News & Information
From October 29th till November 6th, 2016, the College of Economics carried out Euro-Japan Dialogue in Romania and Greece. This was the 11th year of the programme, which has taken place now at 21 different universities in 13 countries in Europe. This year Euro-Japan Dialogue visited the Japanese Language and Literature Department at University of Bucharest, Romania, and the Faculty of English Language and Literature at University of Athens. Greece.
The ten undergraduate students from Faculty of Economics began their sojourn in Bucharest. The economic topics were University Tuition Fees, and Migrant Labour. Each side presented on these topics from the perspective of Japan and Romania. In the former presentation, the YNU cohort made a comparison with Germany and showed how a differing economic outlook in Japan meant offering a universal waiver on tuition fees for all university education would be problematic. On Migrant Labour, Japanese students introduced a number of academic studies that found little or no adverse effect on domestic labour from an influx of migrant workers. These presentations were met enthusiastically by the Romanian audience, who asked interesting questions, such as what motivates overseas workers to make their way to Japan.
As well as the economic topics, presentations and discussion took place on some cultural issues. An informative and educational comparison was made on Marriages & Funerals, where the many commonalities and significant differences were analysed and commented on. The ‘kidnapping’ of Romanian brides was an especially intriguing custom for the YNU students.
In Romania students also made a company visit to Makita, a Japanese manufacturer of industrial power tools. This company has a truly global span, with factories in three EU countries: Germany, UK, as well as Romania. The visiting YNU and UB students were able to tour the factory and understand this snapshot of economic relations between Japan and Romania. They also took part in a lively discussion on the communication challenges that a multilingual, multinational workforce throws up.
On November 2 the cohort moved to Athens, and were immediately given a taste of the challenges that Greece still faces. The Euro-Japan Dialogue visited University of Athens on the day of a lightening strike by students. Despite there being a picket line, the strike organizers were swayed by the argument that the YNU group had come so far for this event, and YNU and participating Athens students were given special permission to cross the picket line. Thus the Dialogue took place on an empty campus. The Japanese students were able to experience first-hand the problems faced by some of their Greek peers brought about by the Eurozone crisis.
The main topic of discussion in Athens was on the economic benefits of a multilingual society. The Athens cohort explained the finer detail of terms such as multlingualism and pluraligualism. They then went on to give examples of how businesses with limited linguistic competence among their staff suffer economically. The YNU cohort outlined the various minority languages spoken in Japan – such as Ainu, Okinawan, and Portuguese – before going on to discuss Japan’s well-known lack in English-language proficiency and the economic side-effects of the problem. A lively discussion on the role of English in Greek and Japanese societies followed.
In both cities the European students guided the YNU cohort on cultural and historical tours, followed by more relaxed intercultural exchange in social settings. The Euro-Japan Dialogue was a great success thanks in large part to the hard work, organization and gracious hospitality of our European partners at University of Bucharest and University of Athens, to whom we offer our deepest gratitude.
Plans for the 12th Euro-Japan Dialogue are already underway, when the programme will visit University of Tallin, Estonia, and University of Vilnius, Lithuania.