Dec.26.2015 KIP Forum "How should Japan develop globally minded human resource in the next generation?"
Mr. Toshiyuki Shikata, Director of Personnel Division, Minister's Secretariat, MOFA

For our December forum, we invited Mr. Toshiyuki Shikata, who is one of the directors of KIP, as our speaker. He has been a head of personnel department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since July 2014. The title of his lecture was “How should Japan develop globally minded human resource in the next generation?” He told us KIP had been ahead of our time and what kind of role the universities in Japan should play, especially focusing on English education.

In the first half, Mr. Shikata, who has been active in the forefront of the political world, mentioning his own experience, concretely explained about the transition of economic agreements around Japan, U.S.A. and other countries in the Pacific, and the speculation of each country related to the agreements. Nowadays many people have started actively discussing TPP, but according to Mr. Shikata, KIP had done a simulation of TPP long before TPP has drawn attention. Even if we are not politicians, it is essential to think about public policies, and I thought we had to be grateful to KIP for providing us with such opportunities. On the other hand, he raised an issue, “Does the university in Japan properly offer such opportunities? ” In Japan many university students learn liberal arts for only two years, but well-rounded people are welcomed in foreign countries, and he told us that it might be nonsense to divide us into two groups in university or high school, those majoring in humanities or social sciences and science, which I entirely agreed with. This was because I also felt strange that I had to decide which to major in high school. Moreover, he lectured how English, which is “lingua franca” now, meaning it is a universal language, was important in international community. However, many Japanese people suffered from lack of English communication skills. How can we raise the general level of those skills for the survival of Japan? I would like to straightly face this problem, including several indicators for our command of English he mentioned such as TOEFL, TOEIC, and PTE.

In the second half, we had a group-discussion on “Which should we put more emphasis on in higher education, “liberal arts” or ”practical science”? ” As the definitions of the words “liberal arts” and ”practical science” were vague, many groups defined them at the beginning. However, whatever the definitions of the two words were, on the whole we concluded that we had to put more emphasis on what we call ”liberal arts” than “practical science”, for we need a wide knowledge regardless of our majors. Also, some groups were so future-oriented that proposed a measure such as abolishing the credit system in universities. Since the topic was very familiar to all of us, we had a lively exchange of opinions. Last but not least, I would like to express my thanks to Mr. Toshiyuki Shikata for delivering a precious lecture for us in spite of his business.
(Teruyo Fujisaki)