AKITA, JAPAN — Takuya Niiyama, a sophomore at Akita International University, dreams of becoming an international tourism operator promoting the northern Japanese prefecture of Akita, leveraging his hard-earned language skills and a network of international students he befriended on campus.
新山拓也(Takuya Niiyama)是日本国际教养大学(Akita International University)的大二学生，他的理想就是要成为一名国际旅行策划师。他要利用他在大学里辛苦习得的语言能力和建立起的国际人脉来推动日本北部秋田地区的旅游业发展。
Mr. Niiyama, who is from Akita, hopes that the university’s mandated one-year overseas exchange program will help him achieve his goal.
“I need to acquire solid English skills,” he said. “And I knew that an ordinary Japanese university would not prep me for that.”
As Japanese schools intensify efforts to globalize their campuses, Akita International University seems well on its way toward internationalization, with foreign exchange students arriving from more than 50 institutions from around the world.
Mineo Nakajima, AIU’s president, visited U.S. schools like the University of California, San Diego and The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, while planning his new institution.
在国际教养大学的草创时期，它的校长中岛岭雄(Mineo Nakajima)考察了美国的多所高校，比如加州大学圣迭哥分校(University of California, San Diego) 和位于弗吉尼亚州威廉斯堡的威廉玛丽学院(The College of William & Mary)。
A.I.U., founded in 2004, joins a handful of others in experimenting with these kinds of endeavors. The problem is that they are a glaring exception rather than a trend in Japan.
Some new schools outside the major cities are beating their bigger, older, slow-moving peers to the punch, with more international students and graduates who are likely to be multicultural and multilingual. They are also drawing the attention of corporate recruiters.
“Japan is still an intellectually closed shop,” said Mr. Nakajima of AIU, who was the former president of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.
“日本在学术上还在闭门造车。”国际教养大学的校长中岛岭雄说。他曾担任过东京外国语大学(Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)的校长。
At The University of Tokyo, Japan’s top university, also known as Todai, only 53 undergraduates took part in its exchange program in 2011, or 0.4 percent of the student body of 14,100.
东京大学(The University of Tokyo)是日本最好的高校，14100名本科生中只有53名参加了2011年的国际交换项目，占总人数的0.4%。
Keio University, another leading name in Tokyo with an undergraduate enrollment of 29,000, sent only 133 students overseas in 2010, or 0.45 percent of the total student body.
Only eight universities across Japan, mostly private, sent more than 100 students abroad to obtain 16 credits or more in 2009, according to a university handbook published by The Asahi Shimbun. (Japan has more than 700 colleges and universities.)
根据朝日新闻社(The Asahi Shimbun)出版的高校手册，2009年，全日本只有八所高校输出超过100名学生到国外去选修超过16个学分，其中多数是私立学校。（而日本拥有超过700所高校。）
Reasons cited include low enthusiasm among students for study abroad, as well as a lack of drive and commitment on the part of universities to internationalize their programs.
Masako Egawa, a University of Tokyo spokeswoman, acknowledged that it had lagged behind both its international counterparts and its domestic peers.
“It is true, we have not had as extensive a system for international exchange as private universities do,” she said in an interview.
“We have been doing well at the graduate divisions, however, with 18 percent of the students coming from overseas.”
Still, most large universities, including Todai, see the urgency of increasing overseas exchanges. This is particularly true as Japanese corporations need more graduates capable of helping them globalize, and as the universities themselves look to draw more students as the Japanese population ages.
“We would like to see Japanese universities become more open internationally,” said Toshimitsu Iwanami, senior executive vice president of NEC Corp., a major information technology services provider. “And when that occurs, there may be a greater number of Japanese youth with globally ready talent.”
“我们希望看到日本高校越来越国际化，而且随着日本高校更加国际化，会有越来越多能适应全球化环境的日本年轻人。”日本电气股份有限公司(NEC Corp.)的高级执行副总裁岩波俊光(Toshimitsu Iwanami)这样说。日本电气股份公司是一家大型信息技术服务提供商。
Mr. Iwanami heads a committee on education at Keidanren, Japan’s leading federation of large corporations, which has voiced concerns about a lack of international higher education.
He added that Japanese employers were hoping that universities would introduce more bilingual, foreign graduates to the labor market.
The vast majority of Japan’s leading universities are in big cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. They admit thousands of students annually and have a century of history behind them, perpetuating the notion that institutions must be large, entrenched and urban to thrive.
But Akita International University, which has struck a chord with both students and corporate recruiters, has surprised the establishment. Located in a part of Akita city surrounded by woods, it was created in 2004 financed largely by Akita Prefecture with a mission to produce internationally minded thinkers.
Half of the faculty are non-Japanese and all classes are taught in English. Today, the university ranks among the nation’s top schools, like Osaka University and the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, in competitiveness of admissions. Last year, A.I.U. accepted only one out of 21 applicants in the segment of admissions that requires a competitive examination.
A relatively small university with total enrollment of 834, A.I.U. has become a magnet for corporate recruiters.
“Leading Japanese firms as well as foreign firms such as Morgan Stanley have been conducting recruitment by actually paying a visit to Akita,” said Hiroshi Kobayashi, editor of a university administration magazine. “That is very rare for a school that is located in a remote area.” He said regional universities normally had to woo corporate visitors by paying for their travel.
“日本最大的企业，还有像摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)这样的外国公司都派人亲自到国际教养大学来主持招聘。”小林弘(Hiroshi Kobayashi)说。他是一本高校行政管理杂志的主编。“这对于位于远郊地区的大学而言，是非常罕见的。”他还补充说，一些地区性的大学一般都要靠报销旅费的手段来求着企业招聘人员到他们那里去。
At A.I.U., 114 international students study there as part of the exchanges that it has with 130 overseas universities.
Mr. Nakajima, the university president, said designing a system that was fully compatible with overseas schools was key. There are bigger problems, like a paucity of English-language courses, and smaller ones, like a course numbering system that is incompatible with what is used internationally.
Another institution with a successful international program is Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University, which was founded in 2000 in Ooita Prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu.
另一所成功建立国际项目的高校是立命馆亚洲太平洋大学(Ritsumeikan Aisa-Pacific University)，它成立于2000年，位于日本南部九州岛的大分县。
Its founding president, Kazuichi Sakamoto, said he felt the urge to create a new international university.
“We felt the approach of doing something a little here and there to fix the system won’t do,” he said.
So, he and colleagues from Ritsumeikan University, in Kyoto, founded a new school in Ooita, with the help of a governor who wished to use the project to help revitalize the region.
“The buzz word we worked on was internationalization ‘from within’ to create a campus here that would be made up of students from around the world,” Mr. Sakamoto said.
Today, Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University has the highest number, as well as the highest ratio, of foreign students working toward a degree in Japan: 2,692 from 81 countries who represent 43 percent of the total body. It achieved a 95 percent job placement rate in 2011 and, like Akita International University, is frequently visited by recruiters from leading companies.
A survey published by The Nikkei Shimbun this month asked human resources heads at major Japanese companies which universities they were “paying most attention” to, in terms of nurturing talent. The first three spots went to Akita, the University of Tokyo and Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific.
《日本经济新闻》(The Nikkei Shimbun)这个月发布了一个调查，调查中问到日本各大企业的人力资源主管哪些大学在能力培养方面是他们目前最关注的。排名前三的答案分别是国际教养大学、东京大学和立命馆亚洲太平洋大学。
Akita and Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific employed two different tacks for internationalization. But their success came from one common link: They started universities from scratch.
Japanese universities, experts say, are run in a collegial manner. Top-down overhauls are invariably hobbled by faculty who prefer the status quo.
“Changing an existing university is very difficult. Thus you might as well start a new one,” Mr. Nakajima said. “When I was president at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, I tried to redesign the English-language program to make it more communication oriented.”
The plan was foiled when he was met with resistance from the English faculty.
The answer may not be in tinkering with international programs, but a deeper change in the mind-sets of the faculty and the administrators, said Kirk R. Patterson, former dean at theJapan campus of Temple University, in Philadelphia.
费城天普大学(Temple University)日本分校区的前任校长科克·R·帕特森(Kirk R. Patterson)认为，日本现有问题的答案不应该在于补充国际项目，而在于从根本上扭转教职工和大学管理者的观念。
“There is a general lack of meaningful contribution by Japanese scholars to the international dialogue in their disciplines,” he said, citing low levels of participation in conferences and publication in academic journals, particularly in the social sciences. “If professors can’t be participants in the international dialogue, how can universities themselves become internationalized? Just talking about a flow of a few dozen students back and forth will not make universities international. The flow will come if the institutions themselves become more international.”