« November 2006 | MAIN | January 2007 »

December 19, 2006


Interview with Prof. Asahi Noguchi on Economic Education

Interviewee: Prof. Asahi Noguchi (Professor, Senshu University)

On December 15, I had a talk with Senshu University Professor Asahi Noguchi at my favorite place near Shinjuku-gyoenmae, where I often meet him.
Prof. Noguchi has written a number of introductory economics books for general audience and, in that connection, he has been asked by Tokyo Metropolitan University for the last couple of years to teach an economics seminar on the university-sponsored program, “Tokyo Mirai Juku” for those high school students who are recommended by their schools as part of their entrance examination exercises.
Prof. Noguchi says that teaching such students is very satisfying himself with good results. This is not only due to the fact that those students are selected ones with high motivation, but also due to the way the seminar is organized and conducted as follows:
(1) In the initial lecture part, such introductory books as Prof. Noguchi’s book “Understanding Basic Economics From Level Zero Up” (2002) are used as textbooks to motivate students.
(2) Students are told to form small groups, and find and study their group topics (for example, the role of government, social security and taxes, fiscal and monetary policy, deflation, etc.) for their class presentation.
(3) They are advised and supported by an excellent assistant who used to be a school teacher with good understanding of high school students.
These may be helpful in teaching economics to high school students in general, but it would not be easy to motivate those who are not interested in economic issues in the first place. Prof. Noguchi suggested that one idea might be to start with such commonly interested issues as “taxes,” and go on to take up related problems such as “public finance and social security issues,” which every citizen should be aware of.
Noguchi, Asahi “Understanding Basic Economics From Level Zero Up” (Zero kara wakaru keizai no kihon), Kodansha, 2002:
Prof. Asahi Noguchi’s Authored Books:
For a Japanese version of this report, see the following:

December 07, 2006


Interview with Prof. Hiroya Ichikawa on Economic Education

Interviewee: Dr. Hiroya Ichikawa (Professor, Sophia University)

Prof. Hiroya Ichikawa was interviewed at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Hibiya on December 4, and asked him about economic education in Japan.
Prof. Ichikawa, after graduating from the Economics Department at Keio University, worked for Keidanren before joining the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Sophia University, has a broad network in the business world at home and abroad. Based on his experience, he seems to have a critical view on economic education in Japan. The following is a summary of my interview with him.
First, what is the use of economic education? To answer this question, it is necessary to teach students in such a way that they can take it as their own problem in the real world, rather than studying and memorizing some pieces of knowledge at school.
For example, students should be taught such subjects as career development and job selection, income and consumption, savings and investment, life cycle and social security, etc. for the sake of their own life planning. If these issues are presented with concrete examples, students would be willing and able to acquire the ability to think logically and critically in economic terms.
Second, the treatment of business corporations in economic education needs revision, because corporations are no longer “seeking profit alone and ignoring the environment,” as seen in some textbooks. It is important to let students know the fact that both public and private institutions, including business corporations, are working together to solve environmental problems in Japan, and such knowledge would help students understand the relationship between the economy and the environment more fully.
The following are some materials on this issue published by Nippon Keidanren:
“Global Environment Charter” (1991)
“Environment Appeal” (1996)
“Voluntary Environmental Action Plans” (2006)

For a Japanese version of this report, see the following: