【Webinar Report】Research Training : How to Survive Graduate School 101

On Thursday, 2021 October 28th, an online lecture by  Ph.D. candidate, Mr. Oktay Kurtulus, an expert in Japanese Modern History at GRIPS (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies), was provided during the seminar under the presentation title, “Research Training: How to Survive Graduate School  101.”

In his lecture, Oktay spoke about his study journey in Japan as a Master’s student while studying Japanese language to his doctoral program. Likewise, he went on to describe his Master’s thesis with the title, “The U.S. Occupations of Japan, 1945-1952: Ideal versus Reality.” Oktay’s thesis delved into Japan under occupation, the 1945-1952 occupation structure, and reform policies and reverse course. After explaining which factors created the impetus for economic recovery in occupied Japan, his thesis concludes that the Cold War did not ignite the reverse course, but rather played a catalytic role in strengthening the economic recovery promoters’ arguments. Economic distress in Japan kindled the reverse course and forced measures, while under pressure from American business groups, to substitute them with more moderate and realistic policies.

Further, Oktay shared his doctoral dissertation project with the title, “Reconsidering Japan’s Cultural Diplomacy: The Role of Culture Centers for Postwar Japan.” The main argument and background on this select topic was that there is little recognition of the importance of cultural diplomacy. As such, the literature that observes Tokyo’s cultural diplomacy efforts from 1952 to 1972 is admittedly extremely limited.

Providing students with additional detail on strategies for writing a Master’s thesis, he elaborated on selecting the topic, literature reviews, writing the paper, making presentations, and the most important thing, being to give reports and maintain a good relationship with one’s supervisor. Oktay also encouraged students to enjoy their status as a student in Japan by trying to take any good opportunity to improve their knowledge in Japan, such as joining a study group, surrounding one’s life with passionate people, writing papers, practicing language studies (Japanese language), and volunteering while maintaining a healthy relationship with supervisors.

The lecture concluded with a Q&A session, during which Oktay and members of the audience discussed several questions involving how to select a good topic, analyzing archive methodology, and so on.


Written by Yami Roca and Yusy Widarahesty (Doctoral Students at the Graduate School of International Relations)