Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies
- Annual Enrollment:
- 120 (MA), 30 (PhD)
- Degrees Offered:
- Master of Arts in International Relations, Doctor of Philosophy in International Studies
- # of Full-Time Faculty
- 18 (as of July 1, 2022)
- % International:
- Employment Sectors:
- International organizations, governments, business, academia and more
- Info Here
The Asia-Pacific region has been achieving high economic growth for more than half a century since the end of the World War II, contributing to global economic growth. The Asia-Pacific has come to have strong influence on not only economic but also political and social aspects of the world. As a result of rapid economic growth, people’s income has increased remarkably in the Asia-Pacific. However, there still remain a number of serious problems, such as poverty, the income gap, the gender gap, environmental problems, territorial problems, and national security problems, all of which have strong impacts on our daily lives.
The Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies (GSAPS) is providing education and training to the students interested in and concerned with understanding and finding solutions to the problems noted above. The problems we face result from various factors involving a number of different academic disciplines including economics, political science, international relations, history, sociology, and others. It is also important for us not only to realize but also to accept the diversity in the ways of understanding and dealing with the problems, because even the seemingly same problems are likely to have different historical and social backgrounds reflecting different regions and countries. At GSAPS, we offer a program that aims to achieve this objective, with many notable features, some of which will be explained below.
First, at GSAPS, you will find a bilingual learning environment. Almost all the lecture courses are offered both in English and Japanese.
Second, GSAPS is an intellectual community of about 400 graduate students coming from roughly 50 countries and areas. Approximately 15% of the students are from Japan, while 85% are international students.
Third, our lecture courses fall within 3 categories: “Area Studies,” “International Relations,” and “International Development and Policy Studies.” In addition, there are several courses offered by lecturers who have experience in international cooperation, diplomacy, and journalism, which can help you translate the research into practice.
We truly hope that you join us to become a highly skilled talent of the future, who can solve or ameliorate the problems in the Asia-Pacific and other areas, through learning and conducting research at GSAPS.
To receive information directly from the Admissions Department, click here.
The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: A View from Tokyo
Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies
The war in Ukraine has been going on since February, and there seems to be no signs of a ceasefire or diplomatic negotiation toward settlement. Western states—as well as Japan—imposed sanctions against Russia.
Does history repeat itself?
On February 24, 2022, when I learned that Russia had started a military invasion of Ukraine, I could not believe something like that could happen in the twenty-first century. Russian military actions and the response by the United Nations (UN) reminded me of Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in1931. Russia’s ambition to expand the sphere of influence in the neighboring country by military force was a war of imperialism that, I had thought, could be only found in international history textbooks. Russia did not respect the UN charter and international humanitarian law. Russian ambition and behavior were anachronistic, yet—as happened in 1931—the United Nations did not function well enough to stop Russia’s military actions, mainly due to the veto power and disunity among Security Council members.
Is there anything different from the past?
Western nations have supported Ukraine by providing the country with heavy weaponry, such as tanks and missiles. Russia, on its part, has been determined to continue its so-called “special military operation” until it achieves its initial aims. Unlike in 1914, when the incident in Sarajevo escalated to ‘total war,’ the war in Ukraine will not result in escalation partly due to fear of nuclear war. While the war was going on, the first signatory countries’ conference of the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons was held in Vienna in June of this year. We are witnessing a war between Russia and Ukraine even as efforts are underway to strengthen international norms for a peaceful international order.
Are there any ramifications in the Asia-Pacific region?
When the war in Ukraine started, Japanese policymakers were concerned about the possibility of China taking a more assertive policy in line with Russia’s action. In October 2021, Chinese and Russian fleets jointly sailed around Japan’s coastal line, and that memory was still fresh enough to evoke concern. Other major powers in the region shared the apprehension. The Quad, or officially the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is composed of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States; the four countries held a meeting in Tokyo on May 24 and issued a joint statement supporting the rule of law, territorial integrity, and peaceful settlements of disputes without the use of force.
In addition, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan attended the NATO summit meeting on June 29, indicating Japan’s strong ties with Western nations. China, on its part, completed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands in the Southwestern Pacific in late April. China had established strong relations with Southeast Asian nations, such as Cambodia and Laos, but forging security arrangements with a country in the Pacific was a novelty. The war in Ukraine has seemingly accelerated diplomatic competition between China and other major powers. Still, it remains to be seen if this will turn to stability or instability in the region.
Response to COVID-19 in the Asia-Pacific: A Multidisciplinary Perspective from Tokyo
Professor Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies Waseda University
To imagine a post-pandemic world, Waseda University’s Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies (GSAPS) offers an intellectually stimulating research environment in Tokyo. Students will approach the COVID-19 response in the Asia-Pacific from a multidisciplinary perspective.
Infectious Disease Outbreaks on International Ships: Reimagining Global Health Governance?
A COVID-19 outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship drew global attention in February 2020. The cruise program was run by a U.S. company, Princess Cruises, which owns the ship. When a passenger who disembarked at a port in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19, authorities reported the case to the World Health Organization and Japan, based on the 2005 International Health Regulations. After Vietnam, Taiwan, and Okinawa, the Diamond Princess was on its way to Yokohama. According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, jurisdiction over the ship belongs to the flag state—the United Kingdom—while on the high seas and to the coastal state—Japan—while on Japan’s internal waters. Japan allowed the ship to call at Yokohama and extended support to passengers and crew.
As the burden on coastal states is heavy, a new mechanism of international cooperation and burden sharing among stakeholders needs to be established for future infectious disease outbreaks on international ships. How would you reimagine global health governance?
The Politics of Wearing Face Masks: Public Health or Individual Freedom?
Many Asian countries have been successful in nonpharmaceutical interventions to the pandemic. In Japan, people wear face masks to mitigate spring allergies and to prevent spreading seasonal influenza in winter. After the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Japan, many people started wearing face masks voluntarily when commuting. However, due to the surge in demand and the disruption of supply chains from China, disposable non-woven masks vanished from stores. People blamed the government for not doing enough. In response, then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched his plan to distribute two small gauze masks to each household. Many people were dissatisfied with his plan and its implementation, calling them “Abe no Masuku” (Abe’s masks).
In addition to advocating for face-mask wearing and hand washing, a campaign called Avoid the 3 Cs was launched, encouraging people to stay away from crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces. Do you think the relative success of such nonpharmaceutical interventions may have delayed the vaccination rollout in Japan?
A State of Emergency During the Olympics: Public Health or Economic Development?
The Japanese Constitution does not allow the government to enforce a hard lockdown, as it would be considered an infringement on personal freedoms. Instead, the Japanese government asks for cooperation in reducing human movements and restricting commercial activities. Determined to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the government declared another state of emergency, agreeing not to have spectators at venues in the greater Tokyo area. As an unprecedented international mass gathering occurring during a pandemic, there will be many lessons to be learned.
What has happened in Japan may help students identify knowledge gaps in an academic community and encourage them to formulate their own research question. Waseda University’s GSAPS is an ideal location for students to conduct multidisciplinary research.
The Asia-Pacific and Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World
Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies
The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped international interactions, government strategies, and personal decisions: a multilayered crisis highlighting the complex challenges of an interdependent world. While no country is unaffected by the pandemic, its political ramifications are especially pronounced in Tokyo, which made the difficult decision to postpone scheduled Olympic Games meant to represent global friendship and peaceful engagement. Indeed, the symbolism of the Games is matched by that of Tokyo itself: a major metropolis that is a global and regional financial center, an increasingly diverse city with vibrant populations of residents from around the world, and the heart of some of the most important political decisions being made anywhere. The COVID-19 crisis reminds us of the need and opportunity to learn from diverse experiences and to think critically about solutions to emerging social, political, security, and economic problems. The Asia-Pacific region encapsulates these issues and opportunities in ways that will have disproportionate consequences for the world over the next century. No expertise or practical skillset in global challenges will be complete without close engagement with the region.
Waseda University’s Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies (GSAPS) offers a superb environment in which to develop this expertise and these practical skills. With roughly four hundred students from over fifty countries and a teaching faculty of distinguished scholars with practical experience, GSAPS offers all of its courses in both English and Japanese, taught by bilingual professors of economics, political science, international development, sociology, anthropology, and international relations. These classes aims to foster critical analytical skills, with an eye toward shaping the next generation’s global leaders: people able to think broadly and conceptually while engaging the pressing concerns and challenges of the region.
GSAPS students also participate in faculty-led research seminars that prioritize dialogue and constructive feedback about their chosen thesis projects, each semester covering a dizzying array of important topics, from security relations between Japan and Russia, LGBT rights in Japanese cities, poverty reduction programs in Cambodia, agricultural trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific, and educational challenges for children of economic migrants across the region. Each GSAPS student can expect the focused attention of not only their faculty advisor but also their diverse, talented classmates in crafting top-notch research contributions.
While much of the curriculum addresses the Asia-Pacific, students are encouraged to think globally and to develop research themes that engage these problems around the world. To that end, we also encourage student to study abroad for a semester at one of our many partner institutions in Asia, Europe, North America, Australia, and elsewhere, to promote truly global engagement.
This unsurpassed commitment to global education, as well as to disciplinary training and interdisciplinary problem-solving, means the creation of professionals uniquely suited to lead the international response to crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past several months, governments have competed, sometimes unproductively, over leadership at this critical moment. GSAPS’s uniquely transnational research environment has, for more than twenty years, worked to build a global network of professionals with the critical skills and rigorous training necessary to foster the kind of transnational cooperation and fearless curiosity that crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic demand.
Creating New Value in a Rapidly Changing World
Dean and Professor
Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies
The Asia-Pacific has grown into a driver of the world economy, and its economic influence, in turn, has profoundly reshaped the world’s geopolitical landscape. The region plays a critical part in the major trends challenging the traditional international order. Studying global affairs from an Asian-Pacific vantage point will allow young leaders to fully grasp the nature of the new global landscape, which is no longer shaped solely by major Western nation-states, and effectively address the challenges facing the world today. Located in the heart of Tokyo, a global city, Waseda University prides itself on being one of the region’s leading private universities with its global network of alumni. The Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies (GSAPS) offers MA and PhD programs, training students to address a wide range of regional and global issues within a highly international and diverse learning environment.
How does GSAPS prepare students to navigate today’s shifting global landscape?
The complexities of today’s global affairs seem to reaffirm our program’s philosophy, which emphasizes a comprehensive and interdisciplinary analytic approach as well as the willingness and ability to embrace diversity. From its founding, GSAPS has endeavored to build a curriculum to help students address a host of complex and often interconnected issues in the Asia-Pacific and elsewhere, including income and gender disparities, environmental issues, poverty, territorial disputes, national security, human rights and security, aging populations and falling birth rates, and impacts of technology, in an interdisciplinary framework. The centerpiece of the MA program is a faculty-led project research seminar, where students develop analytical and research skills necessary for thesis research with peers from all over the world. Our faculty—all leaders in their respective academic fields—work with students to develop a process for identifying their academic interests and crystallizing these into research results. In doing so, we aim to help students make an intellectual contribution to the creation of new value useful for shaping a better world, rather than merely adapt to emerging global realities.
The makeup of our student body, roughly 80 percent of which hail from outside Japan, ensures students learn in a highly international environment while embracing both the challenges and opportunities of diversity. The geographical scope of our curriculum and research extends beyond the Asia-Pacific. Students can take advantage of our international exchange programs to expand their horizon beyond Japan. In addition to providing opportunities to study in our partner graduate schools around the world, we have been focusing on developing programs with one of our partner schools in Europe, which allow students to study international relations and regionalism more intensively from comparative and inter-regional perspectives.
How do GSAPS students perform professionally after graduation?
Our broad multidisciplinary training helps our students find job opportunities and build successful careers in international organizations, governments, NGOs, research institutes, universities and private companies. We expect our graduates to go on to serve and lead society in various capacities in the Asia-Pacific and around the world. Furthermore, we expect them to lead collective global efforts to build a better future, as seen in the sustainable development goals of the United Nations, by bringing various local, national, and international stakeholders together.
Diverse Research and Training to Solve Complex Regional and Global Problems
Dean and Professor
Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies
How do you train students at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies (GSAPS)?
At GSAPS, we train students interested in and concerned with understanding and finding solutions to the complex and diverse problems we face in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere, including poverty, economic inequality, gender equality challenges, environmental issues, territorial disputes, national security tensions, and others. GSAPS hopes that our graduates will contribute to building a peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous world. To nurture our students, GSAPS emphasizes not only the development of expertise in a core discipline—international politics, economics, sociology, history, and others—but also sensitivity to diverse disciplinary concerns to enhance interdisciplinary inquiry. With core competence and broad issue coverage, GSAPS alumni are encouraged to be both capable and flexible in dealing with problems in a rapidly changing world. Many move quickly into fulfilling careers in international organizations, government and government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.
How does GSAPS deal with the important issue of growing diversity in international studies?
Recognizing the importance of understanding diverse perspectives, GSAPS offers a variety of courses covering a wide range of thematic issues and disciplines. Our curriculum also spans the globe, from the Asia-Pacific to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Our international faculty, too, reflects this diversity: not only have they made significant contributions to and remained active experts in their respective fields of study, but their diverse backgrounds prior to GSAPS also include work in international organizations, foreign policy and development, journalism, and policy research.
To broaden their viewpoints, students are encouraged as well to take part in our many exchange programs with top graduate schools in other countries. One unique international program is the East Asian University Institute, a joint education program with four major universities in Asia. To support and encourage students to pursue these opportunities, GSAPS offers selected students funding for conducting research overseas.
What are the unique strengths of GSAPS?
Located in Japan at the center of Tokyo, a gateway to a rapidly growing Asia, GSAPS provides an ideal site for students interested in conducting research in regional and global issues and in gaining international experience. Our master’s degree students hail from over fifty different countries, and roughly 80 percent of the 120 students we take in each year are from outside of Japan. Also, the successful recruitment of top students to GSAPS has been buoyed by our ability to offer a number of scholarships to qualified applicants.
Another distinctive feature of our master’s degree program is project research. Carried out in faculty-led research seminars, project research allows students to prepare their Master of Arts research with faculty guidance and frequent discussion with classmates.
Furthermore, GSAPS enjoys the advantage of being a part of Waseda University, one of the oldest and best private universities in Japan and Asia and the alma mater of a number of Japan’s past prime ministers, as well as many private sector executives and academic leaders. Students and alumni of GSAPS have the opportunity to be a part of the broader global Waseda University network.
The Center of Gravity for Asia-Pacific Studies: GSAPS
Dean and Professor
Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies
What innovative ways has your program found to prepare students for an age of uncertainty?
The election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States and Brexit are two recent examples of the age of uncertainty, as these events were totally unexpected for many people. Although unexpected—or because they were unexpected—these events have had significant effect on the global economy and on politics. Increased uncertainty makes it difficult for graduate students interested in international studies to identify an area of specialization. In order to prepare students for an age of uncertainty, the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies (GSAPS) emphasizes not only the development of expertise in a core discipline from areas such as international politics, economics, cooperation, society and culture, history, and others but also an understanding of the foundations of multiple disciplines. Through effective education and training, GSAPS nurtures students with a core competence as well as broad issue coverage, so that they can be competitive and flexible in dealing with problems in an uncertain world.
The merit of learning from and understanding diverse perspectives now takes a more important role than ever. How is your school responding?
Recognizing the importance of understanding diverse perspectives, GSAPS offers a broad range of courses, from politics and economics to society and culture to history. Besides wide issue coverage, GSAPS’s curriculum spans regions, from the Asia-Pacific to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Our faculty members offer multiple, rich perspectives: not only do they have excellent academic achievements across different disciplines, but they also come from various countries and diverse backgrounds, including former officials in international organizations, journalists in mass media, and researchers in think-tanks. To broaden perspectives, students are encouraged to participate in exchange programs at graduate schools in foreign countries. One unique international program is the East Asian University Institute, a joint education program with four universities in Asia. As a way to encourage students to pursue high-level research, GSAPS offers selected students funds for conducting research in foreign countries.
What are the unique strengths of your program?
Situated in the center of Tokyo—a gateway to a rapidly growing Asia—GSAPS is an ideal location for students interested in conducting research in regional and global issues and in gaining experiences in international activities. Our MA program takes in approximately one hundred and twenty students annually, of whom 80 percent are from over fifty countries outside Japan. One unique feature of our MA program is project research: carried out in seminar style, the objective is for the students to prepare their MA thesis under the guidance of academic advisors. As well, GSAPS offers scholarships to qualified students, resulting in the successful recruitment of top students. Furthermore, the graduate school enjoys the advantage of being a part of Waseda University, one of the oldest and best private universities in Japan and Asia and the alma mater of a number of Japan’s former prime ministers. Students and alumni of GSAPS have the opportunity to be a part of the broader global Waseda University network.