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I want to use my student experiences to improve the working conditions for women

Kobe University Graduate School of Economics
Kou Shi Zei
Liaoning, China (Came to Japan October 2019)

Why did you choose to study abroad in Japan?

I chose Japan because of its culture and education quality. China and Japan have deep historical ties, and Japanese culture isn’t so far away from my own. Because of the high level of education quality available in Japan, I decided to go to school here in order to grow and gain both advanced knowledge and multicultural understanding.

What made you choose Kobe above other Japanese cities?

My biggest reason for choosing Kobe was that it’s an international city, full of diversity since it became the international “door to Japan” in the Meiji period (1868-1912). Kobe also has close ties to China. For example, with its Chinatown, pandas, the Kobe Overseas Chinese History Museum, etc. Kobe is also home to Kobe University, which has a high level of academic excellence, which made Kobe attractive to me.

What are you researching in grad school?

I’m majoring in economics. My research is centered on an “Analysis of Child-Rearing Support and Women’s Employment.” The Japanese government has launched an economic policy that uses the female labor force to help solve the serious labor shortage problem that’s been caused by the low birthrate and Japan’s aging population. We’ve found that childcare support is an important factor in increasing the employment rate of women. I’m researching various labor situations around the world and previous studies to try to devise a solution to secure a place where women can play an active role.

What do you like about Kobe?

I like the nature in Kobe and the feel of the city. Kobe has both mountains and the sea, and it’s a good place to live. There’s also a familial sense of warmth in the city – on my morning commute, the people I pass exchange “hello”s with me – and it makes me want to always live in Kobe.

What do you do in Kobe on your days off?

Every Sunday I volunteer in a Chinese language classroom. My native language is Chinese, so this allows me to communicate with people from many different countries who are learning my language

I also volunteer with the Kobe Student Community Support Scrum program. Last year, I participated in an activity meant to revitalize the Suidosuji Shopping Street, and now I’m involved in projects to help support elementary school students in their extracurricular activities, and to promote Kobe as a study abroad destination.

What do you want to do with what you’ve studied in Japan?

My research right now is focused on childcare leave and childcare support policies. There is growing support for childcare leave not only for women, but for men as well; an idea that’s based on the economic idea that men taking childcare leave leads to greater employment for women. At the same time, as a part of my own personal activities, I’m volunteering to support women’s job-hunting.

I want to use what I’ve learned in Japan and work to continue to support women in their job searches.

Please share some advice for prospective international students to Kobe (or Japan)!

Kobe is really fun! It’s a convenient place to live, and it’s easy to find part-time work! The people I meet are friendly, and there’s plenty of support for foreign residents. Kobe is also home to many international students, so you’ll easily be able to make lots of foreign friends. Come to Kobe, and you’ll enjoy both your studies and your student life!