On May 31, President of the National Assembly of France François de Rugy visited Waseda University spoke to nearly 500 students, faculty, staff and members of the general public about the economic and political reforms under way in France. This event, which took place at the International Conference Center, was organized by the International Affairs Division, the Top Global University Project’s Center for the Positive/Empirical Analysis of Political Economy, Waseda Institute of the Political Economy, and the Faculty of Political Science and Economics.
This year marks the 160th anniversary of the Japan-France relations, and it has been twenty years since the president of the National Assembly has officially visited Japan.
Followed by University President Kaoru Kamata’s opening address, President de Rugy explained the economic and political reforms taking place under President Emmanuel Macron, who was the youngest French president to be elected last year at the age of 39. In the National Assembly, for instance, proposals have been made to speed up the legislative process and cut the number of lawmakers by a third, and President de Rugy spoke further on taking measures such as reviewing public finance and staff downsizing to allocate more funds for innovation of economics. In fact, France recently announced that 1.5 billion euros will be spent on artificial intelligence research and innovation.
In contrast to the United Kingdom withdrawing the European Union (EU) and the United States withdrawing from the Paris Agreement as well as the Iran Nuclear Deal, President de Rugy emphasized that France will proactively participate in the process of globalizing the world’s economy while valuing multilateralism and work together with countries such as Japan, in which France is forging the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement and the Japan-EU Strategic Partnership Agreement with. Lastly, President de Rugy commented that, “An important economic and political partner, Japan is very much like France in the sense that both countries are committed to democracy and the rule of law. For these reasons, we look forward to building a better and stable international community together.” The event ended with a constructive discussion during the Q&A session, in which a student asked about problems related to immigration and refugee crises.
Ever since forging ties with University of Paris for academic exchange in 1960, Waseda University has positioned France as one of its most important partners. Now, there are 48 academic agreements signed with French universities and academic research institutes, encouraging mobility of students and researchers among the two countries. Moreover, Waseda University has welcomed French VIPs in the past, including President Macron, who was the Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs at the time of the visit in November 2014, and Governor François Villeroy de Galhau of the Bank of France, who visited on December 2017. The University will continue to cherish its ongoing relationship with France.