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Voices

From a professor
Students that aspire and inspire

Sahoko KAJI, Ph.D.
Professor of economics and PCP Co-ordinator
Keio University

One of the most urgent tasks for Japan is to produce Japanese who can conduct themselves among foreigners in the same way as they conduct themselves among fellow Japanese.
On the whole, the Japanese are a well-educated people with good intentions who value hard work and sincerity. Unfortunately, such positive characteristics often fail to manifest themselves in the company of strangers. This can have serious consequences in the 21st century, given the political and economic realities. Japan was content to be the only Asian member of ‘rich country’ groups such as the G8. The size of the Japanese economy used to be second only to the size of the US economy. But with a shrinking population and lower economic growth, Japan’s external influence has already started to decline, relative especially to its Asian neighbors.

When Japan is no longer an economic powerhouse, would the rest of the world still pay heed to the Japanese? The answer to this question depends on the quality of the human capital which Japan can produce. With almost no natural resources, Japan’s only resource is its human resource. If we can get the rest of the world to say ‘the Japanese are people we can work with’, ‘the Japanese take pains to understand us before they explain their view to us’, ‘the Japanese are trustworthy’, ‘the Japanese produce high quality services and goods’, or ‘the Japanese beautifully embody their culture and tradition’, the Japanese will not be ignored.

In fact, such qualities are always expected of each other, when the Japanese mingle among themselves. One reason why such qualities do not come out as naturally when the Japanese face foreigners is the language barrier. The problem could even be called ‘English-phobia’ or ‘foreign language-phobia’. Yet this is not the only reason. Many Japanese are unable to bring out their natural self, when they encounter anything that is unfamiliar to them.

This needs to change, if only for the purpose of ‘making Japan’s contribution to the rest of the world’, something many Japanese say they would like to do. This is why Japan needs to produce Japanese who can conduct themselves among foreigners in the same way as they conduct themselves among fellow Japanese. Needless to say, the language barrier must be removed. But that is not sufficient. We need Japanese who are able to open their minds to people with totally different cultures and backgrounds, who can communicate effectively with foreign people. And time is not on our side.

At PCP, we expect our students to do more than just improve their English skills. We train our students as effective communicators by improving their ability at abstract thought. Economics, as it is a social science, affords good discipline for this training.

PCP students are students who aspire and inspire. All students in the programme are encouraged to have an open mind, open towards each other and towards the world. Every year, Keio students from other Asian countries also join the programme, and exchange students register for PCP classes. They all seem to enjoy each others’ company. Studying economics in English is not easy, even for students who have spent their childhood in an English-speaking environment. As they strive to become an internationally active global citizen, it is a joy and privilege to be a witness and aid in this process.

From students

Speeches made by graduating class of 2015 at the PCP certificate ceremony

Keisuke Kajitani, full-time Keio student in the class of 2012

"ABF(*) was game changer for my career and my life" If you have couple days to mingle in Korea with one of the top students from Yonsei university, what would you do? Eat Samgyupsal? Drink Makgeolli? That’s awesome idea (because I did that as well) but what about meeting Korean entrepreneurs and feel the vibe of Asian venture businesses? At the ABF, I met awesome entrepreneurs in Korea through this trip and as a result, I’m now working for a fast growing Korean startup called VCNC. So, you never know what’s gonna happen so stay PCP and stay global!

* The Asia Business Forum (ABF) is our summer studying session, organised by and for Asian university students. ABF’s goal is to promote deeper understanding of the Asian Economy, to establish connections between Asian universities and to provide networking opportunities among students. The first ABF was held at Yonsei University (Seoul, Korea) in 2009. Since then, students from participating universities have been taking turns hosting the event.

Taro Koshiba, full-time Keio student in the class of 2011

The lecture "Japanese Financial Market and Institution" is one of the best lectures in Keio University. You can learn the problem of Japanese financial market and institution’s inefficiency through this lecture and can get the basic idea of economics. Furthermore, you can touch the various points of view toward "Japan" in the lecture because not only Professor Yoshino gives us a lecture, but also some world-wide famous professors give us. It must be a great experience for you to attend such a great class. However, it sometimes requires us to have a fundamental knowledge on Japanese financial market because the lecture covers some detail points. You need to study it by yourself, otherwise you may not understand the contents. Though we should study hard to understand the contents, it should be the students’ duty and I believe this lecture gives us the knowledge which we cannot study on books.

Nazaruddin Abdullah, full-time Keio student who successfully received two PCP certificates in International Economics and Law and Economics in AY2010

Throughout my four years in Keio University, my last two years in Professional Career Programme would have been the most important as PCP provided me with the tools necessary to embrace my current job with PETRONAS, a national Malaysian oil company.
PCP taught me to be accountable in my work as under the professors I have worked with (i.e. Professor Kazumi Matsuoka, Professor Sahoko Kaji and Professor Ruth Fallon), I am constantly challenged to make sure that any information I use for my academic papers are obtained from reliable sources and documented properly. The level of scrutiny that I faced prepared me for my current Risk Management job portfolio as on a daily basis, I have to make sure that the informations I provide are all reliable and verifiable.
The various courses that PCP offered also enable me to gain various perspectives on the different aspects of the global economy. The courses on International Economics, especially Development Economics allowed me to view the world beyond the usual advanced economies. New Challenges for the Japanese Economy course was also very insightful as we were taught about the various challenges from a practitioner’s perspective. Professor Kaji’s Open Macroeconomics was perhaps the most challenging course I have taken in Keio University as it was the one course where you have to make sure you have your economic fundamentals right, mathematics foundation solid and attention level high.
In summary, there is a perfectly good reason why PCP is called Professional Career Programme. It is a very good programme if you are willing to have your priorities straightened and commitment level consistent.

Kensuke Suzuki, full-time Keio student in the class of 2010

When I entered the university, I had huge trouble with English. However, last year I worked in Panama for a year (3rd year of my career) and now I’m working in Germany and using English in daily work. And I feel that I could not obtain such precious experience without 2 years at PCP. Actually, I got 2 big things from the experience of PCP.

First one is "The confidence to use English" I imagine many people feel shame to speak English, and actually I felt so before. However, it’s not because "you cannot speak English" but because "you are not confident to use English". The experience at PCP and HEC removed such feelings and brought me the confident to use English.

Second thing is "Well motivated friends".
I strongly believe no one can maintain high motivation and make the effort alone continuously, and also believe friends are the ones who give me the POWER when my motivation is going down. All of my friends I met at PCP and HEC are well motivated and making the great effort towards their target. And such friends gave me huge POWER and helped me a lot. Needless to say, I still keep in touch with them and be sure that they are my lifelong mate.

Kazuhiko Abe, full-time Keio student in the class of 2010

PCP made me change to challenge difficulties. Even though I was not good at speaking English at that time, I decided to join PCP as I wanted to broaden my horizons and to study environmental/resource economics using English. It was, of course, not easy for me to study economics and to communicate with foreign students in English since I was born and grew up in Japan. Due to my friends in PCP, I did not give up and did encourage myself to do my best. After graduating from Keio University, I chose to study environment/natural resources from the viewpoint of science and engineering at graduate school. I strongly believe that I could decide to enter the school of engineering because PCP always made me to challenge difficulties. After receiving a Master of Engineering, I fortunately got an opportunity to utilise my speciality skills at work, and to challenge difficulties on the job is always on my mind.

Hiroyuki HOSHI, full-time Keio student in the class of 2010

"PCP expands my horizon"
I did not have a very good idea of what I wanted to do, when I entered university. This changed completely during my second year. I became in charge of planning and executing a symposium for students from around the world. There I met students who were ‘enjoying economics 120%’, and was inspired by them. I wanted to be like them, and that was why I chose to join PCP. In PCP classes, I can learn international economics with a flexible approach, alongside highly motivated classmates. I think my possibilities for the future expand, by learning in PCP.

Eisuke Tanaka, full-time Keio student in the class of 2010

Exchange student, HEC

I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities to study abroad for one year at HEC School of Management. I suppose every experience abroad has it’s own unique set of challenges based on your desires or expectations. One of the things that stroke me the most was the fact that there were so many different ways of expressing ones thoughts and ideas.

I had read in many books and articles and knew that the western people are assertive and self-confident when it comes to class participation. However, it was very unexpected that the way of expressing their ideas differed among countries and regions.

It was a very big challenge for me to make contribution during class discussions and activities. To be honest, I could not reach a satisfactory level in performance through my entire exchange.
However, I was lucky to have the chance to notice that it is the practice and experience that enhances self-expression.

And now from my experience, I can understand why PCP enhances the importance of self-expression.

Eri Negoro, full-time Keio student in the class of 2009

I am working at a Japanese securities company now. When I graduated from PCP and started working, I was very surprised that the Japanese society had not caught up with the global stream. I appreciate the PCP program from which I learned English presentation skill and economics concept. They are very useful as I expected and sympathized with the principle of educating global human resources when I was a student. I chose the current stock-market job because I could enjoy feeling the world economy’s dynamism.

Now I realized that many Japanese are "brilliant but not be able to explain in English" or "able to speak English but not in a suitable position". Given the experience of meeting international people who are fluent in several languages and who have a hungry spirit, I keep in mind not to be supposed to swallow a fixed idea.

I am looking for an opportunity to get MBA, sent abroad by the company. I would like to be the global-type Japanese who has both domestic and international views and to broaden activity fields. Also, I am looking forward that more students graduate PCP and we expand our network for the people being active globally.

Shunsuke Iwama, full-time Keio student in the class of 2009

Exchange student, the University of Melbourne

I am currently studying abroad in Melbourne and living in a dormitory with students from a variety of cultures and backgrounds around the world.

At first, I had no idea what other students were thinking. But through my life here I have gradually come to understand their values, ways of thinking, daily activity and perception. These experiences broadened my horizon greatly. However, I also realized that there were problems that all Japanese people faced: the language barrier and cultural differences.

I have met more than 20 Japanese business people working in Melbourne. It was a great experience to talk to people working abroad and to hear about their perspectives on the Japanese economy. Everyone said that although all Japanese people had great capabilities, they could not make the most of their ability in the international field because of the language barrier and cultural differences.

When I told them about PCP, they said that we were really lucky to have an opportunity to join such a great educational programme. There is no other university which provides such a great English education, so I strongly recommend that you should take this opportunity. No matter how capable you are in Japan, you cannot be competitive in a global community if you do not have enough skills in English. I sincerely hope all of you join this programme to broaden your horizon and become competitive internationally.

Messages from international students

Steven Yang, a Chinese exchange student who successfully received a PCP certificate in AY2009-2010

Without my learning experience at Keio, I won’t be able to take this bold choice. Keio University in general teaches me what’s the standard for achievement, it reinforces me to deliver better work. Moreover, the strict but well-organized curriculum brings about basic but necessary skills I definitely need in my current situation. Thanks for all of these you have brought for me.

Ruby Chen, exchange student from New Zealand in AY2009

I am a exchange student from New Zealand and I thoroughly enjoyed Professor Yoshino’s Japanese Financial Markets and Institutions lectures. The Professor is humorous and has his own unique way of teaching. I learnt much about the past 50 years of the Japanese economy with many thanks to the Professor’s notes and personal publications. Guest lecturers were likewise very worthwhile. I would recommend this course to any business exchange student as it provides a broad knowledge on the economical circumstances of Japan.

Terry Liang, Master Course student at the Graduate School of Economics in AY2009-2010

I enrolled into Keio University in April last year. Until now, the PCP classes I took include Professor Kaji’s "open economy macroeconomics" of spring semester, professor Yoshino’s Saturday lecture of this semester and two lecture series sponsored by UBS and monbukagakusho respectively. When it comes to lecture series, we have guest speakers come here to make presentations, mostly about their papers. There are also some guest speakers who gave presentations in professor Yoshino’s Saturday lecture. I would evaluate that all the classes I took are of high quality. Although a few guest speakers are not that good, most others, as well as Professor Kaji and Professor Yoshino of course, are remarkable people with outstanding knowledge, experiences and expertise. It is enlightening and enjoyable to attend their lectures. I learnt a lot from them in the past 9 months and have a lot of respect and gratitude for them. I am pretty sure that most other students share my positive view.

Omair Qazi, University of California, San Diego, Keio International Program AY2009

Professor Yoshino’s course was one of few truly unique and instructive courses that I have taken in my undergraduate career. As an exchange student from the University of California ? San Diego, I was incredibly impressed by the depth and knowledge that Professor Yoshino conducted his lecture with, and I subsequently found that my time was well spent under his tutelage. Professor Yoshino’s class provided a firm and concise introduction to the key market players in the Japanese economy from an institutional perspective, but also was presented in a very direct and fluent matter. Professor Yoshino’s extensive knowledge with the key players in the field and history was readily apparent, however what truly made the class worthwhile was the calm and sophisticated manner in which very complex concepts in economics were presented and explained to the class. The lecture not only explained concepts that I previously understood once more in more direct and clear terms, but introduced difficult subjects with a clarity that I have found rarely present in the teachers that I have had at Keio University as well as my home institution.

The course also supplied ample access to leading thinkers and heads of institutions that were relevant to the course material and allowed the course material to be presented in new and refreshing ways. The access to these kinds of people is rare and truly the direct consequence of Professor Yoshino’s extensive involvement in the economic community at large. Furthermore his knowledge and presence in large scale economic situations such as the Japanese Banking Crisis and Subprime Mortgage Crisis lends to excellent presentations on the rational behind the movements and decisions that key players in both the Japanese and other major economies made. Professor Yoshino’s course was an excellent discussion on the role of Japanese financial institutions and much of it is due to his own personal teaching style and access to knowledge as a result of his participation in the field. It was a pleasure to take his course, and I look forward to his continued teaching.

Eirika Katayama, University of California, San Diego, Keio International Program AY2009

I’m an international student coming from the University of California, San Diego with a major in International Studies ? Economics at my home university. I’ve lived in the U.S. all my life and so I’m fluent in English, so I thought that since I need classes to transfer to my home university, and because the PCP courses are conducted in English, attending these courses it would be perfect. After taking these courses, while not all the professors of PCP may be fluent in English, I can still see the quality of their work and the time and effort they put into teaching their students well. I attended three PCP courses: Environmental Economic Theory taught by Professor Hosoda, Environmental Economic Policy taught by Professor Managi, and Japanese Financial Markets and Institutions taught by Professor Yoshino. All three of those classes taught me a lot about the fields they were concerning, but Professor Yoshino’s class in particular was one that I absolutely loved to attend. One aspect of Professor Yoshino’s lectures that really helped me was that the level of rigor and the pace at which he taught his lessons was the same or similar to that of the economics classes at my home university, which really impressed me. While in some of my International or Japanese Language classes I could skate by without putting in too much effort during class, while attending Professor Yoshino’s course I had to keep on my toes in order to completely follow the lecture, otherwise I’d be left behind.

Not only this, but one could tell how much he loved his area of focus as well as how much he loved working with and teaching his students (though he couldn’t always be there to teach us because of other commitments he had, which is understandable considering the other work that he does). His sense of humor that he was able to incorporate into his lectures as well as the openness with which he talked to anyone who had a question really impressed me as one of his students. I’m very proud to say I taken one of his courses and next semester, time permitting, I’d love to take another one taught by him. He’s definitely one of the best professors that I’ve ever had.

Richard Higgins, exchange student from New Zealand in AY2009

I cannot say enough that the Japanese Financial Markets and Institutions class was a highlight of my exchange to Keio University. Any criticism of the course is very misplaced. In coming to Japan to study economics in the Fall Semester of 2009, I had hoped to learn first-hand and in-depth about the intricacies of the Japanese economy and the challenges facing it today. Professor Yoshino’s class met my desire perfectly! I thoroughly enjoyed the class, and importantly, the class broadened my view regarding ways to analyse not only the Japanese economy, but my home New Zealand economy as well. For this reason, I have kept all the class notes and analyses for use at my home University in 2010. Once again, may I express sincere gratitude to Professor Yoshino. I hope to have the privilege to be in contact again in the near future. In being back in New Zealand now I’m already missing the class and the students from PCP, so, if only for my sake, hopefully it won’t be too long before we all meet again!

Maurizio Kaiser, exchange student from Austria in AY2009

Please let me begin by saying that I enjoyed all PCP classes very much and that they were a big part of what made my semester at Keio so memorable. As to the Japanese Financial Markets class in particular, the class itself was very challenging but never overwhelming. Professor Yoshino always made time for questions and helped us understand difficult topics as well as explain anything that remained unclear. The frequent guest lectures were also very interesting and tied nicely into the overall topic of the class. The class made me research many topics more in-depth after discussing them in class and Professor Yoshino was always very interested in our opinions and views, which made the class very interesting. Although the pace of the class was very fast and the material was challenging, the level was more than suitable for a PCP class and the final exam was very fair. All in all, I enjoyed this class very much and I hope that more classes at my home university will offer similar classes. Thank you for giving me the time to express my views on this excellent class.

Keisuke Jonathan Yanagawa, exchange student in AY2009

I am writing to express my thoughts on the course given by Professor Yoshino on Japanese Financial Markets and Institutions. The course was stimulating and interesting in the sense that the course offered relatively fast-paced lectures, something of which classes at Keio often lack and should strive towards. I appreciated how the professor brought a wealth of knowledge into the classes. Lectures were supplemented by quantitative data, some of which I believe the professor himself had researched throughout his academic life, and class content included both historic events and up-to-date topics such as contemporary global issues and present-day problems. Despite being an Economics course, it was also highly interdisciplinary: the professor wisely incorporated the history and politics of Japan in his lectures. It was obvious that the class enjoyed the insights the professor shared?after class, my classmates and I would often praise his accomplishments, qualifications, and personal encounters with top economists from around the world he talked about. If I were to provide any suggestions at all, I would ask for increased opportunities to learn from him even more.

Overall, through the course I learned a lot about many aspects of Japan. Despite not taking the course officially, it was exciting to such an extent that I was motivated to attend his lectures every Saturday to sit in and audit them. It would be a major disappointment if such classes were not offered in the future. In order to keep up the level of rigor of the PCP curriculum and of the University, I believe the professor and his course should be given the appropriate recognition for the quality of his instruction and what he has provided to the foreign exchange students’ community.

Nuchjaree Makmaisin, Master Course student at the Graduate School of Economics in AY2008-2009

My name is Nuchjaree Makmaisin, M2 of Economics faculty. I would like to write some comments on PCP course. I used to attend some subjects of PCP course for example: Environmental Law and Economy, Introduction to Law and Economics, Finance Policy and the Global Economy and Kinyu-ron (Financial economics). I found PCP course is a good course to study because we can have the class with Professor who really has long working experience in the specific field; not only knowledge but also experiences that we can learn from them. This year I decided to take Professor Yoshino’s Kinyu-ron class again. It is the only one class of PCP that I decided to repeat. The reason is Professor Yoshino always conducting the class in clear and concise way with full of his knowledge and long time experience.
Professor Yoshino ‘s explanation is always easy to understand and the most important thing is it is up to date one . I feel like Professor Yoshino gives the gist summary of financial knowledge in just one time class. I would like to say, I think PCP is good course, among them I like Professor Yoshino Kinkyu-ron the most.

From a student in Keio graduate school of economics since 2008

I am writing to express my gratitude towards Doctor Yoshino, who as everyone knows, is one of the most appreciated and most acclaimed professor not only in Keio University, but at international academic and professional levels.

It has been pointed out that negative reviews have been received from certain students who have taken Dr Yoshino’s class, Japanese Financial Market and Institutions by Professor Naoyuki Yoshino during fall 2009-2010. I find it sad and disappointing that such negative feedback is threatening Dr Yoshino’s reputation, and I think I speak on behalf of most of my classmates, when I say that we fully enjoyed and appreciated the structure as well as the content of Dr Yoshino’s lecture during this class, not to mention his human skills, that made the class even more fulfilling.

I am speaking real honestly when I say that some students (for instance, a student from Sweden) and myself, who were taking the class, were literally impatiently waiting for Dr Yoshino’s class every week, and since I am under his supervision, the students were asking me questions, eager to know more about the genius of the professor (in "student" language: "How can he be so knowledgeable about everything?", "How does he have time to do all what he does?", "I saw him on TV, we’re so lucky to be taking a class with him!" …) .

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