When I first visited Kawasaki City, I was immediately struck by the multicolored character for 川or “kawa” (river) in the Chinese characters for川崎 (Kawasaki) that appears on signs, buildings, posters, and even storm drain covers. I learned from Kawasaki Mayor Norihiko Fukuda that the multicolored 川 symbolizes the importance that Kawasaki City places upon diversity.
Kawasaki City is a large industrial city in the greater Tokyo area with a population of approximately 1.5 million, making it Japan’s sixth most populous city after Tokyo. It is one of Japan’s most ethnically diverse cities. Many Japanese multinational companies are based in Kawasaki. In 2014, the U.S. multinational company Johnson & Johnson opened the Tokyo Science Center in Kawasaki.
With the vision of Mayor Fukuda and support from Kawasaki City, SPICE has launched Stanford e-Kawasaki, an online course that is offered to high school students in Kawasaki. Stanford e-Kawasaki’s main course topics are diversity and entrepreneurship. Stanford e-Kawasaki Instructor Maiko Tamagawa Bacha recently noted, “The Kawasaki students have shown strong interest in these timely and relevant topics and are always actively engaged in discussions. One of the great things about Stanford e-Kawasaki is that it provides a place where students feel free and encouraged to express themselves. It also provides an important opportunity for students to reflect on their own society by learning about the United States. I look forward to our continued learning together for the rest of the course.” The course began in fall 2019 and a closing ceremony will be held in March 2020.
Bacha is a graduate of the University of Tokyo and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Prior to joining SPICE, she worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan for 14 years. In her most recent role as Advisor for Educational Affairs at the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco, she had the opportunity to work closely with SPICE to support the Reischauer Scholars Program and Stanford e-Japan.
Like Bacha, Mayor Fukuda has also done formal studies in the United States. As a graduate of Furman University in South Carolina, Mayor Fukuda experienced life in the United States firsthand. Mayor Fukuda reflected, “I am grateful to SPICE at Stanford University… for starting this program for high school students in Kawasaki City. I am encouraged to learn that the students are actively learning and engaged in discussions on topics related to diversity and entrepreneurship. I strongly hope that they will grow to be men and women of high caliber, who are keen to experience their lives with broad perspectives.” With the presence of many multinational corporations in Kawasaki, Mayor Fukuda witnesses the interdependence of Japan and the world every day and fully appreciates the significance of topics like diversity and entrepreneurship to the U.S.–Japan relationship.
The SPICE staff would like to express its appreciation also to Hisashi Katsurayama from the Kawasaki Board of Education and Yoshitaka Tsuchihama and Miyuki Kitamura of Kawasaki City and for their unwavering support of Stanford e-Kawasaki.