Every year, in an effort to develop a global mindset in students, Yokohama City University invites personalities that are active on the international scene to deliver lectures about the trends present in other countries and their involvement with Japan as part of its annual international lecture series. On October 16, the Ambassador of France to Japan, His Excellency Laurent Pic, offered a lecture on the European policy of President Macron to the students of YCU. Associate Professor Tomoko Watarai served as moderator for the event.
His Excellency Laurent Pic, who assumed office in June, has a solid knowledge of European affairs. His impressive resume includes Director of Cabinet for the French Minister for European Affairs and International Development, Ambassador to the Netherlands, Deputy Secretary General for European Affairs as well as First Secretary of the Permanent Representation of France to the European Union (EU) in Brussels. The 300-seat classroom in YCU Square was nearly full of eager students, as the newly appointed Ambassador delivered his lecture in which he discussed the European policy of the new President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, in the current international context. The lecture centered on the concepts of Sovereignty, Unity, Solidarity, and Responsibility and addressed policies in fields such as security, democracy, sustainable development and culture. It offered a deeper understanding of the current situation and future strategies of France and the EU. His Excellency explained that Japan is an important partner for Europe, and that it is essential that people understand the dynamic political changes happening in the EU right now.
During the Q&A session, students asked questions about the appeal of Japan for France, especially in terms of labour and the economy. His Excellency replied that Japan is indeed very attractive. He added that although the difference in language presents a barrier, this should be overcome in the years to come with the penetration of English as a common language. On student exchange between Japan and France, His Excellency commented that first gaining a better understanding of the other country through short stays may be a good way to increase the interest of students, and could therefore gradually lead to longer exchange opportunities. YCU is eager to deepen its relations with France. There is already a student exchange agreement with Jean-Moulin Lyon 3 University under which students from each institution study at the other for one academic year. In addition, YCU has concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) —the largest public health network in France—aimed at building clinical, research and educational opportunities.
After the lecture, students had a chance to take group photos with His Excellency who candidly struck up conversation with them. This event gave YCU students the valuable experience of hearing directly from an ambassador—a person active in the front lines of international affairs.