It has already been two years since I started studying in Soka University located in Hachioji, Tokyo. Because I belong to the Faculty of Economics, I study a wide variety of subjects related to this field, such as Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Business, Statistics, Finance, and Mathematics. Aside from this, I am also required to learn two foreign languages, a step in helping us students become global citizens and leaders. I am studying Spanish now because of my interest in how similar it is to my own native language which is Filipino. I also study Japanese in order to better communicate with people here and to have a deeper understanding of the country’s culture and norms. However, the three subjects that have truly made an impact to me are those that I took in my second year, which is Development Economics, International Relations, and finally Democracy and Dialogue.
In my Development Economics class, I learned about how development and welfare is multidimensional and how it varies in each country and in each time period. The class covered many topics such as history, economic growth, trade, poverty, inequality, financial services, social-assistance programs, and development aid. The study materials used did not focus only on the situation in Japan, but the situation in many countries around the world. Because of this, I was able to get an overall picture of what is happening in different countries that have varying institutions and policies. I was also able to compare the differences in terms of development and growth between Japan and the Philippines, wherein the former is an economic giant while the latter is still a developing country, despite roughly having the same income per person from the 1800s until the 1940. Using my background knowledge of the economic history of Japan from my other class, I further understood how the country has grown to be one of the most influential nations in terms of the economy.
This was also further discussed in my International Relations class wherein we focused on the history and important key events of many countries starting with the US, China, Russia, and the Middle East. Not only did we study about their key features, but also about their diplomatic relations with Japan from the past till the present. The issue of security was discussed in depth especially when discussing the alliance between Japan and the US which has started after Japan had lost in World War II. Different issues were also raised such as the current territorial disputes between Japan and China, as well as between Japan and Russia. Finally, the role of Japan was analyzed in terms of the trade disputes between the US and China as well as the ongoing civil war happening in the Middle East. We concluded that not only are we supposed to deal with the problems on the surface level, but we must also go deeper and have a thorough understanding of each country and their views in order to reach a middle ground.
This is connected to my Democracy and Dialogue class wherein we deepened our understanding of what it means to be a global citizen in this current age. We discussed about the different issues that were happening in the world which include the current threat to our environment and global warming, the issue of migration, the rise of ignorance and apathy, as well as racism and inequality in society. I realized that even though I am still a student, and even though I may still be young, my voice has an influence on the way of thinking of the people around me. In the Philippines, many of the youth are very outspoken about societal problems such as poverty and corruption, but this does not seem to be the case in Japan. Though there are many differences between each people, we discussed how each has their own unique role and mission, and that we must first respect the humanity within each one in order for us to succeed in such endeavor.
Studying in Soka University which gives emphasis on humanistic education has opened me to many things that are much deeper than simply just studying “economics” as it is. I have become more knowledgeable in a number of fields which all relates with each other, helping me create my own way of thinking and form my own views about the things that happen around me.