Led by Mr. Tuomo Puumala, a group of nine lawmakers representing the Education and Culture Committee of Parliament of Finland paid a visit to Tokyo on May 21 ～25 to deepen their understanding of the Japanese education system, challenges it has, future direction and pressing issues for one of the fastest graying societies in the world.
The diversity of their itinerary – ranging from briefings at various government offices to visits to educational facilities, a teachers' labor union and a private-sector cram school—helped the Finnish lawmakers gain a comprehensive take on their agenda for Tokyo.
Meeting with their counterpart committee chaired by Ms. Keiko Nagaoka in the Lower House was particularly lively. Both Japanese and Finnish parliamentarians passionately exchanged views on most topical matters facing the education scenes in Japan and Finland. For the Finnish committee, education finance and how to update occupational and higher education to meet the ever changing demands of today and tomorrow are among the issues of concern.
At the University of Tokyo, Mr. Puumala and his team engaged in free discussions on the state of higher education in Japan with Executive Vice President Dr. Masashi Haneda. The Finns also enjoyed a stroll in the 140-year lush green Hongo campus stopping at the famous Sanshiro Pond.
Visiting Yoyogi Sanya Elementary School and meeting with school children, teachers and members of the Shibuya Board of Education was another memorable event. The school has been designated by the board as a pilot institution for education digitalization using LTE tablets. One of the lawmakers was very impressed to learn that "school children clean their own classrooms after their classes in Japan."
In the Cabinet Office, the committee members had a chance to call on Mr. Katsunobu Kato, Minister of State for Measure for Declining Birthrate following two presentations on the government's measures for population decline and support for childrearing. Serving also as Minister of State for Gender Equality, Mr. Kato told Mr. Puumala that he was delighted to notice that seven out of nine in the delegation were female. Their discussions also touched on Minister Kato's recent visit to Finland where he visited a neuvola facility. The Finnish concept of seamless care and consulting service for expecting mothers and their partners, etc. is being introduced at various municipalities in Japan.
To wrap up their official part of the program, the Finnish lawmakers visited Tokyo2020 Organizing Committee as sports is also an area the Finnish committee deals with. They were warmly welcomed by Mr. Aki Murasato, Executive Director, International Relations who is also a vice president of International Ski Federation (FIS).