PhD in Political Science, University of Hawaii
Master of Arts in Political Science, Wichita State University
|Research Field :
|Hobbies and Interests :
||If I had to give an answer, it would be watching DVDs
|Recommended Books（Manga） :
||“Chinmoku No Kantai” (The Silent Service) by KAWAGUCHI Kaiji
When talking about Professor TAKEKAWA, the image that might come to mind is one of a strict, somewhat rigid teacher who announces what percentage of students will flunk his course at the very first lecture and rarely flashes a smile during class. Upon opening the door to his office, the first thing that entered my sight was the enormous amount of books there. As I sat down, I thought to myself, “No wonder he makes his politics and media students read as many as eight books for their final report…” There, in front of me, was Professor TAKEKAWA, his expression unreadable as ever. To be frank, I was so nervous that I broke out into a weird sweat. This interview is to uncover the person behind that expression and dispel that imposing image of his!
[How a newspaper reporter discovered the United States]
As some of you may know, Professor TAKEKAWA used to work as a copy editor at The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper. His responsibility was to assign headlines to the articles that reporters researched and wrote and determine page layout. In his subsequent assignment as a reporter, he experienced the actual act of doing legwork and researching and writing articles. At the time, Japan was right in the midst of its bubble economy, back when then the entire nation was awash in arrogance and opulence. It was then that Professor TAKEKAWA discovered a book by an European writer that criticized the Japanese economy. That was the first in a series of similar books that he proceeded to read. While doing so, he began to think, “Perhaps the westerners have a better grasp of the Japanese economy than we do.” Then he decided to learn English to understand how the westerners think. According to the Professor, after about nine years of service, he made the decision to resign from The Mainichi Shimbun and make his way to the United States.
[Living a stoic lifestyle in the United States]
Professor TAKEKAWA claims that at the time he initially ventured to the United States, he could not speak a lick of English. While he more or less had a mental understanding of English grammar patterns, he was a total beginner where speaking the language was concerned. He therefore started the process of studying English intensively by going to an English-language center for international students that was part of an American university. His considerably stoic lifestyle at the time consisted of refraining from contact with fellow Japanese as much as possible and completing thick volumes of past TOEFL questions even when at home. This hard work of his would pay off: despite initially not even being able to score 400 points on the TOEFL, he scored over 530 points after just four months of study, and successfully advanced to a university in the United States. Yet, he claims, after becoming an undergrad, he found himself still unable to keep up with the speaking speed of his professors, and would prepare for classes by looking up every single word he did not understand and digging into textbooks. His personal experience in that regard might be the very reason why Professor TAKEKAWA places so much emphasis on reading textbooks in advance in his own classes as well.
[Why Professor TAKEKAWA (unexpectedly?) became a researcher]
In the beginning, Professor TAKEKAWA ventured to the United States not with the desire to become a researcher, but with the casual intention of learning enough English to be able to read books written in the language. According to the Professor, he thought of becoming a freelance journalist, or even a translator, after returning to Japan. However, he realized that proper mastery of the English language would take time, which prompted him to continue living in America for four years. During that time, the Japanese economy entered the doldrums, and Professor TAKEKAWA was advised by his friend in Japan: “Don’t come back now. There’s no work to be found.” With that, the Professor decided to quit the idea of returning to Japan and enter the University of Hawaii, where he would pursue his Ph.D.
Until now, the image I had of Professor TAKEKAWA was that he was somewhat strict. After talking with him at length, however, I could see that he was also kind (by virtue of the fact that he pointed his fan in my direction) as well as open to helping to students looking to enter the media industry and giving them concrete advice. In fact, he even taught me how to take photos when interviewing somebody while showing me physical newspaper pages. If any of you have the chance, definitely go have a chat with Professor TAKEKAWA! Like me, your image of him is bound to change. (laugh)