Prof. Fujita (left) representing Japanese Consortium Japan Side
Canadian counterpart, Prof. Shubet (2nd from right) Canada Side
On March 27, a roundtable discussion meeting was held at Chinzanso-Four Seasons Hotel, organized by the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo and the AUCC (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) to facilitate collaboration between Canadian and Japanese universities in education and research exchange, in connection with the 2008 APAIE (Asia-Pacific Association for International Education) Conference at Waseda University, March 26-28. After brief welcoming remarks from Mr. Etienne Lambert (Canadian Embassy) and introductory remarks from Mr. Jean-Philippe Tachdjian (Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Mr. Tom Tunny (AUCC), self-introduction was made by participants representing about a dozen universities on each side. Then Mr. Tunny offered an overview of Canada-Japan university collaboration and the state of internationalization of at Canadian universities, where he emphasized that internationalization is the mainstream of education and research in Canada and more resources such as scholarships are being allocated for that purpose. Reciprocal efforts have been made on the Japan side and, in particular, the Canada-Japan Student Exchange Program is being established by about 30 Japanese and Canadian universities under the leadership of Professor Naoharu Fujita (Meiji University) and his counterpart, Professor Adrian Shubet (York University). For other programs to support academic collaboration, see the references below. The most interesting part of the meeting was a free discussion session, where some realistic obstacles and challenges facing both Japanese and Canadian institutions were pointed out by participants on the both sides. Among other things, strong concerns were expressed over difficulties in promoting exchange programs especially in science and engineering, although there seem to be some successful examples even in this field at a couple of science-oriented universities on each side. As many of the participants pointed out, the language problem and possibly the gender element might be an obstacle to further promotion of exchange programs generally, and particularly in the science and engineering field. Toward the end, however, a few good ideas were presented to overcome some of those difficulties such as utilization of the results of Eiken English Test, which is more common and popular than TOEFL in Japan, to evaluate English proficiency of Japanese students. After the discussion, a networking reception was held by including those members who could not make it to the roundtable meeting due to their participation in the ongoing APAIE Conference at Waseda University. Overall, it was a very informative and fruitful meeting for me and, I am sure, for all the other participants as well.
Then, I joined a group of participants led by Mr. Sylvain St-Amand (UQAM), who attended a reception offered by the Tokyo Office of Quebec Government at a nearby hotel, and enjoyed talking to Madame Suzanne Ethier, Tokyo Office Representative, and other members about further promotion of academic exchange between Japan and Canada in general and Quebec in particular.
Interview with Ms. Suzanne Ethier：スザンヌ・エティエ代表とのインタビュー
Interview Series #21：インタビュー＃２１
Interviewee: Ms. Suzanne Ethier Representative, Delegation Office of Quebec Government, Tokyo (Date: March 14, 2008; Place: Delegation Office, Tokyo; Interviewer/Writer: Takahiro Miyao)
I was recently invited to meet Madame Suzanne Ethier, new representative of Quebec Delegation Office in Tokyo, who had arrived in Japan a few days before. It was a very nice, friendly meeting, where she expressed her interest in working for developing closer relations between Quebec and Japan, especially among young students and scholars at universities and research institutes. While emphasizing the importance of exchange in education and research, she touched on wide-ranging topics, from design/brand marketing to environmental problems, where Japan and Quebec (and Canada as a whole) could work together in a fruitful way.
Summary of Ms. Ethier’s Interview
I came to Japan for the first time in 1997, as a member of the Quebec government's mission to the Asia-Pacific region, and have visited Japan 7-8 times since then. I like Japan very much and, as the Quebec government representative in Tokyo this time, wish to help develop a closer relationship between Quebec and Japan, especially in the field of education and research. It is important to interact with young students and researchers in Japan so that they may become aware of important academic and scientific resources in Quebec for establishing mutually beneficial relations in the long run.
Although it may be “fashionable” to focus on China in the Asia-Pacific region these days, I strongly feel that Japan has a lot to offer to the outside world. For one thing, Japan has a very strong manufacturing activity with excellent managerial practices and technological knowhow, which Quebec businesses can learn from. In return, Quebec can provide Japan with expertise in strategically selected sectors such as aerospace, digital graphics, health and life sciences, etc. Branding and design may be another area where Quebec and Japan can work together to compete with developing countries in the global economy.
I also feel strongly about environmental problems facing us, and hope that Japan and Quebec (and Canada as a whole) can together make a contribution in this field. This year is particularly important for Japan, as the Summit meeting with focus on global warming will be held in Hokkaido this summer, and discussions seem to be at a crossroads as to whether a new global framework can be agreed upon by all the major countries including China and India. Here, Japan’s initiative seems crucial, and we will do our best to help Japan achieve a success in this regard.
Finally, I sincerely hope that Quebec can possibly offer a helpful model for Japan in such areas as immigration, language education, multi-cultural management as well as gender issues, as Japan is bound to face, if not already facing, these social problems in a rapidly globalizing world. We have so many things to share and learn from each other, and I am looking forward to my task to facilitate the process of sharing and learning between Quebec and Japan. References: Delegation General: Suzanne Ethier (in French) http://www.gouv.qc.ca/portail/quebec/international/japon/delegations/tokyo/chefposte/?lang=fr