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Message from the Dean

Dean, School of International and Area Studies


Welcome to the School of International and Area Studies.

April 2015 marks the 4th anniversary of the founding of the School of International and Area Studies. As I took over as the dean from this year, I would like to talk about how the School of International and Area Studies educates human resources, our goals, and unique features of our education.

The School of International and Area Studies has two pillars: the first one is multilingual and multi-regional education. The second one is research on humanities and social science.

Firstly, I would like to explain the first pillar. TUFS provides education in 27 languages and 14 areas where these languages are used. A language and an area you choose at the time of your enrollment will constitute the first pillar of your education.

Let’s take the Malay major in the East Asia region for an example. Students learn how to read, write, and speak in the Malaysian language during the first two years in conjunction with learning the geography, history, politics, culture as well as how people who speak Malay live, think, and set their own values. In addition, students are expected to look beyond the borders of Malaysia, and to learn the history and unique features of the region, thus look into the East Asia region as a whole. Developing language proficiency and gaining knowledge of the region are some of the outcomes you will attain by studying at TUFS.

To that we add the second pillar: gaining expertise in the discipline itself. In this phase, one studies the basics of social science including politics, economics, law, history, social studies, anthropology, and philosophy in addition to the specific knowledge in these disciplines. Specifically, learners can obtain practical knowledge by studying these disciplines from an international perspective. For example, here is a student interested in railroads, especially in the high-speed railways and a number of East Asian countries are planning to build these. Countries with the advanced technology such as Japan, Germany, France and China have approached these Asian countries and are competing against each in order in order to win the contracts. Where do the East Asian countries plan to construct high-speed railways? And why do they make such plans? The student learns the political and economic background behind the large-scale construction projects, and the reality of economic support with international viewpoints.

As TUFS students are well-versed in local peoples’ lives and philosophies, they will be able to see beyond the political and economic side of things, and engage deeper with the locals and their attitudes toward high-speed railway construction. While these developments are designed with a view of advancing the economic efficiency and providing more convenience to the people, some local communities may not interpret these developments in a positive light. They may see these developments as a disadvantage to their communities as some people may lose their land because of the development projects. Some people may face drastic changes in their lives. There is lots to think about if we put ourselves in their shoes. For those of us living in Japan, I want us to become the kind of people who can take local people’s standpoints into consideration and to think about what we can do and what we need to do in order to be fully participate in an international society.

Thus, the School of International and Area Studies is a place where you can not only learn about the international affairs, politics, and law, but also get an insight into the international community. This strongly relates to your major languages and areas of study. You will also learn how to contribute to the international community. I believe that our unique feature, that is, a close link between languages and areas, will be useful for your future career.

In addition, I am certain that all of you have a high command of English language. We have the Global Linkage Initiative Program (GLIP) and the English Learning Center (ELC) initiatives to help you brush up and improve your English level through independent study. Also, I recommend you to study in the short visit program during your summer or winter breaks, or exchange programs to learn the language by seeing another society with your own eyes and experiencing the culture of another country. I hope that you to will develop into the human resources with an international perspective through this experience of studying abroad.

What I would like to realize through your experience of studying abroad is in fact how little do you know about Japan. You may think that all you need is to study about a ‘foreign country’ as you are a TUFS student. However, in order to fully participate in an international society, it is essential for you to deeply understand Japan. You cannot fully understand Japan from a historical perspective with just memorizing the timelines in a high school textbook. For example, how Japan has developed and how Japanese culture and customs have formed. Tokyo University of Foreign Studies offers classes where you can acquire such knowledge and further develop your national identity. I hope that through studies you will discover a new perspective on Japan and then share that with the international community.

I hope that the four years of study at TUFS will be a meaningful and fun experience in your life. I will do my best to support you through your study journey at TUFS.