Shakespeare collaboration launched between Birmingham and Japan

The University of Birmingham and Waseda University, in Tokyo, have signed a new agreement to collaborate on research into the works of William Shakespeare. 

Delegates from Waseda, one of Japan’s most prestigious universities, visited Birmingham to launch the partnership with the School of English Drama and American & Canadian Studies.

As the world marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016, the agreement will unite the University of Birmingham’s world-renowned Shakespeare Institute, in Stratford-upon-Avon, with Waseda’s Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum and the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences.


Pictured above, from left, are Professor Norimasa Morita, Vice President for International Affairs, Waseda University; Professor Minako Okamuro, Director Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum; Professor Adam Tickell, Provost and Vice-Principal, University of Birmingham; and Professor Tim Softley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer, University of Birmingham.

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum is a Waseda facility devoted to the history ofperforming arts and used for performances by artists from across the globe. It is named after Professor Tsubouchi Shoyo, a pioneer in modern Japanese literature and theatre, also knownfor translating Shakespeare’s complete works into Japanese. 

Beyond collaboration on Shakespeare, the agreement also sees joint research into theatre studies, including the works of playwrights such as Samuel Beckett. 

Visiting Birmingham also gave delegates and their British counterparts the opportunity to discuss future collaboration across a wide range of other research areas, including robotics, linguistics, drama, and sport & exercise science. 

Both universities are contributing to a £60,000 collaborative fund, which will encourage close working between academics across the common research areas which have been identified.  

University of Birmingham Provost Professor Adam Tickell said: “The UK is one of Japan’s top research partners. It is important for both the University of Birmingham and our country to develop closer engagement with our counterparts in Japan, especially in areas of shared research strength. 

“I’m delighted that we have secured this collaboration with Waseda University. There is much common ground between us, particularly as the world’s attention focusses on our region and Shakespeare in 2016, and I look forward to other areas of joint research being developed.” 

Waseda University‘s Vice President for International Affairs, Norimasa Morita, said: “We are very much looking forward to expanding our research collaboration with the University of Birmingham, starting with a select number of academic areas and later developing other exciting strategic research partnerships. 

“In particular, I am very excited about the future activities that can be explored through a collaboration between the Shakespeare Institute and the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, which brings together expertise not only in traditional Shakespeare studies but also studies of the Bard in the context of world literature.” 

The collaboration arose out of a British Council workshop last year which focussed on increasing UK-Japan collaboration in education and research. Professor Michael Whitby, the University of Birmingham’s Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Arts and Law, visited Japan in October and held initial talks with representatives from Waseda University.

The two universities have worked together for some time and there is an active student exchange between Waseda and Birmingham.


Notes to Editors

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, with its work bringing people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.
  • Its Shakespeare Institute is an internationally renowned research institution established in 1951 to push the boundaries of knowledge about Shakespeare studies and Renaissance drama. Based in Stratford-upon-Avon, it is led by Professor Michael Dobson.
  • Waseda is one of Japan’s most prestigious private universities. Based in Tokyo, it was one of the first Japanese universities to accept foreign students, and it currently hosts 5,000 international students from 100 countries, the highest number in Japan.
  • Modelled after England’s 16th-century Fortune Theatre, the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum is Asia’s foremost museum of theatre arts, housing a collection of one million items and an online digital museum. Opened in 1928, it is named after Prof Tsubouchi Shoyo (1859-1935), a pioneer of modern literature and theatre and founder of Waseda’s department of literature.
  • Prof Tsubouchi was a lover of Shakespeare, being the first person to translate all of Shakespeare's plays into Japanese, an incredible forty volumes. His dedication to Shakespeare was life-long, spending his last two years revising the entire collection.

 For more information or interviews, please contact:

Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or  +44 (0)782 783 2312 or 

Marshall Adams, Information & Public Relations, Waseda University on +81 (0) 3 3202-5454 or