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Niigata’s IUJ: a pioneer in Japanese education

As the capital, Tokyo is arguably the city most easily associated with Japan, whether it is among tourists, business travelers or international students. But, over the past decades, other Japanese cities continue making their mark as important investment hubs, travel destinations, as well as education and research centers.

Located in Niigata Prefecture, International University of Japan (IUJ) opened in 1982 as a privately owned university that offered only post-graduate degrees and conducted all its courses in English, which was a first among Japanese universities.

IUJ is particularly proud of its diverse student population and its global reputation. (Credit: IUJ)

Because of its distance from Tokyo, IUJ offers a distinct learning environment from that in the hectic and populous capital. Comprising mostly of foreign students, the school has created a community that has allowed its members to build bonds of collaboration and friendship in a country very different from their own.

“You live outside your country and immerse yourself in a different environment. When you work in a setting with various cultural backgrounds, you assume that others may work like you. But there is a variety of behavioral and work patterns; and that is good to experience,” explained IUJ President Kimio Kase.

IUJ’s mission is to develop socially responsible individuals for global business and social leadership. It has consistently ranked among the top schools in the world by leading business and education publications.

Apart from its diverse student body, all the university’s professors hold doctorate degrees from reputable universities overseas, and this provides a globalized perspective to its instruction.

“Students are surprised because when they go to Tokyo, they meet fellow countrymen studying there. Then they discover that their friends don’t study very hard because the system is far more lenient there. Whereas here, you have to be in the class,” Kase stressed.

To expand the school’s offerings, IUJ continues to create executive training programs in partnership with various local and international companies across Japan. These training programs are more flexible and, because they happen outside the classroom, are aimed at teach professionals about real-world issues. So, they expose students and professors to practical managerial situations that will matter more after graduation.

“For the business world in Japan, this is a special university. It is not purely an institution for academic people, but more for the Japanese business world,” Kase said.

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Japan 2017, Part 2 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

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