The national average life expectancy is projected to reach 100 years and initiatives are being developed across sectors in Japan to meet the challenges of this new age. The university has a vital role to play as a base of continuing education for working adults to meet the educational needs across multiple generations. This year, with the aim of making education more open and accessible, Keio University launched its latest initiative: Mita Open College.
Walk into a classroom on Mita Campus any given Saturday afternoon, and you will find it packed with students—from high schoolers to ‘boomers’—all actively participating in an academic lecture. "Has anyone ever heard the real voice of Kakuei Tanaka?" the professor asks. Some raise their hands. "Those who haven’t may be more familiar with his daughter, Makiko Tanaka."
This is how Professor Kiyoshi Tamai, of the Faculty of Law, begins his lecture.
“How could Kakuei Tanaka, a man who did not graduate from university, go on to lead Tokyo’s political and bureaucratic elite? Some ascribe his success to excellent people skills, but today we will reveal the hitherto hidden reason for his rise by listening to one of his speeches,” explains Professor Tamai. He plays a recording of one of Kakuei Tanaka’s speeches and challenges the students with probing commentary and questions. The inquisitive students respond with thoughtful questions of their own, and the classroom becomes an inter-generational space of shared learning.
This lecture on Kakuei Tanaka was the fourth in a series by Prof. Tamai entitled, How should we approach politics? "Politics is teeming with activity that defines us as humans. Some people find it tiresome to listen to others discuss politics, but politics doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Politics is a very human pursuit, and that's what makes it so interesting. Significantly, it ends up connecting to all sorts of seemingly unrelated aspects of life. I design my classes so they’ll be engaging for everyone, even those who consider themselves somewhat allergic to political theory," he says.
Indeed, the students in this class come from all sorts of academic backgrounds and universities.
One of those students, Etsuro Uchida, says that his daughter went to Keio. "She's actually the one who encouraged me to take this class."
What are the qualities expected of a future Japanese political leader?
“Effective leaders aren’t always those that direct others. When we examine Japanese history the most effective and admired leaders are those who are successful at avoiding opposition from various directions and those who excel at coordinating between opposing and competing factions. But there is no single answer to this question and one could argue for different leadership qualities. I hope to ignite the intellectual curiosity of my students and present them with insights and multiple perspectives that help them to think critically,” says Prof. Tamai.
Keio University is a place for lifelong learning. In addition to the community-focused Mita Open College, the university offers open courses and lectures for professionals through its Marunouchi City Campus and business school. Online courses are also available on MOOC FutureLearn at the following URL: https://www.futurelearn.com/partners/keio-university
Prof. Tamai graduated from the Department of Law in the Faculty of Law at Keio University in 1982. He completed a Master’s degree at Keio University’s Graduate School of Law and received his Ph.D. in 1989.
Prof. Tamai began his career as a lecturer at Keio University’s Faculty of Law. He became an assistant professor in 1993, assistant dean of the Correspondence Courses and full professor in 1998. In 1999 he was appointed as a committee member at the Graduate School of Law. He was a visiting scholar of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and Harvard-Yenching Institute at Harvard University from 2000 to 2002. He was a visiting scholar at the Modern History Division of the Central Taiwan Research Institute in 2008 and at the University of Oxford’s Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies from 2010-2011. He researches the history of modern Japanese politics.
Keio University Mita Open College (Japanese language only)
*All affiliations and titles are those at the time of publishing.