Message from the President

Photo: President Nakano Satoshi
President Nakano Satoshi

Since its foundation, Hitotsubashi University has made progress as an extraordinary academic community that fosters future leaders in a wide range of fields while developing top-level research centered on various domains in social sciences. In the 21st century, the world faces a number of complex and difficult challenges, from the global environmental crisis to conflicts provoked by division and disparity and the radical social changes brought on by globalization, the expansion of cyberspace, the issue of decreasing birthrates and aging populations, and so on. Today, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and its momentous impact on human history, universities are called to play an increasingly crucial role in pursuing the wisdom and cooperation that will contribute to the sustainable development of global society, and in fostering the human resources who will become the leaders of the future. Selected as a Designated National University in 2019, Hitotsubashi University aims to take up the mantle of this history and tradition while creating new social sciences capable of successfully addressing the challenges of the 21st century.

The origins of Hitotsubashi University can be traced back to 1875, when Arinori Mori established the initially private Commercial Training School in Ginza Owari-cho. Its fundamental goal was to cultivate human resources who would play an active role in supporting the modernization of Japan on an international level by means of a world-class business education. This is evidenced by the fact that upon its establishment, the school invited William C. Whitney, an expert in commerce education from the US, as well as receiving the cooperation of Eiichi Shibusawa, Kaishu Katsu, and others. The Commercial Training School became the Tokyo Commercial School in 1884, moving to Kanda Hitotsubashi the following year. In 1920, the school was upgraded to a national university, becoming the Tokyo University of Commerce. Soon after, following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the university made the decision—unprecedented at the time—to move its main campus to the suburbs, the current Kunitachi and Kodaira campuses. The unique teaching philosophy of the university, whereby faculty and students face one another as individuals, striving to improve society while honoring freedom and individuality, further flourished in the refreshing atmosphere of Musashino. Positioning itself as a commerce and economics university with a unique perspective and appeal, the university developed research and education in various domains in social sciences and humanities, including commerce and economics as well as legal studies, sociology, philosophy, and history. In 1949, after World War II, the institution was inaugurated as a new national university and took the name of Hitotsubashi University, reestablishing itself as a comprehensive university for the social sciences. In 1953, Hitotsubashi University became the top institute of education for social sciences, comprising four Faculties and Graduate Schools—Commerce, Economics, Law, and Social Sciences—as well as an Institute of Economic Research.

From the latter half of the 20th century on, Hitotsubashi University has striven to address the needs of a changing society, to develop the social sciences, and to foster excellent human resources at our Faculties and Graduate Schools. Over the years, new Graduate Schools were established alongside the four Faculties and Graduate Schools of Commerce, Economics, Law, and Social Sciences. These were the Graduate School of Language and Society and the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy in the 1990s, and the School of Law and School of International and Public Policy in the 2000s. In 2018, the Graduate Schools of Commerce, Law, and International Business Strategy were reorganized and integrated in order to enhance the pursuit of advanced specialist professional education, inaugurating the Hitotsubashi University Business School (HUB or the Graduate School of Business Administration) and the Hitotsubashi University Law School. Among these Faculties and Graduate Schools, the Institute of Economic Research and the Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study (established in 2014), along with the nationally ranked University Library, also serve as a foundation for top-level education and academic research, bringing together internal and external researchers and presenting research results on the international stage.

Throughout its history, Hitotsubashi University has aimed to send graduates out into the world upon equipping them with “the abundant education and civic consciousness” of our extraordinary academic community. Particular importance has been placed on fostering human resources of ample culture, knowledge, judgement, and conceptual intelligence, who possess the excellent communication skills needed to play active roles in various fields on an international level. This has been achieved through highly substantial, interactive education in small groups, such as our traditional seminars. Further, in the 21st century, Hitotsubashi University is working to foster future leaders who will contribute to the resolution of problems in an increasingly globalized society. All students acquire the fundamental skills needed to be active in international society via our curriculum (the Global Portfolio), which includes advanced English education and overseas research and internships, as well as long- and short-term student exchange programs. Hitotsubashi University boasts many years of success in long-term outbound programs based on student exchange agreements with the world’s top universities (149 outbound students in AY2022). International students from all over the world choose Hitotsubashi University as well, forming approximately 13.9% of total enrollment (as of May 1, 2023, including exchange and research students) and creating a global community on the Chiyoda and Kunitachi campuses.

One of the characteristics of Hitotsubashi University as an academic community is its traditionally low barriers between Faculties and Graduate Schools, allowing students to enroll freely in courses at Faculties and Graduate Schools other than their own. Students can also take multidisciplinary courses provided by our partners in the Tokyo Consortium of Four Universities—Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, and Tokyo Institute of Technology—as well as enroll in courses such as natural sciences offered by partner universities, through cooperation with the Tama-region national universities, Tsuda University, etc. Through their involvement in this multi-university community, students can gain awareness of issues and learn methodologies from a broad, interdisciplinary perspective. Furthermore, solid relationships with alumni have been another great asset of Hitotsubashi University ever since its foundation, as exemplified by Josuikai, the alumni association that aims to “assist in achieving the goals and mandate of Hitotsubashi University.” The university boasts one of the highest ratios of income from donations (approximately 7.2% in AY2022) among national universities, thanks to both individual and corporate contributions to the Hitotsubashi University Foundation, etc. Today, amid the increasingly serious impact of the pandemic on university campuses, we intend to protect and nurture the virtues of the extraordinary Hitotsubashi University community under any circumstances.

In 2019, Hitotsubashi University was named a Designated National University as “a university that boasts excellent research and education in the fields of humanities and social sciences in Japan.” Thereafter, we have established Strategic Priority Areas in the field of social sciences, and are in the process of rapidly enhancing research and education in the domain of social data science, establishing a new Faculty and Graduate School, and pursuing collaboration across the boundaries of natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, with the goal of creating interdisciplinary social sciences. While honoring the university’s history of carefully nurturing every student in an enriching environment and producing free and original research, Hitotsubashi University aims to continuously reinvent itself as an extraordinary community of abundant diversity and open-mindedness, and to fulfill the role of a unique and fascinating university that engages with global social issues.

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