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Hokkaido University (HU) President Prof. Houkin's delegation visit to UCD

A delegation led by President Houkin visited UCD for the first time, and met with President Feely, Prof. O’Riordan and other key academics for the signing of a renewed MoU between HU and UCD.

Since the early 2000s, Hokkaido University and UCD have had a string of strong research collaborations. Professor Emeritus William (Billy) Hall (the UCD Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases) has been instrumental in establishing this collaboration. Alongside Prof. Emeritus Gerry O’Sullivan in the School of Physics, Prof. Hall is one of the pioneers in not only establishing but also nourishing the links with Japanese universities. 

Founded as the Sapporo Agricultural College in 1876, HU is one of Japan’s seven Kyu-Tei-Dai (旧帝大), which means former ‘Imperial Universities’ (Tokyo, Kyoto, Tohoku, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyushu, and Hokkaido). It is a large and historic national university, which has a tough entrance exam system, and is therefore prestigious. There are 86 national universities, which accounts for approximately 10% of the universities in Japan (i.e., close to 800 universities all together). 

HU structures education and research around the following four themes: “Frontier Spirit,” “Global Perspectives,” “All-round Education” and “Practical Learning.” The University has two campuses - one in Sapporo and another in Hakodate. The founding father of the College, Dr William Clark’s motto “Be ambitious!” is very well known among Japanese people, and one of the globally famous alumni includes Inazo Nitobe (educator, diplomat, agronomist and political scientist), who was the second class of Sapporo Agricultural College, and graduated in 1881.

Nitobe served as the deputy secretary general of the League of Nations, but he is also known as an advocate for women's education. He helped to found the Tsuda Eigaku Juku (now Tsuda University*) and served as the first president of Tokyo Woman's Christian University. 

The UCD-Hokkaido relationship has developed over several decades through persistent academic- and researcher-led partnerships. In 2014, this relationship was formalised through the signing of the Inter-Academic Exchange agreement - a high-level MoU which stated each institution’s intentions to formalise relationships through detailed MoAs. Assoc. Prof. Kodate has been a senior researcher at Hokkaido University’s Public Policy Research Centre since 2013. He also brought the delegation of undergraduate students from HU in 2017.


The partnership receives support through the UCD Centre for Japanese Studies, while multiple units across UCD and Hokkaido have established research and academic collaborations. Notable collaborations exist between the Hokkaido Research Centre for Zoonosis Control (currently the International Institute for Zoonosis Control) and UCD Centre for Experimental Pathogen Host Research (CEPHR). This relationship focuses on Zoonosis Control, with Professor Stephen Gordon having been awarded funding to further joint research.

Most recently, an Erasmus+ ICM agreement has been signed (for the second time) between UCD and HU to facilitate staff, researcher and PhD-level mobility in the areas of Infectious Diseases and Social Policy.

(Left to Right: VP for Global Engagement, UCD, Prof. Dolores O’Riordan, UCD President Prof. Orla Feely, HU President Prof. Kiyohiro Houkin, HU Advisor to the President, Prof. Kazunori Iwabuchi)

(Left to Right: Ms Taena Uemura, HU Research Administrator (International), Dr Kodate, Ms Shauna Hughes, Director, Global Relations, Partnerships and Mobility, UCD, Prof. Steve Gordon (UCD Veterinary Science/JaSt), VP for Global Engagement, UCD, Prof. Dolores O’Riordan, UCD President Prof. Orla Feely, HU President Prof. Kiyohiro Houkin, Prof. Kazunori Iwabuchi, HU Agricultural Science/Advisor to the President, Ms Eri Hata, Director, International Affairs, HU, Prof. Yasuhiko Suzuki, International Institute for Zoonosis Control, HU, Prof. Billy Hall, UCD Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases). 

On the previous day, the Head of School, School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, Prof. Karen Anderson, Director of the Geary Institute for Public Policy, Prof. Michelle Norris and Assoc. Prof. Naonori Kodate welcomed Prof. Mikine Yamazaki on the 21st of February in Hanna Sheehy Skeffington Building. 

The UCD Centre for Japanese Studies, affiliated with the School, hosted this working lunch to discuss our recent success getting the competitive Erasmus+ICM funding with Hokkaido University (jointly done with the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine under the theme of One Health), and future collaborations.

Prof. Mikine Yamazaki is a Professor in Public Policy at Hokkaido University. His major is territorial politics and public policy, focusing on devolution/decentralisation, and public policy of tobacco and alcohol control from a comparative perspective. His English joint papers include A Comparison of Tobacco Policy in the UK and Japan: If the Scientific Evidence is Identical. Why is there a Major Difference in Policy? (Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice (2018)). He was a visiting professor of the Division of Politics at the University of Stirling from 2015 to 2016. He and Dr Kodate have known each other for more than 20 years and initiated a short-term study programme called Shamrock Programme for the students at the Graduate School of Public Policy, Hokkaido University in 2013. Between 2013 and 2020, eight students came to study at UCD (and a few of them conducted a small research project based at the Geary Institute). Prof. Yamazaki and Dr Kodate successfully obtained the Erasmus+ICM in 2017 for the first time. 

In the meeting, representatives from the UCD Global outlined the Erasmus+ICM scheme, followed by discussions regarding possible future collaborations in policy areas such as housing, gender, ageing and health.

(Front, Left to Right: Ms Eri Hata, Director, International Affairs, HU, Prof. Mikine Yamazaki, Graduate School of Public Policy, HU. Back, Left to Right: Mr Shane Lordan, UCD Global, Dr Naonori Kodate, Prof. Karen Anderson, School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, Ms Ruth Mariani, UCD Global). 

It is worth noting that UCD’s senior academics started visiting Japanese universities in the last two years. Most recent visits include VP for Global Engagement, Prof. O’Riordan’s visit to Showa Women’s University to meet with its Chancellor Prof. Mariko Bando, and that of Registrar (then VP for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion/College Principal for Social Sciences and Law), Prof. Colin Scott to the University of Tokyo and Waseda University. 

*Tsuda University and UCD also have a MoU at the College level (Social Sciences). 
In 2018, the President of Tsuda University, Professor Yuko Takahashi visited Belfield and gave a talk which attracted 200 people on the campus. https://www.ucd.ie/japan/newsevents/ucdwomenstemxucdjapanjointsymposium/