Study and Employment Abroad in the Global Era: How to Balance a Fulfilling Career and Family Life Overseas

On January 22, a lecture titled, “Study and Employment Abroad in the Global Era: How to Balance a Fulfilling Career and Family Life Overseas” was held online. The event was hosted by the Chicago Akamonkai and Satsukikai America, and co-hosted by Friends of UTokyo and the FUTI Alumni Association. Approximately 40 UTokyo students and alumni of both genders attended from the US, Japan, United Kingdom, France, and Singapore. The session ran overtime, as the lively discussion continued.

In the ever-advancing globalization, study and employment abroad are becoming more frequent. Overseas experience not only affects the student or employee, but also provides opportunities and challenges to his/her spouse (“taido spouse”) and other family members. With the guiding question, “What should/could a taido spouse do to continue a fulfilling career and meaningful family life?” , examples were presented by various alumni who have successfully experienced living abroad, attending university, working in a Japanese corporation, as a freelancer, or as a taido spouse.

Successful balancing of a fulfilled career and family life overseas depends not just on the hard work of the individual, but is also influenced by factors such as the corporation’s employee benefits policies regarding support for the accompanying (taido) spouse, work leave, or reemployment possibilities. Participants discussed the changes necessary for improving the taido spouse’s career opportunities and life experience.

The agenda included the following

I. Presentation of the Themey Megumi Iwai, Astellas Pharma Development, Inc.

II. Dai-ichi Life, an example of employee benefits relating to overseas relocation and study abroad by Toshiaki Sumino (Dai-ichi Life Holdings, Inc., Director, Managing Executive Officer)

III. Careers Abroad: Case Studies

  1. University/Research Career (Miwako Hosoda: UTokyo Ph.D. in Sociology, Researcher at Columbia University and Harvard University, Professor at Seisa University, currently living in Japan)
  2. Corporate Career (Megumi Iwai: UTokyo Graduate Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Doctoral Degree in Pharmacology from Toho University, Associate Director of Clinical Pharmacology and Exploratory Development at Astellas Pharma Development, Inc., currently living in the US) 
  3. Career at an International Organization (Akiko Sakaedani: UTokyo Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology from the College of Arts and Sciences, Master’s Degree in International Communication at the School for International Training in the US, currently an administrator at UNICEF, Kenya) 
  4. Career as an Accompanying (“taido”) Partner (Kazuyoshi Konishi: After graduating Keio University worked at Kyodo News Service. While living in the US, served as visiting researcher at Columbia University. After returning to Japan, entered a graduate program.)

After the presentation of the case studies, the group was separated into four breakout sessions for exchange of views over specific themes:

  • What are the viable preparations for reemployment after a career break?
  • How does one overcome the specific challenges of raising a child abroad?
  • What industries or occupations are conducive to a lifetime career advancement for women?
  • Comments from a male accompanying (“taido”) spouse.

Lastly, UTokyo Executive Vice President, Atsushi Tsuda (Head of the Division of External Relations) who also serves as a Friends of UTokyo Director gave closing remarks:

“Today we were able to listen to a very important talk. I felt certain that times are changing, and the world is getting smaller. When I was an undergraduate, going overseas was a rare occurrence, and I remember professors would go on official overseas trips maybe a few times in their lifetime. I truly feel that times are evolving. For example, being an advisor to a research institution, I recently received a request/notice from the government to set up a system to accommodate partner accompaniment (“taido”) in overseas relocation. In order to set up an effective system, I strongly feel that it is necessary for us to “speak up our viewpoints”.

Note: For those with inquiries regarding this event, please contact Satsukikai America

Satsukiamerika[at]gmail.com