Kyoto International Workshop “Consumption and Sustainability: Past, Present, and Future”

The Graduate School of Economics is holding Kyoto International
Workshop “Consumption and Sustainability: Past, Present, and Future”
from February 17 to 21, 2020.

Please refer to the following link for the details

(some sessions are open to students).

International Affairs Office, Graduate School of Economics
(please replace [at] with @)

Thammasat Annual Academics and Postgraduate International Conference (TU-CAPS 2019) (Abstract submission by 4th Oct.)

The Graduate School of Economics (GSE) is looking for participants of international conference TU-CUPS 2019 “Pacific Rim in the Next Decade” in the international conference held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

12th – 13th December, 2019

【How to entry】
① Register for the conference.
(Abstract submission by 4th October)
② Contact with the International Affairs Office and inform your name, grade and student ID, which is entitled “Registration of TU-CAPS 2019”.

For more details, please see following website.

【Report】updated on 15th January 2020
The report form the student who has attended the TU-CAPS2019“ Pacific Rim in the Next Decade”.

International Affairs Office
Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University
iao.econ [at]
(please replace [at] with @)

GLOCAL Summer School—“Tastes of the Global City”

Four graduate students from the Graduate School of Economics (GSE) attended the GLOCAL Summer School from August 25th to 29th, 2019. “GLOCAL” is a two-year international master’s programme, offered by four leading universities, Glasgow, Barcelona, Rotterdam, and Göttingen (Kyoto University has joined the programme as an official consortium member in 2019). GLOCAL offers a week-long summer school every year, and it was held in Rotterdam, Netherlands this year, under the theme of “Tastes of the Global City.” Each day focused on a different theme: art (Day 1); food (Day 2); fashion (Day 3); and music (Day 4). Fifty students in the GLOCAL programme and from Kyoto attended the summer school, exploring questions of how sustainable urban planning initiatives and policies are and how they can contribute to a more sustainable future. Three faculty from the GSE attended the summer school as lecturers.

Each morning, students attended presentations by scholars from around the world, including the Netherlands, Britain, Italy, Germany, and Japan. Discussion themes ranged from the global art market to global food identity and sustainability, global fashion heritage, and the globalization of the music industry. Combined with classroom lectures, students enjoyed hands-on learning experience, including panel discussion, city tours, and museum visit. On the second day, for example, professors from the University of York, Kyoto University, and Göttingen University gave lectures on the global food market, the politics of sustainability, and humanitarian food aid during the post-WWII period from the perspectives of history and political economy. With much deeper understanding of the complexity of what we eat, students went on to explore the local food industry—the Dutch alcoholic beverages industry. One group visited Heineken; and another joined the Jenever (Dutch gin) tour. The day concluded with a delicious and intellectually stimulating dinner at a historic site turned into a restaurant, Verhalenhuis Belvédère, where we learned a history of a Chinese immigrant family who lived in the neighborhood and the dynamic population in Rotterdam. Throughout the Summer School, students gained in-depth knowledge and understanding about cultural heritages, political implications of culture, and the impact of urban policies at a local, national and supranational level.

This intensive learning opportunity helped facilitate active participation, mutual learning, and critical thinking. Many students, including the students from Kyoto, noted that this was an excellent opportunity for them to learn new things and meet students from different parts of the world. Their social, cultural, and professional backgrounds were diverse; and their opinions were different. Despite, or because of, the differences among participants, the Summer School offered students, as well as faculty, an invaluable experience that have broadened their understanding of art, food, fashion, and music from political, economic, social, and cultural aspects in a global context.

Ai Hisano
Senior Lecturer, Graduate Schools of Economics

The 5th KU-WU International Graduate Workshop on Food and Development Studies

Kyoto University graduate students present at an international workshop at Wageningen University, the Netherlands

On May 13, 2019, Kyoto University (KU) graduate students participated in the fifth International Graduate Workshop on Food and Development Studies that took place at Wageningen University (WUR). This was an opportunity for KU and WUR graduate students to present their research and get an international perspective on their work through discussion sessions that followed each presentation.

Nine students (five from KU and four from WUR) presented on topics that touched on various themes, such as rural development, agri-food governance, food security, and food sovereignty. Compared to the 2018 workshop, the number of presentations slightly decreased; however, this allowed for more in-depth discussions and exchange, which was not possible with last year’s tighter schedule.

“It was a good opportunity to present my thesis research as practice but also to train myself in better clarifying and identifying the main points that I should be focusing on when writing up my thesis,” commented one KU student.

Considering this and other positive feedback received, perhaps keeping presentation numbers lower in order to have in-depth discussions is something to continue for future workshops, especially considering that the topics are diverse and that each student has a different point in his/her research project. In other words, the audience needs more time to get acquainted with the student’s research in order to give more appropriate and relevant feedback. One way to further deepen the discussion would be to ask students to submit an extended abstract or a working paper prior to the workshop so that workshop participants can be more prepared to engage.

One thing that was introduced last year and continued to be done this year was asking the presenters to explain to the audience what they would like feedback on. This seemed to work well as the students could get specific advice during and after the workshop. For example, students participating in the Top Global Course presented their research progress in front of their international thesis co-supervisors who gave them thorough feedback in a one-on-one session later on. A student noted that his supervisor took great interest in his research, gave helpful and valuable advice and suggested some key readings.

Overall, it seems that students found the workshop a worthwhile experience that allowed them to identify how they can improve their research while building their presentation and other communication skills.

Conference and field trips

Other than the workshop, KU students could also learn more about international and local issues related to rural and agrarian development. For example, before the workshop in Wageningen, students visited the Transnational Institute (TNI), an international research and advocacy institute based in Amsterdam, where they could ask questions about scholar-activism.

Students also had the chance to attend the “Towards a Global History of Primitive Accumulation” conference that was held at the International Institute of Social History. For most of the students, it was the first time to attend an international conference. They could interact with internationally recognized scholars from all over the world. They could observe how arguments were presented and debates carried out. A student commented that she was surprised by the professionalism and mutual-respect shown by participants despite having different perspectives and opinions.

Lastly, students could visit a community-supported agriculture farm to get a first-hand experience of the philosophy, the practice, the potentials of organic farming but also the issues and challenges faced by organic farmers in the Netherlands. One student commented that after meeting farmers face-to-face, she felt more motivated about her own research.

While it was an intense nine-day trip, it seems that the workshop and field trips were fruitful based on student feedback that indicated how they found it an eye-opening and skill-building experience. These new and fresh insights will hopefully infuse their work and lead to interesting and creative research results.

By Tsilavo Ralandison, AGST Project-specific Senior Lecturer

AGST Overseas Challenge Programme: Report from 2018 Participants

This document compiles the reports submitted by the students who participated in the AGST Overseas Challenge Programme in 2018.

This grant programme is an opportunity for the Graduate School of Economics’ students to advance their research projects by performing a wide range of activities based on their particular research topic. Students conducting theoretical research benefited from academic guidance from scholars and other subject-matter experts, and students doing empirical research were able to collect data through interviews, observation and archival research.

Eight students received the grant, one from the regular programme and seven from the international programme. They stayed in five different countries, including China, Denmark, Indonesia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and the length of their stay varied between 13 and 62 days.

Student feedback has been positive. To quote a student, “the programme provided valuable information for my study. Not only I had the opportunity to gather data from the direct observation of a process but also I was able to communicate with the officers. This unique experience provided me with a deeper understanding of the industry that I am studying.”

[Click here to read the full report]

The 4th KU-WU International Graduate Workshop on Food, Farm and Rural Development


From May 7 to 11, 2018, Kyoto University hosted the Fourth International Graduate Workshop on Food, Farm and Rural Development. The workshop was organized by Kyoto University’s (KU) Graduate School of Economics and the Asian Platform for Global Sustainability & Transcultural Studies (AGST), and Wageningen University’s (WU) Rural Sociology Group from the Netherlands. The objective of the workshop was to facilitate exchange between students and faculty, and to challenge students to further develop their research. The following describes some key highlights from the week.

Welcome message

Before the student presentations began, Professor Shuji Hisano (from KU’s Graduate School of Economics, and Director of AGST) and Professor Joost Jongerden (from WU’s Rural Sociology Group and a project professor of AGST) kicked-off the workshop by welcoming all the participants. Professor Hisano was pleased to announce the continued collaboration between the Asian Platform for Global Sustainability & Transcultural Studies (AGST) and WU’s Rural Sociology group in terms of education and exchange, noting the interesting ways these two groups have come together to work on key agri-food issues using critical theoretical and analytical frameworks. He spoke of building upon the ongoing informal supervision with Master’s students and to also establish a joint PhD supervision programme.

Following Professor Hisano’s remarks, Professor Jongerden, commented on how he was looking forward to a fruitful exchange given the diversity of research topics and locations (nine countries: including Chile, China, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Nicaragua, Philippines, UK, and USA) and the different nationalities represented by students and faculty (ten countries: Brazil, China, Chile, Germany, Holland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, and USA). In closing, he spoke of how he hoped that all participants would use this workshop as an opportunity to further their research.

Student workshops

Students presentations lasted two days (May 8 and 9) and were divided into 4 panels and 3 themes: (1) Practices and Processes of Multifunctional Agriculture and Rural Development, (2) Political Economy of Agri-food Technologies and Sustainable Development, and (3) Political Economy of Agri-food Technologies and Sustainable Development. A total of 14 graduate students (six from WU, two from KU’s Graduate School of Agriculture and six from KU’s Graduate School of Economics) presented their research projects and proposals for their Master’s thesis or PhD dissertations. A common theme raised by each presenter was the importance of focusing on rural places, especially in the context of sustainable development.

Overall, student presenters came away with many lessons. Most found it to be a worthwhile exercise to improve their work and to prepare for future presentations, such as their final defence. Many received constructive feedback and received tangible advice from their more-experienced peers and attending scholars about how to improve their work, such as ways to make arguments more compelling and identify blind spots in their analysis. The lively discussions did not end during the Q&A sessions… many were happy to continue to exchange during social outings together.

Special sessions

The workshops closed with two presentations by experts working on agri-food issues in Japan. First, Professor Hisano presented what has been happening in relation to Japan’s experiences of re-agrarianisation and re-peasantisation and the ways that two conceptual frameworks: ”re-de-agrarianisation” and “re-de-peasantisation”, capture or fail to explain agrarian and rural dynamics in Japanese agriculture.

Next, Dr. Steven McGreevy, associate professor at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) spoke about the FEAST Project, a five-year interdisciplinary research project that he leads at RIHN. Research is mainly conducted on the environment aspect of agri-food issues in various countries, namely Japan, Thailand, China and Bhutan. Research is conducted by in-house researchers and more than 100 affiliated members. Dr. McGreevy presented some research findings on topics such as ecological footprint of food consumption, food system mapping, urban agricultural land loss in Kyoto, etc.

Field trips

For the last two days of the meeting, participants could learn first-hand about local agri-food issues, the different types of farming entities and the challenges they face during four site visits, including: (1) a vegetable-distributor dealing mainly with new entry farmers (called Saka no Tochu Co., Ltd.), (2) a famers’ market (called Tawawa Asagiri) operated by an agricultural cooperative association in Kyoto, (3) an automated vegetable factory (called Spread Co.), and (4) a young organic farmer located in Kameoka city (2009 graduate of KU’s Faculty of Economics). Finally, participants attended a seminar on food sovereignty at RIHN, where they could meet and talk with one of the core members of an alternative distribution system of organic vegetables (called Kyoto Organic Action). The field trips were well-received by the participants who were grateful that they could see and hear about actual opportunities, pressures and dilemmas that individual farmers and distributors, as well as corporations in Japan currently face.

By Tsilavo Ralandison, AGST Project-specific Senior Lecturer

AGST Overseas Challenge Programme: Reports from 2017 Participants

This document compiles the reports submitted by the students who participated in the AGST Overseas Challenge Programme in 2017.

This programme is an opportunity for graduate students to advance their research projects by performing a wide range of activities based on their particular field and research method over a period of approximately one month in a different country. Once the students return back to Kyoto, they sort out and analyse all the information gathered during their stay and are then expected to use this information to present their results at international conferences and to submit a paper to academic journals. Participating in this programme can help students prepare for a career in academia or various professions in an international setting.

In 2017, eleven students participated in the programme, stayed in eight different countries, and the length of their stay varied between 10 and 90 days. Activities undertaken included receiving academic guidance for doctoral dissertations from the partner universities’ faculty; collecting research materials from specialized institutions and libraries; interviewing officials from government agencies, businesses and NGOs; and participating in field research.

AGST Overseas Challenge Programme: Report from 2017 Participants

Field Trip to Nagoya: What cars and cloth have in common (2017.6.20)

What cars and cloth have in common

For the course ‘Field Research in Japan B’ a group of students from Kyoto University together with visiting students from Glasgow University travelled to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology in Nagoya. When thinking of Toyota, one immediately thinks of the numerous cars Toyota creates and which are a very common sight on the streets around the world. However, when we entered the museum, we didn’t see the expected cars, but a huge circular loom.

Participants in front of the circular loom

So what is this loom doing in the museum of a large automobile company? This museum tells the story of how Toyota evolved from a maker of looms and other textile machinery to the car manufacturer it is today. Professor Kurosawa told us this transition wasn’t a coincidence. He shared his knowledge of the history of textile-machine companies, of which Toyota was one, and explained to us how development in the one sector led to an expanding skill set that could be transferred to another sector.
One thing professor Kurosawa pointed out to us was the saying of Friedrich List, who claimed that ‘cotton is the industry that makes factories’. This statement encapsulates how developments from the cotton industry could serve as an incubator for the nurturing of skills and knowledge that are required in other industries. For the production of cotton-textiles machinery, like looms and spinners, factories were necessary and to make the process more efficient all kinds of techniques were developed whose principles could also be applied to other industries. The museum showed the gradual development from the traditional spinning and weaving of cotton to the high speed machines used today.

The second stop of the field trip was at the beautiful Noritake garden where ceramics are exhibited, iconic industrial buildings are preserved and the history of the company is explained. Here, we saw the same pattern as with Toyota: technical improvements in one sector lead to improvements in another. Beautiful ceramics were displayed in the museum, where we could see people hand painting the pieces of art. However, we found ceramics had a use far beyond decoration or practical use at the dinner table. The techniques that Noritake developed are applied in other industries as well. One example for this is the grinding wheel that was designed for delicate porcelain, but has found a new destiny as an industrial grinding wheel. Other techniques developed by Noritake have been applied in the automobile, energy and medical industries.

Iconic buildings of Noritake

For the visiting students from Glasgow, the Noritake Garden offered a great opportunity to observe characteristic architecture of Japan’s industrialization era, fine ceramics and the art of Japanese gardens. By visiting these places, they could get a global idea of how Japanese industrialization compares to industrialization in Scotland.

In the end, by examining the history of a companies like Toyota and Noritake, we learned how they evolved over time and became the famous companies they are today. Their histories also serve as great illustrations of how industries are connected to each other by shared techniques and knowledge. And now we know that had it not been for the people endeavoring to make cotton cloth most efficiently, we might not have had the Toyota cars of today.

Joëlla van de Griend
MSC student Wageningen University

Comparative Analysis on Agricultural Holdings/ Family Farming – 3rd International Workshop on Study of Family-run Farming

As part of the promotion of the international programme of Kyoto University JGP AGST, the Graduate School of Agriculture, through its Division of Natural Resource Economics, held on March 15-16th, the 3rd International Workshop on Study of Family-run Farming entitled “Comparative Analysis on Agricultural Holdings/ Family Farming”. This initiative was a result of the cooperation between Kyoto University, Agropolis International (France) and the University of Göttingen (Germany).

The programme included two sessions:
Firstly, the 3rd Future Leaders Global Workshop on Social Science of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
This first session was an opportunity for the students and young researchers from the participating institutions to present the progress of their research and receive advice from the faculty members.
The second one was for faculty members to discuss contemporary issues related to agricultural holdings/family farming in China, Japan, France, Germany and regions Africa and Latin America.
This workshop was jointly organised by the Graduate School of Agriculture via Division of Natural Resource Economics, the Asian Platform for Global Sustainability and Transcultural Studies (AGST), Agropolis International and the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, University of Göttingen.
Other associated institutions included: The Norinchukin Bank Innovative Research for Farm Governance and Management (Endowed Chair) and the JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A): Development of Risk Communication Model and Requirements for Profession for Food Safety.

Comparative Analysis on Agricultural Holdings/ Family Farming – 3rd International Workshop on Study of Family-run Farming
17 April 2017 By Haja M. Rajaonarison, AGST Research Fellow

Economic/Business History Studies for the next decades – through the “Historical Approach Seminar Business History Kyoto”

Economic history and business history are now on the threshold of new era. Dr. Takafumi Kurosawa, Professor of Business/Economic History at Kyoto University, Japan organized “Historical Approach Seminar Business History Kyoto”.The seminar was organized by Economic History Seminar, Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, and was supported by the Module 2 of the AGST, Business History & Industry Policy Studies.
The seminar was held on March 12 and 13 2017 at Mizuho Hall (B1F), Faculty of Law/Economics East Bldg. On these days, around 20 people, mainly from the academia, including professors and students from different disciplines gathered to listen and learn about the latest approaches of economic/business history.
The event marked the culmination of two projects funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) namely Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research: Project No. 15KK0087 – 地域の競争優位―国際比較産業史の中のヨーロッパと東アジア(国際共同研究強化), April 2015 – March 2017 (Project Leader: Takafumi Kurosawa, Kyoto University)
In his opening remarks, Professor Kurosawa warmly introduced guest speakers and stressed the importance of reinterpretation of business history as the third part of his global project. As below, the program was organized in three sessions.

Session 1:

The first session was held in March 12th (Sun, 15:00-17:00), and it had three presentations, chaired by Takafumi Kurosawa. The first speaker was Dr. Asli Colpan, Associate Professor of Graduate School of Management & Graduate School of Economics at the Kyoto University, Japan. Dr. Ben Wubs, Associate Professor of Economic and Business History at Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, the Netherlands followed the ensuing presentation. He is Appointed Project Professor Graduate School of Economics at the Kyoto University. The last presenter of the day is Dr. Akira Tanaka, Associate Professor of Business History at Kyoto University, Japan.

Dr. Asli Colpan conducted a research on 50 Business Groups in the West. She made the list of them that had taken two years for her to compile and found that though in many nations there is the decline of business groups overall, in other nations we see that there are still resilience. Interesting thing the list shows is the controlling ownership is either in some entrepreneurial or most in family. They could have the power to keep these diversified business groups in place. She demonstrated that business groups are not simply transitional organization in early economic growth, but they have been important organizations over long terms of time.

Professor Ben Wubs shed light on the Interstoff’s Fashion Table, “the World’s Most Important Fashion Fabric Fair”. Interstoff has been tremendous important international textile fair, and it was set up long before Première Vision was set up. But Interstoff lost its No.1 position in Europe because of the selective protectionist policy of Première Vision. Interstoff couldn’t follow the selective strategy because it was contradict its internationalization strategy and, at the same time, German law did not allow it.

Professor Tanaka Akira gave a new perspective on “Mass-Procurement System of Iron Ore” by making a comparison between Vertical Integration and Relational Contracts. He provided two main reasons why Japanese long-term contract system successfully developed. Firstly, in political sense, American vertical integration system cannot get along with the nationalization in developing countries. Secondly, in economical sense, the long-term contract system provide advantage in transportation cost compared to the captive mine system. He also looked into the sub reasons: innovative production system, big suppliers for Japan that appeared in 1960s and Japan’s outstanding bargaining strategy.

Session 2:

Two scholars presented their works in the second session that was held in March 13th (Mon, 15:00-16:30). Dr. Gerarda Westerhuis chaired it. Professor Takafumi Kurosawa of Kyoto University was the first reporter. The second speaker was Dr. Christina Lubinski, Associate Professor of business history at Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.

Professor Takafumi Kurosawa examined the relations between “Political Risks and Organizational Innovation of Multinationals”. The main message emphasizes on his presentation was that business history can focus on non-market elements, especially political risk, which had been too narrowly defined. Traditionally, business history studies focus on managerial issue or economic logic like scale and scopes, transaction cost or allocation of resources. He integrated more variety of element which are not usually explained by economic logics, such as political risks; war, dictatorship, nationalism, collapse of state.

Dr. Christina Lubinski gave a new perspective on how to approach the analysis of “MNEs’ Responses to Decolonization” by looking into “The Advantage of Outsiderness”. Although current literatures exclusively see political risk as a negative factor, she stressed that there is a lot more political opportunity or opportunism that we are not really systemically including yet. She looked into German multinational companies in colonial India and advanced three main arguments in her presentation: 1) more politics become an issue, the more the organizational stricture of the company reflects that, 2) political positioning for these companies was never bilateral thing, but really a multilateral world view perspective, and 3) many of the political advantages are actually relative political advantages.

Session 3:

The last session was held on the same day (16:50-17:50) and it had three presentations. It was chaired by Dr. Daniel Wadhwani. Dr. Junko Watanabe, Professor of Economic History at Kyoto University, Japan was the first speaker. The following reporter was Dr. Grerarda Westerhuis, assistant professor at the Department of History and Art History, Utrecht University. And final speaker was Dr. Daniel Wadhwani, Associate Professor of Management and Fletcher Jones Chair in Entrepreneurship at University of the Pacific. He also holds appointments as a visiting professor in the Department of Management, Politics, and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School and the Department of Economics at Kyoto University.

Dr. Junko Watanabe outlined different possible ways that could be applied to interpret “Trade and Investment between Japan and China”. She focused on FDI to see the industrial adjustment. When industry faces its decline process, most companies of the industry need to change management of resources. She argued that FDI is one of the solutions of industrial adjustment. The data used in the research are 1995-2015 and 2016 Edition of Toyo Keizai’s database “Kaigai Shinshutu Kigyo Soran, Kunibetsu-hen” {Overview of Companies Operating Overseas, sorted by Country}. The first part of the presentation was the overview of all provinces of China, and the second one is the case study of Guangdong province in south China. The data shows there is a wide variety of company in different industry, such as textile, retail, chemicals and so on. Her project is on going and intended to see the exit stage, in another word, duration of operation of those Japanese companies and see the existing network among Japanese companies each other.

Dr. Grerarda Westerhuis examined the relations between “Company Law Reforms and Institutional Change”. There is a long-running discussion if the national systems converge or diverge. For example nowadays we focus on shareholder value, it seems to be more convergence towards the liberal market economy. However, in her paper, it’s more interesting to know how the system changed by looking at company law reform. She concluded that the company law was not the heart of the corporate governance changes and found that though Netherland is often positioned as a civil law country, it also have aspects of common law countries.

Dr. Daniel Wadhwani looked into the Divergent Competitiveness of the Savings Bank Sector in the U.S. and Germany during the period 1880-1930. He argued that when we see the divergence between Germany and United States, we have to understand the mentality of the managers of the late 19 century and early 20 century and understand how they interpreted their own past and its imprecations for the strategy of the company by looking at sense making not as a psychologist or not as a learning theorist mind, but as historians. For example, historian should see the interpretation at that time of whether or not strategy should be about continuity or about change in order to get short-term competitive advantage. He concluded that 1) the reason why the theory of competitive advantage for firm changes over time in part is because the boundaries of what is considered the firm change over time, and 2) managers not only reacting to changes in the contexts but creating contexts over time.

The fields of Economic/Business history nowadays have encountered new challenges. This seminar provided the opportunity to share latest perspectives of the fields not only for scholars of different universities but also for the students in Kyoto University.

10 April 2017 by Hideaki Sato, Ph.D Student, Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University / Research Fellowship for Young Scientists, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science