The Jikei Group of Colleges International Affairs Meeting at Lake Biwa

The Jikei Group of Colleges held its annual International Affairs Meeting on July 27 at the group’s corporate retreat nestled on the scenic shores of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. The meeting was hosted by the International Center for the Jikei Group and welcomed eighty people from Japan and abroad, including representatives from group schools and support companies; managers and staff members from the overseas offices in China, Korea, Australia, Europe, and the United States; along with special guests from Meitetsu World Travel and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The meeting was chaired by Hideo Watanabe, Executive Director of International Center, Headquarters.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs Keynote Speech


The keynote speaker for this year’s meeting was Mr. Yoshinori Hironaka, Deputy Director of the Consular Affairs Bureau’s Japanese Nationals Overseas Safety Division from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. For his presentation, Mr. Hironaka discussed the various risks Japanese nationals face when traveling overseas, including fraud, theft, natural disasters, and acts of terror among others, giving examples of some the cases that have made headlines in Japan and around the world, such as the murder of language student Natsumi Kogawa in Vancouver in 2017 and the students killed or injured in the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake in New Zealand.


Mr. Hironaka went on to discuss the steps that students in the Jikei Group can take to keep their overseas experience from taking a turn for the worse, saying that students need to gather information, become more aware of their surroundings, and take appropriate action to remain safe. He provided a checklist for faculty members to use to be proactive in their efforts to keep students away from harm and to respond effectively when something unfortunate does happen. In the final part of his presentation, Mr. Hironake gave an overview of the services and support the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides to Japanese nationals in the event of crises and introduced the wealth of information available on the ministry website, such as consular emails and timely information covering the local situation and risks. Moreover, he talked about the importance of properly dealing with interviews and fielding inquiries from the media for colleges in the event of a crisis, making simulating crisis management particularly useful.


Jikei Group of Colleges White Paper on Study Abroad Programs


Jikei Group of Colleges Chairperson Kunihiko Ukifune kicked off the roundtable discussion on study abroad programs in the Jikei Group with a talk on how the programs fit into the group’s curriculum policy and broader mission to produce graduates who can work anywhere in the world. He spoke about how curriculums in the Jikei Group are created based on the group’s three founding principles of Practical Education, Humanistic Education, and International Education as well as how all the individual aspects of the group’s curriculum policy including collaborative education with industry, career education, and self-management training all come together to form the essence of the group’s educational programs.


Following Chairperson Ukifune’s opening remarks, representatives from Jikei International Travel, Jikei COM Group International Affairs Office, Jikei COM International Center, Jikei EAST Group International Affairs Office, and the Jikei Group Headquarters’ International Center discussed in more detail the different parts of the study abroad white paper. The speakers touched upon a number of the white paper’s topics, including the 3-stage Pre-Program–Program–Post-Program approach schools employ for overseas programs, while giving real-word examples from nursing department and judo therapist department study abroad programs; the study abroad program guidance that departments also provide for parents and guardians as well as the faculty members traveling along with students as chaperons; and also major and minor incidents occurring during programs such as passport-related problems, visa-related problems, flight cancellations, and other challenges that schools and organizers face.


Reports from Groups


The various groups and school corporations that make up the Jikei Group of Colleges gave presentations on their international affairs-related activities and efforts. The speakers gave overviews of the many programs conducted around the world in France, the United States, Finland and countless other countries. In particular, the presentations focused on efforts to strengthen pre-departure training and education along with follow-up training once students have returned to Japan after the program has concluded.


Kobe Jikei Gakuen School Corporation discussed its educational partnership with Mahidol University in Thailand, the country’s only ISPO category one school, and introduced the clinical training program in Thailand that one of the students from Kobe College of Medical Welfare took part in as part of the partnership.


Attendees also heard about the upcoming International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics World Congress scheduled to take place in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture in October of 2019. The theme of the congress will be “Basics to Bionics” and will highlight the diversity of programs and projects the organization undertakes and its focus on developing new technological solutions. The event will be co-organized by ISPO Japan, which also co-organized the first ISPO Global Educators Meeting from June 25-27, 2014 in Kobe, Japan. The ISPO Japan office is hosted by the Kobe College of Medical Welfare, Sanda Campus.


JESC International Education Sub-Committee Reports


The Japanese Language Education Panel, English Education Panel, and the Overseas Professional Education Research Panel from the JESC International Education Sub-Committee gave presentations on their international education-related activities over the past years along with news about future projects and initiatives. The presenters discussed original Japanese teaching materials created for international students based on actual needs and the benefits of tie-ups between corporate partners and professional postsecondary courses, among other topics.


The attendees were also treated to a report on the educational partnership between Koyo School of Music & Dance and Berklee College of Music. The presentation highlighted the long history of the partnership as well as the transfer program between the two institutions. At the end of the presentation, attendees heard a video message from one of the recipients of the Ukifune Scholarship created for student from the Jikei Group pursuing music studies at Berklee.


International Student Recruitment Roundtable Discussion and Reports from Overseas Offices


The International Affairs Meeting closed out the day with a roundtable discussion on international student recruitment and the reports from the international centers in China, Korea, Australia, France, and the United States. The presentations illuminated the challenges faced by the international student offices in the Japan and the overseas office in Asia in the highly competitive race for students from overseas as the pool of potential students in Japan continues to shrink.


The representatives from each of the overseas offices gave lively presentations on their international programs. The various speakers discussed the innovative use of WeChat and other social media platforms in its efforts to recruits potential international student in China, faculty development and student training programs delivered for faculty and staff from long-time Jikei partners Keimyung College University and Keisei University in Korea, and the long-term English language study programs in the United States and Australia attended by Jikei Group English Speech Contest winners, among other topics.


Attendees were treated to Japanese tea and confectionaries during the lunch break and capped off the day with a BBQ prepared by the friendly and welcoming staff at Biwako Cottage. Japanese graduates from the Berklee School of Music who had originally begun their music studies at Koyo School of Music & Dance entertained the meeting participants with a rousing performance of classic jazz standards later in the evening.