How to make Todai great again

Nancy Snow, Pax Mundi professor of public diplomacy at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, knows what ails higher education in Japan (“Japan’s universities need more global ties” in the July 28 edition).

The gist of her message: Japan’s universities suffer from a parochial mindset and, unless something radical is done, China’s universities will eat their lunch.

Tsinghua University, where she “affiliates,” is the No. 1 university in Asia. Her source of information is the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2018. Japan’s University of Tokyo is ranked a modest No. 8.

China, according to Snow, “remains the educational exchange lodestar, not Japan.”

What makes brand China shine so bright?

Snow is dazzled by Tsinghua’s Schwarzman Scholars program and Schwarzman College. The twice-mentioned Schwarzman is, of course, Stephen Schwarzman, the American private-equity tycoon who modeled his scholarship program after the Rhodes scholarships.

Cecil Rhodes was the British imperialist and mining magnate whose company, de Beers, cornered the diamond market. He established the scholarships in his will, as a legacy.

Rhodes scholars study at Oxford University, not Tsinghua.

“The $600 million Schwarzman Scholars campaign,” Snow informs us, “is the single largest philanthropic initiative undertaken in China with international donors.” The educational philanthropy practiced by Schwarzman has come under question. The New York Times pointed out that “the project will also raise his political profile in China, potentially giving him and his private equity firm, the Blackstone Group, increased access to Chinese leaders.”

Does Todai need a Schwarzman of its own? Despite its No. 8 ranking, it might attract generous scholarship funding from a certain American billionaire in exchange for the right to build a Trump resort and casino in Japan. The Abe administration conveniently paved the way by passing a casino bill July 20.

WARREN IWASA
SETAGAYA WARD, TOKYO

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.