Agreement for Research Exchange with Northwestern University is adopted(Research Office)

In August 2021, the “Agreement for Research Exchange with Northwestern University 2021” was adopted. This is a program based on a cooperative agreement between the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern University and the Asian and Japan Research Institute (AJI) at Ritsumeikan University for the dissemination of the research results of the international online forum, Meridian180. Ritsumeikan University serves as the branch of Meridian 180 in Japan, and the AJI holds the position of its secretariat.

On September 3, professors from the selected project members, including Professor Hiroyuki MORI who plays a central role for Meridian180 in Japan, and Professor Yasushi KOSUGI (Director of the AJI) got together to discuss the direction of activities in this year.

Through this international online forum, the AJI will make multiple efforts to suggest what problems exist and what solutions are possible for global issues in various collaborations with academic and practical experts.

This year, we will conduct research activities, international symposiums, and preside over forums at Meridian 180 on the 5 themes in the table below.

Furthermore, we plan to invite professors and a next generation of researchers from inside and outside the university under this scheme of research collaboration. Also, the symposiums and the forums are scheduled that will diversely international. We are looking forward to your active participation.

ThemeOutline (Background and Issues)
1Smart & Shrinking CitiesUnder rapid economic globalization and demographic and environmental transformations, the world is facing the challenge of making cities smarter and more compact. As the question of how to promote “urban downsizing” as a result of the ongoing decline in population is becoming one of major policy issues in advanced countries, this phenomenon has also become inevitable in Asian countries where the birthrate will rapidly decline and the population will rapidly age. In this situation, the use of ICT and IoT as important tools are expected as measures to overcome these issues.
Looking at Japan, as it faces a critical phase of the declining population and aging phenomena, efforts to integrate these problem-factors into Smart and Shrinking Cities are becoming more and more crucial as a nation-wide issue. This great transformation of cities today as representative phenomena of contemporary civilization is an essential focal point of study to be conducted through the interdisciplinary fusion of the humanities, social sciences and the natural sciences, and this research project is an attempt to engage in this effort.
2Gerontology and Social TechnologyIn 2017, Japan is a super-aged society with an aging rate of 27.7%, and life expectancies are 81.09 years for men and 87.26 years for women. By 2030, the “The Fourth Age (75 years old and over)” population will grow rapidly, far outpacing the population of “The Third Age (65 -74 years old)”. As some estimates suggest that 20% of the elderly people will have dementia and 40% will live alone by 2030, the dilemma of living alone at the age of 80~90 becomes all too real.
Longevity is the greatest goal that humanity has ever pursued. Now that this end has become a reality, it is an urgent task to create a community in which everyone can enjoy the happiness of longevity without anxiety and have a sense of purpose in life. To achieve this end, it is essential that the entire society, including individuals, families, local communities, governments, companies and NPOs, work together to create a grand design for the overall socioeconomic, urban and regional systems, and community and social systems. To create this design, new technologies and their applications will need to be prompted in each domain. In this study, we will conduct a multidisciplinary and comprehensive effort, involving various sectors such as universities, government, and business in order to understand the key social issues in the age of super-aging and seek clues to solving them.
3Social Development and Science Technology for Food /AgricultureFood is a fundamental condition for human survival. The current world population is about 7.6 billion, but it is expected to increase drastically in developing countries, reaching 9.3 billion in 2050. At the same time, 815 million people are now in a state of starvation, amounting to 11% of the world’s population. Moreover, it has been pointed out that if the situation resulting from climate change due to global warming deteriorates, the number of starving people will further increase due to the desertification of current cultivated land.
In this situation, advanced countries are rapidly developing science and technology to ensure a stable supply of food. As soil improvement, aquaculture technology development, and plant factories progress, food safety issues such as residual agricultural chemicals and genetically modified crops have also been pointed out. Securing the safety and security of food has become an issue in Japan since the abolition of the Major Crops Seed Law (Seed Law) in 2018.
Food and the agricultural methods employed to produce it affect all aspects of people’s lives and can even lead to conflict between nations. This study examines the roles of science and technology in supporting food, agriculture and local communities toward a sustainable future.
4Gender Fair Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Urgent ChallengesThe novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has threatened not only people's health but also their economic and social security around the world, and the sharp rise in global inequality has become a major issue. One of the disproportionate impacts that the pandemic has revealed is gender relations. Some devastating impacts on women are observed such as increased domestic violence, a sharp rise in unemployment and cessation, an increased burden of unpaid care within households, and a burden on health and care workers.
In this research project, there is an increasingly urgent need for more specific and detailed analyses that are based on universal principles and policies, but also in the context of individual societies. Furthermore, since unequal gender relations in society are inextricably linked to other social relations such as nationality, race/ethnicity, class, occupation, place of residence, and disability, we focus on the intersections between gender and other social relations (intersectionality) in our approach to each individual issue.
Today, recovery from the pandemic toward a more equal, democratic and sustainable global political economy, as well as a response to the pandemic that protects people’s health and mitigates its impact on the most vulnerable social groups, will be a global challenge shared by the United Nations and other actors. This research project will analyze the realities in East Asia and Japan and discuss the ways of research exchanges and policy cooperations that incorporate a gender perspective, with a view to international coordination and regional cooperation in East Asia for a more equal pandemic response and recovery.
5Public Procurement to Fulfill Social Responsibility and Promoting Employment of Persons with Disabilities through itThe declining birthrate and the growing proportion of elderly people have become a global phenomenon, and as the working-age population declines in many countries, a key to solving the this issue is the further participation of older people and women in the labor market. In this context, we also have to reevaluate the potential of people with disabilities, who are usually considered as welfare recipients, as a capable and valuable workforce. However, it is not easy for people with disabilities to search for jobs in the general labor market like able-bodied people, and to be employed by private companies. In this respect, it is very important to utilize public procurement as a public policy. In recent years, there have been new developments in Japan, the United States and the EU in promoting the employment of people with disabilities through public procurement.
However, as the latest actual employment rate and other indicators show, Japan as a whole has not yet achieved significant results from its efforts. This study aims to clarify the institution,