Students Passionately Driven to Practice ‘Take Leave of Absence from School’



Since this spring, I have been repeatedly sending out messages concerning the too insular mindset of Japanese youths (actually, the fact is, that older generation is basically insular minded…setting undesirable examples for young people to follow…) and the huge gap which seem to exist between the global world and current status of the Japanese society.  This theme appears regularly in the blog of one of my friends, Dr. Yoko Ishikura.

Starting this year I also talk much about ‘Let Us Take Leave of Absence from School’  (Ref.1) to students and youths who are about to start  thinking of their careers.

Now I see several students responding to my message and taking actions.  In fact I received e-mails from two senior students (undergraduate) who happened to have listened to one of my lectures.  In short they wish to take leave of absence from school for one year to carry out their plans. As expected, they had to face some disagreements from their family, teachers and friends – not to speak of their own inner struggles.

One is a female student planning to go to Moscow where she lived for 2 years with her family as a junior high student (just after the end of the Soviet Union… It must have been a very difficult time…).  She wishes to live in Moscow for 1 year and see how Russia and its people have changed.  She also wants to study Russian.  Another student is a male who, after giving it a lot of consideration, decided to go to Ghana to work with the local NGO.  Both students have worked out and arranged everything by themselves.  I think this is quite impressive accomplishment to these students..

So, I decided to introduce these two students to Vice Minister of education Mr. Nakagawa (Ref.1) (the links are in Japanese) (Top photo)  As you may see from his background, he studied undergraduate years at Georgetown University in Washington DC, which is quite a unique background for a Japanese, so my expectation was that Mr. Nakagawa will instinctively understand the mind of these two students.  I also felt that many officials at MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) had positive feelings for such movements of students.

We had a nice lively conversation with the Vice Minister and I am sure that this opportunity provided a happy experience for the two students.

The female student left for Moscow the next day, and the male student will leave for Ghana in the end of this August.  What kind of career will they follow?  What will their work be like in the future?  Well, for the time being, what I can at least say is that they will without doubt become Japanese of the next generations who have acquired senses to feel Japan from outside and the global point of view (which is very much needed for the global age) and develop their own human networks connected and expanding to the world.  It would be such a pleasure to see them grow.