Message from the Dean

Graduate School of Public Policy, Hokkaido University (HOPS)

Mamoru Sorai, the Dean of the Graduate School of Public Policy

Mamoru SORAI, Dean of HOPS

The Graduate School of Public Policy (HOPS) is a professional school that aims to foster “experts and professionals to plan, propose, execute and evaluate public policy and service.” As of April 1st, 2021, as per stipulated in Article 99 of the Japanese Education Law concerning professional schools, there are 6 schools that specialize in the field of public policy and HOPS is the only one outside of the main island of Honshu.

The challenges we face today and the solutions we need to seek for in the field of public policy differ greatly among the various regions. For example, the challenges they face in Tokyo, which is home to 30% of the total population, as well as Nagoya and Osaka or the “Three Big Cities,” will differ greatly than those challenges faced in the “local regions” of Japan. Moreover, the challenges we face today will differ depending on the population density, age range and employment status of the residents. Therefore, the rural regions and urban cities will have different sets of priorities and contrasting public policy agenda (of course, this phenomenon  is not unique to Japan but can be seen all over the world.)

One of the characteristics of a professional school is offering courses that look specific case studies and conduct field work. These type of practical “job training” classes offer students the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to become highly skilled professionals, through the various group work and writing policy papers to search for possible solutions to the various policy challenges we face today. The various courses and programmes to acquire hands on skill and knowledge offered at our school have attracted many talented individuals who wish to pursue a career in policy-making.

When you come to study at HOPS, you will be surprised to see that a regional urban center such as Sapporo, while promoting the centralization of the city, also faces the challenge of declining population and rapid aging society. You will also learn that various local communities in Hokkaido, while facing the critical challenges of depopulation, urbanization and hollowing-out effect, are attempting to revitalize and re-develop their communities through unique and innovative policies.

The realities and urgency of policy challenges are determined by the physical distance to the actual site where the challenge is being met. It is a sad reality, but it takes an individual with great deal of empathy to feel the pain of someone who is being treated inhumanely in a far away country. It is only human nature but the psychological distance to the subject is proportional to the physical distance.

It is crucial to accept the reality and urgency of policy challenge—this is the most important premise of policy research. At HOPS, you will be able to witness many of the pressing policy challenges that we face in Japan today. The expression may seem peculiar, but the region of Hokkaido is a plethora of policy challenges. Even though Hokkaido one of the largest prefectures in Japan, most of the local communities can be reached within a day from Sapporo. The “sites” that face policy challenges are not very far away if you just look carefully and listen cautiously.

We are celebrating our 16th year since the founding of our school. We will continue to educate, support and foster highly skilled professionals in policy-making while making full use of the unique and distinct characteristics of beautiful Hokkaido.