Basic Principles

Naoki Fukui, President, Linguistic Society of Japan

The Linguistic Society of Japan (LSJ), one of Japan’s major academic societies in the Humanities, is a non-profit organization supported by approximately 1,800 domestic and international members and is dedicated to the scientific study of human languages. The following pages survey its history, basic policies, organization, and current academic and social activities.


The historical development of the LSJ is succinctly described in the special issue of Gengo Kenkyu entitled “The 50 Years of the Linguistic Society of Japan” (December 1988) and the booklet Progress of the Past 100 LSJ Meetings (June 1990), as well as the Memoranda section of each issue of Gengo Kenkyu. For details, see the Past Meetings and the Back Issues of Gengo Kenkyu.

According to “The 50 Years of the Linguistic Society of Japan” (Dec. 1988), a resolution to establish the Linguistic Society was officially made at a meeting held at Gakushikaikan in Tokyo in February 1938, at which Izuru SHINMURA was elected the founding President, sixteen people including Vice President Shinpei OGURA to be councilors, and Harushige KOZU and four other people to be auditors. Soon afterwards, the first meeting inaugurating the foundation of the Society was held at Tokyo Imperial University (currently, the University of Tokyo), where Kunio YANAGIDA and two other scholars gave talks. The programs of the early conferences include the names of great scholars who endeavored to lay solid foundations for linguistic studies in Japan, notably Kyosuke KINDAICHI, Sanki ICHIKAWA, Kaku JINBOU, Hisanosuke IZUI, Kanae SAKUMA, Fumio NAKAJIMA, Hideo KOBAYASHI, Motoki TOKIEDA, and Shiro HATTORI.

Past Presidents of the Society are listed below.

1938-1967 Izuru Shinmura
1967-1971 Kyosuke Kindaichi
1971-1972 Harushige Kohzu
1973-1974 Takeshi Shibata
1975-1976 Shiro Hattori
1977-1978 Hisanosuke Izui
1979-1980 Tatsuo Nishida
1981-1982 Shigeo Kawamoto
1983-1984 Kazuko Inoue
1985-1987 Tetsuya Kunihiro
1988-1990 Tamotsu Koizumi
1991-1993 Katsumi Matsumoto
1994-1996 Hiroyuki Umeda
1997-1999 Masayoshi Shibatani
2000-2002 Teruhiro Hayata
2003-2005 Masahiro Shogaito
2006-2008 Zendo Uwano
2009-2011 Taro Kageyama
2012-2014 Shigeki Kaji
2015-2017 Haruo Kubozono
2018-2020 Yukinori Takubo


The LSJ’s basic policies and philosophy reflect the fact that past Presidents have been drawn from a diversity of specialties ranging from general linguistics to more specific fields such as dialectology, semantics, phonology, generative grammar, linguistic typology, and philology, with their major languages of inquiry also varying from Japanese to such foreign languages as Ainu, Korean, Tibeto-Burman languages, English, French, Finnish, and Uighur. In his Preface to the inaugural issue of Gengo Kenkyu, Professor Izuru SHINMURA, the first President, remarked that this journal is solidly based on the principle that the articles it publishes be evaluated purely for their academic significance, without being influenced by practical considerations or being biased for or against any particular school or discipline. This founding philosophy has remained intact today, when a variety of competing linguistic theories are being proposed with target languages covering almost all corners of the globe. The emphasis on academic soundness and objectivity lies at the heart of all the current activities of the LSJ, and I believe it is due to this basic philosophy of non-commitment to any particular theoretical framework or approach and a balanced treatment of the world’s languages that the LSJ has attracted as many as 1,800 members at home and abroad.

Organization and Management of the LSJ

The activities of the LSJ are planned, discussed, and implemented by the President, the Secretary-General, the Standing Committee, which acts as the President’s advisory panel, the Gengo Kenkyu Editorial Committee, which edits and publishes two issues of Gengo Kenkyu every year, the Conference Organizing Committee, which is in charge of organizing symposia, talks, workshops, paper presentations, and poster presentations at two meetings each year, the Publicity Committee, which is devoted to publicizing important information on the website, the Summer Institute Committee, which holds linguistic seminars aimed at beginners and non-specialists in summer every two years, and the Awards Committee, which is responsible for selecting recipients of the LSJ Outstanding Paper and Best Presentation Awards. Of the people directly involved in the management of the LSJ, the President and the Editor-in-Chief are elected by ballot every three years from among the regular members of the Society.

Plans for activities proposed by the President and the relevant committees are deliberated objectively by the Board of Councilors, consisting of about seventy councilors elected by the membership, before they are put into practice. Because the LSJ is financed by the membership fees, expenditures are closely monitored by two Auditors, who are again chosen from among the regular members by ballot. Additionally, the expenditure of the JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) grant-in-aid for our activities is checked by an auditor specially nominated for this purpose. Additional ad hoc committees will be created to resolve urgent issues that may arise in the future.

Messages from Committees

Gengo Kenkyu Editorial Committee

The academic journal Gengo Kenkyu is published by the editorial board of the Linguistic Society of Japan. Gengo Kenkyu is a historical journal that was first published in 1939, and thereafter, has been published continuously for more than 80 years, except for the six years before and after World War II. Since its inception, this journal has contributed to the development of various linguistic studies in Japan by adhering to the basic stance of emphasizing high academic levels, rather than leaning toward the promotional journal of one school and one movement. The new editorial board, which comes into effect in April 2021, will firmly inherit this spirit and make every effort to develop Japanese language research.

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic had a serious impact on our linguistic research. It was a challenging year, not only for fieldwork at home and abroad but also for free exchange among researchers and data collection. However, from a different point of view, was that not the perfect opportunity to conduct a deeper analysis of the data we have collected thus far? I believe that such persevering efforts will surely produce wonderful papers.

The committee members are looking forward to your submissions.

(Megumi Kurebito, Editor-in-Chief)

Conference Organizing Committee

The Conference Organizing Committee is responsible for planning and organizing biannual conferences, where members report the results of their research and exchange views with peer members concerning key issues in linguistics. Meetings are held in the spring and fall of each year. Over the past several years, new forms of presentation, including workshops and poster presentations, have been established in addition to the‘traditional’ presentations by individual members. Symposia open to the public are also organized at each meeting to promote understanding of current issues in the diverse fields of linguistics. These activities constitute an integral part of the LSJ’s social contributions. The handbook of our biannual meetings are all published online, including the past issues.

The program of the LSJ meetings covers a wide range of research topics from theoretical investigations to field work on dialects and minority languages and literature survey on extinct languages. The organizers make every effort to offer opportunities for members to share outstanding research and discussion with each other, irrespective of their theoretical background or methodological approach.

(Fuyuki Ebata, Chair of the Conference Organizing Committee)

Publicity committee

The Publicity Committee is mainly responsible for keeping members of the LSJ up to date by quickly and clearly informing them about matters relating to the journal Gengo Kenkyu, conferences, and summer institutes, as well as to research developments on endangered languages and dialects.

The Committee has finished updating the contents of the journal Gengo Kenkyu on this website, and articles can now be downloaded free of charge by linking the Society’s website to the JST site where all journal articles are stored in PDF. This website will also provide up-to-date information on the LSJ Summer Institute, held every two years. Information relating to the contents of lectures, registration procedures, and other related matters can be obtained by accessing the relevant links. The Publicity Committee has also created a page for online applications for conference presentations. Furthermore, information in the ‘News from the LSJ’ section of this website is also available through SNS platforms (Twitter and Facebook).

In addition, the Publicity Committee provides information on the activities of various organizations outside the LSJ such as the United Associations of Language Studies. It also posts announcements of conferences and meetings, calls for academic papers, job openings, grants, and scholarships.

(Maho Naito, Chair of the Publicity Committee)

Summer Institute Committee

The Summer Institute is organized by the Summer Institute Committee and is held every two years to broaden linguistic perspectives among participants, members and non-members alike. Each time it offers twelve courses at different levels: introductory, intermediate and advanced, which are taught for six days by twelve or more leading scholars, domestic and foreign. Since its first meeting in 1999, the Summer Institute has been held in the Tokyo and Kansai areas alternately, with occasional exceptions like those held at Hokkaido University, Sapporo (2010), and at Nagoya University (2014). The institute scheduled in 2020 at Kobe University was cancelled due to COVID-19. The next one is scheduled in 2022 at Tohoku University, Sendai. A full list of courses offered in the past institutes and their course descriptions are available in the LSJ web page. The courses of our Summer Institutes, whose participants range from students to professors/teachers and beyond, have received high reviews, with a number of participants joining from abroad. For more information, see the LSJ website with a link to the special website exclusively dedicated to the Summer Institute (available during the enrollment period, usually starting from April of the Summer Institute year)

(Honoré Watanabe, Chair of the Summer Institute Committee)

Awards Committee

In 2011, in order to promote the improvement and advancement of research activities, the Linguistic Society of Japan established two awards, the LSJ Outstanding Paper and Best Presentation Awards, honoring outstanding papers and presentations by younger scholars. One particularly outstanding paper (or, at most, two) is selected each year from papers published in Gengo Kenkyu over the previous two years (the preceding four issues) to be recognized with the Outstanding Paper Award. The Best Presentation Award is given to outstanding oral and poster research presentations at each general meeting. Selection for each award is made by the respective Awards Committee selection sub-committee. Certificates and prizes are presented at the general meeting by the President of the LSJ to the outstanding paper authors and oral and poster presenters. Titles and abstracts of previous award-winning papers and presentations can be found on the Linguistic Society of Japan home page.

(Hiromu Sakai, Chair of the Awards Committee)


The LSJ Secretariat is housed at the Secretary-General’s affiliation, currently at School of Arts and Letters, Meiji University in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. Part of the business of the Secretariat is outsourced to Nakanishi Printing Company, Kyoto, which is in charge of membership and other affairs for the Society. The address of this Kyoto office is available from the top page of this website.

The Society is run with the support of its members. As Secretary-General, I would like to ask each and every member to continue to lend her or his support to the Society to maintain its traditions together for further progress.

(Toru Ishii, Secretary-general)

Last updated April 2021