Next Generation Talent:
Developing International Mindsets at Tokyo Metropolitan University

Tokyo Metropolitan University (TMU), the only university operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, is taking the lead on creating a truly global curriculum to attract top talent from the international community. Rahayu Pertiwi shares her experience at the university as a grantee of the Tokyo Global Partner Scholarship Program.
Rahayu Pertiwi feels excitement for her future as a researcher in Tokyo. Here she stands in the courtyard at Tokyo Metropolitan University's Minami-Osawa campus in Hachioji City in the suburbs of Tokyo.

Research with the Help of a Supportive Community

"I love studying at Tokyo Metropolitan University," Rahayu "Ayu" Pertiwi gushes as she sits in a lecture room overlooking lush greenery at the scenic campus in Hachioji City. TMU boasts a wide range of departments with programs taught in English, from Biology English Program at the Department of Biological Sciences to the Graduate School and Faculty of Urban Environmental Sciences.

It seems returning to Japan was always in the cards for this young Indonesian biologist, who decided to apply for a scholarship in Japan after an enjoyable study tour at Ibaraki University as an undergraduate student. She is a grantee of the Tokyo Global Partner Scholarship Program, a program for ambitious international students from Asia, Tokyo's sister cities, and partner institutions of TMU. Students must be willing to contribute to the development of Tokyo, and the world, by utilizing knowledge and technology gained at TMU. Grantees of the scholarship enjoy benefits such as free tuition, a round-trip airfare, and a monthly stipend of 150,000 yen.

"I had been looking for universities in Japan when my supervisor at Ibaraki University suggested I apply to the post-graduate scholarship at TMU. I'm glad they introduced me to the program; I enjoyed my masters here so much that I ended up staying to do my doctoral degree here too. I think it is important for prospective international students to research their options, network and make connections as there are a lot of good scholarship options available in Japan."

As a practicing Muslim, Pertiwi says "Tokyo is one of the most accessible cities in the world," finding no difficulties meeting Halal (dietary) and Sholat (daily prayer) requirements.

Pertiwi is currently conducting her research at TMU's state-of-the-art Evolutionary Genetics Laboratory. "The laboratory is well-equipped, and I have three English-speaking supervisors. My thesis was completed entirely in English, with plenty of support from my professors."

She continues, "Before I arrived in Japan, I was worried about the language aspect as I heard that most Japanese people don't speak English or interact with foreigners, but I don't think that's true. I have made plenty of great friends at TMU that speak English and have welcomed me with nothing but kindness. They always help me out and are always respectful of my religion. Since I am a Muslim, I need to pray at certain times of the day. Everybody I have encountered at the university has been accommodating and many will help me find a quiet place to pray." 

Pertiwi says it's easy to find Halal choices in Tokyo, and she feels safe and well-supported in Japan. The university offers a scholarship which the students can use for living expenses, so she can properly focus on her studies and enjoy socializing with friends in her free time. In the future, she dreams of becoming a researcher in Japan, hoping to inspire a new generation of internationally minded students to add to the current globalization efforts by the university and other institutions.

Access to Exclusive Global Lectures from Prominent Academics 

In addition to the Tokyo Global Partner Scholarship Program, TMU has been receiving attention among international students like Pertiwi for its efforts to develop human resources who can play an active role in the international community. The Global Lecture Series, an initiative inspired by the capital authority's focus on a more global education in Tokyo, are lectures usually broadcast online. The lecturers who have spoken so far include historian and sociologist Emmanuel Todd, and historian Yuval Noah Harari, the author of international bestseller book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, as well as a wide range of other prominent figures in various fields. 

Together, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and TMU aims to create a new international mindset among young people. The former has developed a plan called the ' Future Tokyo: Tokyo's Long-Term Strategy', that features many of the ideas and recommendations TMU includes in its lectures. Oguro Kentaro, Director of Project Promotion in charge of the Global Lecture Series, hopes the program will improve local students' critical thinking and problem-solving skills for a more competitive future for Tokyo as a leading global city.

The Global Lecture Series website. The past lectures are free to watch with subtitles. Photo: courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan University

Student Life in a Cutting-edge City Balanced with Tradition

Upcoming Global Lecture Series topics include AI, ChatGPT, and sustainable development. TMU invites experts on the latest topics, including prominent academics from world-leading institutions such as Columbia University and corporate executives active in high-profile fields. With programs such as this TMU is focused on creating initiatives with the future in mind.

However, Japan is not all simply modern mindsets and state-of-the-art facilities. Pertiwi says, "Before I came to Japan, I thought Tokyo would just be skyscrapers and crowds, but I was delighted to find pockets of tradition left dotted throughout the city. Whether wandering through the old streets surrounding Senso-ji, the oldest temple in Asakusa or passing torii shrine gates on my daily commute to university. I often take a minute to appreciate the classic Japanese views, knowing that there is nowhere else quite like Tokyo."

Rahayu Pertiwi 

Rahayu Pertiwi was born in Indonesia. She received her master's degree at TMU, where she is continuing her studies with a scholarship from the Tokyo Global Partner Scholarship Program. 

Tokyo Global Partner Scholarship Program

A merit-based program that enables exceptional international students to pursue their graduate studies at TMU. The scholarship covers admission fee, tuition, airfare and a monthly stipend.

Global Lecture Series

The Global Lecture Series gives predominantly online lectures in English with Japanese subtitles, introducing cutting-edge ideas from prominent academia on the global stage to domestic trailblazers. Guest speakers include Siri co-founder Adam Cheyer and architect Sejima Kazuyo.

Tokyo Metropolitan University
Interview and writing by Jessica Ujiie
Photos by Julio Kohji Shiiki