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Top>Education>CGSA's (Chuo Graduate School of Accounting) development oriented towards globalization.


Norimitsu Kodabashi

Norimitsu Kodabashi

CGSA's (Chuo Graduate School of Accounting) development oriented towards globalization.

Norimitsu Kodabashi
Director and Professor of Accounting of Chuo Graduate School of International Accounting, Chuo University

Experience from overseas study: A real feeling of globalization

In March 2007 I arrived in Brisbane. Brisbane was at the end of summer and entering autumn, so having left the beginning of spring in Tokyo, I felt the lingering summer heat. This was to be the start of a fun year in a southern land. But these ideas were shattered the moment I arrived at QUT (Queensland University of Technology), which had invited me to be a visiting professor. I couldn't communicate well in English. That is, I couldn't pick up anything they were saying to me so the realization that this would be a difficult year hit home.

This was to be quite a hard time. Because I had flown to a university I had had little contact with, I had no Japanese acquaintances. Signing a contract at the real estate agency was chaotic, not to mention phoning the electric company to have power connected. Having trouble with conversation alone, being made to make a telephone call was a harsh task.

Only by dealing with these tasks one at a time, my daily life proceeded. For me, nearing 50, everyday went by as a real challenge. I never imagined tropical Brisbane would prove to be such an experience in survival, so everything came to me as a surprise.

I was also surprised at the difference in the university system. Although the Faculty of Accounting had a staff of almost 30, there were only two professors. Becoming a professor means you must take on added educational and research responsibilities, and these two professors worked late everyday guiding graduate students and fulfilling their obligations with preparations for conference presentations. As visiting professor, I became the third professor and was given quite good treatment. A reception tea party was held in my honor in April, and staff promoting the research seminars questioned me, “As a professor, you will be giving a research presentation, won't you”? The original plan was to submit one report in English by June and, if accepted, give a presentation in July, and I had been put in a position where I couldn't refuse. My laboratory was a single room on the top floor with a plate on the door reading Prof. Kodabashi, and unless I did something about it no one would recognize me. I had deferred the presentation date until October and rescheduled the completion of my paper for September. This was my first paper in English and it was clear that I had to study English.

There was nothing else I could do, so I found myself an ESL teacher and started learning English for paper writing and presentations. Day in and day out I would write extensive English articles and have them corrected. During this time I noticed that when writing English sentences, if you don't think in English they won't be understood. If I translated my Japanese thoughts into English, the aricle would usually come back with comments in red from my teacher reading “I don't understand Japanese English.” After a while I found a way to write in English as well as hold conversations on specialist topics at the university. At these times it is a fact that logic you have learnt in English loses its meaning when translated into Japanese. If you don't understand the English as it is, you can't reproduce that English let alone hold a discussion on the topic. In the same way I felt that if I couldn't write in English, I couldn't read and comprehend it correctly either. In preparation for my presentation I attended many research meetings and international conferences. What surprised me was the lack of Japanese attending the international conferences. At one such conference there was a session on Japanese style management, but when eagerly I went to see it, the presenter was from India and the commentator from South Korea. Even in the audience there were no Japanese other than myself.

It was also clear that the major theme of international conferences has shifted from Japanese style management to those of Chinese business and the Chinese economy. I saw notices on street corners in Brisbane offering home-tutoring services of Chinese. I felt that Japan had become isolated from the rest of the world. I think the first English word I learnt in Australia was “isolated” or “isolation”. Through daily life the reality dawned on me that Japan was being left behind in an advancing international society. Even though the world is changing and heading in a certain direction, Japan is standing by itself facing the other way. I saw Japan in this light from Australia.

Globalization and IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards)

I linked this isolation of Japan directly to my own area of research. From the moment I set foot in Australia I was asked by accounting researchers and accountants “Why is Japan one of the only countries not to adopt IFRS?” I knew that Australia had adopted IFRS in 2005, but never realized that it had spread to the rest of the world bar Japan and America.

At that time in Japan there had been a divisive debate on the so-called harmonization of financial standards. It was envisaged that plural financial standards could coexist and that their differences would be converged over time. Put simply, many Japanese thought that IFRS and USGAAP (American accounting standards) could exist alongside JGAAP (Japanese accounting standards). I also thought in that way.

But I soon realized that it was a huge misconception. For Japan to preserve independent significance, Japan needs to be a leading country, but the world doesn't recognize Japan as such. Of course no one can deny that Japan is currently an economic power, but there is no guarantee that it can continue this way as a leading country. In addition, you can't even begin to compare America's international position with the past, so it is natural that USGAAP isn't in a stable position. At the moment, IFRS is in the stronger position by far after being adopted by as many as 100 countries. For Japanese, who tends to see the world through America's eyes, it is difficult to understand these kinds of neutral world affairs. With the Internet it is easy to keep up with world affairs today, but as most of this information is in English, there is an aspect of difficulty in making this common knowledge in Japan.

On top of this I began to notice, after talking with Australians, that the understanding of IFRS itself is different to what is being taught in Japan. They hardly ever mention profit and loss statements. They insist on showing the current situation through balance sheets. From this point of view you can see the difference in the understanding of IFRS and the Japanese image of IFRS. I strongly think that the Japanese are taking the meaning of IFRS from the direct Japanese translation of the English original.

From what I learnt through my year in Australia, if a system teaching IFRS in English isn't introduced in Japan, I truly feel that Japanese business and economic society will not develop.

CSGA Curriculum Reform and Middlebridge

In less than a year after my return, America announced a roadmap related to the application of IFRS with Japan following with an announcement of its own. The approach of IFRS in Japan has finally begun. In adopting IFRS there is the inevitable question of, what is the essence of IFRS. Put simply, in terms of introducing financial standards, I can see no reason why America has been so hesitant. IFRS stands for International Financial Reporting Standards, and the essence lays in common international rules for financial reports in capital markets. If you clearly don't know what to convey and how to evaluate businesses, you will be unable to participate in debates on IFRS and have difficulty in adopting it.

Because of this, it is an absolute necessity to comprehend IFRS through English logic. In addition to this it is a plus, if possible, to have native English-speaking accountant with experience in IFRS on our staff. Without thinking about setting up this type of course, we won't be able to get a grasp of the original meaning of IFRS. Of course, the core of knowledge of IFRS to be placed in the Japanese business situation needs to be taught in Japanese. In saying this, to meet the level and needs of the students it is inevitably important to provide two courses. One, with native English-speaking accountant explaining IFRS, and the other being about the practical education of the introduction of IFRS, delivered by Japanese accountants well versed in practical accounting for Japanese business.

CGSA will start these two courses in April this year. As native English-speaking staff we have, continuing on from last year as visiting professor, Greg Dennis, former president of the National Institute of Accountants (Australia) , along with the appointment of Chartered Accountants (Australian) Kylie Breeze as assistant professor this year.

Not only by addressing IFRS education by introducing English, CGSA also thinks the discussion content is suitable for IFRS education. Since the inception of CGSA, we have built the curriculum around the educational aim of the merger of accounting and finance. As IFRS is pointed out as fair value accounting, IFRS is strongly dictated by the financial theory. Accordingly, through IFRS education, CGSA's goal of the merger of accounting and finance has become even more attainable.

As you can see, CGSA hasn't just taken the helm of a full-fledged response to IFRS, but has become the whole ship by moving from Ichigaya Campus to Chuo University's newly purchased Middle Bridge in Ichigaya-Tamachi. Middle Bridge is even closer to JR Ichigaya Station and convenient to subway stations on the Yuraku-cho, Nanboku, and Shinjuku lines. This is a tremendous improvement in accessibility making it the perfect venue for a graduate school for businessmen. In addition to this, from the windows on the west side you can see Mount Fuji at sunset, providing a much better environment for education and research.

With CGSA's relocation in April, CGSA's future will bloom magnificently like the cherry blossoms lining Sotobori Street. I saw this as a blessing for CGSA's road to globalization.

Norimitsu Kodabashi
Director and Professor of Accounting of Chuo Graduate School of International Accounting, Chuo University
Born in Fukuoka Prefecture. After passing the Certified Public Accountant secondary examination in 1981, he completed his doctorate at Graduate School of Economics, Chuo University (Doctor of Economics). After spending time as associate professor of Fukushima University and professor of Faculty of Economics, Chuo University, he was professor at the Chuo Graduate School of International Accounting from 2002, visiting professor of Queensland University of Technology from March 2007, and became director of the Chuo Graduate School of International Accounting in November 2009. Author of Business Accounting (Diamond Publishing)