Welcoming the Chancellor of UCLA

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More: https://www.facebook.com/tadashi.yokoyama.ucla83?fref=ufi

Every June, the Chancellor of UCLA, Chancellor Block, makes his annual trip to Asia. He has many Japanese ex-post-doctoral fellows who worked with him before he came to UCLA and always looks forward to visiting Japan.

I also visited UCLA two weeks ago.

This year, we took this opportunity to host a UCLA alumni gathering to coincide with the Chancellor’s visit. Over these past couple of years, there have been more young Japanese alumni who have joined. It is heartening to see that in particular, there many who did their undergraduate studies at UCLA.

Each year, there are three students who study at the UCLA Laskin School of Public Policy, but last year there were around ten.

In 2019, UCLA will reach its 100th anniversary and there is a fundraising project underway to commemorate the anniversary. In Japan, there is the “Kashi (Oak) Forest Project” that is taking place between Tokyo and the city of Tsukuba. It is being planned to establish a UCLA Japan Center in one of the spaces. This has been made possible by Masaru Murai.

Around here, there are many research centers and there are many researchers who come from UCLA. This sort of commemorative event does not take place frequently and the Chancellor seemed to be quite happy.

I have been the Chairman of this alumni association for the past six years since 2010 and have been able to pass on the torch to Mr. Tohyama of TMI Associates from this year.

It makes me happy to see that more young members joining, as young people are the future of Japan.


Educational reforms at the University of Tokyo: Where are they headed? Dr. Inui’s Reflections

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When compared with the rest of the world, it seems that the higher education reforms in Japan, including those in the world of medicine, have not made much progress.

From around 1980, there have been revolutionary reforms in the field of life science and American and European universities began to undergo major reforms. Some leading examples are the educational reforms at McMaster University and the New Pathway at Harvard University.

Universities in Japan do not seem to understand such changing and new situations but the government has taken some initiatives, conducted under the systematic name of “reforms”. In the 1990s, there was the introduction of graduate universities and the overall reforms of universities, as well as the shift to become independent organizations. However, can it really be said that the higher education has changed fundamentally?

I was at the University of Tokyo from 1983 to 1996 and tried proposing many different suggestions. However, as usual, although many agreed with the bigger picture, they did not agree with the details and finer points. The environment and factors pertaining to medicine has also been changing. I am referring to the “five M’s” that I touched upon in my final lecture of my tenure at University of Tokyo in 1996 and in my keynote speech at the Japanese Society of Internal Medicine (in Japanese).

One of the things I tried at the University of Tokyo was to discuss with Harvard University a way to let students experience the New Pathway. We began this a year before I moved from the University of Tokyo to Tokai University. I gathered the funding for three years. Eight Japanese students and six students and two faculty members from the Harvard School of Medicine came to the University of Tokyo at the end of spring for one week. Students from the University of Tokyo spent one week at Harvard in the autumn.

When I look back on the records and reports from that time, it is clear that the experience was a very positive one with high impact for both of the students, especially on the University of Tokyo students.

In 1996, the second year, the member of the faculty at Harvard who participated was Dr. Thomas Inui. Dr. Inui is a third generation Japanese American and is a pioneer in medical education reform in US.

Afterwards, there were some attempts for reform of medical education at the University of Tokyo. At one of those, Dr. Inui was invited for three months and very critically conducted inspections and interviews, based upon which he wrote the very substantial Inui Report. This was fifteen years ago.

Reflecting upon the time that has passed since then, it cannot be said that there has been effective use or implementation of the proposals. This June, Dr. Inui was invited to the University of Tokyo in order to speak about the “The University of Tokyo medical education after fifteen years.” And he gave a speech as well as served as a panelist. I was also invited to be a panelist.

As expected, there were few participants, only around 25. Unfortunately or as expectedly, professors were absent except for Dr. Hashimoto and Dr. Shibuya, who are in the field of public health and have earned their PhDs at the Harvard University School of Public Heath (which is quite a feat).

Dr. Inui’s speech is entitled “Curriculum Stagnation at Todai School of Medicine- A Sober Analysis.”

It was a passionate speech from the heart that pointed out the great effort that had been poured into creating the proposals, made possible by getting the cooperation of the dean of the University of Tokyo School of Medicine. However, most have not been implemented or developed further, while the world continues to change all around.

I share this criticism, particularly when I see the reality of the higher education in Japan and other universities around in the changing world, especially the many rising universities in Asia.


The Annual Meeting of the Japan Chapter of the American College of Physicians in Kyoto

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More→ https://ja-jp.facebook.com/ACP-Japan-Chapter-174339349295272/

As I have done for the past few years, I participated in the annual meeting of the Japan Chapter of the American College of Physicians (1, 2) .

It was another full and lively program this year (1). The Chairman of the American College of Physicians attends the meeting every year and this time, Dr. Weyne Riley also participated. We were both moderators of one of the sessions and saw eye to eye on many things. We enjoyed watching the presentations of the students and residents and giving of awards.

This year, there were young people led by Prof Shibagaki of the St. Marianna University School of Medicine, who actively participated in much of the program.

My old friend, Dr. Inui also came to the meeting. Afterwards, he was to give a lecture at the University of Tokyo Education Center, which I also plan on attending.

Dr. Inui is the person who has been very passionate leader for years about the future of medical education and I asked him to come to Tokai University School of Medicine, the day before I was to start my deanship at Tokai University on June 30th, 1996. Quite a long time ago, 20 years, a fond memory of our professional career.


Three Days at Sekei Gakuen

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I am an alumnus of the Seikei junior high school and high school. Many people have good memories and feelings of nostalgia for this period of their lives.

I have been a board member of Sekei Gakuen for a while but from this year, I have become Special Advisor to the Chairman of the Board of Seikei Gakuen.

After giving much thought regarding the members, I asked Prof. Shigeru Miyagawa (in Japanese). They were both educated in Japan and the US, are bilingual in Japanese and English and are deeply passionate about education.

The three of us went to the Seikei campus and had an important meeting with the executive committee of the school. It took two to three months to arrange this meeting and coordinate everyone’s schedules. It was finally decided to be on the afternoon of Thursday May 26th.

We had meetings of an hour each with the Chancellor, the President of the University, the Principal of the junior and high school and the Principal of the elementary school. The library and elementary school were designed by Shigeru Ban (1), who is also an alumnus of Seikei.

I know that running a school can truly be challenging and I would like to give as much support as possible.

During the afternoon of the next day, I attended a board members meeting and councilors meeting in Tokyo.

The following Saturday, in continuation of last year, the International Education Division (in Japanese) hosted a seminar for junior and high school students, with the theme of “going abroad.” This year the title of the talk was, “My Study Abroad: A Discussion with Kiyoshi Kurokawa” (in Japanese) and included the OB/OGs Mr. Nagai and Miyazaki. They shared with us their own incredible stories. Afterwards, there was a panel on which I served as panelist, a presentation on American Field Service (AFS) and then a reception.

What can schools do for young people’s futures?

Many students attended with their parents attended and it was an enjoyable Saturday. It was all due to the efforts of Headmaster Kameshima, Principal Atobe and Director Kei of the International Education Division, the administrative office of the Junior and Senior High School, as well as Mr. Shimamura of the St. Paul’s School and Mr. Abe, who will be there in the autumn. In continuation from last year, I would like to express my thanks for this excellent event.


To Norway: the Territory on the 78th Parallel North

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After the dinner with DUJAT (Dutch & Japanese Trade Federation), I departed from Schiphol Airport, landed in Oslo 90 minutes later and stayed for one night. The next morning, I boarded a charter flight with about 140 people, which flew north for three hours and landed in Longyearbyen. It is located on the 78th parallel north.

This small village is the center of the Svalbard Islands and is located on Spitzberg Island. Due to the historical background, the governance is conducted collectively by Norway, Russia and the United States. In recent years, how to tackle the issues in the arctic has become one of the world’s challenges.

The Aurora Borealis Foundation (1) hosted this gathering. It was organised mainly by Bo Ekman of the Tallberg Foundation.

I attended a conference by Tallberg in 2013 when I visited Stockholm for a conference by invitation of Vattenfall power company due to my position as the Chairman of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission.

This time, another Japanese participants was my good friend Prof Mario Tokoro of Sony, which made me feel a bit relieved. The conference was co-hosted by Christopher Chuang, who has a career in media in Taiwan, and Mr. Ekman, so there was a large group of participants from China. However, I had the impression that much of the program, lectures and remarks were rather liberal. The brainstorming sessions that took place in small groups were also very good.

Through the brainstorming session, I met Dr. Eric Rasmussen, who is a leader in the field of global health and has a very unique career path. We share some similarities and had a very productive discussion.

On the third day, there were a several optional activities and I went to Barentsburg via a boat ride that was approximately two hours one-way. I enjoyed the outing there.

There was one man from the group from China who was wearing a very peculiar hat and had a unique appearance. I got the feeling that I had seen him somewhere before and it turned out that he was thinking the same thing.

He is a renowned designer and we had seen each other numerous times at the venue and hotel of the Nobel Prize award ceremony, which took place last December. It turned out that he was the stylist of Youyou Tu, who was awarded the Nobel Prize together with Dr. Omura. He brought his apprentice on the trip as well. I look forward to running into him again someday.

On the way back, I stopped by the Global Seed Vault. It seems that there are many people who stay at Oslo and the charter flight was delayed. From Oslo Airport, I made it just in time for my connecting flight in Paris and made it to Haneda.

My luggage was left at Oslo but it arrived three days later in Tokyo.