Background behind project launch

Background behind project launch

Meiji Gakuin University provides a subsidy program called the “Teaching Reform Support System.” This system is design to support the education reform efforts made in the faculties and departments and aims to provide grant funding for expenditures. As a subsidized project of this support system, “Type C: University project that drives globalization” was established in 2015 academic year. By taking this opportunity, the Faculty of Sociology & Social Work and the Liberal Arts Education Centre have jointly launched the “Development of Human Resources for Internal Internationalization” project which was applied in public and was adopted.

info006 The word “globalization” is a popularized term, and without knowing its context, the word is often misinterpreted as vaguely as something linked to the “English language” or “study abroad.” A Japanese government established council, “The Council on Promotion of Human Resource for Globalization Development” has put together a plan “Global Human Resource Development Strategy” (The Council on Promotion of Human Resource for Globalization Development, 2012), in which the word “globalization” is defined as follows.

The word “globalization” is used in various ways today in various settings. However, it is generally used to describe our current times in which, in the course of drastic technological innovation (mainly that of the end of the 20th century and onward) especially in the areas of information, telecommunication, and transportation, “people,” “goods,” “money,” and “information” in various fields including government, economy and society transfer at top speed beyond national borders. It is a time which activities in financial and commodity distribution markets, as well as solutions for various issues including population, environment, energy and public health must be viewed from a global standpoint. (p.8)

Furthermore, as globalization gathers speed for the international economy of the 21st century, it is of great necessity to continuously develop “global human resources” who possess rich linguistic and communication skills and intercultural experiences, and thrive internationally. (p.1)

Many have vague images of the term “global human resources” to an extent that they are “someone who is active overseas using their English language ability.” Naturally, “people who are active in foreign countries using English language” is one form of global human resource. However, using other language skills not only abroad but also “domestically” can also be considered as one form of global human resources. And the next paragraph explains why.

Globalization takes at least two directions. One is “external globalization.” As stated above, for many of us the word “globalization“ is often understood as something linked to “English language” or “study abroad”, and this is because more Japanese are heading overseas today. However, this stream of outward movement existed earlier before the word globalization became popularized. Traditionally, this has been expressed as the term “internationalization.” The origins of Meiji Gakuin University date back to the private English school, the “Hepburn School” founded in 1863 by James Curtis Hepburn, and the university has been working aggressively in the field of traditional internationalization by partnering with a number of foreign higher education institutions.

info007 On the other hand, if you look into Japan alone, by end of June 2015, Japan has become a home to around 2.17 million people of foreign nationals (data obtained from the Ministry of Justice, 2015). This figure is equivalent to only about 1.7% of the total population of Japan, yet it also shows that there’s a sizeable number of foreign nationals residing in Japan. Additionally, out of 2.17 million people, about 660 thousand (30.2%) is of Chinese nationality, 22.9% are of Korea origin which is around 500 thousand. When combined, they make up approximately 53% of the total foreign resident population.

Subsequently, about 220 thousand people are of the Philippines origin (10.3%), about 17 thousand people are Brazilians (8.0%), about 120 thousand are Vietnams (5.7%) and so on. Foreigners of native English speakers like Americans composes of 50 thousand (2.4%), which is the sixth highest number in the scale, only 2 to 3 thousand more than the subsequent Nepal and Peru origins. In sum, native English speakers residing in Japan are significantly low in number.

Perhaps more noteworthy, the 2.17 million people of foreign nationals in Japan do not equally reside across the country. Tokyo has about 450 thousand residents of foreign nationals and Kanagawa Prefecture where Meiji Gakuin University campus is located, has approximately 180 thousand people of foreign nationals residing, of which when combined this is equivalent to 28.7% of the total foreign resident population. Namely, there are a number of foreign nationals residing in areas where Meiji Gakuin University campuses are located.

Furthermore, it is important to point out that there are people who are not necessarily of foreign nationals but there are people with foreign roots. According to the survey “Survey on Acceptance of Students who require Japanese Language Education” published by The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the number of children and students in need of Japanese language education has reached 7,897 across the country as of May, 2014. Of these, returning students from overseas are 1,535, the rest of the students which comprises 80% of the total are considered “Dual nationality or mixed-nativity married-couple households that speak languages other than Japanese in the home” (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, 2015, p.1). In other words, international marriage with foreign spouses who obtained Japanese citizenship are therefore not counted in the actual statistics which leads us to assume that there could be considerably more people with foreign roots than 2.17 million.

As summarized above, we must take into account that globalization has two sides: one that is outward which means Japanese heading overseas in a traditional internationalization form and inward which foreigners coming to Japan from abroad. This inward globalization is called “Internal Internationalization.” As mentioned earlier, people of foreign nationals from various countries and regions who are presumably non-native English speakers or people of foreign origin are already residing in Japan. In this regard, Japan is already a multi-lingual and multi-cultural society. Therefore, evidently, people who are active among these people with foreign roots in Japan using foreign languages other than “English” are considered one form of global human resource.

As mentioned earlier, the founder of the Hepburn School, James Curtis Hepburn was a medical doctor and had offered people treatment at his clinic for free. The English school was attached to his clinic. The backbone of Meiji Gakuin University’s educational principle comes from Dr. Hepburn’s lifelong philosophy of “contributing to others,” and the university’s educational goal has always been aiming to nurture students as bearers of an international symbiosis society. We believe that in the Japan where its society is gradually becoming more linguistically and culturally diverse as the number of foreign resident increases, actively interacting with people with foreign roots just like their neighbors is as equally important as the concept of “contributing to others.” When the project was launched, in addition to Meiji Gakuin University’s continuous efforts in promoting external internationalization, the Faculty of Sociology & Social Work and the Liberal Arts Education Center’s purpose in intensifying the university’s “Development of Human Resources for Internal Internationalization” is to contribute to the holistic approach to the university’s globalization.

[References]

  • The Council on Promotion of Human Resource for Globalization Development, 2012 “Global Human Resource Development Strategy (Deliberation Summary from The Council on Promotion of Human Resource for Globalization Development)” 「グローバル人材育成戦略(グローバル人材育成推進会議 審議まとめ)」(taken from the Prime Minister’s Office official website on January 31st, 2016. http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/singi/global/1206011matome.pdf)
  • Ministry of Justice, 2015 “Number of current foreign residents as of June 2015 (final figures)” 「平成27年6月末現在における在留外国人数について(確定値)」taken from the Ministry of Justice official website on January 31st, 2016. http://www.moj.go.jp/nyuukokukanri/kouhou/nyuukokukanri04_00054.html
  • Ministry of Education, Sports, Culture, Science and Technology (MEXT), 2015 ‘In Reference to “Survey on Acceptance of Students who require Japanese Language Education (AY 2014)”’ 「『日本語指導が必要な児童生徒の受入状況等に関する調査(平成26年度)』の結果について」taken from the MEXT official website on January 31st, 2016. http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/houdou/27/04/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2015/06/26/1357044_01_1.pdf