Masanori Kasahara
Executive, Vice President,
Executive Director of Front Office for Human Resource Education and Development, Hokkaido University

Hokkaido University established a foundation for a tenure-track system through its five-year activities, with the financial support provided by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology under the “Independent Research Environment for Young Researchers” that began in 2007. Under the subsequent “Promotion and Standardization of Tenure-Track System,” we have made efforts to promote further establishment of the tenure-track system throughout the university.

In the last decade of operating the tenure-track system we have gained three major outcomes. The first outcome is “remarkable achievement of young researchers,” which is a major objective of the system. Our open international recruitment attracted many researchers from Japan and abroad. The tenure-track faculty members who passed through a rigorous selection process have been nurtured and placed in tenured faculty positions. Young researchers assigned as tenure-track teachers in various departments displayed successful results in research and education, played major roles in various activities in their respective department, and eventually widened the scope of activities. The second outcome is “interdepartmental interaction among young researchers.” A standardized operation of the tenure-track system for an extended period facilitated interdepartmental exchange primarily among the tenure-track teachers recruited in the same term, creating opportunities for collaborative researches and other interdisciplinary projects. The third outcome is “contribution to globalization” of the university. Foreign national researchers account for a high ratio of our tenure -track teachers, and most Japanese researchers have over six months of overseas experience. They play a major role as intermediaries in concluding agreements with foreign universities, conducting international joint researches, and promoting cross-cultural exchange.

As the business environments of university management are becoming increasingly severe, it is crucial to implement research personnel development from a long-term perspective. Hence, aiming towards the 150th anniversary in 2026, which marks an important milestone, we established the “Future Strategy for the 150th Anniversary of Hokkaido University” as a reform strategy. One of the essential features of the plan is to “support and nurture young researchers who will lead the next generation,” advocating for “expansion of the tenure-track system according to academic fields for early development of young researchers.” The third period medium-term plan (FY2016-2021) based on the “Future Strategy” is intended to further develop the improved tenure-track system and strengthen our research ability.