The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Campus Now > SPECIAL REPORT : Early Spring Issue (Apr. 2013)

Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Apr. 2013)


Cultivating global leaders active in the community

Happy relationships between university and the community

“Waseda Vision 150” is a mid-and-long-term plan which defines the ideal form of Waseda University in 2032, the year of our 150th anniversary. The global leaders who are described in this vision are not limited to overseas professionals; rather, they include professionals who return to their hometown, using their global perspective and sensibility for the good of the community. Cultivating such global leaders will further deepen the partnership between our university and the community. We will explore what Waseda University can do to construct a brighter future for our planet.

Joint projects between the community×Waseda×students

As part of extracurricular activities at Waseda University, the Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office and WAVOC play a central role in providing opportunities to learn about the community. This article introduces some aspects of the project.

Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office

Partnerships between the university and community

Susumu Nemoto
Administrative Director, Academic Affairs Division
Director, Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office

Waseda University is open wide to society. Indeed, high school graduates are only a portion of our student. The window for professional cultivation has always been open to the region and society. There is great potential for contributing to society through academic knowledge in the humanities. However, when compared to research fields, Japan currently lacks strong industry-academia alliances in the field of education.

Throughout its long history, Waseda University has also tried to provide education through a partnership with society. One such trailblazing activity was the Nara fieldwork held by Yaichi Aizu in the early Showa Period. This tradition is carried on by the Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office which began operation in 2006. Based on the goal of creating opportunities for society and Waseda to cultivate students together, the office fulfills an important role as a bridge between our school and the community. Furthermore, the “Professionals Workshop” which began in 2007 is an example of hands-on education through collaboration. Waseda is actively implementing measures to cultivate professionals through cooperation between corporations, local government and our school. This year also marks the 4th year of the Kijimadaira Village Project.

Today, under-population exists throughout Japan and genkai shuraku (marginal villages) has become a serious problem. For students taking classes at an urban university like Waseda, seeing current conditions through interaction with local citizens is a precious “learning” opportunity. By using fieldwork and university classes to fuse actual experience and theoretical study, we can reaffirm the necessity of academics while widening the framework of study and pinpointing essential issue.

In recent years, much focus is given to the concept of “global professionals.” A “local perspective” is an essential element in cultivating global professionals. Upon encountering the culture or ideas of other countries, many Japanese people realize how out of touch they are with their hometown. They recognize their lack of understanding towards their identity and characteristics as a Japanese person. Global is nothing more than a collection of individual regions.

Nowadays, there are many activities in which students take the initiative to connect with the community. I feel that the Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office should play a role in supporting these students’ pure intentions to “help society and the community.” As stated in Waseda’s school song “Her students change from year to year / Meet and part with youth’s delight,” through their time at Waseda University, I hope that students will connect with society and will be cultivated into professionals who value their community.

Click to enlarge.


Saga Prefecture×Waseda×Students
Saga Student Tomonkai Project

In order to strengthen cooperation based on the common bond of Shigenobu Okuma, Saga Prefecture and Waseda University conducted an agreement in 2006 to collaborate in various fields including research, education and cultivation of professionals. In 2012, our university held 2 joint projects through cooperation with the “Saga Student Tomonkai,” an official club consisting of 30 Waseda students coming from Saga Prefecture. The 2 joint projects were participation in a program to experience the fishing industry and a symposium to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the building of Saga Castle.

In the fishing industry program, students exchanged opinions with fishermen regarding the current state of fishing (laver) in Saga and the natural environment of the Ariake Sea. The two sides explored measures for increasing consumption. At the symposium, students proposed activities for making Saga an even more appealing town. Students learned a great deal by surveying the area around Saga Castle and exchanging opinions with citizens.


Expanding horizons through contact with people and feeling pride in one’s hometown

Mr. Kōhei Ōgushi
Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office
(deployed from Saga Prefectural Government)

Through direct contact with many citizens residing in Saga City, the recent project aimed for students to become familiar with “local people” and get first-hand experience with the “real community.” The project was planned based on the idea that “understanding towards a community” cannot be achieved without “understanding people” living in that community. During activities with students, I felt them develop “pride” in their hometown through the process of rediscovering that hometown through contact with local citizens and through the process of considering community problems through a shared perspective.

Actually, upon visiting the community, students were motivated by the sight of local citizens who passionately explained current conditions and problems. When students told me their opinions, I repeatedly asked them questions to encourage them to always see matters from the perspective of another person. For example, “If what you propose is a viable solution, then why haven’t citizens already taken such action?” Even so, by personally adapting the same perspective as local citizens, I also realized the profound depth of “Saga” for the first time.

I will return to Saga in the future. Based on experience gained from this project, I will become deeply involved in the community, explore the appeal of a community based on “people,” and continually convey information on that appeal.

Rediscovering the appeal of my hometown Saga

Mr. Kōta Iguchi
4th-Year Student at School of Human Science
Secretary-General of Saga Students Tomonkai

The Saga Students Tomonkai was founded as a “casual place for interaction among students with the same hometown.” Through collaboration with Mr. Ōgushi, our club’s activities broadened to include contributions to our hometown of Saga. In order to devise proposals for the symposium to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the building of Saga Castle, club members held a discussion with officials from the prefectural government. During this discussion, although I gave my opinion with great confidence, government employees conducted repeated review and continued to examine the feasibility of my idea. From their approach, I strongly felt the importance of logically conveying one’s opinion to other people with diverse values and ways of thinking in working society.

By changing my perspective, I discovered a great amount of regional resources that I never noticed during daily life. Previously, I wasn’t able to skillfully convey the outstanding points of Saga and hesitated to speak about Saga as my birthplace. However, I rediscovered the appeal of Saga by participating in this project. For example, Saga provides an overwhelming share of the laver consumed in Japan and is the home of prominent individuals who were active from the end of the shogunate into the Meiji Period. Most of all, Shigenobu Okuma was born in Saga! Recently, I spend my days thinking of myself as the “ambassador of tourism in Saga Prefecture.” Saga is really a wonderful place!

Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center (WAVOC)


Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture×Alumni×Students×Waseda
Reconstruction volunteer projects in Kesennuma

WAVOC sees great importance in involvement in long-term support for reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. This support is provided through the comprehensive and diverse strength of students, faculty, staff and alumni. As of January 31st, 2013, WAVOC has deployed 3,336 volunteers (mainly students) to a total of 26 cities, towns and villages which were damaged by the earthquake. In particular, a variety of projects have been implemented in Kesennuma City through cooperation with local alumni. In addition to deploying volunteers to clear away mud and remove debris, earthquake-related subjects have been established. Charity events and symposiums have also been held. Student volunteers have recognized important issues from their experience in disaster areas. We believe that students can develop the power to position these issues within society.

These many activities help gain trust from local communities. WAVOC recruited volunteer translators for “A Record—Moving Forward from the Great East Japan Earthquake,” a report published by Kesennuma. We have worked hard to communicate information overseas. The report is expected to function as an important tool in disaster-preparedness policy for major earthquake which may occur throughout the world in the future. These activities were realized through the cooperative framework of “All-Waseda.”

Photograph after completing work. At center is Masaki Takahashi, a Waseda alumnus.

Student presentation at the Kesennuma City Tourism Strategy Conference

Symposium on current conditions of disaster areas held at Ono Memorial Auditorium

A 191-page report. Cover shows a dragon-shaped pine tree in Iwaisaki.

Raising the spirits of Waseda and Kesennuma at the Katsuo Festival held by the Federation of Stores Near Waseda University.


Human qualities are cultivated through bonds with others

Mr. Katsumi Shirahata
Director of the Kesennuma City Board of Education

The “report” which we asked WAVOC to translate depicts the circumstances of schools and the state of children’s studies immediately after the earthquake. We wanted the translators to empathize with the feelings behind the words. Such translation was only possible by Waseda students who had been active in a wide range of activities such as removing debris and supporting studies immediately following the earthquake. At the same time, we wanted student translators to gain an even deeper understanding of the situation at schools in our community. We hope that the circumstances of the earthquake and of the many people working to recover from the disaster will be conveyed to future generations. Entering a community and interacting with the citizens cultivate human qualities in students and provide them with a new direction in their studies. It has been 10 years since Kesennuma City started education for sustainable development. I hope that Waseda students will join in our efforts. Indeed, the meaning of activities by Waseda students in our community is further deepened by the fact that many of Kesennuma’s leaders are Waseda graduates.

The form of support is gradually changing. There is now a need for highly-intellectual support which is intrinsically related to creative reconstruction. We expect that our alliance with Waseda will bring even greater pride to Kesennuma City and will generate new energy in a variety of fields.

Awareness of the bond between myself and the community

Shotaro Shimomoto
(4th-Year Student at School of Law)

I have always been interested in social issues. Following the disaster in 2011, I decided to participate in the WAVOC Project for Supporting Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Teams of students conduct continual support based from temporary housing, tourist information centers and high schools. Today, in addition to my desire to contribute to reconstruction in Kisennuma, I feel greater awareness to the bond between myself, Waseda and citizens of Kisennuma. In the future, while learning from activities together with younger students, I hope to continue volunteer and exchange activities for dozens of years as an alumnus.