Prof. Koichi Hamada gives a Keynote on Homecoming Day

On October 29 (Sat), starting at 10 am, the various Homecoming Day events took place at both Hongo and Komaba campuses. Dr. Koichi Hamada, Professor of Economics at Yale University and a Director of FUTI, gave a keynote “Why do we need to internationalize universities?” at a special forum entitled “Study, work and live in the world,” held in the Yasuda Auditorium of the Hongo campus from 1 pm till 3pm. The other four panelists present at the forum were: Dr. Yoko Akachi (Technical officer, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), Ms. Kanae Doi (Japan’s representative, Human Right Watch) , Mr. Souichi Noguchi (JAXA Astronaut) and Mr. Yutaka Mizukoshi (Representative, Boston Consulting Group, Japan) .
Attached below is an English translation of Prof. Hamada’s keynote address.

Why Do We Need to Internationalize Universities? Koichi Hamada, Professor of Economics, Yale University

Distinguished alumni, ladies and gentlemen,
I am greatly honored to have been invited to speak at the 10th Homecoming Day of the University of Tokyo (UTokyo).*
A most memorable and bright spot in my student days at UTokyo was that my composition was chosen as the winning cheer song in a song-writing competition in 1957. I composed the melody for the lyrics, “The sun rises gloriously” written by fellow student, You Fujisawa. In the year that the song was played at this Yasuda Auditorium, it was played to encourage usually not so strong baseball players in the Meiji Jingu Baseball Stadium. Nowadays, though, I am afraid that few people remember my song; it had to compete with other popular college songs such as “Tada Hitotsu (The Only One)” and a school song composed by the famous composer, Kosaku Yamada.
I would like to take advantage of this special opportunity to play my composition for you,
<The college song was played via tape.>
I am moved to hear this melody in the same auditorium in which it was first played a half century ago. At that time, I wished that UTokyo had a department of music. It did not, but it did have a strong tradition of extracurricular music activities such as the UTokyo Orchestra and Choral Academy. I would like to express my sincere appreciation for Ryuta Ito (Professor Emeritus at Toho University School of Medicine), one of the referees of the competition, and Yoshino Irino, who arranged my melody for orchestra when this piece was compiled as a part of a record, “Songs of UTokyo.” These two composers were senior members in the UTokyo Orchestra and gave me valuable music education.
Now let me turn to my topic, “Why do we need to internationalize universities?” We have to be prepared to answer this question before advocating and pursuing internationalization. One could ask why not let Western universities specialize in the study of Roman, Hellenistic cultural tradition and Eastern universities specialize in the research and teaching of Confucius and Eastern traditions such as the writings of Confucius and Lao Tse?
I would like to examine further the validity of this view.
I.    The Importance of Analogy in Science
At UTokyo, after two years of the liberal arts program on the Komaba campus, I moved on to study Jurisprudence. In retrospect, this was not the best choice for me, given my aptitude. It was fortunate, however, that, at the Faculty of Law, I was taught “civil law” by Professor Takeyoshi Kawashima who discussed the social aspect as well as the legal aspect of civil law. Professor Kawashima used to say, “Original ideas are often generated by ‘analogy’.” That is, progress in ideas in a field is promoted by bringing in the method of other fields. Therefore, a scholar’s understanding in fields other than his or her own often creates innovative ideas in his or her own original discipline.
Due to its emphasis on liberal arts, all UTokyo students are enrolled in the liberal arts program for their first two years before they move on to an area of specialization. The Department of Liberal Arts trains also junior and senior students in an interdisciplinary way and has successfully produced many excellent graduates.
On the other hand, undergraduates in some other universities decide their major at the time of college entrance. Then the system tends to develop a “fox hole” (takotsubo) training and builds a wall artificially between academic disciplines, which Prof. Takeshi Yoro, my very old friend, calls “a wall of Incognizance.” (Baka no Kabe)
In contrast, in a liberal arts program like the one in which I am teaching at Yale, an undergraduate can take time in choosing his major. In this system, though a student may have less intensive training in a given specialized field, he or she acquires a mental scope to discuss and work easily with experts in other disciplines. The merits of this system cannot be underestimated because it may facilitate innovative and creative thinking.
At UTokyo, after graduating from the Law Department, I re-entered the Economics Department, where I found the lectures as well as the research more stimulating and particularly fit to my aptitude. My father was an Associate Professor of Education, and my family was not rich. I deeply appreciate my parents’ generosity in letting me “wander around” intellectually before I found my correct calling.
From this discussion my first answer emerges to our initial question, “Why is it necessary to internationalize universities?” The way in which research is done and people think in foreign countries and cultures is quite different. It is at least as interesting and important to know about some of these differences in foreign countries as it is to know about other disciplines.
II.   Importance of Interdisciplinary Thinking
As a Yale graduate student, my dream was to apply game theory to the analysis of international finance. At that time, game theory, which was the study of strategic behavior mutually considering reactions of others’ reactions, was mostly discussed only as an abstract theory. Thus, my interest focused on the interdisciplinary area between economics and political science.
During 1972 and 1974, The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) supported me as a visiting scholar at MIT. At that time, a political scientist, Prof. Seizaburo Sato of UTokyo was visiting Harvard. I asked him to explain to me new analytical methods in political science, because it is an important political decision for a nation to choose an international finance system in which to participate. Seizabro Sato spent more than two hours discussing this topic with me. He discussed the then new trend in the discipline to use quantitative formulae and graphs, while expressing his opinions on some of the new approaches. Without such support, I could never have written my book, Political Economy of International Monetary Interdependence (MIT Press, 1985).
III. Communication and the Importance of Learning Foreign Languages
As the process of globalization progresses, people are required to exchange information and opinions with foreigners with different backgrounds. Thus accurate and effective communication between people with different backgrounds becomes crucially important. There are distinct cultural differences between, say, the East and the West. As indicated by a Chinese saying, “those who speak nicely or eloquently often lack substance and compassion,”(巧言令色少仁.) We in the East may understate the importance of expression. Kinko Sato, a prosecutor and wife of Seizaburo Sato, once wrote, “While a Japanese proverb says, “stones naturally sink into and leaves naturally float over the water,” in a criminal process in the U.S., “items that sink are determined as stones and those that float are determined as leaves.” She has in her mind, for example, a criminal process where a defendant is declared innocent due to an effective defense.
President Junichi Hamada of the University of Tokyo emphasizes the need for effective expression. His point is especially valid in the case of international communication where the intellectual backgrounds of speakers are different. One has to understand here the delicate relationship that exists between the quality of the idea and its expression. When one refines the expression, the process deepens the idea, and a clear message invites an attractive expression.
Foreign language education in Japan was developed in order to absorb knowledge from abroad. Therefore, speaking skills were largely neglected. My parents had been both English teachers, and I studied English for eight years at my middle school, high school, and college. I could hardly speak English when I started thinking about going abroad. Kwan Chi Hung (関志雄、a translator of my book mentioned above) was a Hong Kong student who was quietly but diligently sat for several years in my economics seminar conducted in Japanese at UTokyo, and became a renowned economist based in Tokyo. He used to say, “Japanese cannot speak English simply because their English teachers do not.”
Tadashi Nakamura, my classmate through middle school and high school and on to UTokyo’s Law Department arranged an opportunity for me, who was hesitant, to practice English conversations with native speakers. He took me to the home of Colonel Joseph Keim at Yokosuka Navy base. Mr and Mrs. Keim made us discuss important and interesting world issues after serving us dry martinis. I feel enormously grateful to them and to Tadashi Nakamura for introducing me to the international window. Nakamura and I were both Fulbright scholars in 1961 and he developed an effective international career through the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Because of this background, even now my English is less than perfect. My colleague at Yale, William Brainard says, “Koichi has succeeded because of his excellence in economics despite his limited English.” For this matter, I feel grateful for the solid training in economics I received at UTokyo.
IV. The High Standard of UTokyo Economics Faculty.
When I went abroad to study, the majority of faculty members in the economics department of UTokyo were so-called “Marxian economists.” A small number professors pursued research in modern economics, however, and a few of them were glittering like gems. Takashi Negishi (then a graduate student) published already a world-famous article. But, still being a graduate student, under the traditional seniority system, he had to wait a long time to be promoted to a position of Research Associate or Associate Professor. UTokyo also invited Hirofumi Uzawa, who had been a full Professor at the University of Chicago, and had mentored many later Nobel laureates was summoned back to UTokyo as an Associate Professor, with the pretext of seniority order. In his paperback bestseller entitled “American Life,” Ryutaro Komiya vividly reported on his academic and living experience at Harvard where he visited.
Departing from the traditional practice at UTokyo, my thesis adviser at UTokyo, Yasuhiko Oishi, asked Takashi Negishi, a graduate student, to teach a graduate class. This lecture was my eye opener to research at the international level. Finally, my life took a sharp turn when Prof. Ryuichiro Tachi recommended that I study under James Tobin of Yale University.
V. The Teachings of Prof. Tobin
I was fortunate to have Prof. Tobin as the chair of my Ph.D. committee— other advisers were Edmund Phelps (now at Columbia, Nobel Laureate) and Richard Cooper (now at Harvard).
In this limited space I convey to you a few pieces of my conversation with Dr. Tobin that impressed me deeply.
First, after I explained to him my idea for my doctoral thesis, I said, “Now I will check the existing literature.” He immediately objected, saying “Don’t devote too much time to a review of the literature, as your original idea could be buried. Instead, fully develop your ideas first.” He meant that when I came to an impasse in my thinking, then at that time I would have a greater appreciation of other scholars’ efforts in dealing with similar problems.
Second, just about the time I was finishing my Ph.D. thesis, he told me, “You should try to market your intellectual product effectively.” I was surprised to hear this remark, because professors in Japan would never give this type of advice in a culture where modesty is always considered the best virtue.
Third, when I passed with a good grade the oral examination in my Ph.D. program, — and was overjoyed, — Prof. Tobin remarked, “I understand that you are happy, but don’t forget that some of your classmates, though able, unfortunately did not succeed.” This is wise advice that a successful person should always heed.
VI. Japan’s Economy Will Recover When its Economists are Sufficiently Internationalized
James Tobin was awarded in the 1981, the Nobel Prize in Economics for his achievement in integrating the analysis of the asset choice into macro economics.
Japan is presently struggling against deflation and appreciation of the yen. It is trailing at the bottom among developed as well as developing countries. On the basis of the theory of portfolio selection developed by Tobin, almost all the economists around the world infer that monetary expansion properly done by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) can effectively save Japan’s macroeconomic malaise. However, many Japanese economists and mass media, probably misguided by BOJ’s propaganda, adhere to the wrong notion that monetary policy cannot effectively deal with the intrinsic monetary problems of deflation, appreciation of the yen and resulting recession.
Therefore, if Japanese economists and mass media were to be sufficiently internationalized, the Japanese economy would certainly recover.
Why don’t I stop here? I was invited here to talk about globalization of knowledge and not to preach on deflation, the yen, and unemployment. I hope I will have another platform to talk about problems that are critical keys to the wellbeing of Japanese people in the immediate future.
VII. Concluding Remarks
I hope that my use of anecdotes and personal experiences with the importance of international education in my own life may help to elucidate the essential principles of global education. The continued development and economic success of countries are dependent upon the integration of education of foreign cultures.
Many universities in Japan are eager to learn how to effectively promote internationalization. On my departure to this occasion, I asked undergraduate and graduate students at Yale (including a Chinese student who studied at the University of Kyoto) , “What factors are important to attain successful globalization of a university?” Many of them answered that the difference in the academic year start date (April in Japan vs. September in the U.S.) is a problem. Apparently students are more concerned about such practical matters than about issues or principles! I was proofreading this manuscript when the NHK News reported that the University of Tokyo changed the beginning of its school year from April to September. There must be many globally minded students over the world who heard this news as a real blessing!
Note: I sincerely thank those who facilitated my visit to the Home Coming Day – Hiroshi Yoshikawa, former Chair of the Graduate School of Economics, Masako Egawa, Executive Vice President, Kenichi Sugiyama, Associate Managing Director, and the staffs at the Department for Development and Department of Alumni Relations, all of UTokyo. I owe also Masako Osako (Friends of UTokyo, FUTI) and Carolyn M. Beaudin for their help in translating a Japanese text of the speech into English.

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