Japan Discussion Group

In partnership with Asameshikai, GPS's Japan studies student organization, JFIT hosts a Japan Discussion Group (懇話会) during the academic year to discuss current topics in the news regarding Japan. The meetings are open to the public and everybody interested in Japan is welcome.

The Japan Discussion Group has invited high-profile academics from Japanese universities, Japanese government officials and local business professionals. 

The Japan Discussion Group allows for regular exchange and discussion with students, government and industry leaders and professors.

Upcoming Events

There are no events scheduled at this time. 

Past Events

Japan Discussion Group: Working Practice Reform in Japan
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018
Summary: At this session of the Japan Discussion Group series, they discussed the reforms of working practices in Japan. The event was followed by a happy hour where attendees mixed and mingled and discussed the night's topic.


Dec. 6 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1201
Topic: Innovation in the New Japan: Corporate Venture Capital and New Business Strategies
Speaker: Dr. Satoshi Tomita, CEO, TC Consulting

Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. in GPS classroom #1201
Topic: The Current Situation of HR in Japan
Speaker: Lei Cao, Toyota Tsusho

Description: Ms. Lei Cao is a Manager in the HR Department of Toyota Tsusho, one of Japan’s largest trading companies. Ms. Cao graduated from Tianjin University and earned a master's degree as an international exchange student in Kobe, Japan. She joined Toyota Tsusho (TTC) in 2003. In the first 5 years, she worked in the overseas department and was responsible for setting up Toyota's manufacturing in China. Through China PJ, she honed her negotiation skills with local government, planned for plant set up, and learned about employee management. After China PJ, she also joined India PJ, Thailand PJ, where her experiences gave her insight and knowledge into the business cultures there. For the past 5 years, she has worked in Toyota Tsusho's HR department, taking charge of labor management and setting up the HR system for overseas subsidiaries.

Monday, May 22 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1201
Topic:Advertising and Marketing as a Profession: Education and Job-Hunting Processes in Japan
Speaker: Yusuke Ibuki, Kyoto Sangyo University
Description: Mr. Yusuke Ibuki is an associate professor in the Business Administration department at Kyoto Sangyo University. Currently, he is a visiting research scholar at San Diego State University.

Monday, May 15 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1201
Topic: Japan and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Speaker: GPS Student Naoki Yoshida, MIA '18
Description: Naoki Yoshida is a first-year MIA student at GPS, and comes to us from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). This session will provide an insider's overview of TPP as it stands today as well as Japan's role relative to the agreement. Yoshida will also provide a discussion on a cross-national economic analysis, in regards to TPP, between Japan and the U.S. 

Monday, May 8 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1201
Speaker: Mika Kiyomoto, Mitsui Fudosan/LINK-J & JFIT JUMP participant
Description: Ms. Kiyomoto is JFIT’s current JUMP (Josei/Women for Upper Management Program) resident. She brings to us the perspective of a Senior Manager at Mitsui Fudosan, Japan's largest real estate development firm. She will be providing an overview of Mitsui Fudosan and the Nihonbashi Urban Planning and Development project. The latter is in conjunction with the Life Science Innovation Network of Japan (LINK-J), of which Ms. Kiyomoto serves as Project Leader. She looks forward to receiving feedback from the members of Japan Discussion Group.

Monday, April 24 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1201
Topic: Toshiba
Speaker: Hisako Yamaguchi, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharmaceuticals 
Description: Ms. Yamaguchi is a current participant of JFIT’s Josei/Women for Upper Management Program (JUMP), and is a Group Manager of the Neuroscience Research Unit of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp (MTPC). She will be providing an overview of MTPC, including a comparison to other pharma companies in Japan and some of the challenges it faces. Ms. Yamaguchi looks forward to receiving feedback from the members of Japan Discussion Group.

Monday, April 17 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1201
Topic: Toshiba
Speaker: Professor & JFIT Director Ulrike Schaede and JFIT Executive Manager Takashi Kiyoizumi
Description: Toshiba: How can a company report $5 billion In losses in a 9-month period?

Thursday, March 16 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: Leadership Development in Japan
Speaker: GPS Alumni Kevin Knight
Description: Kevin Knight will be talking about how leadership skills are developed and is interested in the differences between how leaders are born in the U.S. and Japan. This is part of his research (he is a professor at Kanda University) and also of some initiatives he is proposing to help build leadership among Japanese undergrads.

Thursday, March 2 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: Japan's Surge in Tourism - A Look at Japan's Changing Tourism Industry
Speaker: Mary Halloran, MAS-IA '17 candidates
Description: A glance at how the Japanese government promotes tourism to foreign travelers, the impact tourism has had on Japan's economy and the country's strategy to further strengthen tourism in preparation for the 2020 Olympics.

Thursday, Feb. 23 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: Hanshin Hankyu Food Labeling Scandal

Thursday, Feb. 9 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: Dentsu - Good Innovation?
Speaker: Yaroslav Makarov, MIA '18 candidates and Mary Halloran, MAS-IA '17 candidate, GPS
Description: In 2016, the advertising giant Dentsu found itself embroiled in two major scandals. Do they provide us with important insight on the ongoing changes in the way business is done in Japan?

Thursday, Feb. 2 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: Toshiba Accounting Scandal
Speaker: Hiroya Kido and Atsuko O'Connor, MAS-IA candidates, GPS
Description: In 2015, Toshiba came under scrutiny in Japan's third largest accounting scandal on record. We will explore the cause behind the scandal, in the context of a structural change from Old Japan to New Japan, and discuss which key factors would lead to improved corporate governance.

Thursday, Jan. 26 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: What Do Voters Learn from Foreign News?
Speaker: Megumi Naoi, Associate Professor of Political Science, UC San Diego
Description: Experimental evidence on the diffusion of Trade Agreements in Japan and Taiwan. Dr. Megumi Naoi is an associate professor at UC San Diego's Department of Political Science, and is also teaching the "Postwar Politics of Japan" course this quarter at GPS. Dr. Naoi holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University in International and Comparative Political Economy, East Asia, and her research focuses on the politics of trade, redistribution, and inequality.

Thursday, Jan. 19 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: Tsukiji: The Tale of the Spoiled Sakana
Speaker: Robert Heath, 2017 MAS-IA candidate, GPS
Description: Newly-elected Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has indefinitely suspended the government-led move of the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market to its new site at Toyosu due to the continued presence of toxic chemicals at Toyosu. At the center of this scandal lies a missing layer of soil, the 2020 Olympics, and the Tokyo bureaucracy. We will end with a discussion of bureaucratic responsibility: where does the buck stop in an organization where decision-making is decentralized?

Fall 2016

Monday, Nov. 28 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: Japan's Surge in Tourism - A Look at Japan's Changing Tourism Industry
Speaker: Mary Halloran, 2017 MAS-IA candidate, GPS

Monday, Nov. 14 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: English Language Ideology in Japan
Speaker: Sammy Huang, 2017 MIA candidate, GPS
Description: A critical examination of the ideologies at play in the intersection of English language education, nihonjinron ("Japaneseness"), and kokusaika ("internationalization"), followed by a vision for reconfiguring a multicultural Japanese national identity.

Monday, Oct. 31 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: Keeping Kawaii Cool: A Look at METI's Cool Japan Initiative
Speaker: Robert Heath, 2017 MAS-IA candidate, GPS
Description: The Japanese government has allocated over $500 million to Cool Japan, a METI initiative that attempts to boost Japan's cultural footprint throughout the world. This discussion explored the effects this program has had on Japan's domestic industries and whether it is possible for a government to brand itself as "cool."

Monday, Oct. 27 at 2 p.m. in GPS classroom #3202
Topic: "Agriculture & Abenomics: The Changing Political Dynamics of Japanese Agriculture"
Speaker: Professor Yoshihisa Godo, Department of Economics, Meiji Gakuin University
Description: Professor Godo received his Ph.D. from the University of Kyoto in 1992. His research fields include development economics and agricultural economics. Godo’s "Development Economics" (3rd edition), co-authored with Yujiro Hayami and published by the Oxford University Press in 2005, is especially well known. His Japanese book, "Nihon no Shoku to Nou" (Food and Agriculture in Japan), received the prestigious 28th Suntory Book Prize in 2006.

Monday, Oct. 17 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: My Thoughts on a Troubled Sony
Speaker: Jun Hosoki, JFIT Development Manager
Description: "There were so many signs, which led Sony to trouble, that went unnoticed or ignored. Based on my experiences with Sony, I can share some of these signs and we can discuss what we can learn from them."

Monday, Oct. 10 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: Thoughts on Lessons Learned from Fukushima Incidents/ Overcoming Corporate Silo Effects
Speaker: Ms. Saki Tomita, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)
Description: Ms. Saki Tomita is JFIT’s current JUMP (Josei for Upper Management Program) participant. Ms. Tomita received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Engineering from the University of Tokyo in 2008 and 2010, respectively. During this time, she became interested in infrastructure development for developing countries, leading to an internship at the Asian Development Bank (Philippines) in 2009. Shortly after, the experience brought Ms. Tomita to her current position at the Corporate Management and Planning Office of TEPCO in Tokyo. Ms. Tomita’s main interests include management strategy and resource allocation, and is currently working on promoting digitization projects for enhancing business productivity and value creation.

Monday, Oct. 3 at 12:30 p.m. in GPS classroom #1401
Topic: Dentsu Scandal
Speaker: Professor Ulrike Schaede, GPS
Description: "Dentsu, Japan’s largest advertisement agency, is involved in a scandal that may cost them upwards of 230 million yen. Toyota Motor Corporation first identified a discrepancy between what was charged and the actual placement and performance of advertising claimed by Dentsu. Dentsu has big-name clients such as LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton), Nestle, and SoftBank Group. The agency is investigating 633 suspected cases dating back to November 2012 for evidence of overcharging clients." Source: JFIT San Diego - Japan Newsflash

Spring 2016

Tuesday, May 17 at 2 p.m.
Topic: Next Steps for Japan Study Group (勉強会)
Speaker: Hiroki Matsuda, 2016 MIA candidate, GPS
Description: Hiroki Matsuda has volunteered to organize the Japan Study Group since last year. As he will be graduating this June, as a wrap-up session, he discussed the succession planning of the study group.

Thursday, May 12 at 5 p.m.
“Examining the Differences between Doctorate Programs in Japan and the U.S.”
Speaker: Shumon Koga, Ph.D. candidate, UC San Diego Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Summary: Shumon Koga examined the difference between doctoral programs offered in Japan and the U.S. In particular, he provided an overview on programs, career options, facilities and a look at the daily life of Ph.D. students.

Thursday, April 28 at 5 p.m.
"The Felica Chip, NFC Technology and E-money: A case study of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Japan"
Speakers: Professor Ulrike Schaede and Yiping Le, Researcher, The University of Tokyo
Summary: There is no country in the world as advanced as Japan in the use of E-money. Underlying this new development is a contactless IC chip technology, named Felica, developed by Sony Corporation. This study looks into how Felica technology is developed and the initial rollout of E-money in Japan as a case study of technological innovation and entrepreneurship in Japan.

Thursday, April 14 at 5 p.m.
"New Evidence on CSR: Does the Exposure of Illegal Fishing Activities lead to a Reduction in Sales?"
Speaker: Yuki Morita, 2016 MIA candidate, GPS
Summary: Yuki Morita presented his findings from his QM4 project. He has found new evidence regarding environmental CSR: the exposure of illegal fishing activities leads to the reduction in seafood exports from the flag state, at least in the short run. Morita will introduce his analysis and findings in detail and will faciliate a discussion on how to best promote environmental compliance.

Tuesday, April 5 at 2 p.m.
“The Structure of the Japanese Animation Business: Where it is, and Where it is Heading”
Speaker: Mariko Koizumi, Associate Professor, Kyoto Seika University
Summary: There are several different ways to explain the rich diversity of anime as a form of visual popular culture and its growth around the world. One of these ways is to examine the unique structure of the Japanese animation industry, the strategies that Japanese anime companies have used, and new trends such as anime cafes and anime tourism that will affect the direction of anime in Japan and globally for years to come.