Satomi Maeda, a senior in the Department of International Legal Studies says, “I would like to be involved in politics in the future, drawing on my experiences gained at Sophia University and abroad.” Through her experiences both home and away, her interests have grown to include the global environment, Sustainable Development Goals, and international law.
Studying law to prepare for a career in politics
I became interested in politics during elementary school when the Japanese government shifted to the Democratic Party. I saw firsthand how the mood of society changed with a single word from the prime minister. Even at an early age, I thought that if I got involved in politics, I might be able to solve the problems of society in a snap.
I then became interested in political issues and decided to study politics at university. To be successful in politics, I thought learning about the law in depth would be helpful, so I decided to apply to a law school. I chose the Department of International Legal Studies at Sophia University because I felt that with globalization, there is an increasing need to consider the interests of other countries.
Although I entered the school fully intending to study international relations, during my first year, I mainly studied Japanese law. I found it surprisingly interesting and wanted to learn more about it. In particular, studying the Japanese constitution changed my impression of it. I had an image of the constitution as a list of prohibitions, but at its core, I was surprised to discover that it’s really about protecting people.
When I first enrolled in the program, I had no idea how to write reports, identify issues, or develop arguments properly, but I gradually got the hang of it by researching in the library and asking my seniors and professors. Through this process, I acquired the ability to think objectively and logically from a legal standpoint.
Sophia University’s Faculty of Law has three departments, but there are few boundaries between them, allowing me to take classes in the Department of Global Environmental Law and the Department of Law while belonging to the Department of International Legal Studies. I am currently very interested in environmental issues, and thanks to the lack of barriers, I can take classes covering environmental law without restriction. This freedom to study what I want may be the best thing about being a student in the Faculty of Law.
Gaining new perspectives by studying in a digitally advanced country
After studying abroad in Denmark for about six months, I became interested in learning about the environment. Their approach to welfare and the environment has interested me since high school. Denmark is also considered a digitally advanced country, and I thought there was a lot that Japan could learn from them from a business standpoint, so I decided to study abroad for the first time. At first, I could barely keep up with the high-speed English classes, but I worked hard to improve my language skills by watching “TED Talks,” and by speaking with local friends.
In Denmark, I felt that efforts to realize their Sustainable Development Goals and create a sustainable society were more widespread than I had imagined. I made friends with vegans there and heard their thoughts on environmental issues and animal welfare. I wouldn’t have understood the motivations of vegans and their lifestyle choices had I not studied abroad.
This experience changed my view of vegan food in the Sophia cafeteria. Before, I had not given much thought to its presence, but now I am reminded daily of the values this food represents. Since my study abroad experience, I have become more aware in my daily life of the differences between Japan and Denmark, and what each society can learn from the other.
Taking action to solve today’s global issues
I have been able to lead a comfortable campus life for the past four years because there are many caring and supportive people at Sophia University. There are many sensible students, and I have never encountered anyone who would treat others without respect. When I mentioned that I wanted to be in a magazine for current students published by the Career Center, the staff in the law office were quick to give me advice.
I can say this now, but I lost some of my self-confidence in high school. I even considered quitting my involvement in politics. But with the support of many people at Sophia, my self-confidence has returned as I followed my own interests and worked towards different goals. Even when the Covid-19 pandemic forced the new student welcome event that I was helping to coordinate to be canceled, I was able to use that time to set up a blog for the Faculty of Law alongside my fellow students. It may only be a small example, but learning to be flexible in the face of adversity makes me believe that there are still more things I can do that I haven’t even discovered yet.
Now, having studied law, I know for sure that I would like to be involved in politics in the future, drawing on my experiences gained at Sophia University’s Faculty of Law and abroad in Denmark. However, there are many more lessons and experiences to be had before entering the world of politics. My plan is to gain more practical experience in the private sector first. I would also like to participate in non-profit and volunteer organizations that support single mothers and Sustainable Development Goals, becoming an adult who views social issues as my own and takes necessary actions to solve them.
※Please note that the content of this article is current as of August 2021