WESTWOOD—Tadashi Yanai, the founder and CEO of clothing company Uniqlo, recently donated $25 million to UCLA’s Japanese literature and cultural humanities department.
The donation is the largest amount given by an individual donor in the history of UCLA’s humanities division. Mr. Yanai’s donation, “will bolster UCLA’s status as a leading center for the study of Japanese literature, language and culture” as stated in a press release from the UCLA.
“Mr. Yanai’s extraordinary gifts are a testament to UCLA’s long-standing commitment to educate global citizens who can thrive in careers — and cultures — anywhere in the world. The Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities will have a profound and lasting impact on this campus,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.
The Tadashi Yanai Initiative was established in 2014 after Yanai expressed his own concerns about the future of Japanese humanities to UCLA’s Japanese literature Professor Michael Emmerich. The initiative supports graduate student exchanges, visiting scholars and cultural figures from Japan and annual workshops. A press release from 2014 states, “current expansion of English-language programs at Japanese universities means less support for the kind of detailed archival scholarship in which many Japanese literary scholars are now engaged, and fewer opportunities for these scholars to pass on the knowledge they have accumulated.”
“It has been inspiring to see all of the creative, innovative programming — both academic and cultural — that this project has realized over the past five years,” Yanai said in a statement. “Now that we are making it permanent, I’m excited to see how it will continue to transform the Japanese humanities in a global context. At the same time, I hope this gift will give others a chance to remember how crucial the humanities are, and, in their own way, to recommit.”
Yanai was ranked the 31st richest person by Forbes magazine and the richest man in Japan with an estimated net worth of $24.9 billion.
Canyon News contacted Professor Michael Emmerich for a statement, but he could not be reached before print.