Diversity Promotion Office—A Space Open to Everyone

October 2, 2023


The Japanese government enacted an LGBT understanding law in June 2023 as part of its efforts to promote diversity and develop a society comfortable to live in for all. Hitotsubashi University also established the Diversity Promotion Headquarters, led by a Vice President, in November 2022 with the aim of promoting university-wide the concepts of gender equality and diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Diversity Promotion Office was newly established as a subordinate organization of the headquarters. Let’s ask Kikumi Noguchi, Vice President for Public Relations and Diversity, about the office’s role and activities, and how she hopes its services will be of use.

The Goal is All People Associated with Hitotsubashi University

Prof. NoguchiKikumi Noguchi
Vice President for Public Relations and Diversity

The Diversity Promotion Headquarters builds on its forerunner, the Gender Equality Promotion Headquarters, expanding the scope from male and female to a wider range of attributes including race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, presence or absence of disabilities and disorders, age, language, religion, faith, origin, status, and family relations. It made its start alongside the establishment of the position of Vice President for Diversity. As an organization placed under the new promotion headquarters, the Diversity Promotion Office also sees its goal as all people associated with Hitotsubashi University.

The Diversity Promotion Office is conveniently located straight through the front doors on the first floor of Hitotsubashi University COOP (East Plaza) on the Kunitachi East Campus. It currently has two full-time staff members to attend to students, faculty, and staff, and provides books and materials on diversity, offering a space where visitors can deepen their understanding of diversity.

The office organizes group mentoring (information sharing) events for small groups, requiring prior application, about four times a year. A session was held in June around the theme of the things we realize when living away from home. The office also hosts free salon gatherings, which are as a rule open to all, about once a month in efforts to develop an understanding of diversity.

“The office is easy to find and open to all. If you’re passing by, please pay us a visit. Everyone is welcome,” says Vice President Noguchi.

Creating a space that feels comfortable for all

What comes to mind when you hear the word diversity? Some of you might think it’s the problem of a specified group of people and wonder what it has to do with you. Similarly, you might think the Diversity Promotion Office is a special place where you go for consultation if you feel discriminated against or alienated.

“It isn’t a special place at all! I hope everyone will take advantage of the office. You’re welcome to drop by even if you’re just curious to know what we do. Come and chat with the staff, and it might help you recognize a problem of your own or something about a friend that you hadn’t been aware of before,” says Vice President Noguchi. “No two people share the same personality and characteristics. Everyone is unique, and that’s what makes us diverse. It’s the mission of the Diversity Promotion Office to create a space that feels comfortable for all constituent members of the university.” She emphasizes, “It’s an everyday place open to everyone.”

Diversity is a consideration in matters as varied as personnel transfers of faculty and staff, childbirth and childcare, the students’ career design, and all aspects of campus life. The fact is, we should all be giving some thought to the creation of a space where all people associated with Hitotsubashi University are respected and can feel comfortable. To that end, it would benefit each of us to visit the Diversity Promotion Office from time to time.

Using Activities for Academic Research, Giving Outcomes Back to Society

Vice President Noguchi shares with us her vision of the future.

“One of our greatest strengths at Hitotsubashi University is our research capabilities. The Diversity Promotion Office hopes to create a space where all users can feel comfortable, and in future, to explore those activities also from an academic point of view and give back our research outcomes to society.”

Hitotsubashi University specializes in the social sciences and offers courses such as sociology that focus on diversity and gender as research topics. The idea is to take advantage of that fortunate environment, link the university’s activities with its research capabilities, and produce ever more advanced outcomes.

“At the time I assumed the office of Vice President for Diversity, I looked into the activities of other universities. As it stands, our diversity promotion system at Hitotsubashi University is still in its early stages. We got a late start, and our budget and staff are smaller than those of other universities. But rather than compare size and scope, I think the point is for each university to find an approach that corresponds with its unique characteristics. As an approach that takes advantage of our strengths at Hitotsubashi University, we are undertaking efforts to create a system in which we can invite professors well-versed in diversity to act as collaborators and share their knowledge and cooperate in our programs.”

Let’s stay tuned for updates on the activities of the Diversity Promotion Headquarters and the Diversity Promotion Office.

The declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic in March 2020 and the issuance of a state of emergency in Japan in April limited contact between people in all areas of society and caused our campuses to close at Hitotsubashi University. Classes were held online and via on-demand streaming, ensuring that the university continues to serve one of its purposes, that of being a place of education. Its other purpose, however, that of being a place where students, faculty, and staff gather on campus and interact and build our own and one another’s characters—the opportunity to serve that purpose was lost for as long as two years.

“Enduring that historic first experience together made all of us appreciate the value of real, face-to-face, on-campus interaction between students and faculty, and among students. None of us can live alone. For us to live, it’s essential that we connect with diverse people. I think the coronavirus crisis reminded us of the importance of gathering on campus at the university,” says Vice President Noguchi.

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