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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 (Second 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.

Waseda spirit embodied by Shima Kousaku
Kamata

Compared to the past, I sense a change in the structure of club activities and dormitories which foster hierarchical relationships. Today, there is an increase in clubs which offer more freedom and are a bit smaller, composed only of people who truly have a tacit understanding of each other. Compared to our time as students, there are fewer opportunities to exercise patience under an older student whom you may dislike.

Hirokane

However, upon joining the working force, it’s impossible to associate only with people whom you get along with. The person sitting next to you may be the type which you like the least. Also, there is usually a difference in age and way of thinking. University is the only time when you can spend all your time with friends. It would be best to start early in acquiring experience talking with people of different age groups.

Sumi

Plus, once you enter the society, everything seems irrational! Students need to experience such irrationality while at university.

Sadakane

Waseda University provides opportunities for a communal lifestyle with other students of different ages, values and cultures. What are your thoughts on that role?

Kamata

It’s extremely important. One point is to create many opportunities for interaction with people who possess individuality that you cannot predict. In addition to classes and club activities, it’s important to deepen mutual understanding through extracurricular activities and daily life. Another point is that enrolling foreign students will lead to mutual understanding between countries. Waseda has accepted foreign students since the 19th century. In the case of China, we have formed a broad network of personal connections. For example, a Waseda graduate was a founding member of the country’s Communist Party. Foreign students who study at Waseda gain in-depth knowledge of Japan, then return to their native country and become leaders. If this trend continues, then mutual understanding between countries will advance faster than if left to foreign policy of the government. I would be overjoyed if interaction between young people at Waseda would bear the great fruit of encouraging interaction between nations.

Hirokane

The CEO of Korea’s Samsung Electronics is also a graduate of Waseda. The enrollment of foreign students is also meaningful in terms of global response. I feel that Japanese students nowadays are undergoing a type of “Galapagos syndrome,” similar to how Japanese industry evolved by focusing exclusively on the domestic market and thus diverged from global standards. It seems that students today are content to stay in Japan and spend time with their friends—you could say that there is a trend towards complacency. I hope that students will travel overseas and interact with a wide variety of people. Currently, the number of Japanese students studying overseas is decreasing. In the past, Japanese composed the majority of Asian students at Harvard University. However, almost all of the Asian students at Harvard today are from China, Korea and Taiwan.

Kamata

Right now in Japan, Waseda has the largest number of students who are studying overseas as part of their university education, as well as the largest number of enrolled foreign students. According to student questionnaires, about 70% of students want to study abroad or work overseas after graduation. However, in actuality, many students forgo leaving Japan due to financial difficulties, a disadvantage in searching for employment, or having to repeat another year in school. Waseda is taking a variety of actions to address such issues. For example, as long as students pay tuition fees at Waseda, they don’t have to pay any school expenses when studying abroad. Credits acquired at overseas universities are incorporated into credits at Waseda so that students don’t have to repeat a year of schooling. We also offer successful foreign study programs which allow students to go abroad at a time which doesn’t interfere with the search for employment. Furthermore, in the case of foreign students who lack sufficient Japanese language ability, all classes at Waseda can be taken in English. Thanks to results of such programs, there are currently about 4,500 foreign students at Waseda. What’s more, about 2,000 of those foreign students are enrolled at undergraduate schools.

Hirokane

Some corporations are making English the official company language. What about using English for about half of the classes at Waseda?

Kamata

Currently, a degree can be earned in 6 undergraduate schools and 11 graduate schools by taking classes conducted only in English. We plan to conduct 50% of classes in foreign languages in 20 years. 50% is a vital figure—by no means will we ever conduct 100% of classes in foreign languages. It is important to have classes where Japan can be studied thoroughly in the Japanese language. We will continue to hold such classes.

Hirokane

I see. You’ve already started to hold classes in foreign languages. How about classes in which all students use computers?

Kamata

Methods differ depending on the undergraduate schools and departments. For example, all students use computers during classes at the Waseda Law School. In the case of classes based on interactive and problem-solving style, results can only be improved if students prepare by reading a vast amount of material. However, it is impossible to prepare a collection of legal precedents for all students. Therefore, it is necessary to enable searching for all material via a computer. During classes, law students debate while viewing ordinances and judgments on their computers. This kind of infrastructure must be prepared for classes of interactive style. We will further enhance such measures in the future.

Sumi

In today’s world, any kind of information can be found on the internet. Unfortunately, there are an increasing number of people who believe that the model answers found on the internet are their own ideas. It has become difficult to conduct training for exercising the imagination. Before entering university, students should read books from a younger age and work on developing their imagination.

Hirokane

Recently, I feel that while there are many intelligent people, there are few creative and imaginative people. According to scientists, “discoveries” are made only after repeating the process of forming a hypothesis, verifying the hypothesis, reforming the hypothesis to address any problems, and then verifying again. A “huge discovery” occurs when a certain hypothesis holds true at certain timing. I have heard that the ability to form a hypothesis is linked to creative ability. I hope that universities will fulfill the role of instilling students with such creativity.

Leaders never waver or flee.
Sadakane

Kousaku Shima finally got married in your recent series. Why did you decide to have him marry?

Hirokane

Currently, I portray Kousaku as a super businessman in the series, but my original intention was to write a story about office romance. The theme changed to business after I began writing. Still, since the series is published in a men’s magazine, it would be best for appealing women to appear in the story. If Kousaku was married, I would have to write about him having affair! That’s why I had him get a divorce so that he could have a free love life. However, at the age of 64, I married him to Kumiko Omachi, the heroine of the story. In short, I delayed his marriage so that I could introduce lots of women into the story.

Sadakane

I see. Are you going to further develop the story in terms of Kousaku as a businessman?

Hirokane

That’s a difficult point. Shima Kousaku is a series which realistically portrays companies and business. From this point, Kousaku will serve as chairman. Accordingly, his role is to entrust running of the company to the president, enter groups such as the Keidanren and the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, and negotiate with politicians, bureaucrats and businesspeople to improve the Japanese economy. As such, series will address themes such as lowering of corporate tax and quantitative easing. I worry whether manga examining the Japanese economy from such a broad perspective will be interesting to readers! Mr. Sumi, just like Kousaku, you hold the position of chairman—do you have any advice on how I should write the series?

Sumi

Currently, I am a member of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives. I attend several groups to discuss the future of the economy. I also serve as an advisor for a variety of other groups and committees. I am gradually getting more and more offers for such work. In terms of the ratio between company business and external affairs, the majority of my work will probably be outside of the company in the future. I will entrust company business to other executives and simply watch over the company to ensure that we stay on the proper path.

Kamata

Mr. Hirokane, your manga clearly represents social, economic and political conditions in each era. I’m sure that many of your fans enjoy reading such content. Currently, Japan has reached a major turning point in terms of our nation’s orientation in the future. I think it would be interesting if Shima Kousaku interpreted the future of politics and the economy.

Sumi

I agree. That would certainly be a popular manga. Currently, the program Kousaku Shima’s Asia Risshiden [Success Story in Asia] is being broadcast on television. I empathize with many aspects of the program. There are many interesting anecdotes in the process of building business relationships with partners in Asia, the Middle and Near East, America and other countries. Actually, I have plans to visit a variety of countries including Taiwan, Australia, China and Saudi Arabia. Many interesting storylines could be found by delving into partner relationships and political conditions in such countries.

Hirokane

That’s a good point. There would be great meaning in introducing such content to readers. Some businesspeople who read my manga have said that it is easier to understand than a newspaper. I would like to contribute more useful information to such readers.

Sadakane

Mr. Sumi, you have been called the model for Shima Kousaku. How do you feel about that?

Sumi

Employees often ask if I am the model for Shima Kousaku—but I always deny it. After all, I don’t have that kind of experience with women! I see Kousaku Shima as a representative of business people who were born in 1947 and have experienced the rapid expansion of the Japanese economy, the bursting of the economic bubble and the advance of globalization; in other words, members of the baby boomer generation. As far as the similarities between the timing of promotions for Kousaku and me, that’s because we are from the same generation.

Hirokane

All three of us are of the same age as Kousaku Shima. The manga will end if I stop writing. So I intend to keep writing the series until I am no longer capable. In the future, I have to decide whether to cast Kousaku in the role of consultant or advisor, or to start a series called Retired Shima Kousaku and examine life in an aging society. I feel that either path would be interesting. Still, for the time being, I want to continue depicting business in Japan.

Sumi

Kousaku Shima is a character who can think and act independently, and who never wavers in his course. Also, he never flees from a challenge. I always tell our employees that “leaders never waver or flee.” Since we are all part of the same organization, I can’t tell employees to act totally independently. Even so, Kousaku Shima is able to act independently while being part of an organization.

Hirokane

That’s true; Kousaku doesn’t belong to any factions. In some ways, Waseda’s alumni association “Tomonkai” has weak cohesiveness and turnout for gatherings is sometimes rather small! Perhaps it can be said that the Waseda spirit means acting independently and not creating factions in companies.

Sumi

In the first place, Waseda alumni don’t plot to use their affiliation with Waseda in order to gain promotions. Therefore, although there are a number of companies which are the cliques of other universities, there aren’t many companies which are the cliques of Waseda. Perhaps that’s because there are many independent people at Waseda.

Kamata

Azusa Ono, the founding father of Waseda, stressed the importance of citizens with an independent spirit in all aspects of society in order to improve Japan. He also stated that academics must cultivate that independent spirit. Through independent academics not catering to authority, Azusa Ono viewed it as the mission of Tokyo Senmon Gakko (the predecessor to Waseda University) to cultivate independent citizens who would support all aspects of society.

Hirokane

President Kennedy’s inaugural speech contains the famous phrase “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” In the same way, I hope that Waseda students will consider what they can do at Waseda, not what Waseda will do for them.

Exerting the Waseda spirit
Sadakane

Everyone, please summarize what you consider as Waseda spirit.

Hirokane

Enterprising spirit and, in a positive respect, a spirit of defiance. Also, the disposition of a lone wolf.

Sumi

When it comes to being “independent” or “joining with others”, the majority of people actually want to join with other. Such people are constantly aware of maintaining equal relationships and are afraid of being thrown out of the group for acting differently. Such a way of thinking is no good. Instead, people must think and act by themselves. I believe that the essence of Waseda spirit is a truly independent spirit.

Kamata

I agree. In addition to the business world, many Waseda graduates are active in artistic fields. In particular, an overwhelming number of authors who have won the Akutagawa Prize are Waseda graduates. This is because many Waseda alumni become engrossed in their own world instead of joining some organization. We must value this atmosphere. Waseda is a place where many people with enterprising spirit gather; where human character is refined through friendly competition. For that very reason, our school has produced numerous graduates who are trusted by society. It seems to me that more Waseda graduates are appointed as company presidents when the economy is weak rather than when it is strong. Waseda has produced countless graduates who can be counted on in times of crisis and who exert their individuality to open new doors. In that respect, I am very proud of our school.

Sadakane

Even as times change, I hope that students keep that Waseda spirit. Now, to end our discussion, I’d like you to give a message to our readers. Please start by addressing Waseda faculty and staff who are reading this interview.

Hirokane

Instead of waiting for the university to take action for you, students must blaze their own path in life. During the 4 years that students spend at university, I hope that faculty will instill students with an independent spirit.

Sumi

I felt a little uncomfortable when reading the page of “Waseda Vision 150” which describes the role of faculty and staff. In addition to working with students, the page listed services which faculty and staff provide to parents. In my opinion, university students should be free of influence from parents. My children graduated from an overseas university and this point was made very clear. I would like Waseda University to proclaim that “our school is a place for developing independence in children and parents should not meddle.” What do you think?

Kamata

That’s the original stance of Waseda. Traditionally, we haven’t sent grades to parents. However, such methods are no longer acceptable today. Other universities show grades to parents and provide advice regarding the risk of failing to graduate. We would be criticized if we failed to offer the same service.

Sumi

Parents also have to make an effort to live independently from their children. At overseas universities, only about half of students are able to graduate according to plan, so parents attend the commencement and really celebrate their child’s achievement. However, that is basically the only time that parents are involved in university education. To me, it seems childish to meddle in their child’s university education at any time other than commencement.

Sadakane

Parent must also be more independent. Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to separate themselves from their children when making a decision. Moving along, would you please give a message to alumni?

Hirokane

Putting Simply, I hope that alumni will exert the Waseda spirit and be active in the world.

Sumi

Although there aren’t many instances of creating factions or gathering together, all alumni have deep affection for their alma mater. I hope that they will value this pride in their school.

Kamata

The number of Waseda alumni is said to have reached about 590 thousand. As President, I hope that alumni will support our school both spiritually and materially. Even more, I am so proud of alumni because it is their performance which has given Waseda such a fine reputation. In the future, I hope to use the outstanding ability of alumni to reform education, research and university management. I would like alumni to become actively involved at our school. For example, I would like them to give lectures and conduct classes, as well as to offer wisdom regarding university management from the perspective of top executives.

Sadakane

Now, how about a message for current students?

Hirokane

That’s easy—outperform Keio University! Unfortunately, among my acquaintances that have passed entrance examinations for both Waseda and Keio, all of them have chosen to enroll at Keio University. I hope that students will work hard and build an appealing university so that more people will choose Waseda.

Kamata

In some respects, Waseda is poor at advertising our excellence. Actually, when looking at the number of students that passed the bar examination, more graduates from the Keio Law School passed the examination than those from Waseda Law School, but when looking at the undergraduate schools from which those law students graduated, Waseda is always first. After graduating from undergraduate school, many Waseda students enter a law school at other universities. This makes it difficult to see the number of Waseda graduates which passed the bar examination. Therefore, a future goal of Waseda is to ensure that our excellence can be perceived as such. To make a comparison with a company, I would like to establish something akin to a corporate image. In any case, Waseda students possess a strong spirit, so I have great expectations for their future performance.

Sumi

Since long ago, I have told our employees that “people are equal after the age of 25.” By about the age of 25, people should be able to establish their personal philosophy and way of thinking to a certain extent. From that point forward, the only difference between people is their career and experience. When looking at prominent individuals from the Meiji Period, they had all accomplished great things by about the age of 25. Today’s students also have the same potential. My message to students is to become adults and not to let anyone call them timid.

Sadakane

In conclusion, would you please discuss your aspirations for the future?

Hirokane

I will work as hard as possible to make Student Shima Kousaku an interesting series. I am looking forward to writing the series and hope that everyone will enjoy reading it.

Sumi

Until now, I have concentrated solely on our company’s business. In the future, I want to be involved in activities for contributing to Japanese society.

Kamata

Today, Waseda is responding to globalization faster than any other university in Japan. I want to gain recognition for our university’s globalization on an international scale, as well as domestically. I also want Waseda to support the lifelong learning society of the future. It is not enough to learn only between the ages of 18 to 22 while studying at university. Waseda welcomes people who seek to continually improve their ability throughout life and to constantly absorb new knowledge. I want Waseda to proudly offer the opportunity for learning to people in all stages of life.

Sadakane

We will also work as hard as possible to fulfill the standard set by outstanding Waseda graduates like all of you. Thank you very much for your time today.

(First Installment)