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Waseda University Alumni Newsletter: Seihoku-no-Kaze
Special Feature: Round-table discussion among President Kaoru Kamata, Mr. Kenshi Hirokane and Mr. Shuzo Sumi

Waseda Vision 150: The Mission of Cultivating Global Professionals (First Installment)

On November 2012, Waseda University announced the mid- to long-term plan “Waseda Vision 150.” This plan seeks to fulfill the great responsibility placed on our university today by further developing our past accomplishments to establish an unshakeable position as Asia’s leading university.

“Waseda Vision 150” consists of 4 visions: 1) Students who possess outstanding character/aspirations and will contribute to the world, 2) Research which contributes to realizing world peace and happiness in human society, 3) Graduates who will support society as global leaders, and 4) An evolving university serving as a model for Asian universities. Waseda University is proposing specific projects as well as 13 core strategies and implementing them sequentially.

President Shima Kousaku

What kind of professionals must be cultivated by Waseda University to serve as global leaders? To explore the concepts of “global professionals,” a round-table discussion was held among manga artist Kenshi Hirokane (School of Law graduate), known for the series Shima Kousaku which depicts a super businessman who is active globally, Shuzo Sumi (School of Science and Engineering graduate), Chairperson of the Board of Tokio Marine Holdings, Inc.), and President Kaoru Kamata (School of Law graduate), all of whom entered Waseda University in 1966 and graduated in 1970. The discussion was moderated by freelance announcer Miyuki Sadakane (1996 graduate from School of Human Sciences).

The manga character Kousaku Shima is portrayed as being born in Yamaguchi Prefecture and as having graduated from the Waseda University School of Law in 1970. Another similarity with Mr. Sumi is that he was promoted from President to Chairperson of the board this year. Mr. Hirokane and Mr. Sumi were both born in Yamaguchi Prefecture and have been friends since junior high school. President Kamata also attended elementary school and junior high school in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Moreover, although she is from a different generation, moderator Ms. Sadakane was also born in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

The round-table discussion between these alumni with many similarities was extremely lively and covered diverse topics ranging from memories of school days, expectations towards today’s youth, and eagerness towards the manga series Student Shima Kousaku which portrays the student lifestyle of Kousaku Shima at Waseda University.

Participants

Mr. Kenshi Hirokane
Manga Artist

Born in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1947. Graduated from the School of Law, Waseda University in 1970. After working at Matsushita Electric Industrial (currently Panasonic Corporation), debuted as a manga artist in 1976. Has received numerous awards such as the Excellence Prize for Manga at the Japan Media Arts Festival and the Japan Cartoonists Association Award. Awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon in 2007. Currently, writes the series Executive Director Shima Kousaku for the magazine Morning, Young Shima Kousaku for the magazine Evening, and Tasogare Ryuuseigun for the magazine Big Comic Original.

Mr. Shuzo Sumi
Chairperson of the Board, Tokio Marine Holdings, Inc.
Chairperson of the Board, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd.

Born in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1947. Graduated from the Department of Civil Engineering at the School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University in 1970. Entered employment at Tokio Marine and Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. in April 1970. Before assuming his current position in June 2013, held positions at Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. including Director of Overseas Business Division, Chief Representative of London Office, Executive Managing Director, Senior Managing Director and President.

Mr. Kaoru Kamata
President of Waseda University

Born in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1948. Attended elementary school and junior high school in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Graduated from the School of Law, Waseda University in 1970. Completed the Master's Program at the Waseda University Graduate School of Law in 1972. Completed the Doctoral Program at the Waseda University Graduate School of Law in 1976. Before assuming his current position in 2010, held positions at Waseda University such as Professor at the School of Law and Dean of the Waseda Law School.

(Moderator) Ms. Miyuki Sadakane
Freelance Announcer

Born in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1972. Graduated from the School of Human Sciences, Waseda University in 1996. Completed studies at the Graduate School of Language Education at J. F. Oberlin University. Before becoming a freelance announcer, worked as a flight attendant on Japan Airlines and an announcer at NHK Kitakyushu Broadcasting.

4 years at university foster a spirit of independence.
Hirokane

Mr. Sumi, you are always one step ahead of Kousaku Shima, the main character in the manga which I write.

Sumi

When I talked with you in April, you told me that you would promote Kousaku Shima to Chairperson in May and asked me if I would take the same step forward, remember? When I told you that I was scheduled to become Chairperson at the end of June, you said that Kousaku Shima had won this time!

Hirokane

Actually, you were one step ahead again this time. Although Kousaku Shima was appointed as Chairperson at the shareholders meeting in May, the manga was sold in July. So the announcement of your promotion was first!

Sadakane

Why did the three of you choose to attend Waseda University?

Sumi

My two older brothers attended Waseda University, so I wanted to attend Waseda ever since I was in junior high school. I boarded in Tokyo and studied at Waseda University Senior High School before entering Waseda University.

Kamata

Although I was born in Shizuoka Prefecture, my father was frequently transferred by his employers to different locations. I lived in Hofu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture from the 4th grade of elementary school and in Ube City from the 2nd grade of junior high school. After graduating from junior high school in Ube City, I felt the desire to live alone and went to Tokyo by myself. While attending high school, I moved around between relatives living in Tokyo and boarding houses.

Sumi

It’s good for children to live separately from their parents at a young age. It’s also good for parents to start living without their children at an early stage.

Hirokane

Actually, I also lived away from home starting from high school. Even though my parent’s home and high school were located nearby in Iwakuni, I left home and entered a dormitory.

Sadakane

It seems like all of you lived outside your family home starting from high school.

Hirokane

In my case, I dreamed of “becoming a manga artist” ever since I was a child. However, manga artist is not the type of profession where you can get certified and have a guaranteed career. Therefore, if I wasn’t able to become a manga artist, my backup plan was to become a newspaper reporter. My teacher advised me to enter Waseda University, which had a newspaper department. Even more, Waseda also possessed a manga research association, so I never hesitated to enter the university.

Kamata

I knew that I was definitely not the type of person to study at Keio University! I admired the working-class atmosphere of freedom at Waseda University, as well as the anti-elitist philosophy.

Sadakane

What was your impression upon entering Waseda University?

Waseda University in the 1960s
(Left) Students set fire to desks and chairs piled in front of the main gate. (November 1971)
(Right) Student Union Building No. 2 occupied by the All-Campus Joint Struggle League (July 1969)

Hirokane

It was the time of student protests at Waseda University. The school was already surrounded by riot police when I sat for entrance examinations. Since I entered university at such a turbulent time, I had an extremely strong image of Waseda being embroiled in the midst of student protests.

Sumi

Student protests were also at their height for the School of Science and Engineering. For some reason, I found myself taking a position directly opposite to the All-Campus Joint Struggle League and soon found myself leading the opposition. I had the experience of being charged by the revolutionary Marxist faction and beaten down. However, I held a student general meeting and succeeded in stopping the strike at the School of Science and Engineering. Anyway, thanks to the turmoil at university caused by student protests, I was able to graduate without any problem!

Hirokane

In my case, I was completely uninvolved in student protests—in other words, I was an apolitical student. While studying at university, I was living in a dormitory of the Yamaguchi Prefecture Citizens Association. Directors of the association included Eisaku Sato, who was Prime Minister at that time, and Nobusuke Kishi. Accordingly, I was told that I was free to participate in student protests and that I would have to leave the dormitory if I participated. To be honest, I never intended to participate in student protests in the first place, so I spent all my time playing mahjong in the neighborhood around the dormitory.

Kamata

I wasn’t in the same classes as you, Mr. Hirokane, but we might have crossed paths when we were students. At that time, Waseda was filled with an electric atmosphere in which diverse students fully developed their individuality and pursued their dreams. During our time, there wasn’t the homogeneity which exists at university today. Even while studying at the School of Law, some students were devoted entirely to manga, some students spent all their time studying literature, and some students were engrossed in studying for certification examinations. Waseda had an appealing atmosphere in which everyone refined themselves and took action for personal growth.

Refining individuality through dormitory life
Sadakane

Do you feel that being a student during a turbulent time in university history has affected your subsequent life?

Hirokane

There were few classes and I had a vast amount of free time—all of 4 years! Accordingly, I developed the independence to think about how to spend my free time.

Kamata

When we were at university, society was much more tolerant towards students. In many cases, our behavior was tolerated just because we were university students. I believe that students at that time took full advantage of that tolerance to develop their individuality. The economy was soaring and, unlike today, students didn’t have to worry about their future or employment.

Sumi

I lived in “Wakeijuku,” a dormitory which housed students from outside Tokyo. I enjoyed dormitory life much more than going to school. I roomed with students from a variety of backgrounds and undergraduate schools, making an extremely diverse atmosphere. However, since I neglected to attend classes, I was tormented by dreams for about 15 years after graduation. I would wake up in a panic after dreaming that I had a test tomorrow but hadn’t studied at all and didn’t even have a textbook!

Hirokane

I also lived in a dormitory for 4 years. My last year, I was a dormitory leader and organized events such as dinner with Nobusuke Kishi. Similar to Mr. Sumi, I often skipped classes.

Kamata

During our time, it’s true that many people gambled on their own potential and repeatedly took on a variety of challenges in an attempt at self-discovery. The presence of student dormitories played a large role in this process. Even today, I know many people who continue to highly value friendships which were made while living at dormitories. Many of these people speak of how they were refined through dormitory life. As a result of time spent interacting with other people, Waseda produced a succession of graduates with refined human character. I believe that this is the finest tradition of Waseda University.

Sumi

I have heard that Waseda University is currently implementing a plan to create a global dormitory which includes foreign students and Japanese students from outside Tokyo.

Kamata

That’s right. Unfortunately, there is a trend in which universities in the Tokyo metropolitan area are becoming “universities for students from Tokyo.” In the past, at least half of classes were composed of students from outside Tokyo. This was the most prominent feature of Waseda. Today, students from Tokyo and the other 6 prefectures of the Kanto region account for approximately 70% of the students. In response, we are now establishing scholarship systems and constructing dormitories in order to attract more students from outside Tokyo. At the same time, we are working to enroll more foreign students and provide opportunities for interacting with many kinds of people. A symbol of these efforts is the “Nakano International Community Plaza,” a dormitory housing 900 students which will open in Nakano in 2014. This dormitory offers a communal lifestyle of 2 Japanese students and 2 foreign students living together in a 4-person room.

Sadakane

When I was a university student, I lived together with foreign students at the Tokyo International Exchange Center. Globalization is proceeding rapidly, isn’t it?

Language ability is a fundamental skill.
Kamata

When discussing education for responding to globalization, language ability is the first thing which people tend to focus on. However, this is the minimal required skill. The real question is how to utilize that language ability. For example, when looking at the character Kousaku Shima as portrayed by Mr. Hirokane, the most important thing is the content of what is being said. Working together with people from different cultural backgrounds begins by gaining a certain level of trust. Qualities needed to gain trust are rich humanity, broad liberal education, presentation skill and the ability to understand. Such qualities cannot be cultivated simply by repeatedly providing model answers to problems which are presented.

Sumi

I often attend meetings which are conducted in English together with Japanese, British and American members. If, midway through such meetings, I feel that I cannot skillfully articulate my point in English, I speak in Japanese and entrust the translator to convey my ideas. I do this because I feel that the content being conveyed is important. Although my English ability is relatively low, I have gradually improved by working to convey my ideas despite language difficulties.

Hirokane

In the future, Japanese corporations will have more opportunities to do business overseas. However, unless foreign language ability is acquired during school days, the ability to speak naturally in a foreign language is quite difficult to obtain, isn’t it?

Sadakane

Also, even within an environment that responds to globalization, I hope that Waseda will instill students with “qualities unique to our university.”

Kamata

Since long ago, Waseda has provided an abundance of educational resources. Currently, the methods and paths for embracing challenges are becoming increasingly diverse, making it necessary to prepare numerous programs and curricula. However, fundamentally speaking, our university’s stance is to expect students to increase their own motivation and be conscious of taking on new challenges. Waseda has produced many outstanding graduates who can serve as role models for today’s students—Mr. Sumi and Mr. Hirokane are two such examples. I hope that students will carefully observe how Waseda’s prominent graduates continue to develop their skills throughout life.

Sumi

Actually, the “Waseda Vision 150” announced by Waseda University is an almost perfect summary of what must be accomplished by the university. If Waseda focuses on implementing the plan, the school will cultivate many professionals who will be of use to society.

Student Shima Kousaku
Hirokane

What is the view of corporations regarding outstanding personnel—in other words, the image of the ideal student for hiring? Mr. Sumi, what kind of students do you want at your corporation?

Sumi

Actually, we are quite clear in our desire to hire “independent adults.” I spent a long time working overseas and thus had many opportunities to view Japan from the outside. When considering the characteristics of Japanese people, the word “childish” comes to mind. About 30 years ago, I talked with a local female employee in China and remember how shocked I was by the woman’s statement that “Chinese people hate children.” However, the woman didn’t mean that Chinese people hated small children. What she meant is that the Chinese hate people who look like adults but act like children; people who haven’t matured and lack independence. I feel the same way. In terms of global personnel, the same concept holds true. As long as a person is an independent adult, he or she can perform globally even when unable to speak the language of a certain country.

Hirokane

I see. The 4 years spent at university are perfect for cultivating independence, aren’t they? Until graduating from high school, children are always limited in some way. They are bossed around by their parents and are busy with many required classes. However, upon entering university, young adults are able to arrange their lifestyle in a way that suits them. It’s the ideal time for finding one’s path in life and cultivating independence.

Sumi

Upon entering the society, people are limited by social position and family. In that respect, time spent at university offers true emotional freedom and is the most precious 4 years in a person’s life. During that time, it is vital that students embrace challenges in as many different fields as possible.

Hirokane

Currently, I’m writing the series Young Shima Kousaku, which portrays the 10-year period starting from entering a company until becoming a section chief. Once this series is finished, I want to go even further back in time and start Student Shima Kousaku, which will portray his time spent at Waseda University from 1966 to 1970. Through Kousaku Shima, I will portray student demonstrations and the youth of the baby-boomer generation.

Sadakane

I’m looking forward to that series! I wonder what facets of Waseda spirit Kousaku Shima will exhibit as a student.

Hirokane

As expressed by the lyrics “enterprising spirit” in the school song, Waseda spirit is embodied by living an active and bold life. When writing Student Shima Kousaku, I will focus on how a person becomes independent and acquires the ability to live on his own.

Sadakane

Everyone, what qualities do you consider as essential for global personnel?

Hirokane

It will soon be 30 years since I started writing the Shima Kousaku series. This manga has consistently focused on “what it means to work globally.” “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”—That’s the most important thing to remember when overseas. In my opinion, a global professional is someone who is “flexible” enough to quickly understand the customs in different countries and has mentality to acclimate to those customs.

Sumi

There are 3 qualities which are essential for global performance. The first is a global perspective. The second is to completely accept the fact that diverse values exist. The third is specialized knowledge in a certain area. It can be said that an independent adult is someone who possesses these 3 qualities. Incidentally, in the case of Japan, business and education are just about the only fields which are criticized as lagging behind the rest of the world in globalization and thus requiring change. For example, in the field of art, the concept of globalization doesn’t apply to someone who is an outstanding piano player or a superb artist. The main party calling for globalization is businesspeople.

Japan within Asia
Sadakane

Speaking of the business world, your character Kousaku Shima goes to study in Asia in the Asia Risshiden [Success Story in Asia] series. Is the role of Japanese universities changing in terms of “Japan within Asia?”

Hirokane

Beginning with the arrival of Perry, Japan has seen an influx of culture from foreign countries. Indeed, Japan was the first country in Asia to actively absorb the good points of Western culture. For example, the Japanese Diet is modeled after France and the Meiji Constitution was based on Germany. Japanese people cut off their chonmage (topknot), started wearing shoes and began eating beef. In other words, Japan has stood out from among Asian countries in terms of globalization. This is one of the strengths of Japanese people.

Kamata

“Waseda Vision 150” raises the goal of becoming “Asia’s leading university.” This goal contains the message that becoming Asia’s top university is the first step to becoming the world’s top university. Furthermore, a theme of the goal is establishing a unique form as an Asian university, rather than simply trying to catch up to Western universities. The ability to respond to globalization is not only useful overseas, but is also an important quality when working in a small Japanese town. When performing any task, it is necessary to bring together people with a variety of values, to extract the essence of a problem and to develop solutions. Accomplishing this requires outstanding wisdom, a strong sense of purpose and the ability to get things done. In the future, “global professionals” who possess such qualities will be needed in all fields, from global to local.

Sumi

I feel the same way. Our company is expanding our overseas business. In recent years, approximately 40% of our earnings come from outside Japan. I always tell our employees that we will become a global corporation originating from Japan. In other words, we will become a global corporation, but not a corporation without national affiliation. Even when working with domestic customers, about 70% or 80% of raw materials are imported. In this respect, small- and mid-sized corporations and store owners are all living within global society. Insurance companies like Tokio Marine must have the sensibility to provide appropriate advice to such businesspeople. Today, our employees have finally started to accept that the concept of globalization includes all of Japan.

(Continued in Second Installment)