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Hitachi Research Institute


Interviews with experts and opinion leaders from our research network

University Reform in the Era of Global Competition

Japanese universities are entering a period of major change amid increasing digitization and global competition. Accordingly, their global presence in academic research is growing, as well as expectations for them to be an innovation entity, and there are increasing efforts for reform.

This time, we have Dr. Seiichi Matsuo, President of Nagoya University, who has taken a step toward the integration of national university corporations, to ask about the role and future vision of universities.

Dr. Seiichi Matsuo


President, Nagoya University

Graduated from the School of Medicine, Nagoya University in March 1976. Completed a doctoral degree at Nagoya University’s Graduate School of Medicine in July 1981. Became a professor at the same Graduate School of Medicine in January 2002, before being appointed the director of Nagoya University Hospital in April 2007. In April 2009, he became the vice-president of the University, and then the head of Industry-Academia-Government Collaboration at the University in April 2012, and assumed his current position in April 2015.
His areas of expertise are general internal medicine and nephrology.

Global competitiveness of Japanese universities

Shirai:Nagoya University has thus far produced six Nobel laureates and positions itself as one of Japan's top academic institutions. In the era of global competition, how do you evaluate the research level and international competitiveness of Japanese universities?

Matsuo:The current state of Japan's research capabilities can be identified objectively through data from various research organizations and international rankings. As with the evaluation generally shared, I believe that the presence of Japanese universities in research, including basic and applied research, is gradually declining, and I have a great sense of urgency. We are currently in a transitional period, but if things continue as they are, we will fall behind even further.

Shirai:I believe that there are many points that need to be strengthened, such as the role and functions of universities, but what do you think is particularly important?

Matsuo:What is required first is to recognize that "the target is the world." Global efforts are currently underway to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have been adopted by the United Nations. Considering Japan's contribution to the international community, one of its major missions is to utilize the power of science and technology to work on the issues that humanity faces, and provide support for solving them. Another one is to solve the problems of a declining population and super-aging society in Japan. When the pace of GDP growth is expected to slow on the back of a declining population, how can we bring about a super-aging society where the citizens can lead a happy life, while delivering sustainable development? This is not an issue unique to Japan. Statistics from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications show that the population of those aged under 15 in the world is in decline. The total population will increase to over 10 billion in the near future, but Japan is, in a way, an "advanced country for that matter" since the birthrate will decline further and the population move toward older ages across the world. The decline in the number of students at universities, which play a central role in delivering higher education, has serious implications for not just industry but all other fields. We must acknowledge that solutions to the problems in Japanese society and contributing to the world are two sides of the same coin when endeavoring to solve the problems. And what is required then is basic research, applied research for social implementation, and interaction with industry and local authorities. Each and every member of a university should always be well aware of and engage in this.

Importance of management

Shirai:As Japanese universities compete globally, the importance of operation, management and governance is expected to increase along with the improvement in research and educational standards. What kind of initiatives do you have in mind?

Matsuo:Nagoya University's finances consist of (excluding hospital income) approximately 40% of university grants from the state, and 60% of own income from tuition and other fees, joint research revenues from industry–academia collaboration, donations, and national competitive funds for universities. While university grants from the state have been declining year by year, making our financial base increasingly unstable, the expenditure for the whole university has been growing, meaning we have a lower degree of dependence on public funds. The situation is the same for other universities. Under these circumstances, we face two important challenges in fulfilling our mission as a national university corporation.


The first is hiring of teaching staff. Currently, there is a clear division of funds to employ staff, i.e. university grants are used to employ permanent teaching staff, while competitive funds are applied to the employment of specially appointed lecturers with fixed-term and part-time lecturers. Although the proportion of specially appointed lecturers to the total teaching staff at Nagoya University is relatively low among the seven former imperial universities, it still exceeds 30%. The number of permanent teaching staff that can be employed with the university grants is determined by the state, and cannot be increased at the discretion of individual universities. Since the number of permanent teaching staff will only decrease with the financial structure that relies on public funds, it is unclear whether the university will be able to adequately perform its function as a university if the number of specially appointed lecturers alone continues to increase. National university corporations to some extent need to have a system similar to the one in a company that enables staff to be transferred to a permanent position. However, if you look at the top universities in the United States, specially appointed lecturers account for about 60% of the total, and the proportion may eventually reverse in Japan as well where there is a particularly high proportion of permanent teaching staff. Our hiring practices are tied to financial resources at present, but we will have to consider measures such as allocating some parts of estimated income to the hiring of permanent teaching staff, in order to strengthen human resource management. At the same time, we should develop the mindset [for doing this] at the university management and department (school) levels. Otherwise, addressing issues will be difficult.
The second is resource allocation. The difficulty for university management is, for example, that it is not easy to make decisions when comparing different faculties based on the same criteria and identifying weighted allocation according to the evaluation. Ideally, the science and engineering departments and humanities and social sciences departments should create a vision for the fusion of fields that fits with the times to achieve the university's overall goals.
National university corporations have a history of investing their national resources in science and engineering, and therefore, are equipped with excellent research equipment and facilities. On the other hand, humanities and social sciences, which have never had sufficient support from the government, will weaken even further if the university grants decrease further. This is why, at Nagoya University, all departments, including those in humanities and social sciences, set their own visions of how they should be in 10 years’ time, i.e. their goals. And meetings are now held regularly as an opportunity for executive officers and each faculty management to exchange their opinions on reforms to attain those goals. In 2018, Nagoya University became a designated national university corporation, with one of its missions being to demonstrate a new image of a university through engaging itself with various challenges.

Shirai:Setting goals first is the same for a company. Previously, we prepared our medium-term and long-term plans anticipating several years ahead based on the latest figures. But it is more common now to clarify where you want to be in the future first and consider how to bridge the gap with the current state. The method of securing funds, such as research funds, also appears important to strengthen the international competitiveness of universities. The circumstances vary for each country. For instance, a university manages a large amount of funds in the United States, while it is supported by the state in China. What do you think about securing funds for Japanese universities?

Matsuo:With overseas universities, including those in developing countries, rapidly developing, Japanese universities, which have not significantly increased the number of research papers in absolute terms, are in decline in relative terms. The United States and Singapore have large university endowments, and China has massive funds invested by the state to run universities, but Japan has neither. As the phrase from our predecessors "where there is a will, there is a way" says, we will only seek our own ways of securing funds. We will appeal to the nation, society and industry.

Organizational reforms and innovation

Shirai:As innovation and its outcomes are increasingly attracting attention, expectations for the role of universities are rising. Some people, on the other hand, have pointed out anew the importance of basic research. It is not a matter of which one to choose, but applied research is an extension of basic research, and promoting both would lead to practical application and commercialization. With limited resources, how do you see the role and position of universities in the process from basic research to applied research, practical application, and commercialization?

Matsuo:I don't think you should require people who are doing their best in their research to pay attention to the managerial side. Researchers spend all their time each day doing their research, with no time left for attending meetings or thinking about budget allocations. There were times in the past when the members of all departments got together and discussed some issues, but found it difficult to reach a consensus and make decisions. As long as we carry on with our conventional ways, we will not be able to allocate enough budget to basic research after all. We are planning on a reform for our organizational structure based on a division-of-labor system that separates those responsible for education and research from those responsible for management. While I don't think the right way is for all the members of a university to consider its overall management, the manager should be someone who has a good understanding of education and research, as it is a job with a heavy responsibility. It would not work if people from outside the university tried to manage with a judgement solely based on numbers. Each school and graduate school has a different approach to operating or selecting professors, for example, with some departments strictly managing money and others using it flexibly. Having management from the perspective of overall optimization is essential.


When I was the head of Industry-Academia-Government Collaboration, I often talked about the difference between innovation and invention. Invention doesn’t automatically become innovation. Invention is mere invention. Invention becomes "innovation" only after it is implemented in society and spread around the world. To this end, it is necessary to create an organization capable of seamlessly connecting basic research and social implementation, and comprehensively looking at it. In 2014, Nagoya University put its four existing organizations — Basic Research, Industry-Academia Collaboration, Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer, and the URA* Office — into one large building, and this improved the openness of each organization. For example, if a simple discovery in basic research is deemed to have potential for major innovation from the viewpoint of industry–academia collaboration, there will be a flow to secure the patent from the start. We can now make better use of the capabilities of each field and are actually achieving results. Nagoya University is located in a region with a strong industrial base, but it had a very few cases of industry–academia joint research and patent applications among the seven former imperial universities. The results of these reforms are now highly recognized. Universities alone cannot bring about innovation. Research outcomes can only spread to society if they involve startups and large companies. Nobel laureate Professor Hiroshi Amano's "DII Collaborative Graduate Program for Accelerating Innovation in Future Electronics" and Professor Shigehiro Yamaguchi's "Graduate Program of Transformative Chem-Bio Research" have been selected for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's WISE Program (Doctoral Program for World-leading Innovative & Smart Education) 2018. The WISE Program is a five-year doctoral program that aims to systematically collaborate with external partners, such as overseas top universities and private businesses, bringing together world-class education and research capabilities. The aim is to develop human resources with skills ranging from problem discovery and solution to social implementation, including a deployer (business entrepreneur), an innovator (product developer), and an investigator (seed creator). This is also what is requested by society, and those efforts are finally spreading in Japan. Having collaboration between researchers of basic and applied research will greatly expand the potential for innovation, and it will become possible to create new industries through the concerted efforts of discerning investors and major companies that purchase technology. I believe that the role of universities, as a major driving force for Japan's sustainable development, is extremely important in fostering excellent human resources and producing world-class intellectual outcomes through the latest research.

URA:University Research Administrator

Competition for highly skilled talent

Shirai:Securing talented researchers both at home and abroad strengthens the international competitiveness of universities. There are some Japanese R&D companies that actively recruited excellent human resources, and ended up having Indian employees account for about 60% of the total. Securing highly skilled talent costs money, and it may also be necessary to review systems and mechanisms. What measures do you think will become necessary in the future to attract excellent human resources from around the world?

Matsuo:There are three conditions for acquiring talented human resources.
The first is to become a university sought after by highly skilled talent. Let's think about the reasons why excellent talent would choose Nagoya University. If I were a non-Japanese and offered a place by a Japanese university, what I would be most concerned about is the level of research. Universities that offer excellent research opportunities attract highly skilled talent, which, as a result, enables them to develop excellent human resources.
The second is the path after graduation. It is necessary to prepare various career plans, such as providing opportunities for graduates to move on to graduate schools of the world's top universities or giving many employment opportunities to those non-Japanese students who want to stay in Japan. Universities need to make connections not only with major companies but also with numerous, good-quality small and medium-sized businesses. In particular, when hiring non-Japanese people, small and medium-sized enterprises tend to require communication skills in Japanese as a condition, and incline to take on those who understand Japanese culture and interact well with others around them. Therefore, it is necessary to have more opportunities for internships and provide proper Japanese language education to set up an appropriate environment. Since universities alone have only a limited scope of financial resources, it is hoped that companies, which will also benefit from these efforts, will work with us.
The third is having compensation commensurate with the ability of researchers. Researchers are highly paid on a world level. It is currently not an easy task in Japan to invite full-time teaching staff from overseas, but we may be able to devise some measures, such as, for example, several universities putting funds together to pay compensation. We would build connections in this way, and develop them into joint research. In fact, this is how China is attracting a lot of talent.

Crucial to make English the official language in an administration system

Matsuo:Japanese universities also have language problems. There are many full-time non-Japanese researchers at Nagoya University, but its administration office can only deal with Japanese at present even if they try to engage themselves in management and operation of the university. Moreover, there are about 10,000 courses, through which students can earn credits, but only about 1,800 of them are conducted fully in English. The environment outside classes is also probably not particularly comfortable for non-Japanese. There are currently 11 research centers founded under the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI) launched by the government. One of the centers is located at Nagoya University, which meets the language requirement. About a third of the researchers at the center are non-Japanese teaching staff, where all communication, including daily conversation, is conducted in English. It received the highest S-rating in last year's interim evaluation. This research center has produced excellent results, with its research papers being published almost every month in Nature and Nature.
Whether or not a university has an environment where advanced research can be conducted weighs heavily in the assessment of universities, but unfortunately Japan lags behind in this regard. An environment like WPI attracts talented researchers, and would provide great inspiration if it generated research that leads to a Nobel Prize. For this reason, we will be active in developing new research centers.
Nagoya University currently has 16,000 students, of which 10,000 are undergraduates and 6,000 are postgraduates. But because the maximum number of students the university can admit is strictly set, and the number of non-Japanese students is included in the total, the number of Japanese students would have to decrease if more non-Japanese students were to be accepted. About 100 undergraduates from overseas enroll in courses in English at Nagoya University in the autumn each year, and they usually apply for universities in Singapore, Hong Kong, and other countries at the same time. The admission yield is 50%, which is relatively high at a world level. Their paths after graduation are moving on to overseas places or Japanese graduate schools, and getting jobs, each of which roughly accounts for a third of total.

The overseas graduate schools are all at the top level in the world, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Chicago in the United States, Oxford University and Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), and the University of Toronto in Canada. These achievements have contributed to a higher reputation, leading to the current applicants-to-places ratio of 6–7:1, or 600–700 applicants to about 100 places, with 80% of successful applicants paying their own way.
Every university is struggling to attract excellent talent. We do not know what the breakthrough will be, but will try to solve the problems one by one or aim to break through at one point with impact. And we are seeking active support from the government and industry at the same time. An effective way to proceed appears to be to accumulate and further develop success stories.

Shirai:One concern about human resource development is that the Japanese young generation has little interest in studying abroad.

Matsuo:Three years ago, a professor at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany moaned and said, “Young people in Germany these days are not motivated. They don't study abroad. Germany will end up falling behind other countries if this carries on.” You can study at German universities free of charge, and since there are many excellent companies within the country, university graduates don't have to go through a lot of trouble to find jobs. They can reportedly even be hired with very high salaries. The professor was concerned that students nowadays are so satisfied with the current situation that they are discouraged from making the effort of going abroad. I said that it was exactly the same in Japan. Young people may lack a sense of urgency. Some people question the meaning of going abroad. In particular, many young researchers seem to think that it is advantageous for them not to go abroad because they will not have a position to return to in Japan. I rather think that we should encourage and develop people with motivation to study abroad. You provide a path to find a good position to a person returning home after doing a good job. This should become a role model for someone following suit. It is more effective to proactively develop people who are ambitious and motivated, and some universities are already doing this.

New approach to integration of university corporations

Shirai:The concept of the "Tokai National University System" with Gifu University is attracting attention. Could you tell me about how this system was established?

Matsuo:In a nutshell, what the Tokai National University System (hereinafter referred to as the Tokai System) is aiming is to simultaneously achieve regional revitalization and enhanced international competitiveness. Known for one of the world's leading manufacturing industries, the Tokai region has been one of the most economically successful regions in the world since the middle of the 20th century to date, accounting for approximately 20% of Japan's GDP. The total amount of freight handled by the Port of Nagoya is the largest in Japan, with a trade surplus of about six trillion yen. Many companies based in the Tokai region ranging from the automobile industry, such as Toyota and Denso, to the food, agriculture and service industries, are expanding their businesses globally. When thinking about how to realize "Society 5.0" in the entire Tokai region promptly, we can refer to urban regeneration that is happening in various parts of the United States as good examples. In New York City, new industries are being generated through the support for startups or newly emerging companies by the city and the country. According to a report by the World Bank, New York City is now the "Tech Innovation Smart Society" in the world's leading manufacturing sector. While Silicon Valley is located far from urban areas, in New York City, urban renewal is progressing right in the center of the city. Cutting-edge businesses are now gathered in the warehouse area on the other side of Manhattan, providing a totally different atmosphere to the city, and creating employment opportunities at the same time. There are other cities, including Pittsburgh and Seattle, that are focusing on regional revitalization. The common pattern is that leading universities play a central role in nurturing startups or newly emerging companies, and invite them through industry–academia collaboration. Arizona, the center of autonomous vehicle research, has come to where it is now thanks to the major reforms that Arizona State University undertook. In light of these U.S. cases, the role of universities must be further expanded for the sustainable development of the Tokai region. Nagoya University is merely one of many universities in the Tokai region. In Aichi Prefecture, there are four national university corporations and more than 50 other universities including private ones. The Chubu Economic Federation, therefore, cannot invest only in Nagoya University. Even if we try hard in our current circumstances, it is far from the ideal of regional revitalization. The idea of the Tokai System was born out of this background. This project aims to continuously create and develop world-leading innovation in the Tokai region, which has a similar sense to the Broad-based Local Government and is connected as one economic region. Although there has been collaboration between universities in the past, what is required is to take a step further to promote research and education activities more strategically and efficiently. We will work with local authorities and industry to fulfill our role as a university while sharing a common vision, as well as strengthening the functions of universities more than ever before. The university that supported this idea is Gifu University. People from Aichi Prefecture account for as much as 52% of all students at Gifu University. The fact that Gifu and Aichi prefectures are geographically close and included in the same economic area makes it easier to receive support by sharing their resources. Based on the mission of Gifu University to "promote human resource development research that meets the needs of local communities while giving consideration to the characteristics of the University’s areas of expertise" and that of Nagoya University to "facilitate excellent education and research to be ranked among the world's top universities,” university grants will be allocated to boost regional revitalization and strengthen international competitiveness for the Tokai Region as a whole.
Nagoya University and Gifu University will become one national university corporation in response to a proposed amendment to the National University Corporation Act submitted to the current Diet session. Although there are many issues that need to be resolved, including those relating to education, industry–academia collaboration, finance and human resources, we are making steady progress toward the start of the new university.
Among all those issues, education is of the utmost importance. While the entrance examination will be conducted following the current practice, we will share and standardize each other’s resources with regard to education after admission. In addition to English and other languages, we are examining ways to incorporate into the joint education programs the fields demanded by modern society, such as mathematical data science, which is a field that the Japanese tend to have a strong feeling of not being good at, to improve its literacy, and liberal arts that enable students to have a broad perspective and see things from multiple viewpoints. Discussions are underway to ensure that this is beneficial to students studying at both universities.

Shirai:It must be a tough challenge.

Matsuo:The significance of integrating university corporations will diminish without the implementation of joint education, and therefore, it will need to be ensured. All universities are now in a period of carrying out reforms, pushed also by the government. Individual universities have only limited resources to solve problems, and doing the same as others will not bring the results we seek. We took a step forward by establishing the Tokai System as a new direction to head in after searching for a new form of what a university should be that is consistent with the times. We intend to become the "first penguin" that dives into the sea, and hope that other penguins will then follow us and dive in one after another after seeing us do it.

Creating new industries by strengthening collaboration

Shirai:The Tokai region has a strong base of industrial clusters. In the automobile industry that underpins the Tokai region, new businesses are being generated one after another, including those related to automatic driving and car sharing. Businesses are also greatly expecting collaboration with universities in this field. Could you tell me how universities see these developments, and what the outlook for the future is?

Matsuo:I think it is very important to share the future vision with industry and local authorities, as well as core sectors and academia, focusing not only on the Tokai region but also on the entire country. The whole has a common vision and each plays its own role. The business community and local authorities have recently shown their enthusiasm for collaboration, and there is actually talk of creating an area where startups can populate. Unlike before, there is a buoyant movement going forward and gathering pace, and we need to make sure we don’t miss out on it. With as little as just 10% or so of universities and technical colleges being serious about getting involved, the situation will change without doubt, and the change will accelerate from there. There are many people who have an aversion to change, but we have to keep moving forward without stopping.

New possibilities for teaching styles

Shirai:Innovation in digital technology has the potential to bring about major changes in the field of education and research, making collaboration and joint research with overseas universities easier than before. Digital technology has the power to transform not only the educational field but also society as a whole. A few years ago, I went to South Africa to attend an event, a so-called African version of the Davos meeting. About 200 high school students from all over Africa gathered, and when the moderator asked if anyone was taking classes given by American universities on the Internet, about 70% raised their hands. I don't think 70% of Japanese high school students would raise their hands if you asked them the same question.
The fact that young people in developing countries can receive education in developed countries would mean that they could cherry pick classes of each university. If you would start choosing classes, like this subject from Harvard and this one from Stanford, it might affect the conventional university framework. Digital technology needs to be utilized, but how do you view the new possibilities of universities brought about by technological innovation?

Matsuo:Digital technology will, of course, expand the potential of universities that provide education. Upon implementing joint education within the Tokai System, such issues as whether students travel to take classes or what to do about practical training can be addressed with technology. There are Internet universities without physical campuses, and you can get a degree online. Digital technology changes the environment of education and research. With goggles, you can see various things in 3D with a realistic feeling, and you don't have to go to the site any more as long as you have a terminal. Digitization on campus requires financial resources, but what is important above all is the ability to imagine and guess. Looking at the new environment that will be accompanied by technological innovation, we must draw up designs for the future, including how to implement higher education in 10 years’ time. We develop component technologies under these designs. We learn from many advanced examples in the world, and then create our own form by referring to them rather than following them.
One of the strengths that Japanese universities have is the Science Information Network 5 (SINET5). This is a high-speed optical communication network connecting universities. This makes it possible to view high-definition surgical images simultaneously at several universities, and connects students in 10 different locations to have discussions with them all. To put it in an extreme way, you can provide the same environment as one in Tokyo University if you connect it with universities all over the country. SINET5 is not fully utilized at present, and this needs to be improved.
It is also important for the Tokai System to have an idea of making use of networks. Nagoya University is focusing on educational reforms, and we will take the establishment of the Tokai System as an opportunity to review everything.
In doing so, we will consider technical aspects such as networks. Large classrooms may not be required in the near future. If you could get credits at a different university from the one you are enrolled in, the boundaries among universities would disappear in the first place. If you think about it this way, the one who built the platform first should win. You cannot compete with existing mega digital companies overseas by just copying and developing because of their overwhelming scale. Even if we invested a vast amount of money, Japan would no longer be able to take the initiative. Still, if you don't move forward, the gap will only widen. The role of universities here is to nurture more and more people who are willing to face up to challenges. To do so, we must drastically transform students' attitudes and values.

Contributing to solving global issues

Shirai:Global issues are becoming increasingly serious, and international cooperation is expanding to achieve SDGs adopted by the United Nations. In recent years, companies have become more aware of ESG (Environmental, Social, Corporate Governance) investments, and there has been a growing trend in the market to invest in companies that actively pursue SDGs and ESG. Investors focus not only on awareness of SDGs and ESG, but also on how companies are making specific contributions to them. The United Nations’ SDGs are the global goal for companies, educational institutions and the general public to work together to solve problems. I think there are great expectations for universities to address a wide range of issues from those having a global scale, relating to the environment and poverty, for example, to those that local communities face.

Matsuo:As a general university, Nagoya University has various academic fields. There is no single technology that can solve all of the issues faced by humanity, and what is required is the sum of wisdom. Of all universities, national university corporations, especially large ones, have a great advantage of being able to combine technological capabilities, including basic research, with approaches of humanities and social sciences in one campus. Universities must provide opportunities for the people there to clearly define issues and be engaged from their respective positions to solve them. Studying at such university will be a very good experience for both science and engineering, and humanities and social sciences students. The greater variety of wisdom we share in solving problems, the better outcomes we can expect. Rather than putting everything into practice at Nagoya University, we can make progress more effectively and efficiently by working together in each university's field of expertise. A society with a declining birth rate and super-aging population is a serious issue for Japan. If you don't have a job or money, your life will drag and be painful even if you live for a long time. Wealth needs to be redistributed, and the productivity of the elderly must be greatly improved. There are a lot of problems to be solved in both humanities and sciences.

I think it is the government’s responsibility to unify them and set goals. The government’s budget for fiscal 2019 approved allocating some funds to the Moonshot Research and Development Program focusing on creating innovation. At a time when the world population is aging fast, it is a major challenge for Japan to take the lead in implementing measures to ensure that human beings can live happily. This cannot be achieved without researchers from humanities and social sciences, and thus we will encourage them to actively participate. We will also be working to create an environment in which we can cooperate across fields. Looking back over history, Minamata disease and Yokkaichi asthma occurred in the past in Japan, and its environmental pollution was said to be the worst in the world at that time. As a result of our nation-wide efforts to address these issues and the world's first extremely strict environmental standards Japan established, technological development has progressed, and the reliability of Japanese products and its reputation to tackle environmental problems have improved dramatically.
If the country as a whole takes on the challenge like that time, even if it has to make a detour, it will result in stronger industrial competitiveness. Investment for that purpose will not be wasted. It would be a good idea to invest money to work on the issues faced by humanity.

Shirai:It is necessary to approach the issues in various ways including initiatives not only from the technology side but also humanities and social sciences side.

Matsuo:That's right. If Japan becomes the happiest country in the world, it will attract the young, as well as many talented people. With the increasing number of young people, society will be revitalized and a virtuous cycle will emerge.

Shirai:Thank you very much for sharing your valuable insights today.

Matsuo:Thank you.

Final Note


I interviewed Dr. Seiichi Matsuo, President of Nagoya University, and he gave us a multifaceted talk on the challenges faced by today's universities, such as the need to improve the international competitiveness of Japanese universities, how the organizational management should be, and educational reform through digital technology. Expectations for universities are growing in addressing social challenges at the global level, including the SDGs, and issues that Japan is facing ahead of the rest of the world, such as a population decline and aging.
I felt that the potential of new universities is expanding with an improvement in the environment, including securing talented researchers and integrating knowledge of science and technology, and humanities and social sciences.