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東京大学公共政策大学院 | GraSPP / Graduate School of Public Policy | The university of Tokyo

Student Reports

Student Reports

Han Ze’s Report

Although academic surveys on China-Japan relations illustrating the worsening trend of pessimistic general public’s views on each other abound, I still believe that truth only lies in direct interaction between the people of the two countries, but not on the statistical numbers. Enrolled in the CAMPUS Asia program offers me a precious opportunity to get immersed in Japanese academia, to experience the local cultures, and to observe the Japanese normal people’s lives.


GraSPP at the University of Tokyo provides me with a pile of options to register classes, which satisfies not only those who are interested in pure political sciences, but also gratifies the students that wish to learn more regarding the econ skills. Particularly, Principles of Economics, as a mandatory course, provided me with a methodology for construing and making sense of our complicated environment and offered me with a systematic framework for analyzing and researching a wide array of global and regional issues. Another class that also left me great impression is Tanaka sensei’s Japan’s East Asia Policy case study class. When I was a sophomore, I happened to know Tanaka sensei’s name through the news while I was doing the research on abduction issues between Japan and North Korea. Thus, I was quite excited and honored to meet Tanaka sensei personally, a top advisor to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on a broad range of issues. Through and after the class, I learnt not only the theoretical knowledge but more on how to deal with knotty international issues in practice.


CAMPUS Asia program also provides me with a good chance to experience Japanese local cultures through the overnight field trips. During the short yet memorable stay in Okinawa trip organized by GraSPP, I have been impressed by the vibrant, clangorous, and energetic Eisa performances, a traditional folk dance native to the islands, from the students of University of the Ryukyus. The delicious and tender rafute galvanized me that it is more than a pork belly dish; it is cultural mingles of local Okinawan cuisine with Chinese food. Put the perfect Eisa performances and flavorful rafute aside, it is quite novel for me to frequently hear the differentiation of the mainland Japan and its outlying territories in the lectures. The Okinawa field trip offered me something that I could never learn from the textbook or papers. Just as the Chinese saying goes, “It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.” Getting accustomed to the local cultures, learning more inside the Okinawa, and making good friends set me a lifetime of value and make me a better human being.


Studying and living in Japan allows me to closely observe Japanese normal people’s lives. Through the one year stay in Japan, I have some interesting findings to share with. For example, it is hard to find trash cans in public spaces, for this began as an anti-terrorism measure in 1995 after Aum Doomsday Cult attacked the Tokyo subway by leaving explosives in public trash cans. It is now considered, however, that by removing the public trash cans can make people clean their garbage more meticulously, in that Japan maintains the very systematic and precise separation and disposal of garbage in the recycling system. Learning Japanese at Todai also made me know that before eating a meal and after finishing it, be sure to thank my host for the meal and their company with a small bow and say “いただきます” and “ごちそうさまでした”, respectively. This is considered good table manners. I also learned how to behave in 神社 when participating the ceremony held on New Year’s Day. That is, walking up to the offering box and quietly tossing in a 5-yen-coin as an offering, then greeting shrine deities with a bell ring and two bows, and finally, praying quietly to the gods and clapping twice. These interesting findings made me realize that the China-Japan relations cannot be simply explained by hard numbers, but by more frequent interactions and meticulous observations.

Nostalgia abounds even though I have not left Japan. I owe my sincere gratitude to all staff and professors of CAMPUS Asia program and I want to say thank you to all parties that aim to make this already perfect program even more ideal, extraordinary, and shiny.