinese-character-based culture. This will require systematic research on the structure of East Asian languages centering on Chinese characters, computerization technologies for multiple scripts and multiple languages and their internationalization, and research on practical computerization of Chinese characters.
Since the computerization of Chinese characters and its literature is far behind that of the Roman alphabet and its literature, there is an urgent necessity to solve the problems related to Chinese characters in all disciplines that use Chinese characters. At the same time, it is necessary to acquire a profound understanding and insight into the culture of computerized Chinese-characters and East Asian culture, and promote further research on methods of expression in such cultures. In view of the knowledge accumulated by the Kyoto University in its long history and brilliant tradition in Oriental studies, the university and this research center are regarded as places qualified for the transmission of cultural information in Chinese characters with a new world interface.
Cultural information in Chinese characters thus transmitted will have the potential to make Kyoto a new world center for research and draw students and young scholars from East Asia, the US and Europe, who want to pursue Chinese-character-based information studies. By understanding Chinese characters and other scripts and languages in East Asia as a whole, and by promoting the development of expertise and career interest in future research, and through cooperative research with other scholars, research in the East Asia humanities will be reborn as a research in East Asian humanities and information studies.