Internationalization of Japan’s Higher Education: A Case Study of Japan’s Search for Its Identity in the Era of Globalization

Internationalization of Japan's Higher Education: A Case Study of Japan's Search for Its Identity in the Era of Globalization

Naoyuki Agawa - Professor of Law, Keio University

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Room 102, Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 6511

This lecture aims to analyze and explain the background of the current Japanese debate on internationalization, focusing particularly on the globalization of Japanese universities. It will propound upon the post-3.11 search by the Japanese people for an identity as a nation in today’s complex world. The “Kokusaika”, or “internationalization” of Japan’s higher education is currently a frequent topic of conversation at Japanese universities. In fact, there seems to be a sense of urgency particularly among the Japanese business, government, public intellectuals and the press that these universities need seriously to transform themselves into more globally oriented and capable institutions of higher education in research, education and other fields of their activities. And yet, it is probably not realistic to expect Japanese universities, even some of the best ones, to become substantially more international in their orientation in short run. University presidents publicly voice their resolve to achieve that goal, but, a fairly strong and yet latent reluctance to go global persists on the part of many in university communities. They ask why work extra hard to make our universities more global when most professors and students are perfectly happy teaching and studying in Japanese. This ambiguous approach towards internationalization at many Japanese universities is only one example of the Japanese ambivalence towards internationalization. Everyone says Japan needs urgently to become more global to survive in the age of the global competition. When it comes to specifics, however, a strong resistance to a more open and global approach surfaces and remain persistent, in agriculture, fishing, medicine, nursing, legal services, even in certain segments of businesses. Politicians, public servants, even great many business executives remain surprisingly parochial. It is curious to note that 150 some years after Commodore Perry arrived in the Yedo Bay and forced the Japanese to decide whether to open its doors to the world, the Japanese are still debating on the same subject matter. This theme recurs time after time throughout the history of Japan and certainly needs better analysis and explanations. Ultimately, it is about determining in which direction Japan is heading.

Naoyuki Agawa graduated from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, with magna cum laude in 1977 after transferring from Keio University in 1975. Upon graduation, he joined Sony Corporation in Tokyo, Japan, and worked on international trade and copyright law matters. While at Sony he read law at and graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1984. He joined the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in 1987 and worked for its Washington, D.C. and Tokyo offices through 1995. He is licensed to practice law in the state of New York and Washington, D.C. Continuing to practice law with the law firm of Nishimura & Partners in Tokyo, Mr. Agawa joined Keio University as professor at its Shonan Fujisawa campus (SFC) in 1999 teaching American constitutional law and history. He was appointed Minister for Public Affairs at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. in August 2002 and served there until he returned to Keio in April 2005. He was Dean of the Faculty of Policy Management at SFC between 2007 and 2009 and is currently Vice President of Keio University in charge of International Affairs. Mr. Agawa has also taught constitutional law and history at the University of Virginia School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Doshisha University, and Tokyo University. Mr. Agawa’s books include, among others, The Birth of an American Lawyer, To America with de Tocqueville, The Friendship on the Sea: the United States Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Have You Found America?, American History through the United States Constitution, 2520 Massachusetts Avenue, Sailing from Yokohama: To America and Beyond. He is also a co-translator into Japanese of Paul Johnson’s A History of the Jews. Mr. Agawa received the Yomiuri-Yoshino Sakuzo Award in 2005 for his book, American History through the United States Constitution. He is a frequent contributor to various academic journals, opinion magazines and newspapers.