I have successfully graduated from Stanford Law School with a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in Law, Science and Technology (LST). It’s been an incredible year, and words are inadequate to describe all the joys I’ve experienced, the opportunities I’ve had, and the lifelong companionships I’ve formed. I want to thank everyone who made all of this possible, especially the Ito Foundation U.S.A. and Friends of UTokyo, Inc. for their great financial support.
This past year has been life-changing for me—I have made amazing friends who have made this journey even richer and more enjoyable. My cohorts are seasoned professionals from 32 different countries with diverse backgrounds who excel in their respective fields and passionately use law as a tool to change the world, each in their own unique way. It was challenging at times for me to discuss controversial issues and interact with friends from different races, religions, and sexualities, and with different languages, values, and means of communication, but they have given me new and different perspectives that have helped me to learn more about myself. From conversations with my peers, I was able to look inside of myself and ask myself questions I had never asked before and to make new discoveries that I may not have otherwise made.
Even more importantly, I learned a lot about the cutting-edge LST issues currently being debated in the United States and around the world—such as speech on the Internet, privacy regulations, and blockchains. I learned firsthand about the potential of new technologies to enable free speech, innovation, diversity, and equality for the public good—as well as the dangers they pose to the international community. In particular, the LST program has provided me with many opportunities to learn about practical issues from practitioners who have years of experience working at law firms and corporations. For example, in the “Reforming the Profession” class taught by the former general counsel of LinkedIn, I learned about how the legal industry needs to change in a very fast-paced business environment and the various technological tools we as lawyers have at our disposal to bring about significant change.
Through my time at Stanford and in the Bay Area, I have become more proud, confident, and happy with who I am as a gay man. I have been fortunate to meet many people from the LGBTQ+ community who are proud of who they are and express themselves as they are without fear. Seeing them happy in their own way has given me hope and courage, especially since I had never been exposed to any other society or culture outside of Japan before. In the United States, now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, we fear its impact on LGBTQ+ and other rights, but I strongly believe that the rights that our community has fought for and won for decades and centuries will continue to be upheld through our unrelenting efforts. I will continue to do my part, even if it is only a small part, to help Japan move forward to become a society where diversity is more accepted, even as the rest of the world seems to be moving in the opposite direction.
I couldn’t be happier or more grateful for this amazing experience. For my next step, with my education in technology law at Stanford, I plan to first work as a lawyer in data protection and tech transactions at a firm in Europe for the next year. Then, as a more experienced tech lawyer and member of the LGBTQ+ community, I would like to apply what I have learned and experienced to contributing to the development of a diverse, tech-savvy Japanese society as it leads a renewed inclusive partnership with the rest of the world.