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Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Apr. 2014)

SPECIAL REPORT

Waseda’s support for reconstruction

—3 years after the Great East Japan Earthquake—

3 years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Reconstruction is still lagging behind schedule.
From immediately after the earthquake, Waseda University has considered what can and must be done for regional reconstruction and a brighter future. Waseda has conducted a variety of support activities both inside and outside our school.
In this article, we will review past activities, discuss recovery from an academic perspective, and convey our university’s position towards disaster.

Interview

Transmitting Waseda’s knowledge of reconstruction support to the world

We spoke with Vice-President Satoshi Shimizu regarding Waseda University’s position regarding reconstruction support.

Vice-President of Waseda University
Satoshi Shimizu

Reconstruction support appropriate for an educational institution

Waseda University conducts continual reconstruction support based on the Office for Aiding Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake which was established immediately after the disaster with President Kamata as Director. Upon considering the appropriate form of reconstruction support at our university which serves as an educational institution, we formulated the following 3 support policies: 1) scholastic support for students impacted by the disaster, 2) support for disaster regions, and 3) reconstruction support through research. We then proceeded to implement university-wide projects. As scholastic support for students impacted by the disaster, we implemented measures for the reduction/exemption of tuition and eligibility for special scholarships. By doing so, we have created an environment that enables current students to continue learning at Waseda despite whatever conditions they may face. In terms of support for disaster regions, the Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center (WAVOC) has played a leading role. We have been able to continue and expand activities by utilizing the know-how accumulated from a variety of volunteer programs. Such know-how includes preparing the local environment to accept volunteers, ensuring the safety of students, and providing thorough preliminary education. Furthermore, cooperation among a variety of academic fields is essential for reconstruction from large-scale composite disaster. Acting as a comprehensive university, Waseda established the Institute for Research on Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake as a base for gathering diverse knowledge from specialized fields and proceeded with joint projects across our university for reconstruction.

Almost 3 years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Today, as reconstruction continues, the form of support is diversifying. Within this process of change, it takes great power and perseverance to continue working for recovery. Waseda University is able to continue our reconstruction support because we have countless students and faculty/staff members who are filled with the altruism spirit of working to benefit the society and mankind. We must also thank alumni in the disaster area who have worked tirelessly to host volunteer students even while suffering from the effects of the disaster. Furthermore, generous support has been received from alumni throughout Japan via the Waseda Supporters Club. Also, support from university staff has formed the base for a variety of reconstruction support activities. Moreover, in order to further deepen understanding among staff, we have held training for new employees since the 2012 academic year. This training also includes volunteer activities in Kesennuma and Rikuzentakata.

Reconstruction support for the Great East Japan Earthquake contributes to the resolution of global issues.

Another element is reconstruction support performed together with regions and people who were impacted by the disaster. In addition to returning our university’s wisdom and humanity to society, it was an opportunity for participating students, faculty and staff to gain a great deal of experience and insight. Students, faculty and staff volunteering in the disaster area engaged in deep thought and searched for ways to help. For example, students worked to apply their studies to solving problems encountered in the disaster area, while researchers considered the form of social responsibility for academics and research, and the form of scientific technology.

Support activities and research related to reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake can be applied to a variety of global problems requiring resolution, such as use of natural resources, poverty, energy, conflict and an aging society. There is a process in which students gain experience and knowledge from reconstruction support. These students then learn at university, refine their skills in society, and then exhibit leadership for a variety of issues in both Japan and overseas. Ultimately, this leads to contribution to human society. Now, we are conducting periodic follow-up and analysis for how learning conditions, paths chosen in education and employment, and career formation are impacted in the case of students who were involved in reconstruction activities for the Great East Japan Earthquake. We plan to apply our findings to a variety of education and volunteer activities in the future. Such work is the true meaning of our university’s involvement in reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, and also shows our gratitude toward everyone involved. All of Waseda University will continue to work as one to advance reconstruction and to promote related research and education.

Satoshi Shimizu
Vice-President of Waseda University
Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences

Left the Waseda University Graduate School of Law in 1980. Served as a full-time lecturer at the University of Tokushima Faculty of Education and as Assistant Professor at the Shinshu University Faculty of Education before becoming Professor at the Waseda University Faculty of Social Sciences in 1993. Appointed as Vice-President in 2006, and Executive Director and Trustee of Waseda Saga Junior and Senior High School in 2010. Also a member of organizations including the MEXT Council for University Chartering and School Juridical Person. His major written and co-written works include Introduction to the Labor Act and Legal Status of Temporary/Contract Laborers in Municipalities.