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The Department of Asian Studies has offered a Japanese concentration in the B.A. in Asian Studies since 2003. Japanese language instruction at UNC-Chapel Hill began in 1976-77 when the Department of Linguistics and Non-Western Languages helped fund a native Japanese speaker to act as a tutor for a self-instructional course. Japanese 101-102 began the next year as a formal course and continued for some years; professors with expertise in Japanese taught the second-year course.

The Japan Foundation funded the first full-time instructor of Japanese and also the first tenure-track faculty position in Japanese language and literature. In 2003, a grant from the Freeman Foundation enabled the hiring of the second tenure-track faculty member in Japanese. In 2009-10, a grant from the Provost’s office made the third hiring possible.