A True Direction of ‘Globalization’


When I was walking on the campus the other day, I came across an ume(plum) tree in flowers by the roadside.

These days the sunshine fills the streets as if it were already spring, and it suddenly surprises me that it is almost the end of  February.


On that day I had a tiny talk with a researcher from the US.

He asked me how are you and I said great as usual,

but it made me laugh that he kept going and asked me if it is just a set pattern for ‘Americans’.


To convince of my honesty there was no way to avoid talking about ume and sakura,

and after that, he changed the topic and said, ‘btw how many international students/staffs do you have in the university?’

It seemed he had met the students because he got a new post at the university.


Yes, it is true that we have significantly few international students/staffs in the university, though the situations are widely different at each university.



World University Ranking indicates ‘GLOBALIZATION’ is a key factor for Japan


Globalization is one of the most essential keywords for improving research performances and educational achievements at universities. Active interactions and collaborations with other organizations in the world keep the research standards on the world level. The benefits of globalization are not limited to the research performance, and accepting students and staffs from not only domestic but also foreign organizations also promotes diversity, which broadens the opportunities for universities to make innovation and provide good education.


Designated as a ‘super global’ university, The University of Tokyo has various international programs and collaborations. However, the actual situation is far from ‘super global’ in the sense that the ratio of international students (staffs) is extremely low. Known as one of the vital resources of the world’s best universities, World University Rankings provided by Times Higher Education (THE) announces their methodology for providing the most comprehensive comparisons on their website; ‘international outlook’ accounts for 7.5% of the performance indicators. The rank of The University of Tokyo in international outlook is surprisingly low, i.e., 781st (36th for overall, 17th for research). In the world today, where technology develops at a more and more rapid pace, the university should immediately deal with this situation.


Some may insist ‘7.5%’ is not a significant proportion, and therefore international outlook is not the main problem. Actually, the main factor that detains the scores is ‘citation’,  which accounts for 30% of the performance indicators.

However, in fact, globalization is highly responsible for the research performance. I’d like to discuss this in the following sessions.


Unsuccess in ‘citation’ index


In the trend where more and more papers are published in the world, the share of the papers or citations for Japan has fallen.

According to ‘Web of Science’ provided by Clarivate Analytics, the world rank of Japan has fallen from 2nd to 4th for the number of papers, from 4th to 9th for citations, in 15 years [2].

Fig1. The transition of the world rank for the number of papers and ‘Top10% papers’*1. For the calculation method, the fractional count*2 is adopted.


*1For the most cited (top 10%) papers for each area in each year, the number of ‘Top10% papers’ is calculated as the one-tenth, with the number corrected to be an integer.

*2The citation number of each country, where the proportion in the work is considered for each research institution.


Next, we will discuss the details of the number of these publications.

The transition of the detailed number of papers is shown in Fig2. From this graph, we can see that the number of total publications has been increasing except for Japan. While there is no significant change in the number of domestic papers, the number of international joint papers has been increasing.

In addition, compared to other countries, the proportion of domestic paper is high in Japan.


Fig2. The transition of the number of publications(blue:domestic, orange:two countries, green:more than three countries)


These trends are also true for ‘Top10% papers’. The proportions of international joint papers are higher for ‘Top10% papers’ in every country.


Fig3. The proportions of domestic and international joint papers for total(all) and ‘Top10% papers'(top) in 2015-2017. Dark, medium, light colors indicate domestic, two countries, more than three countries, respectively.


Lastly, the proportions of ‘Top10% papers’ are compared for each country in Fig4.

Fig4. The proportions of ‘Top10% papers’ for each country (2015-2017)

Compared to other countries, the proportion of impactful papers is low in Japan.

From these facts, it is safe to conclude that international cooperation is important for impactful work, though we have to consider many other factors.


To encourage international cooperation, it is essential that the universities accept more international students and staffs.


English as an official language


One serious problem that prevents international students from jumping into the university is the poor accessibility to detailed information in English.

For example, there is a large gap between the number of websites in English compared to those in Japanese that provide important information about the university. For an international student(researcher) who is planning to apply for a graduate school(get an academic post), the first thing he or she is highly likely to do is to search for the laboratories related to his or her study. However, it is not rare that the English websites contain less information than the original one. In the worst case, they even do not have an English website.

As a result, potential international applicants have no means to learn about the laboratories.

To solve this problem, the university should decide the minimum contents each laboratory should include.

In this way, it is necessary that universities provide enough information for all the people in the world. Using English as an official language is inevitable for encouraging globalization.



The true benefits of globalization


So far, we have discussed how globalization should be put into practice, emphasizing that globalization is especially critical for universities in Japan.

The true benefit of globalization is diversity; diversity is the mother of curiosity, discovery, and innovation.


I hope universities, of all ages, will offer an environment where all members enjoy every possibility. At any time, people should establish appropriate schemes that meet the times.





[1] World University Rankings, Times Higher Education (THE), 2020

[2] 令和元年科学技術白書第1章, 文部科学省



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