SHIRAI Yasuhito

Kobe has become an international city centered on its port, which opened in 1868. As a higher education institution located in this city, Kobe University is required to be international both at home and abroad. In addition, after the war, there was a US military camp in the Rokko Heights area where our university locates now. The historical facts make the connection between the Americas and Kobe University special. As an intermediary between the Americas and Kobe University, the Office of the Americas has supported the promotion of cutting-edge joint research between the University and universities in the Americas by inviting researchers from the Americas and holding international symposiums. As of November 2020, Kobe University has signed exchange agreements with 30 universities in North America and 7 universities in Central and Southern America, and conducts activities such as academic collaborations and student exchange. There are also many faculty members at Kobe University who have experience studying and researching in universities in the Americas.

However, the relationship between Kobe University and universities in the Americas so far has relied for the most part on the activities of individual faculty members, and therefore it can be said that it is still developing. Kobe University’s support systems should also be enhanced further as our students are very interested in going to universities in the Americas, in order to study languages or conduct research. In addition, the way that international exchange is conducted has come into question due to the unexpected occurrence of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Under these circumstances, Kobe University opened the Kobe University Liaison Office in Seattle (KULOS) last year with the cooperation of Hyogo Prefecture and the Hyogo International Association. With this as a foothold, I would like to strive to strengthen the relationship between Kobe University and universities in the Americas, aiming for mutual development in research and education. In addition to the activities conducted so far, I would particularly like to focus on the medium- to long-term, such as by appointing individual office staff to be in charge of key universities in the Americas, and to try implementing new methods, such as remote system.

I think that true internationalization is "not about being able to speak a language, but about how you can perceive various events that occur in the world as your own". In other words, international exchange is connections between people and I think that the Office of the Americas should be able to spin and enlarge these thin threads that link individuals. I would appreciate your guidance and encouragement in my efforts to do my best for the students and faculty members who are studying and conducting research at Kobe University.

SHIRAI Yasuhito
Director, Office of the Americas


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