Professor of Urban Policy and Public Policy, Graduate School of Public Policy, Chuo University
●FLP education as seen from the Central Education Council report
The advancement of globalization and the declining birth rate is demanding various responses in regards to universities, including junior colleges, which already have enrollments of over 57%. In light of this situation, the consensus probably sees that university education has moved from expanding in numbers into a stage requiring quality and substantiality.
At this point, in an August 2012 report by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Central Education Council, universities were asked “how they will continue life-long learning and foster independent thinking.” Especially in improving the quality of undergraduate program education, they were seriously questioned on what they will do with the undergraduate programs.
Our FLP (Faculty Linkage Program), at the same time as being precisely in line with the report, can be proudly said to be a leading educational practical project probing beyond that. With a view to improving undergraduate program education, we can make it easier for students from different faculties to participate in collaborative learning by lowering faculty barriers as much as possible, and , at the same time, aim for “unified education” by having professors from each faculty mutually contribute characteristics of each faculty.
●Features of the Regional・Public Management Program
The special feature of the Regional/Public Management Program, the latest FLP to be started, is the direct approach to “issues surrounding the region” by students under the tutelage of professors (currently totaling 13 from the Faculty of Law (2), Faculty of Economics (3), Faculty of Commerce (2), Faculty of Letters (1), Faculty of Policy Studies (4), Faculty of Science and Engineering (1)) who are split into three fields (regional management, regional economic development, and community development), and centering around the collaborations with local governments forged out at summer school. Fortunately, this program is highly popular with the students and every year we see an increase in applicants for the course. Also, because many of the students applying for the course hope to become public officials, there is a tendency that many go on to become government bureaucrats or local civil servants.
●Attraction lies in the collaboration with local governments at the major event, summer school
With the cooperation of the collaborating local government, decided the previous year, we use the opportunity offered by the annual summer school for a group of around 100 students to conduct onsite investigations and have interviews with their respective departments. These students groups are warmly welcomed by all local governments as they “can produce liveliness and spend their money.” Around May, each seminar decides on a theme and has administrative documents based on those themes sent out to prepare for prior learning. The main objectives of onsite investigations are, in addition to question and answer sessions at the departments related to the topics, having interviews with local groups such as neighborhood associations, local business and NPOs, and conduct actual observations of shopping streets. Onsite investigations take place over three days in early September, and on the final day present an interim report in front of executive officials such as the mayor or deputy mayor, and receive opinions and requests directly. This is a stimulating experience for the students and increases their motivation.
Concurrently, important matters that need to be tackled are exposed through close examination of the administrative documents and work to identify causal relations proceeds with analysis of the present situation. And finally, they go through a series of procedures to produce concrete measures as a policy recommendation for the collaborating local government. At the end of this series of procedures, a research result briefing session is held in the middle of October at Tama Campus, with executive officials and coordinators from the host government also in attendance. The final report is then completed in December, and the summer school ends. From the start of October, second and third year students have a complete lack of sleep as they prepare for the briefing meeting. That is because they fall under the strict scrutiny of the fourth year students and professors. This is a valuable experience.
●Environment surrounding local bodies is harsh
Starting with Takayama City, we have been to Sendai, Toyama, Kakegawa, and this year we asked Yokosuka City for cooperation as our partner government. Every time, all the local governments have been cooperative, so we are full of gratitude. With ageing populations and declining birthrates in the municipalities, we are in an era facing increased demands in welfare and financial difficulties attributable to drops in tax revenue, making for extremely difficult leadership. Even in adopting a new community based on resident autonomy and promoting civic cooperation in town planning, even if a call for an increase in regional potential and citizen power for that purpose, there is not even the least of a drop in the number of claims and demands to the administration in regards to employment and welfare, and the environment. Even large factories, which were set up with preferential tax rates and subsidies amidst great fanfare, are pulling back from global competition and closing down, and there is the uncertainty of “not knowing” when the offices will be restructured. Sharp’s flagship factory in Kameyama is one well known example, and even our neighboring Hino City is no exception. It is said that Hino Motors will follow Toshiba and close its main factory. Concerning the use of the 40 hectares of open land where the factories once stood, there is already a struggle behind the scenes between the views of the corporations and the demands of the locals.
●Summer school and its results
With this general background in mind, I would like to introduce some of the themes and activities at summer school. When it began in 2008, the first summer school, which was placed as this program’s major project, was held in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture for three days from September 1st to September 3rd. As it had experienced the great amalgamation of the Heisei Era, and being Japanese largest city by area, centered around Cho graduate Mayor Mamoru Tsuchino, it was a place that set its sights on overcoming the various unpleasant effects that come with amalgamation. The students’ research survey topics were wide-ranging. Starting with how post-amalgamation administrative services should be run, five themes such as activities as an international tourist city, and the potential urban revitalization through a compact city, were presented in the Takayama City Office lecture hall and were well received by Mayor Tsuchino. With a local newspaper reporter being a Chuo graduate who gave us huge coverage delighted both Chuo staff and students.
The 2nd summer school in 2009 was held from September 2nd to September 4th in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. It was the country’s first experiment as an ordinance-designated city, and we received much cooperation from the municipal authorities. Sendai, which had commenced operations to settle on a policy for a long-term comprehensive plan, had also investigated developing a plan with a view toward cooperation between Tohoku University and Chuo University. And our efforts were rewarded with some of the results from the summer school research surveys being introduced in the plan. Research survey themes such as a brand image strategy as the Forest City, and sustainability of advancing ageing in the suburbs.
The 3rd summer school in 2010 was held on September 15-17 in Toyama, Toyama Prefecture. The inauguration of the Hokuriku Shinkansen was soon to take place, and with the kindness of Chuo graduate Mayor Masashi Mori, who quickly put together the concept of a compact city using a light rail transport system (LRT), and with a financial surplus, the city hosted our summer school. Research survey themes such as urban design for public transport and LRT use, and a city center revitalization scenario concentrating on the opening of the shinkansen were taken up. On October 23, a result presentation was held at Tama Campus with deputy mayor Takamasa Hirose and other municipal authorities in attendance.
The 4th summer school in 2011 was held on September 14-16 in Kakegawa, Shizuoka Prefecture. Kakegawa City, which expanded through amalgamation, opened a giant shopping center, as is common in the suburbs, and is seeing its central city fall into decline. With the help of Chuo graduate and deputy-mayor, Yoshitaka Imura, we were able to have lectures given by former mayor Junichi Shinmura and current mayor Saburo Matsui. And for this year’s summer school, a detailed work chart has been created by city coordinators for onsite interviews. Research survey themes taken up include annexation and resident integration, and city centre advertising strategies. Deputy-mayor Yoshitaka Imura was invited to the result presentation held at Tama Campus on October 15.
The 5th summer school in 2012 was held in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture on September 14-16. Here was the second town to be reorganized as a municipality, following Yokohama in 1907, however, Yokosuka, which has a mountain of current problems such as the withdrawal of large stores and outflow of population placed hopes on the city’s revitalization policy presentation from a student’s perspective. Young mayor Yuto Yoshida (37) attended the summer school midterm report and gave his unreserved opinion of the student presentations. He couldn’t attend the result presentation as he was away on an overseas business trip, but he is looking forward to the completed final report. Research survey themes such as youth development schemes and early childhood care policies for all households raising children were taken up. The result presentation was held on October 13 with four people, starting with the head of the Policy Promotion Department, in attendance, and the report received praise from the department as being a “favorable analysis”.
●FLP Regional・Public Management Program supported by Chuo tradition
The summer school, the pivot of this program, has been helped with the support of Chuo graduates, and it is no exaggeration to say that this is a result of Chuo education on top of its tradition. As a program that should be proud of contributing to the Central Education Council’s verdict of “improving undergraduate skills”, it will become even more important. At the same time, it is important for the community to realize this program and begin to notice the importance of extending a hand of cooperation. Next year, the ancient city of Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, has agreed to give us its complete cooperation and I am looking forward to it.
Professor of Urban Policy and Public Policy, Graduate School of Public Policy, Chuo University
Born in 1949. Graduated from the Faculty of Economics, Keio University. Received his doctorate from the Graduate School of Social Engineering, the University of Tsukuba in 1981, majoring in town and regional planning. Professor at the Faculty of Policy Studies, Chuo University from 1995 and professor at the Graduate School of Public Policy, Chuo University from 2005. Majors in industrial organization, public policy, community policy, and urban policy. Major publications include Ooraru Historii Tama Nyuutaun [An Oral History of Tama New Town] (author and editor) (Chuo University Press).