Educational Program

Interview with Participants

Experience Leading to My Career Path
Name・Affiliation:KUNO, Chihiro (GSAPS, MA Program)
Program; Semester Exchange Program at Thammasat University, Faculty of Political Science
Term; Fall Semester, 2012


Diverse learning environment

At Thammasat University, Faculty of Political Science, Master of International Relations, there were 20% full-time students and 80% who were working weekdays, mainly government officials in Thailand [e.g. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, embassies (America and Sweden), Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education]. They kindly welcomed us, the Japanese students. All students studied very hard, prepared well-done presentations and made constructive comments in classes. Thus, I enjoyed the time interacting with them and exchanging ideas.

I took two classes named “International Political Economy” by Dr. Pisanu and “Foreign Policy Analysis” by Dr. Prapat. Both classes were very intensive. The two professors required us to read huge amounts of excellent materials and to understand them deeply within the limited time. Through sharing ideas about specific problems with my classmates before every class, I developed not only academic knowledge related to international relations but also skills for rapid reading in English.
Guest lecturers, such as researchers from the Asian Development Bank and former diplomats from Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand, frequently gave us rich classroom presentations. They helped me to develop a multilateral understanding of political science from both a theoretical and a practical perspective.

Focusing on the contents of Dr. Pisanu’s class, I learned about “non-traditional security threats” based on the phenomenon of globalization. The issue “non-traditional security threats” includes climate change, energy security (e.g. oil diplomacy), transnational crime (e.g. drug smuggling, arms smuggling, human trafficking, intellectual property rights violation and money laundering) and food security. This course was extremely interesting for me because it made me recognize that nowadays it is difficult for only one country/state to deal with these problems due to globalization, which enables people, goods and money to move freely. Thus, I understood the necessity for all countries to cooperate with each other in order to improve the current situation in the world.

At the Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok with MIR classmates

Cultural project on an ethnic minority in a rural area

Before my trip to Bangkok, I asked the office in Thammasat University in advance whether I could join some volunteer camps in the rural area in Thailand. Since my MA thesis was related to rural development in developing countries, I believed that such experiences would help my research. Professor Virot Ali kindly arranged for me to join a camp and participate in the activities there. We, approximately 40 students, visited Hueypum Village, Tambon Romyen, Chaing-Kam district, Phayao Province, which is located in the north part of Thailand near the border between Thailand and Laos.

We stayed at a Hmong ethnic house for 10 days, from October 25th to November 2nd. There were five main activities that we participated in [i.e., building a pavilion, building a bridge’s rail, cooking, playing with children in the village and academic walking (activities in which all staff study the villagers life, culture and folk wisdom beforehand)]. Through conversation with Hmong ethnic people, we found that Hmong people are still not allowed to register for an individual identification card in Thailand unless they have graduated university. Considering this, we also found that there are serious problems of not only human rights and discrimination but also political issues related to the refugee status. The experience enabled me to realize the importance of understanding each culture and its history. Playing with Hmong ethnic children.

Playing with Hmong ethnic children

To keep Tokyo an attractive city -the role of a public officer

From April 2013, I’ve been working at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as a public officer. My career objective here is to ensure the safety and prosperity of people in Tokyo. Regarding the first issue, securing safety in Tokyo, the experiences during and after the Great East Japan earthquake revealed how Tokyo is vulnerable.

The city underwent a planned schedule of rolling blackouts because of the inadequate electrical supply and residents experienced difficulties going back to their homes because of the disruption in transportation services. Not only risk management for natural disasters but also problems such maintaining an adequate supply of electricity should be resolved in the near future. In this Campus Asia program, I had many opportunities to hear about the situations in flood-damaged villages of Thailand in 2011. After hearing these stories, I reconsidered ways to improve the efficiency of government decision-making processes and the importance of effectively cooperating with the private sector. Thus, by utilizing reliable materials and hearing opinions from citizens of Tokyo, I aim to contribute to building a safe society and promoting sustainable development in Tokyo, while working alongside the many competent staff members of my department.

As for the second issue, the prosperity of people in Tokyo, I would like to make great efforts to promote the policy of international competitiveness in Tokyo. Bangkok, where I stayed, is full of energy and accepts many foreigners. This environment let me recognize the enthusiasm of emerging countries and the difference to a mature country, such as Japan.

Hence, I aim to make good use of this insight in considering what kind of city will be desirable to promote international competitiveness and then help to develop and adopt sustainable industrial policies at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. In order to resolve these urgent issues and to keep Tokyo an attractive city for many years to come, this Campus Asia program gave me an abundance of information and insight that will continue to be a substantial asset to my career. By making the best use of this experience, I would like to make a considerable contribution to building a better society.
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