Meeting a gargantuan challenge


As an American who has lived in Japan for four years, I would like to speak with education minister Yoshiaki Takaki. For decades, the government has been fumbling around, involved with cat-and-mouse fights between parties concerned more with re-election and special interests than with the nation’s interests. Now Japan faces a gargantuan crisis as debt nears 200 percent of GDP amid a declining and aging population.

Make no mistake, Japan’s private sector is still potent, but Japan desperately needs government leaders who understand the comparative advantages of this nation, are bold enough to eradicate amakudari (the practice of public bureaucrats retiring into high-profile corporate positions within sectors they once oversaw) and wasteful spending, and can make strategic decisions that develop Japan’s only real resource, people.

Here at Nagoya University, primarily through the Global 30 Project, we are developing a “university within a university,” offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs all taught in English, to cultivate ethical leaders with genuine courage and intellect. It is a multidisciplinary curriculum designed for people who can develop innovative solutions through inquiry and analysis with strong communication and teamwork skills.

Internationalized Japanese “returnees” are a key stakeholder in our university – and this nation – because of their overseas experience. Our hope is to corner the domestic higher education market with a student body that represents the plurality of our global environment.

Three of Nagoya University’s four Nobel laureates are alumni, and the fourth has taught here for almost 40 years. Nagoya University’s core departments are aligned with the nation’s strengths: sciences and engineering. We are doing all we can to cultivate human resources who can think on their own and make a positive impact on whatever organization or community they belong to. We ask the education ministry to recognize this and to support programs and universities like ours.

Japan Times
Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010

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Meeting a gargantuan challenge