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  1. Career
    1. My One and Only
    2. Interning at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
    3. S. Takata Memorial Research Library and My Research Theme
    4. Building a Career in Japan - Don't let the Japanese people beat you in linguistic skills and cultural comprehension -
    5. 67 years after World War II
    6. What is a life plan? From the National Bar Exam to becoming a painter
    7. Job-hunting experience note -Receiving a job offer from the first-choice company is not a dream-
    8. Job-hunting experience note -Self-analysis is about "Constructing one-self"-
    9. The skill-levels of world-class top talents are extremely high. That is why, in order to compete against the world, ambition and aspiration is necessary.
    10. Japan's passport did not come falling from the skies. Fight now for the respect of the future Japanese.
    11. OECD Internship Report
    12. Settling down in Waseda
    13. Be true to yourself, boldly step forward into the things that excite you!
    14. Job Hunting experience notes
    15. In Finland, as an Artist and a Researcher
    16. Using My experiences from Waseda,
    17. Waseda:An everlasting bond
    18. Recent report from Denmark
    19. Submission from WiN member (Recent Report)
    20. Memories of Waseda
    21. My experience at Waseda
    22. My time at Waseda University
    23. Teaching Position at Korea University
  1. Event Reports
    1. C21 Tokyo Challenge
    2. Enjoying a taste of South-East Asia: Vietnamese Bánh Mì Sandwiches and Milo
    3. Looking Back on the "Go Global Japan" English Presentation Contest
    4. Student Visa Day at the American Embassy
    5. 3rd Place Finish in the "Hong Kong Cup"
    6. Students' Day at the American Embassy
    7. ASIAN STUDENTS ENVIRONMENT PLATFORM 2012: Environmental field studies by students from Japan, China, and Korea
    8. Reflections on the Universitas21 Undergraduate Research Conference 2012 Part 2: Non-academic conference learning
    9. Reflections on the Universitas21 Undergraduate Research Conference 2012 Part 1: Academic conference learning
    10. The 7th Foreigner's Traditional Japanese Dance Exhibition: Waseda University student performers' questionnaire interview
    11. [Event] Universitas 21 Undergraduate Research Conference 2012 at Waseda University - ended in a great success!
  1. Gourmet
    1. What Do You Do With a Major in Ramen?
  1. Others
    1. "Ship for South East Asian and Japanese Youth Program (SSEAYP)"
    2. Exchange Students from US Reunite at Waseda after 30 years
    3. "Like" WiN on Facebook!
    4. WiN Blog starts
  1. Sports
    1. Learning How "To Think" Through Waseda University's Track & Field
    2. Participating in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships
    3. "Participating in the XXV Winter Universiade Games (2011/Erzurum)"
    4. My experience with Waseda's American Football Bukatsu
  1. Study Abroad
    1. Shifting Cultivation and the Challenge of Sustainability in Mopungchuket Village, India
    2. Building the TOMODACHI Generation
    3. Kakehashi Project Report
    4. The Double Degree Program at Peking University
    5. Camping and Snowshoeing in Canada
    6. An Encouragement of two-stages approach to study abroad
    7. Studying abroad in Brisbane, Australia
    8. A new kind of Study Abroad
    9. 14-Day Short term Study Abroad Program in Chowgule College, Goa - "What can I do? What can they do? What can you do?"
    10. From Tsugaru strait to the African highest peak Kilimanjaro
    11. PIANO LINE -Seattle Study Abroad Chronicles-
    12. In Finland, as an Artist and a Researcher
    13. What I learned about China through Shanghai Fudan University
    14. Why are those who've experienced study abroad programs a little different? -Full Japanese SILS student reveals the whole story of studying abroad -
    15. China, The Neighboring Country You Do Not Know ~ My Encounter at Peking University ~
    16. Study Abroad Experience Notes
    17. C'est la vie! This is life! Work hard, Play hard.
    18. Study abroad @ Taiwan
    19. Study abroad @ Beijing
  1. Study in Japan
    1. Visiting the Prime Minister's Residene
    2. IPS Summer School 2016: Culture Meets Culture
    3. The World is Smaller than We Think
    4. Waseda Summer 2016
    5. The Opportunity of a Lifetime
    6. Experiencing Village Life at Kijimadaira
    7. A Fantastic Opportunity
    8. A Rewarding Experience
    9. An Amazing Experience
    10. Take Me Wonder by Wonder
    11. I Couldn't Ask for More
    12. Another Kokusaibu Story
    13. SAKURA Exchange Program in Science
    14. I Want to Go Again!
    15. More than Good Sushi
    16. Immersive Experience into the Japanese Culture
    17. 40 Years of Memories in a Photo
    18. Experiencing Everything First Hand
    19. Waseda Summer Session wasn't like any other Summer Camp
    20. Looking Forward to the Past
    21. Weeding a Rice Paddy ~Field Trip to Niigata~
    22. Japan Study Students to Waseda: A message from the class of 1983-84
    23. Developing Medical and Welfare Robots ~The Challenges of Kabe Laboratory, Faculty of Human Sciences~
    24. Recollecting experiences of Exchange Programme at Waseda
    25. Kuroda Kazuo Interview: About Studying in Japan
  1. Volunteer Activity
    1. Taking the first step in volunteering
    2. "Volunteer experience in earthquake-hit area Natori"
    3. "The Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction Volunteering"
    4. How my perspective changed through volunteering
    5. Tohoku Volunteer
    6. Great East Japan Earthquake    "Fumbaro East Japan Support Project"

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Blog : Career

My One and Only

Name: Nobuko Akashi
Nationality: Japanese
Enrollment year and status at Waseda University: Doctoral Course, Graduate School of Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences 1994-2000
Current position: French Lecturer at Waseda University (2003-)


When I received this wonderful invitation to write an article for the WiN organization, initially I found myself at a loss for words. As I have contributed articles to many magazines/journals over the years, writing is usually an activity that comes easily to me. However, when I thought about what to say about my experiences with the French language, with Waseda, and with study abroad, my thoughts became curiously stopped up. I think that initially there were simply too many emotions trying to get out all at once.
Along with all these emotions came the lyrics of song from many years ago.

        “If I hadn’t met you on that day, what kind of woman would I have become?”
                                                                ― A song from the Showa era, Megumi Asaoka’s “Seedling”

Although the exact date that we first met is difficult to pin down, the love of my life has always been the French language. When I try to think about what kind of woman I would be without it, I can’t picture myself at all. French is truly my all and my everything.

 “France is beautiful!” “France is delicious!” “France is amazing!”
I often try to appeal to my students in this way, and as far as the three points above are concerned, there aren’t many people who would disagree.

However I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it took me quite a long time to realize this for myself. One reason for this was that since France was the very first foreign country I ever visited; so for many years I simply assumed that such breathtaking beauty, delicious food and fascinating culture was simply the norm for all foreign countries. However, after travelling to more than 25 different foreign countries, I realized just how special France really is. I had been standing on the highest peak the whole time and didn’t even realize it.

Over the years French has helped me to meet a number of interesting people, and as I have often found it easier to speak my mind to people who are not from Japan, many of my closest friends hail from French speaking world as well.

My first study abroad was a one year master’s course in Literature at Nantes University, which I was able to attend thanks to a generous scholarship from The Rotary Foundation. After finishing my master’s, I moved to Germany for family reasons, and lived there for 4.5 years. At that time I was just beginning my doctorate, and so, aside from working on my thesis research, I only needed to attend two classes per week. Although they were luckily both held on the same day, I still had to commute to France from Germany by train once a week. The route was 6 hours one way, which meant a total of 12 hours travelling in one day. In the same span of time, you could take a plane from Narita all the way to Paris!  I would wake up at 6am, leave Germany, arrive in Lille by 12 noon, attend both my classes, board the homeward-bound train at 6pm and arrive back at home by 12 midnight. 

However, I didn’t find this schedule to be a burden in the slightest. My normal route led me from Germany to France by way of Belgium. I was always fascinated by the view out of the train window, which changed along with the people boarding and leaving the train. I remember one time when I was returning home to Germany and had to change trains in Ghent.  Ordinarily the Germany-bound train would come from across the Straight of Dover from Britain, but it was often delayed in stormy weather. As I stood waiting in the station in Ghent one stormy day, an announcement was broadcast over the PA in Flemish (a language closer to Dutch than to French). However, I couldn’t understand a single word of it. I approached another passenger waiting on the platform and tried asking a question in French. It’s said that the Flemish and the French have a long history of mutual distrust, but seeing that I was Japanese, this Flemish-speaking Belgian passenger translated the broadcast into French for me without a hint of resentment.

Even more memorable than my master’s and doctoral studies however, was the intensive course that I took to receive a bachelor’s degree in teaching French as a foreign language.
 

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A commemorative photo taken in 2002 with the other participants at a French language teacher training course

At that time, I was receiving financial support from both the French government and the Japanese Ministry of Education in the days before it became the modern Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). I found out about a program that covered a year’s worth of study in only one month, and if you could handle the work load it would grant you a degree as well. Though I was excited to think about such wonderful opportunity, I realized that the curriculum would be extremely intense. It consisted of four classes held Monday through Saturday from 8:30am until 6pm, with 4 comprehensive examinations held every two weeks: a workload that even a French native speaker would find overwhelming.

From morning till night my classmates and I worked and lived together. Most of them were already teaching French in various local schools, but wanted a certificate (qualification) that would allow them to teach overseas as well. We would meet first thing in the morning in the cafeteria for breakfast, have lunch together after our morning classes, and regroup once again in the evening for dinner. After that, I would either return to my room or head out onto the terrace of the dorm café and share a bottle of wine with my classmates in the growing dusk. Sometimes we would discuss Japanese literature late into the night. Once one of my classmates ventured an opinion that although Haruki Murakami was more popular in France, his personal favorite was Ryu Murakami, who he felt would surely win a Nobel Prize someday. I will not easily forget these nights. With such a busy schedule, it would be natural to spend my one day off simply recuperating, but I took every opportunity and invitation I could to get out of my room on the weekends as well.

To tell the truth, I never got to know most of the other students in my graduate-level literature classes. But this course was different: we were all living under the same roof and sharing the same food, and as a result, I became very intimate with the other students on the program. And over time, they began to open up to me about their personal struggles such as bad boyfriends, fathers struggling with alcoholism, and fears of being trapped in France for the rest of their lives. I realized that, in France as in Japan, it is often easier to share your most intimate fears with someone from a totally different culture rather than with someone who shares the same background. Thanks to this environment, a movement began among our classmates to put pressure on the teachers to graduate us as a group. In short, the other students decided that they wouldn’t accept their degrees unless every student would be able to graduate, native and non-native alike, a sentiment that surprised and touched me greatly.
 

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A friend I met in training named Leticia; we reunited in Yokohama when she came to Japan in 2013

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A party in 2015 that I was invited to by Marie, another friend I met through teacher training

Through experiences like this, as well as through the many years I have spent as a teacher, French has connected me with thousands of people. And over the years I’ve had similar heart-to-heart talks with foreign students studying in Japan as well.

One such encounter was with a brilliant Korean student named Park. Park was not on a short-term exchange, but had entered Waseda as a full-time, matriculated student.  Originally he had wanted to study in France, but eventually settled on Russia for his further study abroad due to its proximity to Asia. When I went to see him off, I told him I hoped he would continue to be a link between S. Korea and Japan. When he replied, “That’s exactly what I want to be” I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he would do just that. Another full-time student I met was Ren from China. She was always smiling and cheerful, and would sometimes point out little mistakes that I myself had made. There I was being taught by my own student! And when she got a perfect score on the final exam, it absolutely bowled me over: even though she was learning a foreign language (French) in yet a different foreign language (Japanese), she was still at the top of the class.

Speaking different languages allows us to cross the barriers of nation and ethnicity and connects us to people all over the world. 

Teachers are at best a temporary presence in their students’ lives. Even at its longest, the official relationship between a teacher and a student lasts only a scant 4 years. However, I would like to think that the bonds that I have made with so many of my wonderful students have not faded over time. I also hope that I retain a small place in their memories of their youth. Writing this blog gives me hope that even after my students graduate or return to their home countries they will be able to take a minute to read up about me and see what I’m doing these days.
 

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In the teachers room showing off "Festival", the French textbook that we use to teach students
at the Open Education Center. The Open Educaiton Center is very popular with foreign students
.

As a kind of homage to the wonderful life that the French language has made possible for me, I am currently creating a space where lovers of France can gather only a two minute walk from Iidabashi, so if you are interested in French culture, please keep one eye open for this little fleur-de-lis blooming in a quiet corner of Tokyo.

The last line of that old song returns to me once again, “I’ll never leave your side.” I couldn’t imagine a life without French; It will be a part of me as long as I live.  

        “Si je ne t’avais pas rencontré ce jour-la, quel genre de fille serais-je devenue?”
        ("If I hadn’t met you on that day, what kind of woman would I have become?")
 

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Hope to see you after school at Atypique!

 

 

Interning at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo

Name: Shuhei Nishiyama
Nationality: Japanese
Status at Waseda University: 4th year at the School of Law

I interned at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo in the Press Office of the Public Affairs Section for 6 months from last October to this March. Some people might think that it is weird that I interned there because I am a law faculty student, so I would like to explain why I interned there a little bit.

I studied abroad at the University of Washington in America till last summer. There, I engaged in volunteer activities  for the 3rd anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Through Waseda’s volunteer center, I made a video introducing this event to the victims in Tohoku. Through this volunteer work, I learned how difficult it is to edit and make a video that conveys a clear message to the viewers, and I became interested in this field. When I came back to Japan, one of my study abroad program* ’s officers sent this internship opportunity to me and recommended that I apply for it. In the end,  I was successfully accepted!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN3mvENxq6w&feature=youtu.be

My tasks as an intern were mainly  divided into three parts. First was writing articles for “American View,” which is an official magazine of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and translating government related English articles into Japanese  and vice versa. Second was broadcasting those articles to the readers thorough SNS such as Twitter and Facebook. Third was supporting video message recordings or photo shoots of the Ambassador and editing them with computer software. In addition to these tasks, I helped out at Embassy hosted events for the Japanese press or guests.

About the “American View,” it was first time for me to write an article for a general audience. I was really struggling with it. After rewriting and revising again and again with an official editor, I finally finished writing one article about U.S.-Japan baseball. I was really honored to have it published. I learned  the importance of trying to improve an article with whatever methods I have available. At the same time, I realized the importance of narrowing an article’s scope and making it attractive to readers.
http://amview.japan.usembassy.gov/cultural-exchange-through-baseball/ (Japanese only)
 

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Interviewing Jose Altuve with other reporters at the U.S.-Japan Baseball reception
(Nishiyama is first from the right)

The next step is advertising these articles to people. It is a really important part of making an article. Writers cannot be satisfied with just finishing the writing of an article. During my internship period, I luckily attended some lectures about “social advertisement” and practiced these methods by advertising “American View” articles. When and how we posted the messages on SNS really influenced the response of readers. We analyzed them and tried to catch more attention from readers in future articles. I felt that this field was really interesting and had a lot of potential. Also, through this task I was able to work with other employees and interns. Working with others has  a number of merits. On the other hand however, it is easy to get into trouble by wasting time or getting out of hand with too many ideas and so on. In the future I would like to work on how to control these situations and make a group really effective.
   
About my last task, which was the shooting and editing of videos,  I almost had no prior techniques or knowledge; therefore, I had to learn everything that I did at the embassy. Video recording required much more hard work and preparation than I had expected. At the same time, I learned how to use PC software like Photoshop. These techniques are useful in every field, so I really appreciate that I was able to learn this through the internship. Also, I attended lectures about inserting subtitles into English videos. Making subtitles is different from translation. It was hard to use both of these techniques correctly, but after the lecture, I felt my skills really developed compared to my first efforts. 

Lastly, I would like to talk about my internship’s highlight which came in March, my last month of the internship. At the beginning of the month, First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to Japan was announced. After that, a storm  of activity came into the embassy. We prepared articles about her, broadcast these articles through SNS, and set up a recording studio for her.  Normally when an American VIP visits Japan, the White House and the MOFA supervise the visit . The embassy has to work between them as a bridge. Officers and staff need to attend lots of meetings and go to the actual sights in order to simulate the visit. Even though I could not accompany them, I was able to experience the reality of international politics. It was a great opportunity. During her visit, I attended some events and felt the high level of security. Even if she stays at a sight for only one hour, lots of people are involved behind the scenes and prepare for it for far longer hours. I could experience the background this time, so in the future, if I am on the front side, I will never forget this experience and remember to appreciate lots of people’s hard work. Also, I realized that my study abroad program was made possible with lots of people’s support. After her visit, everybody was exhausted, but we cheered for our achievements. I felt a sense of unity with them. Shaking hands with Michelle Obama and talking with her was my best moment of my internship.

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The reception held for First Lady Michelle Obama at the embassy
 

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A photo taken at the send-off for Michelle Obama held at Haneda airport

Also, around the same time, Derek Jeter the former SS of the New York Yankees who retired last year, came to Japan to participate in a charity baseball clinic event for the Great East Japan Earthquake with Hideki Matsui. Because I had previously written an article about U.S.-Japan baseball, I really wanted to write this article as my last achievement of this internship. I wrote the proposal in English by myself and brought it to my supervisor’s office and negotiated with him about writing the article about the event. I talked to him about the importance of the event and why I wanted to write the article. Persuading an American officer was a really hard task for me, but I managed to do it. Also, from this I got to experience the American way of working. On the day of the event, I went to the sight with another intern, conducted an interview, and took photos with other professional journalists. I was totally overwhelmed by all of this, but I survived somehow. The next week, I finished writing the article. I achieved this all by myself. This whole process  helped me to grow.
http://amview.japan.usembassy.gov/jeter-matsui/ (Japanese only)
 

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At the baseball charity event with Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui

Looking back, all the projects I’ve participated in from before my study abroad up until now seem to be linked by a single thread. I’m thankful to all the people who made this experience possible and grateful to my coworkers at the embassy for their kindness and support.
 

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A Photo taken with my former colleagues at the press office of the embassy


* The Global Leadership Fellows Program (GLFP): Started in 2012, GLFP is a special four year program designed to foster a respect for multiculturalism and diverse thinking in the next generation of global leaders in collaboration with various famous American universities. The program selects a group of roughly 15 first-year students and allows them to study abroad for a year in America.  Upon their return, their curriculum focuses on themes related to solving global issues and encourages students to participate in various international seminars and work closely with American students studying abroad in Japan. 


S. Takata Memorial Research Library and My Research Theme

Name: Hidekazu Nishikawa
Nationality: Japanese
Enrollment year and status at Waseda University: Graduate student at Faculty of Social Sciences, 2002-2006
Specialty: American politics/history
Current position: Part-time Lecturer at School of Foreign Studies, Osaka University


I love books and libraries. Therefore, what I remember most of my years at Waseda could be the fact that I repeatedly went back and forth between my study room and the S. Takata Memorial Research Library*. As we could enter the campus around the clock, I repeatedly borrowed books from the library which were necessary for my research, shut myself up in the study room to read them, and returned them to the library when I was through.

The S. Takata Memorial Research Library is a very wonderful library. The library truly helped me as all of the books on my field of specialty were there thanks to the masters of this field. What I remember most of what you can see in the library is that its ceiling is very low, although this is a fact that anyone would notice if he/she has once entered the library. A man who is as tall as I am must stoop down; otherwise he would bump his head. I bumped my head many times when I found a book I was looking for and forgot about the ceiling at the same time. It is not a neat library. It places importance on how many books they can squeeze into the bookshelves; not on how to make it a comfortable place for a man to be. However, I liked that bluntness because I would feel that this is truly a library-like library. It would be difficult to find a library so library-like as this one. And, isn’t it lovely that it is both dark and musty? In addition, it is an interesting place where you can discover something new as you walk around the shelves even when you do not have any objectives in mind. If you are one of those who have never entered the library, I strongly recommend you to try. The fact that there is a wonderful library on campus is an important appealing attribute of a university.

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Atmosphere of the S. Takata Memorial Research Library

In my “zemi” (seminar) in the graduate school, Professor Yoshio Teruya taught me how to read classics including “The Federalist”. Before I was taught, I was wondering whether reading classics was truly important. However, Professor Teruya taught me the importance of having discussions after thoroughly reading classics. It would only be at seminars in graduate schools when you would have such opportunities. And I was convinced that there are reasons why classics still survive today. At Professor Teruya’s seminars, we were all encouraged to think, and it was perfect for me, as I preferred to think on my own.

In a nutshell, my specialty is everything about U.S. Presidents. I do research on everything concerning them, and I am a nerd when it comes to U.S. Presidents. When conducting research, it is always important to ask why. Why did I choose such theme for my research? The reason is simple. Everyone agrees that the U.S. is a superpower. However, it was not so when it was founded. When it was founded, it was rather a lesser power with a population smaller than that of Japan at the time. Such country has now become an indisputable superpower. Can you believe that? I wondered how and why such a lesser power has become a superpower. The presidential system is not rare now; however, it was an innovative idea back then in the 18th century. And it was one of the driving forces that pushed up the status of the U.S. to a superpower after more than 200 years. I think it is possible to uncover the secrets by conducting research on the presidential system and the presidents. There are good points in the Japanese political system; however, there are good points in the U.S. political system and I think it is very important to learn about other countries for reference.

I sometimes go to the U.S. to look for historical documents. I mainly go to the national archives and the presidential libraries. Although the names of the presidential libraries include the word “library”, their main collections are historical documents rather than ordinary books. Although the main historical documents have recently been digitalized, there are some documents that cannot be found other than by visiting the actual places. For example, there are “historical documents” such as a receipt of the flowers given to the then-Secretary of State John Dulles from the then-President Dwight Eisenhower when Dulles was sick in bed and Eisenhower was visiting him. Such “historical documents” may not be important from the historical point of view; however, I think they are very important in order to learn the characteristics of the President. There are things you can learn only by actually visiting places.

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Distant view of Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

Anybody can use the presidential libraries. There is a list of their collection of historical documents which can be seen on the Internet, so if you tell a librarian what you would like to see beforehand, he/she will bring you a cart with relevant documents, as can be seen in the photo. You will be opening and reading the documents one after another. You will not be able to see all of the documents, even if you try all your life. There are that many documents.
 

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Historical documents room in the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum
 

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The documents are like this. They were actually used by government officials.

You can also copy the documents using a copying machine. In the beginning, I used to do so. However, it costs money and takes up a lot of space. One time, I brought back to Japan a bag filled with documents that said “Confidential” or “Top Secret”. The person in charge at the airport was very suspicious, but I remember thinking this was funny because no spy would bring out confidential documents in such an old-fashioned way! Basically, you can only read documents that are classified as “Declassified information”. Even when the documents are declassified, the names of the people in charge at the CIA are sometimes cut off, for example. I am always excited to turn the pages of the documents, waiting for a new discovery.

You can also take a photo, instead of copying. This will be more convenient, as this will save time and will not take up so much space. And the documents will not be damaged. However, you must be careful as if the pictures are out of focus, sometimes you may not be able to read at all. However, there are more advantages. If you use an OCR and convert the documents to digital data, you will be able to use the “find” function. Furthermore, you will be able to easily share the documents. It is also easy to save the data. I once lost all of the data when the PC broke; however, if you additionally use the cloud, you will be able to avoid such accidents.

I feel that, after having used the presidential libraries and the libraries at Waseda, both hardware and software are important. The hardware is historical documents and books. The software is people who introduce and put in order such documents and books. No matter how many documents and books they have collected and how good the collections are, the collections would be meaningless if we cannot utilize them. The librarians at the presidential libraries are experts. They will point out that there are other certain documents for your certain research, and will also give you a variety of advice. The documents would become useful just because such librarians are there for you. I repeatedly visited the presidential library for one month and a half. When I told the librarian that that day was the last day, the librarian went into the back, came out after a while, and gave me an entrance permit. I told him that a new entrance permit was not necessary as that was my last day. The librarian told me to look at the expiration date. It was a year from that day. It probably means that I should come again. The librarian was not only well-versed in the documents but was also full of fun.
 

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Recent photo of Hidekazu Nishikawa

 
Recent works (to be published in 2015):
-Complete Collection of All the Presidents of the United States, Vol. 4 “Encyclopedia of James Madison, Jr.”
-Hall of Fame for Great Leadership in the Presidency, Vol. 1 “Young Officer George Washington”
Books already published:
-"A Study of Cold War Rhetoric in the Formative Period" (Waseda University Press)
-Complete Collection of All the Presidents of the United States, Vol. 1 “Encyclopedia of George Washington”
-Complete Collection of All the Presidents of the United States, Vol. 2 “Encyclopedia of John Adams”
-Complete Collection of All the Presidents of the United States, Vol. 3 “Encyclopedia of Thomas Jefferson” (University Education Press)
-“English of American Presidents Used at the Moment the History Was Created” (Beret Publishing)
-“Obama’s Art of Speeches and Bargaining to Become the Winner” (Kodansha)
-“Imperial Tour of Japan by the Emperor Showa” (Archives Publishing)
 

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* Bldg. No. 2 which currently houses the S. Takata Memorial Research Library was first established as the Waseda University Library in 1925. Afterwards, some of the bookshelves in the Waseda University Library became empty as the Central Library was newly opened. However, later the books of the libraries for professors and researchers in each school were collected and moved to Waseda University Library’s empty bookshelves, and in 1994, Bldg. No.2 was newly opened as a research library. The library was named after the third President Sanae Takata. It is truly a unique library as it is a research library specialized in books on social sciences.
Number of books: About 500, 000 (About 180,000 books in Japanese and 320,000 books in foreign languages)
http://www.wul.waseda.ac.jp/TAKATA/gaiyou.html (Japanese only)

Photo: Entrance of the S. Takata Memorial Research Library

Building a Career in Japan - Don't let the Japanese people beat you in linguistic skills and cultural comprehension -

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Name: Theodore Miller
Born: 1971
Country of origin: USA
Period of enrollment at Waseda University: 1991-1992
(exchange program from New York University)
Current job: President of Empire Entertainment Japan
Older brother is the movie director Bennett Miller (“Capote,” “Moneyball,” etc.)
Oldest brother is the president of Empire Entertainment NY

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・Please tell us about your current job.

Empire Entertainment Japan is a production company dealing in many fields. Besides organizing
live events and concerts, we also produce motion pictures, TV shows, commercials, movies, as
well as working in casting, marketing communications, and consulting. Every staff is a producer;
it is not uncommon for them to structure plans on how to market a potential client’s company
brand before approaching them and getting work themselves.

Companies have public relations departments, clients (both existing and new), as well as
employees. There are also people who wish to become future employees. Through producing
entertainment contents like events, our job is to figure out how to achieve a company’s goals,
plan a project, and then manage it. 

Examples include a social event for employees of a large company, or a promotional event for
a new product released by a famous brand. 

By taking on the production side of these events for our clients, we allow them to focus on other
aspects of the event like the content and presentation. Organizing events require manpower,
so we sometimes recruit and employ additional staff. 

Other than events, we also offer marketing strategy consultations and work alongside our
client companies. We also handle online planning and production through entertainment content.

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Shooting of a commercial

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Organizing an event

・Please tell us your history from graduation to where you are now 

I returned to Japan after graduating from NYU, and was employed by Dentsu. Then I worked
for Gateway for 4 years, where I was head-hunted and became President of Livedoor. I started
my current company in 2005, and after gradually increasing the number of employees year by
year, we now employ 11 employees and 5 to 6 interns. 

・Can you tell us about your experience studying at Waseda University?
How did this experience affect what you are doing now?


I think I learned a lot about how to interact with other people. The university was my first
opportunity to really start socializing. I joined the “Kendo Dokokai” and the “Niji-no-Kai.” My
relationship with the other members of the “Kendo Dokokai” in particular was very important
to me, and we still keep in touch today. I can always turn to them if I ever need help, so they
give me a sense of security. You have to be a social person in order to create networks, but
networks like seniority-based hierarchy and classmates are already socially pre-established,
which serves well when you start working in a company. The things I learned from my
relationships with my seniors and juniors –the respect you show to your seniors and the
responsibility you have to your juniors– helped me during my time at Dentsu. The structure
itself was a network, and to this day it has helped me with building relationships with others.
In America, students study hard in college, and have many opportunities to learn about how
to interact with people while in high school. This is probably the opposite of how things are
in Japan. Also, once employed by a Japanese company, you are taught how to do the job
from very basic level. Therefore, there is a tendency to employ people who seem interesting
and have potential and competence, rather than people with expertise.

・What was the motive for working in Japan?

After studying at Waseda for one year, I went back to NYU for my senior year. The Japan
Society happened to be holding a nationwide Japanese speech contest, which I entered and
won. The prize was a round-trip business-class flight to Japan. I was an intern at Dentsu
New York at the time, and the employees there suggested I take an employment test in Japan.
I timed my trip to Japan for the interviews, and Dentsu later made the decision to employ me. 

・Please give us a few final words for the students at Waseda 

If there is something you want to do, try it! They say that students who are entering the workforce
now will go through an average of 7 to 8 types of jobs throughout their career. When I add up all
the different jobs I’ve had up until now as well as my current position (company director,
producer, marketing and sales representative), I have gone through 6 to 7 types of jobs. Rather
than deciding on what you want to do, it’s better to know what you don’t want to do from an early
stage. This will naturally allow you to discover the things that excite you. In order to gain this
kind of sharp perspective, you need to learn to dive in, head-first. Improving your Japanese is
also important. Some Japanese people are lenient towards foreigners who speak poor
Japanese, but it’s not good to rely on that. Bring your level of Japanese language and cultural
understanding up to the same level as Japanese people. I believe this is the minimum
requirement and a foundation to work in Japan. Perhaps this can be said for Japanese people
working abroad as well.

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At his office

67 years after World War II

Profile
Name:Tadayoshi Kojima, Adviser of Chicago Tomonkai 
Born in 1936, Tokyo, JAPAN
Graduated in 1959 School of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University
Living in the United States over 20 years since 1986


 
On December 8th 2012, when Dean of the Center for International Education Professor Iino
and his staff visited Chicago with the Japan Program coordinators of Great Lakes Colleges
Association/ Associated Colleges of the Midwest (GLCA/ACM), they took the opportunity to
organize a lunch reception. 17 participants including previous exchange students to Waseda
from GLCA/ACM along with Chairman Kamazawa and two other members of the Chicago
Tomonkai participated in the event. 

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Mr. Kojima in the front row, third from left
 
December 8 (Japan Time) was the day when in 1941, the Japanese Navy attacked the U.S
Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and triggered World War II. Decades later, on December
7 1991 (U.S Time), the then-President Bush attended the ceremony commemorating the
50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Around this period, the Japanese embassy
issued a warning of possible terrorist attacks on US-based Japanese businesses, but
no serious incidence occurred. Since then, the ceremonies continue to take place every
December 7, but national media attention has waned over the years, and only a handful 
of the local newspapers touch upon the incidence. The historical facts, however, has
undoubtedly been ingrained.

When I looked around at the faces of the participants of the lunch reception, it was clear that
at 76, I was not only the oldest participant in the room, but the only person who was born
before the war began. 
Asahi Shimbun newspaper sometimes features a column in their Readers’Voices section
called “Passing Down Stories from the War” (“Kataritsugu Senso”). The people who submit
their stories are all in their 70s, 80s and 90s. They are witnesses to history. I myself, also
being a historical witness, decided that I too should be eligible to pass down the story of
my experiences from the war. 

Living the War, The Day of Defeat and Student Days:

As early as I could remember, Japan had been fighting in the Pacific War. In Kawagoe,
Saitama, where I was sent away for my own safety, I caught a glimpse of a B29 bomber
plane in the blue sky and firmly believed that they were actually Japanese planes. I simply
would not believe that American planes were actually flying into our country. From then on,
we started to evacuate into bunkers every time air raid sirens started, and even then I was
adamant that the Kamikaze, or the “divine winds” would blow and protect Japan, and defeat
the evil enemy forces of America and Great Britain. That was what the imperial education
doctrine instilled in us during that era.

On August 15, 1945, I was in the third grade in elementary school when the Emperor made
his speech to inform the people that he had accepted the Potsdam Declaration.  I couldn’t
understand what he was saying as there was too much static from a radio, but as I listened
to the adults near me talking, I finally realized that Japan had surrendered unconditionally to
the Allied Forces. We lost the war. The shock of the war coming to an end was too great to
describe in words. For China, it is a day to commemorate victory against Japan, in South
Korea they refer to it as “Restoration of Light Day”, and in North Korea it is a day to celebrate
“Liberation of the Fatherland”. Since that day, my surroundings started to change dramatically. 
 
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3rd grade students at their End of Year ceremony, 1946. A hoanden (a small shrine containing a
photograph of the Emperor and Empress as well as a copy of the Imperial Rescript on Education)
is visible in the background. 

The Occupation Forces started stationing around the country, and US military officers were
driving around freely in their Jeeps. When we kids spotted some GIs, we would rush up and
hassle them for some chocolate or chewing gum. The food shortage from the war was still
harshly felt. Steamed barley and rice (mostly barley oats mixed with a small amount of white
rice) was a luxury for a growing boy during the famine period, when potatoes instead of rice
had become our staple. In the fall, when the ears of rice would hang low, we would go out as
a class and catch locusts as they filled our bellies nicely. We also caught other kinds of treats
like crayfish, catfish and river snails. In 1951, when I was in 3rd grade in middle school, the
San Francisco peace treaty was signed. Printed materials were no longer labeled PRINTED
IN OCCUPIED JAPAN but simply PRINTED IN JAPAN. This was when it really hit me that
Japan had finally been liberated from occupation.  I returned to Tokyo to start high school
and was a member of the boating club during my 3 years in high school, but in college I
didn’t participate in any club activities. I spent my days doing just nothing - this was to make
up for all the free time I missed out on in high school through the demanding club activities.

From College Graduation to Working in the United States:

The year I graduated college, 1959, was a difficult year to find employment. This was when
the fixed exchange rate was 360 yen to US$1, so companies were all working hard for
foreign currency payments. Because of the foreign currency shortage, all Japanese people
had to have a guarantor to travel overseas, or work in an export company to be issued
foreign currency. Traveling abroad for pleasure and sightseeing was still an impossible
dream for us. 
The only available option for me to study overseas was to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship
to study in the United States. I had already found a job with an automotive electrical parts
manufacturer in Gunma, and after I started working there I discovered that the founder of the
company was an alumni of the School of Science and Engineering of my college, and that
he was also old school friends with Masaru Ibuka, the founder of Sony. 

As the Japanese economy developed, the number of cars exported to the United States
increased. That hit the American automotive industry hard, and in 1981 Japan agreed to
limit the number of car exports, to support the rebuilding of the American automotive industry.
Later, in order to “quell the trade tension between Japan and US”, it was declared that local
production would be a necessity. So in 1982, Honda became the first Japanese automobile
manufacturer to set up a plant in Ohio, and other Japanese car makers followed suit to open
manufacturing plants inside the United States.

My own company also began planning local production as our partner car manufacturing
companies began building manufacturing plants in America. So in 1986 I was dispatched
to Chicago to survey for a new factory location. We chose a rural city in central Michigan,
built our first factory and from 1988 began manufacturing and distribution. In 1996 our
second factory opened in Indiana. I never would have dreamt, after losing the war in the
3rd grade, that I would later work side by side with Americans in the manufacturing business.
I worked in charge of local operations for 16 years in total -12 years in Michigan, 4 years in
Ohio- with some intervals based in Japan. During the economic bubble there were some
Japanese who would arrogantly boast that “there was nothing to learn from America”, and
I now regret how we were letting ourselves be carried away with the “Japan as Number 1”
mantra.

While working alongside Americans, I always tried to keep in mind that Japanese companies
and workers like ourselves all had an obligation to contribute to the local community, as we
were guests allowed to do business in America. It’s about coexistence and co-prosperity.
In the summer of 2007, I retired at age 71 from my position but I still love Chicago and am
now in my 23rd year living in the States. When I look at the 20 years Japan lost after the
economic collapse, it seems painfully clear that countries, corporations and people must
always have modesty within them. After pride and vanity comes downfall. 

This year I will be celebrating my 77th birthday. As a Japanese, I look back at my past and
realize how turbulent our times had been since Japan lost the war 67 years ago.

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A poster presented to the company by a local elementary school children after a factory visit
 
Message to WiN members: During my days as a student, it would have been unthinkable
for Waseda students who wished to study abroad in America having a wide variety of
possibilities as they do today, in this amazing era. Through my time living in the United
States, I learned about things I had missed out on as Japanese, and things I needed to
learn. At the same time, I became capable to witness the strengths and weaknesses of
my country from the other side of the Pacific. Young people should actively pursue an
experience overseas to hone themselves, and to work for the benefit of not just Japan but
for the whole of the planet along with people from many nations and ethnic groups. In my
opinion, “Global Citizen” is not a nationality. What is important to have when one travels
abroad is a strong sense of Japanese independence. Questions regarding your roots will
always be brought up. In order to answer this question as Japanese, one must be educated
in Japan’s history -particularly contemporary history- and have correct knowledge of the
Japanese language and pride in their nation’s history, culture and way of life. One cannot be
engaged in international exchange if one does not know their own country. It is also impossible
to improve your English without first being properly equipped with the Japanese language.
I was hoping for Ex-Prime Minister Noda (Waseda alumni) to stay and work hard in his
position a little longer, but the new Abe Administration will now bring Japan into a new step.
They say that Japan as a society has become very stagnant, and young people feel
discouraged to have dreams or hopes. I believe that the Japanese mentality has the
potential to overcome such hardships when pushed to the edge. A true leader who can
make swift and confident decisions and bold actions will emerge during such a difficult
time, particularly from the young generation. This senior citizen has no intention to forfeit
his own duties, but I have high expectations that the younger generation today will lead
Japan to becoming a crucial player in the global playing field.
 
January 2013

What is a life plan? From the National Bar Exam to becoming a painter

Profile
Name: Takuma Tanaka
Nationality: Japan
Artist from Tokyo
1977: Born in Tokyo
1996: Drops out of Chiba University
2001: Graduates Waseda University School of Law
2003: Begins artwork

He participates in national exhibitions and other various art exhibitions. With his studio in Saitama as a base, he has held gallery exhibitions in New York and one-man exhibitions in Shanghai.

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Studio in Saitama


How was your student life? What made you shift your focus from the Bar Exam to painting?

Before enrolling in Waseda University, I admired scholars like Takashi Tachibana, and applied for Tokyo University. Enrollment, however, was not granted. After enrolling in Waseda instead, I was in a student club and worked a part time job. At the School of Law, I was deeply impressed by professor Asaho Mizushima’s course called “Kenpou (constitution),” and by the time I was a junior, I had officially begun studying for the bar exam to become a lawyer. 

Simultaneously, I had begun job-hunting with a focus on venture businesses. However, my true goal was to become a lawyer, which became the main reason I was not accepted at the final interview. 

I took the bar exam twice, but I could not pass either time. Failing for the second time was a big shock for me, and I suffered from depression. I started going to see a psychosomatic doctor, and one of the therapies were through painting. When I would draw, the doctor would compliment me. I studied the basics of painting at the Culture School of Yuzawaya 3 times a week. I was about 25. Although it was said to take 10 years to reach the level of acceptance to the prefectural exhibit, I was accepted 6 months after starting painting.
 

Please tell us about New York, Shanghai, and other activities abroad.

My activities were based in Japan for a while, but after the Lehman Shock of 2008, the Japanese economy became poor. I took that as an opportunity to go abroad. With my art in one hand, I visited over 100 galleries. The standard approach is to go through an agent, but I had no idea of that at the time, so I went by myself. As a result of my efforts, I was given permission to sell my art on a consignment contract at one gallery.

I had heard that there was a gallery street in Shanghai. When I visited, what I saw were many replicas of works by famous artists, and I was allowed to put my work next to them. My artwork is small, but the price is about 10 times the amount for the replicas. Which do the customers end up buying? The inexpensive replicas. My artwork did not sell. I then went looking for galleries by taxi. I had no network of any kind, so I looked in the phone book, and visited 80 galleries. This is how I met the gallery I am connected with today. The owner has studied lacquer in Japan, and understood my hardship coming from Japan. My first one-man exhibition was held here in 2010, a gallery that allows one to showcase over 70 works in an area of 4200 square feet. The first exhibition was visited by mainly Japanese fans, but from the 2nd and 3rd exhibitions, attendance by Chinese fans increased.

 

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The opening exhibition in Shanghai

Please tell us about your future career path

I plan for the center of my activities to be in Asia. I am currently contracted with galleries in Hong Kong and Beijing. However, I want to move the center of my activities to Vancouver, B.C. in 2 years. I am interested in the art business. I have been gathering Western business books and studying how artwork can be sold to customers. I started out selling artwork on the streets of places like Ginza and Urawa. I graduated Waseda, but in terms of art, I began with no knowledge, so it is a very difficult industry. My approach to making art is not changing, but the way it is sold, however, can be changed. Talent in art alone does not guarantee success. I strongly believe business skills are extremely necessary. 
 

Message to Waseda students

In my case, dedication to life is right behind my art. It is important to decide what kind of life you want to live. The university does not teach you how to plan and live your life. In order to learn these things, one possibility is to learn about life and death, Buddhism, and Confucianism. My “art” comes after focusing on those things. Therefore, the art itself is not the focus. It is self-expression.

There is a lot of time during your university days, so I think it would be good to have conversations with various people you would not normally listen to. Lately, there are many people that fear failure, and as a result, avoid failure completely. I have gone through many failures. It is crucial that one fails because one moves forward as a result of failure. I think things like these become the treasures of life. 

 

Takuma Tanaka website

http://tanakatakuma.com/top.html

Job-hunting experience note -Receiving a job offer from the first-choice company is not a dream-

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Profile
Name: Yuki Iketsu
Period attended at Waseda University: April, 2007 to present
Affiliation at Waseda University: School of International Liberal Studies, 6th year
Hobby: Travelling

 

What I’m about to say may be considered rare; I enjoyed job hunting. The opportunity to apply everything I had learned and thought about, and seeing how much it is accepted by society excited me. It would be a lie to say the experience required no effort, but it was incredibly fun to think about what I want to do and what types of impact I wanted to make in society. I feel I was able to grow through meeting many people and absorbing new knowledge. In this article, I would like to briefly introduce what was going through my mind, and my experience in job hunting. 


[Result of job-hunting]

Future company: Human resources system
Pre-entry: More than 100 companies, attended seminars of large and small companies in various fields
Submission of entry-sheet: 22 companies, foreign manufacturer, material manufacturer, human resources, education etc. 
Eligibility of entry-sheet: 15 companies
Job-offer: 2 companies


[Schedule of job-hunting]

July, August: Application and participation to information technology firm.
September: Devotes to travelling and part-time job. No particular job-hunting. 
October: Attending to information sessions of foreign firms mainly.
November: Passing my first entry-sheet
December: Japanese large firms start their information session at once. Reservation battle begins. I had to stop my part-time job.
January: Worked hard on volunteer event and submission of entry-sheer at the same time
February: Attended daily information sessions, selection of venture companies and an internship of foreign manufacturer. 
March: Peak of the selections of foreign manufacturers and venture companies. Late March, I receive my first job-offer. 
April: Early April, I receive a job-offer from my first-choice company. Withdrawal from the remaining selections, job-hunting has ended with good result. 


[Important Things about Job Hunting]

*Self-Analysis

There are many important things about job hunting, but I think the number one is self-analysis. It’s important that you analyze not only your college life, but experiences all the way back in childhood and elementary school. Your current values are built upon your past experiences, so when you analyze big events in your memory, I think this allows you to understand how you think, and how you have evolved. 

People say it is important to make a chronological table of your life; I have found that this is effective. In addition, rather than only doing it once, I think it’s important to self-analyze many times over time. I, for example, did not know what I wanted to do in the beginning. When I’d attend a seminar and feel that it’s boring, I would analyze why I felt that way. Through a process of elimination, this narrowed down what I was interested in. 

There are many ways to do it, but I think it’s good to think back upon your past every time you receive new information. I, personally, kept writing my self-analysis in Microsoft Word, and when I look at it now, there are more than 20,000 words. I wish I could make this a graduation thesis!

*Decide for Yourself 

Job hunting is filled with all types of information. There are many job hunting websites like “Rikunabi,” and you may hear stories about your friends’ and seniors’ experiences; information starts flooding in. I think it is important that you do not over-trust information you hear from people or the internet. The emphasis should be in information you receive directly from speaking with working adults. When your senior tells you that a company is bad, it would be wasteful to completely ignore that particular company. Make your own actions, reorganize information you receive, and decide your own direction. Looking at people around me that have this mentality and those that don’t, I feel that there is a clear contrast of success and failure. 

Of course, sharing information with your friends is important; employees only talk about the positive aspects of their company, so it is necessary to include all of those aspects when making your own decisions. (Therefore, please do not believe too much of what I am writing here either.) 

*Don’t Be Typical

There are many manuals for job hunting, but it is said that companies easily know when a student is simply “following a manual.” I met someone in charge of personnel affairs, and told me, “I have read and memorized every book about job interview methods, and when I hear a student’s answer to questions, I can figure out which book by which company they read.” This may be an extreme example. However, my impression was that things like hairstyles, clothes, and the way you speak did not matter too much (although I am sure that it depends on the industry and company). I was not used to referring to myself as “Watashi (formal “I”),” and later switched to a less formal “Boku,” but I have never been criticized about that. 

Job hunting can easily be undifferentiated, so when you do something different from others, you can stand out. If you are going to read a book, it may be better to read something like what a successful salesman does to succeed, and look for information you can use for job hunting. 

I really wanted to be employed by my first-choice company. I made a presentation to the recruiter using a self-promotion kit I created and a document stating my reason for application. I don’t know how effective this was, but it resulted in getting an unofficial job offer, so it probably couldn’t have been bad. If you are able to express yourself completely, I think you will feel good, even if you do not get the job. 

This became a little long, but the above is a simplified wrap-up of my job hunt. 

There is one last thing I’d like to add. I think it’s very important to cherish your connections and who you meet. Fate is very mysterious; you never know what results from a single connection, in what form, or when. When I was employed, a company I declined, for example, has become a client. If you decline in an unfitting manner, it will always come back to you. There are interactions with many people during job hunting, and in order to have a good life after employment, I wanted to cherish every contact I made. I am sure that you will face many difficulties, but I hope this article finds you well, and helps with your job hunting in some way. 


[Necessities]

Starting this year, job hunting began generally in December. Attending many seminars in a small time span was hard work. Succeeding to make reservations for popular companies, even if you tried the minute reservations began, was extremely difficult. It was like reserving tickets for a popular idol’s concert. 

*Smart phone: 

I can’t even imagine job hunting without this item. For large companies, reservations had to be made the moment you receive an email indicating the start of reservation, or else it would be completely booked immediately. With constant access to the internet, smart phones became incredibly handy (some websites cannot be accessed from regular mobile phones). I am also terrible with directions, so the map function helped me out many times. I highly recommend smart phones for people that are about to begin job hunting. You are sometimes required to fill out surveys when making reservations, so a tablet may be helpful as well. 

*Extra cell phone batteries:

Once job-hunting begins, you may receive about 60 emails a day if you are registered to multiple job-hunting websites. Email reception alone uses up a lot of battery power, so I recommend having extra batteries. You may regret it when a company’s seminar reservations begin and your batteries are dead (as I did). 

 

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Job-hunting experience note -Self-analysis is about "Constructing one-self"-

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Profile
Name: Sanami Suzuki
Period attended at Waseda University: September, 2009 to present 
Affiliation at Waseda University: School of International Liberal Studies, 3rd year
Hobby: Dance and Flute

 

My job-hunting schedule
July, 2011: Started attending internships. The internships were in various fields.
September, 2011: Started attending joint information session for companies. 
December, 2011: Job-hunting begins! Information session and seminars for firms start at once.
February, 2011: Application for large firms. Peak of sending ES on late February.
March, 2011: Selection starts (written exams, interviews).
April, 2011: Job offer! 

Future job
A foreign food company

[Feelings towards Working]
When I was accepted to the School of International Liberal Studies in September, I decided to graduate early, as opposed to studying abroad. Why? After living abroad for 18 years, moving between 5 different countries, I could not confidently say I was Japanese. This is why I wanted to become a member of the working society as soon as possible and raise my value. With these feeling in my heart, I started job-hunting.

[“Employment begins!” Briefing Sessions and the ES rush!]
Being an indecisive person, I was certain it was going to take a long time for me to find what I want to do. This is why I participated in an internship starting in July, to deepen my understanding towards employment. From education to consulting, travel agency… I participated in various things. However, I still could not narrow down what industry I wanted to work at. Soon came September. A joint briefing for Japanese firms began, and I checked out only large firms that I had heard of. Company information sessions for Japanese firms began at once in December. I applied for about 150 companies. An Entry Sheet (ES) rush began in February, and I would fill out 3 sheets every day. I had confidence towards job-hunting in the beginning. Due to the saturation of the Japanese market, companies moved overseas. This is why I was confident that my experience and knowledge from overseas was going to help me. In March, I realized I had no idea.

[Flaws]
It may have been because of my experience overseas, but I passed the ES and the first interviews with ease. However, I felt uneasy when answering the question that is always asked at the second interview: “reason for application.” At the first interviews, they ask things like what kinds of hard work you have done, your skills, etc. At the second interview, they often question if their company is really the company you want to work at. This is where I always failed. I was explaining my “reason for application,” completely dressed up in an identity created strictly for the purpose of job-hunting. My heart was not in it, so of course, they did not feel any enthusiasm. Since I had applied to various companies, my understanding of industries was poor, and I could not even compare with other companies. I continued to fail second interviews, and I was lost. 

[Constructing My Self]
This is when I met a recruiter from a certain company. It was a company I had contact with through internships and seminars. He listened to my worries toward job hunting. As I spoke to him, I began to understand how much I did not understand myself. With this opportunity, I reset my state of mind, and dug up my past. The details are too long to write about here, but from this experience, I came up with a goal: “I want to revitalize Japan.”

Thanks to this, I was able to advance through the second interviews, and onto the final interviews. I was able to understand how important it was to think about yourself as a human being, and connect that to what you want to do in your own future.

[Hesitation]
My job-hunting ended on April 26. This is a day that I will never be able to forget. I hesitated between two companies: A food company and the consulting agency whose recruiter helped me. These are two completely different industries, but they had a similarity. They both contribute to people’s daily lives. The food company delivers to people worldwide. The consulting agency truly reforms Japanese firms. Both can “revitalize Japan.” This is when I imagined myself working as an employee. I compared how it feels from the perspective of an employee, about the company and the actual work. I was still hesitating. In the end, I relied on my intuition. One may think I took an absurd approach, but I believe “intuition” is something you can trust. I compared everything that was comparable, and still could not decide, so the only thing left to depend on was intuition. On the 26th, I chose the foreign food company. My 9-month long job-hunting days came to an end. 

[Looking Back]
There were strong feelings of stress during the process: The frustration of not being understood, the feelings of being behind when others around me were succeeding in getting employed… Still, job-hunting was an experience of “growth” for me. This may sound ridiculous, but it is true. I became able to put my thoughts to words, and speak logically. I also found out new things about myself. What I realized during job-hunting was that self-analysis is not about looking back, but about “constructing yourself.” Some people understand themselves before job-hunting and are able to move forward, but I believe that most people, including myself, begin to understand themselves through job-hunting. Another privilege of job-hunting is the people you meet. Meeting the recruiter was very important to me, and I am still thankful today, from the bottom of my heart. I deeply appreciate all the friends and the people at human resources I met through job-hunting..

[Message]
I have only one wish: that you continue to be confident about yourself. Of course, there will probably be companies you will not get accepted to. You may lose your confidence. However, the goal of companies is to raise their profits, and employment is simply a strategy. Some companies decide in advance on the number of people to employ that year. So, not being employed by a company does not mean you were not acknowledged. Please have confidence. And please construct yourself. Please look for a job/environment that you can be excited about. Please stumble upon walls and hesitate. Please ask people for advice, and trust your own decision. I pray that you will find a company that is perfect for you.

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The skill-levels of world-class top talents are extremely high. That is why, in order to compete against the world, ambition and aspiration is necessary.

ICC webmagazine


Profile
Name: Yohei Shibasaki
Fourth Valley Concierge Inc.
Chief Executive Officer

Born in 1975.
Sophia University School of Foreign Languages English Department graduate.
After graduating, he worked at Sony Inc., Sony Computer Entertainment.
After leaving the company peacefully in September, 2007, he founded Fourth Valley Concierge Inc. in November of the same year, becoming the representative director.


It is fun to constantly do things that are new and exciting.
How was your experience as a university student? What inspired you to think globally?
  At the university, from 3pm to late at night, all I did was American Football. I barely attended my classes during the daytime. I founded a social circle that interacts with international students. I entered Sophia University with a global image, but almost everyone on campus was Japanese at the time.
There were many international students at the Ichigaya Campus, and I felt it was meaningless for me to be attending that university unless I interact more with those foreign students. So I traveled back and forth between campuses every day, eating lunch and spending time with the international students. When I had time off from American Football practice, I went on vacations with the international students.
When did I start thinking globally? I lived in England in my childhood. I think that inspired it. The idea of having a global platform in the future has always been vaguely in my mind since I was very little. That feeling became stronger as I grew older, and I chose my university for that reason.
When it was time to get employed, the only global company in Japan that I could think of was Sony. With the dream of becoming an active player in the world, I entered Sony.

 
What is your current job?
  We support Japan’s leading global companies in hiring outstanding new graduates from all over the world. For example, we hold job hunting events and career counseling. This is because, what I noticed the most when I was at Sony was the high level of the world’s top talents. Japan is skilled at engineering, but we have always lost to the global level of professionalism in fields such as corporate planning and marketing. I watched many incredible people around the world, and wanted to bring them to the head offices of Japanese global companies.
The global standard way of working is completely opposite of the Japanese approach, so this is something I explain thoroughly to the international students that are job-hunting. We are currently linked with 700 universities in over 30 countries, and are creating a global network through research. The human resource industry was originally domestic, but I imagined that if we include the entire world, the market would become something completely different. This becomes very exciting, and is a type of international exchange as well, so I think this is a new business model with a strong impact. Our goal now is to stop specializing in only foreigners, and become a company that handles excellence from all over the world.

   
Is there anything you keep in mind when dealing with people from foreign countries?
  Two things: First, whether they are Japanese or foreign, I treat them exactly the same. And second, my actions cannot be too Japanese-oriented. I try to match the global standard as much as possible. If I treat the foreign employees with too much extra care, it would be disrespectful to the Japanese employees. There are all types of people at the company.
When the company was founded, we hired international students as part-time workers. When I called out to them to lend their intelligence in founding a new company, I received an incredible amount of applications. If we were to create a business for foreigners, it was important for me to be with foreigners and always listen to their opinions, thinking together with them in creating a business for foreigners.

 

The Japanese new graduates are the loosest in the world. New graduates still lack a lot of experience.
Japanese students are said to be very inward-oriented. What do you think about that?
  When you look at the entirety of Japanese students, there may be an increase in that inward way of thinking. However, I do not feel that type of mentality from any of the students that I interact with, the type that enter companies that represent Japan. From the students that I deal with on a daily basis, the ones that are going to carry the future of Japan, I do not foresee an increase of that type of inward mentality, not one bit. Not all of them need to be global, but, the ones up top that are going to spread their wings to the world, I doubt they think that way at all.
Also, it is not the students’ fault that they are being seen as inward-thinking. I think the responsibility lies in the Japanese companies and society. I believe that Japan’s old business structure and system are affecting the Japanese students in a negative way. If you get rid of mass employment, more students would study abroad. If a more direct way of employment was adopted like they do overseas –through internship, and later, employment when both parties feel a match— there would be less 1-day internships and more long-term internships in Japan. I think the fall of Japanese presence is a much worse influence than the Japanese students’ inward mentality.


How do you perceive the Japanese universities today?
  This can be answered through the comparison of Japanese students and students overseas. Through seeing students from all over the world, Japan is comparatively weak at competitions. This is not only in studies, but for all things. To be frank, Japan’s new graduates are the loosest in the world. Japan’s job-hunting is now a social problem, but the nomination rate is the loosest in the world.
Japan is the only country in the world that does graduate recruitment throughout the country. For example, Korean new graduates compete with people that are going through a change of occupation, so there is no way a student can win. In Japan, there is mass employment so it is actually very easy to get employed. Long-term employment is the cultural norm in Japan, so the number of people employed is very large. The global standard, however, is the exact opposite.
Overseas, the average number of years a top new graduate stays employed at the first company they enter is 3 years. Skills and abilities are necessary to be employed at a top-level company overseas, so a students’ major at the university links directly to employment. Everyone interns for at least 6 months to a year. Their future visions are vivid, and ideas of how they can participate actively in the business world are distinct. Almost nobody thinks about those types of things in Japan.
It is difficult to go against top talents overseas, who are trained to become adults under constant pressure. Therefore, in various fields, many things about the seniors in Japanese universities can be said to be very green, lacking a lot of necessary experience.



The way you spend time at the university affects your consciousness toward the future
What should a student do at the university in preparation for future competition with the world?
  What I recommend to everyone is to study abroad at a leading university in Asia. I think there are still many people who study abroad in America, but it is mostly to study English, and a few extra things. Of course, interaction with Western students is incredible. But the business market of the future is inarguably Asia, and being in contact with Asian talents is extremely valuable in business. I recommend it from this perspective. Leading universities have high-level talents that become future leaders of their countries. Different countries have strengths in different industries, and I think it would be an interesting experience to attend a university or graduate school with a strength that interests you.
My next advice may be a cliché, but I recommend traveling to a developing country while you are a student.
My last advice is to experience working. I think it is an important process to review your business senses at an early stage by using about 1 month of your summer vacation to challenge long-term internship at a company. This allows you to strongly link your future career with your remaining student life. Your consciousness should change through extracurricular activities. And I think universities and companies need to provide these types of environments.


In your own words, please describe a “high-level global talent”
  It is someone that strives to reach the top of the world. The word “top” has various descriptions, but I mean it as someone that strives to better themselves to a high level. I believe these types of talents will be in demand from now on. What is the most important is the desire to reach the top, and the strength of that feeling.
No matter how excellent you are, you cannot go there if you do not have a strong heart. People with strong hearts put in effort, so they always go up. Every excellent student I have ever met has always had strong ambition. Not a single person has that “I’m fine with whatever” attitude. They are highly ambitious with solid ideas of how they want to change their country and the world. Being skilled in language does not make you a global talent. English skills are necessary, of course, but that is different from global talent. What is important is the ambition, and people with strong hearts are valued.
Fourth Valley Concierge Inc.  



Editorial note
Starting a little later than usual, the job-hunting season for this year has officially begun. While many students begin thinking about employment after entering this season, Mr. Shibasaki’s wish for students to reconfirm their connection with society, and live their university life with their careers in mind at all times, has left a big impression in me.
Experiencing long-term internship with a purpose, increasing contact with working members of society, and expanding your area of activity, may be some of the first steps to finding out the mechanism of society. Through this interview, in addition to seeing the difference of job hunting in Japan and overseas, I felt a strong difference in the students’ consciousness towards employment, making me feel tense and humbled.
Sin Riku (School of International Liberal Studies)


ICC webmagazine (Japanese only)

Japan's passport did not come falling from the skies. Fight now for the respect of the future Japanese.

ICC webmagazine

Profile
Name:Yoshikazu Kato
Columnist for the British Financial Times, Chinese version.
Commentator for Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV.

Born in 1984 in Shizuoka Prefecture.
After graduating high school in 2003, he went to study abroad in Beijing University, where he graduated from the masters program of the Graduate School of International Studies. He is a columnist for the British Financial Times, Chinese version; Researcher at Beijing University; and commentator for Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV. He receives over 300 interviews a year, and writes more than 200 columns. His newest books are, “What the Chinese Are Thinking Now,” and “A Message From North Korean Super Elites to the Japanese.”


“If it’s important, say it in one minute.”
What is your intention behind your business card?
 I’m Yoshikazu Kato, so it says “Yoshikazu Kato.” In performing global activities, a name is more of a “sufficient condition” than a “necessary condition.” In Japan, you are judged by your title or company. For example, if someone is a general manager or a section chief, that alone defines whether that person is incredible or not. Overseas, this is completely meaningless. 
 I participated in a conference in Singapore two days ago. I used this same business card. My title was completely irrelevant. From this, I felt that insight was more important than a business card (laughing). On the other hand, a name is very important. A name is something you receive from your parents, so it is only natural to treat it with respect. Competing thoroughly with your name is the best way to be a dutiful son or daughter.

Besides business cards, what else do you keep in mind for self introductions?
 Here is an example from two days ago. Everyone I met, as I shook their hand, I would explain what I was doing in Singapore, why I came, what is troubling me, and why I want to communicate with them. That is everything. If you prepare yourself to always be ready to give a one-minute presentation, you can compete in the global market. 
 In Japan, in places like Nagatacho or Kasumigaseki, people just hand out their business cards and leave. This is a waste of natural resources. What I want to suggest to Japanese schools is to teach the students to be able to give one minute presentations about themselves. In first grade elementary school, be able to do it in Japanese. As a freshman in high school: in English. And as an adult: a second foreign language, preferably Chinese. As you grow, the contents are constantly updated. Whether public or private school, I think this should be practiced during the homeroom period.

When did you start thinking globally?
 I think I learned the word “global” in the past 10 years, but I have always had the world on my mind, even as a child. My hobby as a five-year-old was looking at the world map. I would spin the globe as I ponder things like, “Why is the capital of Sri Lanka such a long name?” or “Why are there so many people of different nationalities living in France?”
I began looking at the world map to rebel, rather than going into it naturally. I was born in a very conservative region. A feeling of entrapment was always present, and I would wonder why people always tried to crush my actions.
 In order to find an answer, I had to view things in an objective, relative way. I would first go to another city within Japan. This did not help, since Japan is a homogenized society.
I already wanted to go abroad at this point, but in order to accomplish something, we need three things: a purpose, the ability, and the conditions. Without all three of these, it is difficult. I think I had the purpose and the ability, but it took a while for the conditions to materialize. I did not get to go abroad until I was 18.


A crisis is a chance. The language lesson with a street vendor lady
How did you learn Chinese?
 When I was studying at Beijing University, all classes closed due of the spread of SARS. The current Japanese Embassy in Beijing was recommending a forced return home. I stayed, of course, but all other Japanese around me had left. But a crisis is a chance. I decided to figure out a way to communicate with the people around me and learn Chinese.
 I became friends with an older lady, a street vendor at the West Gate of Beijing University. That lady taught me Chinese. I began by buying ice cream from her and shaking her hand. From then on, I visited her every day. We would talk continuously for 8 hours a day. It was difficult trying to find topics for conversations.
 An average day would begin by waking up at 4:30am, studying the dictionary, jogging while listening to the radio, and a simple breakfast after returning home. I was with the vendor lady by 8am, and we would talk until around 4pm. As we would talk, all sorts of people would come and enter the conversations. The vendor lady’s network was amazing.

Through socializing with people there, what did you learn besides the Chinese language?
 In my opinion, the Chinese are advanced in the fields of networking and intelligence. They are able to create a Chinatown in every country. Can the Japanese do such thing? We cannot. There is a distinct difference between hanging out with only Japanese folks abroad, and the formation of a community followed by participation in the foreign country’s economy.
 The Chinese society is a society of mutual distrust. When they communicate with a stranger, it always starts with distrust. The Japanese society adopts a belief that human nature is fundamentally good; more so than any other society in the world. Distrust of strangers and being able to see things in a critical way; this way of thinking is important. My impression is that the Chinese, overall, are good at throwing a curve, no matter what they are doing. They have a sense of humor too. I realized that politeness alone is not productive.
 I learned various things besides the Chinese language from the vendor lady. I learned that you cannot trust strangers easily like the Japanese do. It is important to have your own approach to information. You cannot gobble up information. For me, I think information is trustworthy only if newspapers across more than two borders say the same thing. You must construct your own way of approaching correct perception and correct information. This, you must work on every day. This is extremely important in all fields, whether you are a journalist, a scholar, or a businessman.
 
How were you able to establish a personal network?
 It began with an interpretation job. I had figured that translation was the most intellectual part-time job, and studied hard for it. I got a good score in a test called “HSK,” so I was able to begin translating three months after arriving in China. A year later, I was able to perform consecutive interpretation, and 6 months after that, simultaneous interpretation.
 I did not end it there, as simply an interpreter. I went to various places. For example, I met heavyweight politicians at the Great Hall of the People; the Japanese equivalent of a national assembly. I participated in the conference as an interpreter. First, I would perform the job thoroughly. During break time, I would observe the political leaders. I would then try “accidentally” running into them in the bathroom. Sometimes, I may drop their jackets from chairs, saying, “Oh, excuse me, you dropped this,” and pick it up for them. They would reply, “Thank you. You’re a nice guy.”
I created my own opportunities for communication. I expanded my network creatively and actively.


Going abroad is “low-risk, high-return,” and even “low cost”
What sorts of things did you feel from living abroad?
 My love for Japan grew. I also realized that, to the locals abroad, I represent the country of Japan. Through communicating with people of various nationalities in China, my awareness of my Japanese identity became stronger. I disliked Japan from when I was very little. But it frustrated me when people in China misunderstood or criticized Japan. I thought I disliked Japan, but those things still bothered me. I believe this is a healthy type of patriotism.
 Also, when I would say my own personal opinion, it is interpreted by a foreigner as the opinion of Japan as a whole. This comes with an incredible amount of responsibility. Therefore, it is important to study the position and history of Japan in the international society. In an international society, it is very embarrassing not being able to answer a direct question regarding Japan.

Please give a word of advice to the students.

 It is important to realize how privileged you are. You have access to much more information than students in other countries. If you have a Japanese passport, you can literally go anywhere. In addition, the yen is strong right now. If you don’t go abroad now, when are you ever going to go?
In China, the Chinese Yuan has not been revalued yet, and a visa is required everywhere you go. In order to obtain an American visa in Beijing, you must get in a 500 meter-long line in front of the American Embassy. That is how bad they want to go.
 I do not intend to vaguely tell you to go abroad. I am sure that students are wondering whether to get employed, go to graduate school, or study abroad. This is my advice to you: First, expand your options. Second, expand your field of view so that you can choose the right option. The reason you want to do something new is because you are dissatisfied with the current situation. It is extremely important to look at yourself from a different viewpoint and location, asking yourself who you are and what you really want to do.
 In addition, going abroad while you are a student is “low-risk, high-return.” It is even low-cost. If you are lost and you want a new perception, go study abroad, or travel abroad. Take yourself to an unfamiliar place.
 The reason it is easy for the Japanese to go abroad is because our predecessors worked extremely hard for it. That is why we have the current passport. It did not come falling from the skies. The future of the Japanese passport depends on each and every one of us. Our actions abroad link directly to our future passport, and how much the future Japanese are respected in the international society. This awareness is important. This creates a feeling of tension. When we humans feel tension, we are able to become serious.



Editorial note
During the interview, Mr. Kato answered the questions with an outpour of enthusiasm. I was overwhelmed. From each word, I felt a depth that derives from experience. I believe there was a time for him when things were very difficult, and very painful. His persuasiveness must derive from what he saw after his resistance to the hard times and pain.
The words, “Our passports did not come falling from the skies,” left a big impression in my heart. We wonder whether or not to travel abroad or study abroad, but we must be thankful for the fact that we even have an option. I believe we must continue building on the roads that our predecessors created for us, for the next generation.
Ryo Aihara (Graduate School of Fundamental Science and Engineering, Freshman)

 

 ICC webmagazine (Japanese only)

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