Making proposals on welfare policies and local communities from a philosophical viewpoint
Faculty of Law, Politics & Economics, the Department of Welfare Policy, Hiroi Laboratory
Professor Yoshinori Hiroi asserts that problems in society are caused not by isolated issues existing separately but by individual issues complexly related with one another.
We interviewed the professor who is conducting a wide-ranging research, from social security systems to local communities.
Professor of Faculty of Law, Politics & Economics, Chiba University
Completed College of Arts and Science, and the master course of Graduate School of Arts and Science of the University of Tokyo.
Worked for Ministry of Health and Welfare (today's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), employed by Chiba University in 1996, serving in the current position since 2003. Specializing in public policy.
Author of "Teijo-gata Shakai (steady-state society)" (Iwanami Shinsho book series) and a number of other works.
Please tell us about the research you are working on, professor.
My research is mainly about public policy and scientific philosophy.
I am conducting my research on the premise that various problems in our society are not caused by issues existing independently but two issues are interrelated or a number of issues are complexly entangled.
One example is the issue of decreasing birthrate and aging population. As you continue to study it deeper and deeper, you can find a wide variety of other issues involved in it, such as medical services, social security, support for young generations, and local community management.
When we study how humans are involved in society, we need to take into consideration some philosophical aspects including prosperity in a true sense, happiness of society, and views of life and death, in addition to institutional problems.
Was there any trigger or reason that moved you to incorporate philosophical aspects into your study on public welfare?
Since my high school days, I have had an interest in the philosophical theme of "what do we live for?" I entered the university's faculty of law, but I always wanted to study philosophy.
So in the third year, I transferred to the faculty of liberal arts and majored in science history and scientific philosophy, and in the graduate school, I advanced into the field of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences for conducting interdisciplinary research.
The philosophical way of thinking that I developed in those days, namely, an approach of contemplating the essence or root of an issue instead of superficiality, has been the basis of my current research activity, I think.
Before coming to Chiba University, I spent some time working for Ministry of Health and Welfare (today's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) on social security. During that time, I had a chance to study abroad, and I realized how much I am cut out for research-related profession. I took up the course of research in 1996 when I was invited to Chiba University.
Based on my experience, I began to realize the importance of combining the philosophical or fundamental aspects with specific and administrative aspects of an ongoing issue.
What is the reward or pleasure that research is giving you?
In my research on public policy, it is important not only to pinpoint the problem but to think how to overcome it and present a proposal accordingly.
I make it a point to publish what I have found through my research in the forms of books or papers to share it with the public.
I also have opportunities to join councils of the national government
On the Meeting on Education Rebuilding where I served as a member during the Aso Administration period, I proposed the scheme of "social security for first half of one's life" for intensifying support for child-rearing and young people, which was reflected in the final report.
When I see my suggestions being supported this way, I feel rewarded, knowing that I am being useful to society in some way.
Last of all, please give a message to the students.
I am currently engaging in "Chinju-no-Mori (the Grove of the Village Shrine) Project."
This is a study on the role of a local community as the base of true prosperity and happiness of community members. This study also involves the philosophical themes of prosperity and happiness. I think a man continues to think of the theme he was thinking about around the age of 20. For me, it was related to philosophy.
You students are about 20 years old right now. The biggest goal of your university schooling is to find a theme that you will remain interested in for the rest of your life.
As you look for it, you will begin to see the direction you should move on.
In seminars, students make presentations on the themes they are studying. More and more students have become interested in local community topics recently.
Future Medicine Education and Research Organization plays a central role for the comprehensive development of medical staff who can support rich and healthy aged society as well as safe and secure community that Chiba University is promoting.
Trial on Chinju-no-Mori Therapy (forest therapy) conducted in a seminar session. Following a forest instructor, students controlled their breathing and physically contacted the trees in the grove of village shrine (at Shirahataten Shrine in Ichikawa City)
The professor has published about 20 books as a sole author until today.
"Writing a book is an expression of thoughts in a broad sense" -Professor Hiroi.