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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

The capstone project course is a rewarding learning opportunity for future professionals 2024年04月02日(火)

概要報告 , 教育活動

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The capstone project course, a unique and integral part of GraSPP’s curriculum since 2022, offers students a rewarding learning opportunity. It allows students to engage in independent research in a group setting, addressing real-world problems at the client’s request. This challenging experience, as the word “capstone” suggests, is typically reserved as a final assignment for students with the necessary knowledge and skills acquired during the enrolment years to tackle real-world challenges. However, GraSPP encourages both first- and second-year students to take some capstone project courses, recognizing their potential and maturity.

One of the capstone project courses offered since the academic year 2022 is the Case Study (Public-Private Partnerships). This course allows students to work with esteemed “clients” such as GR Japan, the leading government relations and public affairs consultancy in Japan, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the government agency in charge of administering Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). In the academic year 2023, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), one of the multilateral development banks in Asia, joined as another client, further enhancing the prestige and relevance of the course.

The Case Study (Public-Private Partnerships) aims to help students deepen their understanding of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) as a framework for public service provisions—such as economic, social, and institutional infrastructures—essential to the smooth functioning of society and people’s well-being.

Students work in teams under the instructors’ guidance with an active learning approach. Their deliverables are reviewed and submitted to the clients as if the students provided real-world consulting services. The course also serves as hands-on training for professional writing.

The consulting assignments given by the three clients in the academic year 2023 were the following.

“Enhancing private sector participation in an e-bus project in the Kyrgyz Republic” by ADB’s Office of Public-Private Partnership

“Offshore wind power generation business development utilizing the Sea Area Utilization Promotion Act” by GR Japan

“Strengthening healthcare and hospitals through private investments” by JICA’s Private Sector Partnership and Finance Department

Teaching staff and client representatives

Teaching staff

The teaching staff and client representatives in the academic year 2023 are the following. All the statuses and affiliations of the persons are as of April 2023.

Toshiro Nishizawa, Professor

KE Seetha Ram, Visiting Lecturer (Senior Consulting Specialist for Capacity Building and Training Projects, Asian Development Bank Institute; former professional staffer at the Asian Development Bank)

Nao Ikemoto, Visiting Lecturer (Director, Global Business Investment Support Office, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of Japan; former professional staffer at the Asian Development Bank)

Client representatives

Asian Development Bank

Takeo Koike, Director, Division 1, Office of Public-Private Partnerships

Siddhartha Shah, Director, Division 2, Office of Public-Private Partnerships

GR Japan

Yutaka Iwahori, Director, Attorney at Law

Kayako Kobayashi, Associate Director

Yoshito Ogawa, Senior Public Policy Manager

Austin Smith, Associate Manager

Emma Saraff, Associate Manager

Mary Popeo, Associate

Haruko Kitamura, Associate

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

Kei Sakamoto, Senior Deputy Director, Portfolio Management Division, Private Sector Partnership and Finance Department

Yasunori Tanikawa, Private Sector Partnership and Finance Department

Teaching assistants

Koki Hori, Second-year master’s student

Ka Ying Wong, Second-year master’s student

Mahiro Nagao, Second-year master’s student

The clients’ comments

For Team ALGA

“The report is comprehensive and does a good job of examining the key issues involved. It did a particular job of mapping key stakeholders, looking at key risks, and mitigation and implementation pipelines. The report also takes a very practical and pragmatic approach, which is very important from an implementation and impact-on-the-ground perspective. The team ALGA also considered the feedback commendable, while the report could have been more readable as a professional deliverable with careful editing and proofreading. Overall, the team ALGA did a good job; the report is well received and would be useful for future action.”

For Team G7

“The offshore wind power landscape in Japan is challenging to understand, but the team G7 did a commendable job uncovering the right information and then distilling it into an insightful document. In addition to showing strong research skills, team G7 also paid attention to the business implications of the regulatory challenges in creating this report, which is an important perspective for consultants to capture. My constructive criticism has to do with the flow of the report. However, the overall report is constructed well, and the information is all there. I also like how the visuals are placed throughout. The team understood the points of the regulation and system precisely. The presentation materials were prepared well, and the amount of explanation was appropriate.”

For Team WWH

“This report provides a comprehensive yet still easy-to-follow synthesis of a complicated set of policies and their implications from both the public and private perspectives. I am particularly impressed by the organizational abilities shown in the development of the report and commend the team on a strong performance. This report is structured well and very easy to follow. The executive summary is especially good, signaling to the client the purpose of the report and the journey they are about to go on. Incorporating bullet points, transition paragraphs/sentences, and signaling words help with clarity and flow. I enjoy that advice for the client is sprinkled throughout the report and well summarized at the bookends. It would have been nice to include more visuals.”

For Team Dandelion

“The team Dandelion has provided a very useful analysis, including two case references on private hospitals in Indonesia and Cambodia. Building upon the lessons learned from other cases, the proposals, including the introduction of the Specific Timely Appointments for Triage (STAT), could be studied further in our case study.”

For Team Health for All


“We thank the team Health for All for providing a thorough overview, from the analysis of international and local policies to specific recommendations on the installation of telemedicine software. Normalizing teleconsultations could be a key to overcoming the challenges of PPP in the health sector.”

For Team M-PEAK

“The team M-PEAK provided a useful and practical proposal focusing on the solution to overcrowding in the hospital. Its focus on improving customer satisfaction would be the key to improving the health services in PPP hospitals. The report is structured well and very easy to follow.”

For Team Sokha

“The team Sokha has provided a long-term and practical analysis on improving health care services in the Cambodian hospital. Its focus on partnerships and “step by step” phase approach would be useful in expanding the hospital’s business relations.”

Student voices

“The course broadened my perspectives on how different stakeholders think, approach, and construct the project differently, extending beyond profitability and viability consideration. Dealing with a real-world problem from the classroom gave an opportunity to think flexibly enough to adapt and implement innovative ideas in tackling such real-world pressing issues. It helped me to realize that the diverse skills of team members plus hard work could overcome seemingly impossible problems. Truly a mind-blowing and transformative journey.”


“This practical and thought-provoking class encouraged active learning via team collaboration. Through group work and discussions with members from diverse backgrounds, including different professions and nationalities, expanded my perspective. As a Japanese student, I strongly encourage not only international students but also Japanese students to take on this challenging and rewarding course.”

“It was a very compressive learning experience to prepare a group report under the guidance of the client. I thank GraSPP for the design of such a rigorous course.”

“The class was a great opportunity to interact with Japanese organizations while learning about the basics of PPPs. The group work was very engaging and fulfilling as well.”


“This is an interesting and meaningful course. Students in this class had diverse backgrounds, and many of them were professionals with abundant experience. Therefore, we shared and learned a lot of practical skills and knowledge from each other. Based on the interactive teaching model, we had many chances to communicate with not only classmates but also representatives from international organizations regarding a real-world problem, which enhanced the understanding of Public-Private Partnerships and how to deal with related issues in the real world.”

“I was happy to take part in this course! I have gained valuable experience and knowledge working in a diverse team of professionals. Engagement in real PPP projects and searching for solutions together with clients gives you an extraordinary understanding of the subject. Instructors’ guidance and support create an enabling environment for productive teamwork. Most importantly, the results of your work can become a real case solution!”


“PPP is a great course if you are interested in working on real-life consulting cases. You get to interact with clients and learn from them about their topics, which is a unique way to connect academics with the private and public sectors. I had a lot of fun at this course!”

“I found it very useful to take this course and had a lot of fun working in our group. Throughout the duration of the course, I was exposed to a wide range of insightful and practical knowledge. The curriculum was carefully crafted to cover essential topics while keeping the content engaging and relevant.”

“This course provided a real-world consulting experience, based on real-world problems. Completing the final report successfully with the help of teamwork and the clients was a rewarding experience. I found the offshore wind energy industry in Japan to be a worthwhile area of research, given its geographic advantages and national strategy. I was interested in learning more about this industry, and I believe this course gave me a better understanding of it.”


“I highly recommend you take this course. This course gives us an overview of PPP with various aspects and the opportunity to tackle the problem that is being considered by the clients of this course. This is a little bit challenging class for Japanese students who do not have overseas experience like me, but the experience should be invaluable. You can contribute to the team by using your own knowledge and skills as a Japanese as well. So I highly recommend this course to you who might feel hesitant about taking this course for their lack of confidence about English.”

“This course is a great opportunity to get practical experience working with clients to produce a report. A lot of skills learned in this course will be applicable in the workplace after graduation. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people and create connections with peers and professionals outside of university.”

“This course provided me not only with affluent knowledge of PPPs, but also with know-hows of project management. This experience will surely definitely contribute to my career in the real world.”


“The course allowed me to look at PPPs from a new perspective, particularly, I found that incorporating and balancing between the interests of many stakeholders are the main component of such projects.”

“This course allowed me to experience working with diverse teammates and uniting thoughts to draw unanimous conclusions for our client.”

“This course had the perfect balance of theory and practice. The first few weeks dedicated to understanding the framework of PPP and the theory surrounding it were extremely helpful and set the foundation for building the student projects. Working in teams fostered teamwork and communication skills and gave me a peek into what real-life projects in international organizations require. The close interaction with the clients was excellent as well. I especially appreciated the after-class networking time after the last session.”


“Good choice of projects, the mentoring each project host gave was useful. One feedback is that the class structure could have allowed groups to have efficient interactions. It seemed that our group, although we did a great job in the end, took so much time for discussion.”

“I greatly enjoyed the PPP class, owing to its incorporation of practical professional skills alongside academic policy knowledge, accomplished through fun and engaging group work. I learned how to communicate complex policy research in the succinct manner suited to business proposals and how to tailor wide-ranging analyses toward shaping actionable solutions.”

“The Public-Private Partnerships Case Study Course was a very interesting course where we were able to work on proposing ideas toward developing actual ongoing projects. I greatly appreciated that we were able to receive detailed feedback from professionals working in the organizations in charge of the projects. As they kindly provided feedback toward our proposals several times despite their busy schedule, we were able to continue improving and further developing our proposals based on their feedback throughout the course.”


The course provided insights into the structure of a PPP scheme, and the instructor was extremely helpful. Very happy with the content of the course. Thank you!”

“This intensive course deepened my understanding of PPP projects through real-world consultation. I learned how PPP projects are structured, planned, and implemented and uncovered challenges and partnership potentials. I am thankful for the professor, visiting lecturers, client representatives, and my inspiring teammates from very diverse backgrounds, who have become lifelong friends through this course. I hope I can contribute to PPP projects in the future.”

“Majoring in engineering, my ambition is to contribute to improving people’s quality of life by developing new technological solutions. However, the development of such solutions may require the collaboration of different stockholders. Therefore, I attended this class to gain knowledge about how the public and the private sectors can work together while optimizing profits. Through the consulting work, I had the opportunity to work as a “JICA consultant” to provide recommendations for improving healthcare services in a private hospital.”


Photo credit: Yuji Ueno