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Keio University is one of the oldest universities in Japan, with its origin tracing back to 1858 when Keio Gijuku, a school devoted to the study of Western technology (which at that time, entered Japan through the Dutch trade enclave of Dejima), was founded by Yukichi Fukuzawa. It was founded under the protocols of Nakatsu han (roughly, a fiefdom), of which Yukichi Fukuzawa was a samurai. The original schoolhouse was constructed within the premises of Nakatsu han’s secondary administrative building, located in Tsukiji Teppozu, Edo, or today’s Akashicho Chuo-ku, Tokyo. Since its foundation, the University has contributed to various aspects of society in accordance with the words of Fukuzawa: “The University aims to be a social leader.”

The University’s founder had a keen interest in environmental issues. In 1894, Fukuzawa visited his home province of Nakatsu (today, a northern area of the Oita Prefecture) and learnt that a piece of land near Kyoshuho, a place of scenic beauty well known for the Ao-no-Domon (Blue Tunnel), was up for sale. Fearing that “the landscape might deteriorate if the land fell into the hands of heartless people,” he bought the land himself. This is said to be a very early example of the practice underlying the spirit of the National Trust, a movement that aims to preserve natural landscapes with private funds.

Another episode that illustrates Fukuzawa’s awareness of environmental issues is that of the Lake Biwa Canal in Kyoto, which nowadays is appreciated as a valuable water supply and a tourist attraction. When the construction began in 1885, Fukuzawa was against the project. His intention was not to deny the importance of the canal project itself, but to advocate the necessity of prioritizing the preservation of natural and cultural landscapes when developing ancient cities such as Kyoto. Fukuzawa’s ideals regarding the conservation of nature, landscapes, and traditional culture amid economic development have been passed down unbroken throughout the process of modernization in Japan.

Many of these experiences, regardless of their success or failure, will be instructive to today’s developing countries as they make rapid progress toward becoming economically developed.

 

Keio University has contributed to the formulation of international frameworks and the construction of international networks in relation to measures designed to mitigate climate change.

Professor Hironori Hamanaka, a research professor at the Graduate School of Media and Governance, participated in the drafting of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997; he has also participated in the design of the post-2012 international regime for mitigating climate change. Professor Masataka Watanabe, another research professor at the Graduate School of Media and Governance, called for the construction of an international adaptation network, mainly of international institutions such as the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and Asia Institute of Technology (AIT) in 2009. Today, UNEP (Bangkok) and IGES co-host a hub for the Asia Pacific Regional Climate Change Adaptation Network (APAN), of which Professor Watanabe serves as a co-chairman. For the global adaptation network, a wider version of APAN, the Environment Minister of Japan assumes the post of co-chairperson.

As the focus of global economic activity shifts to developing countries in Asia and Africa, the environments of these developing countries are becoming very vulnerable. As a result, the people of such developing countries are being exposed to increasing risks stemming from climate change. On the basis of its ethos of pragmatic sciences, Keio University will continue to treat the issues relating to climate change systematically by providing innovative ideas and frameworks without being tied down by the conventional boundaries of single-discipline approaches.

 

 

In 2008, Keio University published the report Keio Gijuku: In Search of Environmental Protection, Safety, and Health 2008 to commemorate its 150th anniversary. The University sees the environment, along with safety and health, as vital aspects of human well-being. Therefore, in addition to its social contributions in the form of education, research, and medical care to both local and international communities, the University has been involving both teachers and students in various fields of study in greening the University’s campus. Keio Gijuku Environment Report 2008 is a compilation describing this process and its results. For more information,please refer to

http://www.keio.ac.jp/ja/society/environment/index.html>

 

Since its early stages, Keio University has focused on environmental issues in developing countries in Asia, and has made continual efforts to tackle related problems as part of its program of international environmental cooperation. In the mid-1980s, Professor Hashimoto together with his colleagues at the Faculty of Science and Technology developed a network for performing atmospheric observations in the major cities of China, including Beijing, Shenyang, and Chengdu. These observations allowed the study of air pollution and related issues such as its relationship with respiratory diseases. In the early 1990s, this venture became the basis of the cross-faculty China Environmental Research Group, which promoted projects such as the transfer of bio-briquette technology and the cultivation and transplantation of bamboo grass as food for pandas. In 2001, the Japan–China Afforestation Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project (as prescribed in the Kyoto Protocol) began as a collaborative venture among the Faculty of Business and Commerce, the Faculty of Policy Management, and the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies; this was certified by both the Japanese and the Chinese governments in 2009. If this project is approved by the United Nations CDM Executive Board, it will become the first example of a small-scale afforestation CDM project.

In 2009, Keio University established its “Environmental Energy Research Center” as a cross-faculty and trans-academic platform to promote research projects for creating a society in harmony with the global environment, especially projects that help the shift to a low-carbon society or that nurture highly qualified environmental specialists.