- What are you focusing on during your fellowship period?
After joining the then Ministry of Transport, I was involved in national policies for land, sea and aerial traffic. It was there that I came to understand how transport policies are closely related to community development, social issues and industrial policies. Traffic policy is positioned as one of the major factors in urban city master plans for Europe. I applied for this fellowship to explore the synergies that traffic policies closely related to urban city master plans and environmental/social policies have, synergies that could lead to political solutions to social issues in London, where planning has become an increasingly important political tool since the adoption of the direct mayoral election system in 2000.
- Could you explain briefly what exactly you have been doing during the International Fellowship period?
In my first year, I majored in urban policy at LSE. I interviewed people in communities with many social housing complexes to broaden my understanding of urban city masterplanning from social, political, economic and various other perspectives by identifying underlying issues with the existing Area Action Plan while engaging in hands-on exercises to solve issues relating to planning and policy issues. In my second year, I have been studying transport and urban policies at UCL where I do exercises based on actual projects comparing Japan, developing cities and European experience in terms of links between traffic and urban policies, and the multifaceted roles of traffic policies as social, economic and environmental policies. I also joined UCL’s student orchestra and performed in music and opera concerts with undergraduate students.
- Please give your feedback on the International Fellowship Program.
Once you become a member of society, you do not have many opportunities to do anything you dream of doing. Many would feel lost not knowing what to do even if they were allowed. I only had a vague idea that learning about British planning would provide clues to solving Japanese urban issues when I applied for the fellowship. So, when I had to choose a school for my second year, I was allowed the flexibility to pick a school that focuses on transport, instead of sticking with my initial determination to study in London. Such flexibility is the biggest characteristic and advantage of the International Fellowship. It allows fellows to proactively and effectively maximize the benefit of their two years.
- How do you want to build on your studies in the US after returning to Japan?
Of course, what I have learned in these two master’s programs cannot be applied directly to solving issues facing Japan. The close relation between planning and social issues/community development, in particular, are positioned very differently than they are in Japan. At the same time, we cannot deny that cities are facing increasingly similar issues as they compete on an increasingly global scale. The biggest result from these two years has been that I was able to reconfirm the framework of planning as a tool for solving social issues in cities instead of as a tool for land-use regulations. I would like to make use of the ties I have built with classmates with diverse nationalities and other valuable experiences to solve urban issues as a member of the public sector.