Interview with Asuka Tsuzuki, President, Japan University of Economics
1. You are a mover and shaker in the education sector in Japan. How did your passion for advancing education originate?
Tsuzuki Education Group is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2021. My grandparents founded the group in 1956 in Fukuoka, Japan. My grandmother was the first female to become a principal of a public high school in Japan after WW2. She independently founded a private high school, which originated the Tsuzuki Education Group’s philosophy to be a pioneer in the personal individual. She was very innovative and passionate about education, and her contribution to our country was remarkable. I believe my passion for education originates from the beliefs of my family to contribute to our society and the world.
2. How does it feel to be the youngest female university president in Japan? How has the journey been thus far?
I was assigned as President of Japan University of Economics (JUE), when I was 30 years old. I was pleased to be given the opportunity to be the youngest female university president in Japan. JUE has 52 years of history, and university education reform is not easy, but it is rewarding work. The journey has been challenging and thrilling under the great endeavors of our diligent staff and faculty.
3. Under your leadership, Japan University of Economics provides education to the 2nd largest number of international students among Japanese universities. How did you attract foreign students to study in Japan and what is generally their greatest memory from the experience?
Most of our foreign students aspire to find jobs in Japan after graduating from university. Obtaining a job in Japan requires high Japanese language proficiency. Therefore, JUE offers customized Japanese management courses for foreign students, which provide them with great benefits. By obtaining a high skillset in management and business at JUE, over 90% of foreign students are recruited annually, whereas it is approx. 98% in the case of local students every year. Those rates are relatively high compared to other universities. Many foreign and Japanese students start their own businesses during their studies or after graduating from university. I believe their most memorable experiences are learning about Japanese culture, especially through excursion programs. They also experience many Japanese philosophies, such as “Omotenashi,” through daily life in Japan as well as Japanese cuisine, such as shabu-shabu, sukiyaki and sushi!
4. What are the plans you have for the university in the next few years?
For the next couple of years, JUE will focus on making social Impact in society. We aim to develop educational systems and curricula to foster students who contribute to society through business.
5. You also founded the Hatchery-Tokyo business incubation lab, which has supported over 30 companies, including several listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Could you share a couple success stories of these innovative Japanese start-ups you are most excited about?
The mission of the Hatchery is creating an innovating society by not only being an incubation lab, but also by becoming the hub for change makers in Japan. A couple of examples of successful leading companies independent from the Hatchery are described below.1. Euglena Co., Ltd. –Listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock ExchangeEuglena is named after one of the types of algae. It is a biotech company. While expanding sales of food and cosmetics, they are also conducting research and development of bio-jet fuel and biodiesel fuel derived from euglena. Their technology contributes to a sustainable society by reducing CO2 as an alternative energy.
2. i-style(@cosme) –Listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock ExchangeItoperatesone of the largest social websites called @cosme. The website is related to cosmetics and beauty supplies, and is increasing its users and values by utilizing blogs and SNS. Itprovidescosmeticsinformation and makes original products, which started from a review of their users. It is developing a cosmetics retail store,“@cosme store,” located in Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand, and investing in its online stores as well. Its mission is to create a worldwide consumer-centered market.