GPS Opens Global Forum for Japanese Studies

UCSD recently launched the Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology in an effort to increase communication and teamwork between Japan and California. The new forum will provide a bridge between scholars to encourage international sharing and collaboration and will be located in the School of Global Policy and Strategy, which was previously known as the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. 

JFIT Executive Director and GPS Japanese Business Professor Ulrike Schaede told the UCSD Guardian that the forum seeks to promote Japanese studies and will provide a bridge between scholars to encourage international sharing and collaboration.

“In terms of student involvement, JFIT aims to create a vibrant Japan research and exchange community on campus, one that attracts and connect students and faculty interested in contemporary Japan,” Schaede said.

The establishment of JFIT was financed by a donation of $300,000 from Broadband Tower Inc., a Japanese information technology firm. Entrepreneur Hiroshi Fujiwara leads the company. While he is currently involved with the program at GPS, Fujiwara is expected to contribute new business models centered around his idea of “Industry 4.0.” This will entail the exploration of innovative practices such as 3-D printing and wireless connectivity, in addition to other technological developments.

There are at least five student-run organizations and nine faculty members at UCSD with a Japan-related focus on campus. GPS Dean Peter Cowhey said, “Students will participate in research programs organized by JFIT and in conferences.  And, in the case of our school, many of our graduates already live and work in Japan. JFIT will further strengthen these connections.” 

“As Prime Minister [Shinzo Abe] has put it, ‘Japan is Back,’” Schaede said. “After many years of restructuring and reorganization, Japanese companies are emerging with new global competitive strength.” 

“Our center aims to bring this new energy to San Diego and also connect our strengths with Japan. In this sense, our Japan initiative complements already-existing programs at GPS that focus on China and Korea, as well as on emerging economies,”Schaede said. “GPS, the School for Global Policy and Strategy, is a premier graduate school in this country with a focus on the Pacific Rim, and JFIT will become an additional pillar to [the] support and further [growth of] this strength.”

Cowhey mentioned research questions that the forum hopes to answer, such as, “How will Japan’s efforts to rejuvenate growth come to rely more on the basic science done in the U.S.?” and “What policies and institutions would best promote the mutual goals of the two countries in regard to innovation?” Campus departments, including the Jacobs School of Engineering, the Rady School of Management and the School of Medicine, seek to answer these questions by partnering with JFIT.

“We anticipate that other foundations and companies will contribute to JFIT over time,” Cowhey explained. “This is a period of renewed strength for many Japanese companies, and there is a widespread view in Japan that its leadership should invest in programs that renew and strengthen the ties between our two countries. Japan and the U.S. have a bilateral relationship that requires constant attention to basic questions of policy and to investing in students and researchers who are interested in these questions.”