by Azim Jeenbaev
One of the highlights of the programme of our visit to Japan was a day at Waseda University, one of Tokyo’s most elite private universities. The building looked very grandiose and modern, though once inside the greater building, we could see the old campus, which was a truly beautiful sight. Upon entering, we were told to join the students on the fourth floor, where we had the first sessions in a lecture hall. We were introduced to the two speakers, Mr. Yuichi Hosoya and Mr. Shujiro Urata. After the opening remarks we received some information on the history of Waseda University and Keio University (of which Mr. Hosoya is a faculty member). A short film made by Keio University showing Japanese culture experiences of a student was presented to us, and the quality of the various cuts used in the montage was stunning.
After this introduction, the actual topic was presented to us, with Mr. Hosoya speaking about the possibilities of a stronger normative partnership between the EU and Japan, a stronger and unified strategy towards enhancing relations with Asia by the EU, and new diplomatic strategies that Japan could undertake in the near future. The topic of an FTA (free trade agreement) between the EU and Japan was briefly touched upon, but it was then continued in full by Mr. Urata after a pleasant lunch break, where Japanese students from Waseda and the MIRAI program delegates became acquainted. The main subject concerned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the speaker began to describe various scenarios that could occur if the TPP was in force and Japan encouraged more FTAs between countries, leading to economic integration and long-term free trade among the Pacific countries.
After these two sessions, we proceeded to go down to the second floor, where we had a group discussion in another room, this time divided into several groups at different tables. A first question we discussed referred to Brexit and how we thought Brexit would influence EU-Japan relations and how it might affect the liberal international order. We also discussed whether FTA projects like TPP were necessary. A lot of interesting thoughts were brought up regarding these two key discussion points, with participants bringing up topics such as the different interpretations of human rights by EU and Japan, what role the United States might play in the future development of TPP, and whether Brexit could impact EU-Japanese relations, considering the many English-speaking Japanese representatives. The whole process was most interesting, with a lot of great speakers among the participants making it a great discussion.
We then went to dinner, up on the top floors of one of the university buildings, and a lot of us exchanged contact cards, numbers, and Facebook accounts with the Japanese students, eager to establish a friendship with them. It was a buffet style dinner, with a lot of tasty meals and beverages being offered, and the view of Tokyo was simply stunning. We left the university with so many cherished memories, and a desire to return, either to study there, or simply to see our new friends again.
Pictures by Raquel Sequeira