The ideal of Waseda University

  On January 26, Mr. Haruo Nishihara passed away. Mr. Nishihara was originally a professor of the Faculty of Law of Waseda University. In the 1980s, he served as the president of Waseda University for 8 years (1982-1990). In 2007, I did an interview with him. At that time, we talked about the Asian community, Chinese education, and the “spirit of building a school” at Zaoda. He said, “Zaoda’s spirit of building a school is to insist on being ‘in the field’ and being among the people.” In Mr. Nishihara’s opinion, it is precisely because of this spirit of founding that Sada is recognized by society.
  Looking back on history, Mr. Nishihara said that the goal of Zaoda since its establishment is to cultivate leaders who are among the common people. They understand the feelings of the common people, they absorb the opinions of the grassroots, and then convey the ideas of the common people to become national policies.
  After Mr. Nishihara, there was another president named Takayasu Okushima who was also from the Faculty of Law of Zao University. During his tenure as chief minister (1994-2002), I also conducted an interview with him. When asked about his school governance philosophy, Mr. Okushima emphasized that Waseda University should recast the “offensive spirit”, that is, based on the grassroots and rooted in the people.
  Zaoda was founded in 1882. From the beginning of its establishment, the policy of this university was different from that of the University of Tokyo. The University of Tokyo devotes itself to cultivating bureaucrats who govern the country, but Zaoda is the opposite. Mr. Okushima told me that according to the founder’s idea, early education should start from the grassroots and train village chiefs throughout Japan.
  Mr. Nishihara said that from the perspective of the career choices of early graduates, there are two characteristics that are particularly prominent, one is cultural popularization work, and the other is media practitioners. Among the early graduates, there are many novelists, playwrights, lyricists, and many famous journalists. The former is like Haruki Murakami, and the latter is like Chamzo Ishibashi (1884-1973). In 2000, Zao University also established the “Ishibashi Chamzo Commemorative Waseda Journalism Award” to be “a speaker who demonstrates social mission and responsibility”.
  Ishibashi Zhanzo is not only a very insightful media worker, but also the first graduate of Waseda University to serve as prime minister. After him, Waseda University has a number of graduates who served as prime ministers. The current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also graduated from the Faculty of Law of Zao University. As for graduates serving as members of Congress, there are endless streams of graduates.
  During Mr. Nishihara’s tenure as president, Zaoda signed an inter-school agreement with Peking University. Later, during Katsuhiko Shirai’s tenure (2002-2008), Zaoda and Peking University launched a dual-degree program. Over the years, the Zaoda Peking University double degree program has been very popular among Zaoda Chinese learners. In fact, the project has indeed cultivated many Japanese “knowledge of China” and China’s “knowledge of Japan”.
  I once asked Mr. Takayasu Okushima, what is the standard of a good university? How to build a good university? Without hesitation, he said: “Students from a good university come from all over the world.” During his tenure, President Okushima was inspiring and advocated “building a global university.” He believes that early adults should not only observe problems from a global perspective, but also have a local soul and action.
  How to build a worldwide early university? During Kaoru Kaoru’s term of office (2010-2018), he proposed “WASEDA VISION 150”. According to his vision, Zaoda should build an “international research university” and train “graduates who contribute to society as global leaders”. By 2032, Zaoda foreign students will reach 20%. At present, Zaoda has 5912 foreign students, of which 3365 are from China. Many of these Chinese students are from elite high schools in China.
  For a good university, we can always find that it has a good “spirit of construction” that is constantly upheld. This is true for Haruo Nishihara, Takayasu Okushima, Katsuhiko Shirai, Kaoru Kamada, and the current president, Aiji Tanaka. In 2022, looking forward to 2040, the current president of Waseda University, Aiji Tanaka, once said that we should, as the founder said, educate students “not only to be a family or a country, but also to have great ambitions to contribute to the world.” From Tanaka’s point of view, the global leaders cultivated by Zaoda do not necessarily have to work in international organizations and multinational companies, and may belong to a small company, small group, or NPO in a remote mountain village, but they always have global leadership. vision, to contribute to the world in some form.