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Campus Now

New Year Issue (Jan.)

Message to the second century

Contributing to international growth
Expectations for the development of true global professionals

Mr. Yasuchika Hasegawa
Chairman, Japan Association of Corporate Executives
President, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited

Mr. Hasegawa leads the business world as the President of Japan's premier pharmaceutical company and as Chairman of the "Japan Association of Corporate Executives," one of Japan's three most influential business groups.
Mr. Hasegawa discussed his student life at university and his impressions of the "global professionals" as defined by "Waseda Vision 150".

Waseda's "enterprising spirit" matched my own character

――Why did you select the School of Political Science and Economics at Waseda University?

I was born in Yamaguchi Prefecture. In other words, I am from the Choshu Domain which played a role in forming the modern state known as Meiji. Reflecting back, Waseda's founding philosophy of an "enterprising spirit" matched my own character. Similarly, "anti-elitist philosophy" and "passion of overcoming adversity" matched my personality of not catering to systems or authority. The predecessor to Waseda University was "Tokyo Senmon Gakko," a school founded with the intent to fuse politics and economics. In that respect, it was natural that I selected the School of Political Science and Economics. At the same time, I also selected the highest level of university and undergraduate school which did not require mathematics as a subject on the entrance examination.

――How did you spend your time at university?

I entered university at the height of campus demonstrations. There were long periods of time when no classes were held. The allowance sent by my parents was not much, so I started part-time work at the recommendation of my older sister, who was boarding together with me at that time. However, before I noticed, part-time work became a full-time occupation. Although I also did some home teaching as part-time work, the majority of my jobs involved physical labor. Still, when reflecting back, I feel that there was meaning in experiencing a variety of professions. I remember often going to the university's student cafeteria with the cheapest meals, but I have almost no recollection of studying. I worked and enjoyed my hobby of mountain climbing.

Ever since that time, I have enjoyed reading books. I still like to read today. I think that reading a lot of books while at university was useful in improving my logical thinking ability.

Time in America spent acquiring thorough logical thinking ability

――After entering Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, you spent 13 years stationed overseas in Europe and America. What did you gain during that time?

I was able to further improve my logical thinking ability during the 13 years which I lived in America. Americans possess thorough logical thinking ability. Therefore, when I made a request as President, I was always asked "Why?" When answering, it was necessary to follow debating rules and give an explanation like "Because, 1, 2 and 3." It's impossible to persuade Americans without using logic known as supporting evidence. If a president can't give logical explanations, there is no action from organizations and people. This kind of daily training was useful in refining my logical thinking ability.

By living in both Europe and America, I felt the differences in each culture. Europe has a history of cross-cultural interaction, so there is understanding towards other ethnic groups, languages and religions. In many respects, I think that it is easier for Japanese people to adapt to life in Europe. Conversely, although America gives a fair and cheerful impression at first glance, there is lingering prejudice and discrimination, as shown by the nation's history of civil rights movements. However, America is also working hard to correct such problems. America is also a country where there are many opportunities to take on challenges. It is truly a country which fits the English phrase of "One door closed, the other opens."

Expectations towards "Waseda Vision 150"

――"Waseda Vision 150" emphasizes the cultivation of professionals who will be active globally. Mr. Hasegawa, what is your image of a global professional?

Today, the Japanese market is shrinking and it is clear that corporations must capture business opportunities in growth markets in order to realize continued growth. When conducting business overseas, there is a need for professionals who possess a global mind and can contribute to the international growth of a company by negotiating on equal footing with foreigners. In addition to English ability, other important elements include the ability to debate with people who come from different cultures and backgrounds, and who possess a variety of different ways of thinking. The ability to exercise creativity from such debates is also important. Furthermore, such professionals require a general liberal education for discussing Japan.

Japan did not accept immigrants for a period of more than 1,000 years. Therefore, as expressed through the phrase "unspoken communication," there is a great deal of implicit understanding. In order for such Japan to interact with foreign countries, it is necessary to perform decision-making through a process of logical debate and explanation.

I would like students to develop the ability to persuade others through debate based on logical thinking. Also, students who seek employment at global corporations must realize that they are competing with other students throughout the world in addition to Japanese students and foreign students in Japan.

Our company conducts an endowment lecture in English at Waseda University. English is used in presentations and in the following Q&A sessions with students. Our corporation is actively working to create encounters with students and to gain understanding towards our corporation, as well as towards the type of professionals that we seek.

――What is your opinion regarding the cultivation of professionals at universities?

Assuming that 80% to 90% of graduates are employed at corporations, then, of course, a university must cultivate professionals that are sought by corporations. Universities should conduct thorough market research on the type of professionals sought by corporations.

Although there are opportunities for universities and corporate executives to speak honestly, time is still required for both parties to form a specific image at the on-site level and to achieve mutual understanding. I believe that it is necessary for university staff in charge of job-search support and corporate staff in charge of hiring to meet directly and hold frank discussions on the cultivation of professionals sought by corporations. This would help to revise any mismatch between the professionals sought by corporations and the professionals cultivated by universities.

――What are your expectations towards Waseda University in the future?

As part of the "Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction Support Project" held at Waseda University in June of last year, Mr. Hasegawa gives a lecture and answers questions from students.

In order to realize interactive and problem finding/solving courses through small-group classes, "Waseda Vision 150" calls for reducing the current number of undergraduate students by 20% to 35,000 students. The vision also contains a plan for having all students experience foreign study and international volunteering. I have extremely high regard for these measures. In the future, I hope that Waseda University will increase opportunities for Japanese students to study English together with foreign students, maintain the rank of the No. 1 university for accepting foreign students, place further focus on the cultivation of global leaders, and produce professionals who will lead the world in various fields.

Mr. Yasuchika Hasegawa
Chairman, Japan Association of Corporate Executives
President, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited

Born in 1946. Graduated from the School of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University in 1970. After graduation, entered employment at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company.
In 1993, appointed as President of TAP Pharmaceuticals, a joint-venture company formed with Abbott Laboratories (America). In 1995, appointed as President of TAP Holdings Inc. In June 2003, appointed as President of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company. From 2010, served as Chairperson of the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, an industrial group of R&D-oriented pharmaceutical corporations (held the position until May 2011). From 2011, has served as Chairperson of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives.