Austria has maintained diplomatic relations to Japan since 1869. In the 1920s and 30s this exchange gradually intensified at university level. From 1937, a Japanology institute with a focus on ethnology was built up, funded by Takaharu Mitsui (1900-1983) of Tokyo. Founded in 1938, the institute started operating in 1939. The first guest professor was Oka Masao (1898-1983), who had studied ethnology in Vienna, with his Viennese friend Alexander Slawik (1900-1997) as his assistant. In the run-up to Japan’s defeat in the war, funding stopped and the institute was closed (1944/1945).
Slawik was dismissed from the University as a Nazi in 1945 but was able to continue his research in 1947, gain his habilitation and found the modern-day Department of Japanese Studies in 1965.
Photo: Japanese propaganda postcard from the Shōwa era with Adolf Hitler, Fumimaro Konoe and Benito Mussolini, the political leaders of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, 1938
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