That the death of the head of a small provincial university in the remote Akita district of northern Japan should be national news is remarkable enough. That the same university could in less than 10 years begin to match even prestigious University of Tokyo is even more miraculous.

Yet such is the case for the recently deceased Dr. Mineo Nakajima and the university he managed almost single-handedly to create the Kokusai Kyoyo Daigaku (international liberal education university) — otherwise known as Akita International University. When Nakajima set out in 2003 to create a new university from the remains of a floundering U.S. academic offshoot in remote Tohoku few could have predicted success.

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