Recommend Taking a Leave of Absence From School: Support Youth Who Go Abroad!


Throughout 2010 I have recommended that people, especially students, take a leave of absence from school. Response from the youth is not bad.  I’ve gathered that this idea is spreading gradually so I sent an article to Asahi Shinbun and it appeared on the ‘My Point of View’ column in the Jan. 14th morning edition.

In a quite limited space, I argued as below, which I summarized in a list. The title of my article is the same as this posting.  Please forward this article to your friends in any way you please, like e-mails, blogs, or twitter. 

Japanese youth are by no means insular minded. Youth are reflection of the society of the time.

Governments, industries, and educational institutes should do better.  Mind you, youth is our only hope and resource for Japan tomorrow.

 “My Point of View

  • I have recommended taking a leave of absence for some time now.  It is because I sincerely wish that youth can broaden their horizons while they are still undergraduate students.
  • A broad human network is a strong tool for leaders to be, in whatever field.  As globalization continues, international friends you make through your travels who are not affiliated with any one particular organization are a huge asset. Sharing meals together, and experiencing the world together is so important.
  • You can take courses at universities, join NGO activities at the developing countries, or maybe experience internships at global enterprises.  What bothers me now is that currently we do not have any good, stable system to encourage youth who wish to go abroad.  From the emails and conversations I have with students, the most urgent problem to be addressed is the problem of tuition.
  • National universities waive the tuition during the period students are on leave, but private universities sometimes continue to charge tuition.  You get an impression that those universities are putting management before education.  What a disgraceful and sad thing to do.  Can’t they exempt tuition while students are on leave?  This, however, is not the problem of universities alone.  I believe that there are many things that government could do.
  • There are of course other problems beside tuition.  For instance, we need better system that will acknowledge the experience gained overseas; such as exchange of units or transfer of students for a certain period.  I would like to know the thoughts of the university administrations.
  • For Japanese youth, my advice is not to be insular minded, but to challenge, to go abroad.  I have an impression that both students and their parents, because they seek too much of a safe and stable life (especially after the economic bubble burst), tend to avoid the risk of international study.
  • Typically in Japan, students busy themselves with company interviews (shu-katsu, in Japanese) in their junior year at university.  The students think of nothing else but to get a job offer from as many companies as possible, as quickly as they can.  This is not a way to nurture global talents.  If we cannot educate the talents of the next generation, we cannot stop this nation’s decline.  Even now, existence of Japan is fading away in many international political, economical, and diplomatic scenes.  I am deeply concerned.
  • Youth in other nations are aggressively working their ways to the top universities of western countries. These are the locations where many of the world’s leaders emerged. These universities not only provide high quality education, but offer you settings to develop multi ethnic, multi national human networks.  The more you are exposed to friends from different histories or cultures, the clearer vision you will have for your future.  International education is not good only for the individuals, but will also play a significant role in the making of a nation because these global talents will become the central working force in any political, economical, or social organization of the country.
  • So, let us together encourage Japanese youth to go abroad for training.  Universities, industries, parents ? in short, the society as a whole, must share this vision.  By supporting youths who take leave of absence from schools to go abroad, we can nurture our ‘human assets’ and create hope for a brighter future for Japan.”

The Asahi Shinbun newspaper, January 14, 2011, page 19