Dean and Professor, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University
The Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies marks its 20th anniversary in 2018. Over the last 20 years, we have succeeded in cementing our status as a graduate school, with our Asia-Pacific focused education and research winning acclaim both at home and abroad. My heartfelt thanks go to everyone who has supported us through the years. Some 3,000 MA students from over 50 countries have passed through our program. Hailing not just from Japan and the Asia-Pacific but around the world, they have gone on after graduation to serve and lead society in various capacities. Around 250 doctoral students have also completed their studies with us and are now operating not only in research and education but a whole range of areas beyond.
The Asia-Pacific has grown into a driver of the world economy, in recent years playing an increasingly important role. According to the International Monetary Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook: Asia Pacific (May 2018), the economic outlook for Asia-Pacific remains strong, and the region continues to be the most dynamic of the global economy. In the foreseeable future, it is expected to achieve robust growth. Even given this strong outlook, the region does face a variety of risks arising from its vulnerability to international politics and geopolitical factors (the recent shift toward protectionism and increasing geopolitical tensions, for example), as well as the various disparities within the Asia-Pacific.
The region also faces a whole host of other challenges aside from the economic, including education, income and gender disparities, environmental issues, poverty, territorial issues, national security, human rights, aging populations and falling birth rates, and the digital divide. At the same time, we cannot overlook the way in which the region’s diverse cultures and rich natural environment are working together to further enhance the appeal of the Asia-Pacific.
The globalization wrought by the advance of digitization has elevated the issues facing the region to global relevance. Digitization is transforming people’s lives and indeed all aspects of the economy and society, but while Asia is a key driver of information and communication technology innovation, we do not currently have the social and economic structures in place to enjoy the full benefit of global digitization.
Over the years, the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies has endeavored to build a curriculum that promotes comprehensive, cross-disciplinary research and education to address the diversity, potential, and challenges of the Asia-Pacific beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. Our aim is not simply to resolve challenges but to make an academic contribution to the creation of new value. Our faculty—all leaders in their respective fields—have continued to work together with students to develop a process for identifying students’ academic interests and crystallizing these into research results.
But we have no intention of resting on the laurels of the last 20 years. Already we are working to enhance our education and research in the next decade through, for example, collaboration with other universities and institutions at home and abroad. Our aim is to continue to work with Japanese and international researchers along with students from a diverse range of backgrounds to create a platform for Asia-Pacific-related education and research.
The international community of the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies not only makes our international students feel at home but also provides our Japanese students with the daily opportunity for international exchange right here in Japan. Students also have the option of studying abroad for a semester to further hone their abilities, an experience that will be hugely beneficial when they eventually take their place on the international stage.
I look forward to you all polishing your analytic abilities through your study and research at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies to become full-fledged professionals capable of contributing to resolving Asia-Pacific and global challenges and to creating new value.