Welcome to the website of the Graduate School of Political Science at Waseda University.
My name is Ikuo Kume. As of January 2021, I have started serving as dean of the Graduate School of Political Science.
The seemingly everlasting coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted this graduate school’s entrance examinations, education, and research, and I am keenly aware of the considerable inconveniences affecting everyone that have arisen from this situation. There is still no end in sight for our predicament, but all faculty members are continuing to strive as hard as possible to maintain the quality of the education and research that we conduct. I would like to kindly ask for your continued understanding and cooperation.
The coronavirus pandemic that is currently roiling the world has provided us all with an enormous trial to pass. This trial is more than just elucidating the mechanisms by which COVID-19 causes disease, developing vaccines and treatments, and other challenges in the field of medicine. This is also a societal challenge that concerns how we will overcome this infectious disease. Regarding the latter challenge, how have our political leaders fared in handling the crisis? Their triumphs and failures are now major topics for discussion. The reasons for the success—or lack thereof—of the measures that leaders have implemented are often looked for in their capabilities and characters. It is obviously true that the quality of political leadership affects whether measures will succeed or fail.
However, more in-depth considerations are needed to aim to solve the problems we face now and, further, to learn lessons for the future. Determining whether one country’s policies have succeeded and another have failed is embedded with the difficult problem of the very standards by which we should measure success or failure. A balance between measures to fight infection and economic activity is frequently talked about, but even by that standard it is not clear what kind of situation we should be aiming for. This has been the cause of various debates. Furthermore, each country’s political system, political circumstances, historical experiences, and other factors greatly determine how expert knowledge is reflected in deciding on policies, how quickly those decisions can be made, and how binding the enforcement of those policies can be. Political leaders are forced to make decisions under such constraints, and this influences whether policies will succeed or fail. Another crucial issue when it comes to the means that are expected to finally put a stop to this pandemic—namely, vaccines—is how priorities should be set, both internationally and domestically, for who will receive inoculations before others. This would seem to not only be a practical question of which way of doing things will most effectively bring this pandemic to an end but also to entail questions of fairness. Going beyond the debates alluded to above, it is clear that our response to the coronavirus pandemic is constrained by the state of our politics and society; it seems that the potential success of any policies will depend on strategies that are based on a correct understanding of those constraints.
This graduate school has established required courses covering three methodological categories for our students to study: those covering empirical methods, in which reality is analyzed based on quantitative and qualitative data; those covering mathematical methods, in which reality is modeled and analyzed theoretically; and those covering methods of conceptual analysis, in which students are taught to understand and use normative concepts effectively. Building on these methodologies, we have established areas of study, including contemporary politics, political thought, political history, comparative politics, international relations, public policy, and journalism. Thus, we have created a framework in which students can proceed with their studies based on a strong methodological bedrock. This graduate school is proud of how it has produced numerous talented researchers and advanced professionals active in society who have studied such methodologies interwoven with specific topics of research. I have every confidence that this framework for research and education will serve as a vital set of intellectual infrastructure for conceiving of and researching responses to the current coronavirus pandemic.
However, this will not be the end of our journey. We will enrich our research and learning environment in ways both tangible and intangible, further expand our staff capable of being active at an internationally recognized academic level, strive further improve our frameworks for research and education, and aim to remain an education and research institution of the first order internationally. I believe that these very efforts will be our path toward contributing to resolving the various societal issues that can still be expected to persist after the current COVID-19 crisis has been dealt with. On behalf of the Graduate School of Political Science, I ask for you to continue to bestow on us your understanding and support.