From Professor Sakakibara

Prof. SakakibaraFor Asian countries which depend heavily on international trade, customs operations is extremely important. Also, trade of goods and services have been a very crucial part of Asian GDP. Manufacturing industry has been the key part of the Asian industry and imports of raw materials such as iron ore or oil supported the industry. As such, international trade has been the cornerstone of Asian economies. Being relatively poor in natural resources, many Asian countries cannot survive without international trade.

Customs or custom house is the government organ that monitors international trade and, as such, needs to develop various expertise. Since import and export items are quite diverse, customs officers need to learn the nature of various goods.

I think this program is quite timely and appropriate. Without the expertise and high quality of customs officials, the country's international trade cannot grow smoothly. The world is, now, increasingly globalized and international trade has become bigger and bigger. Along with it, customs offices should grow in size and quality, and education of customs officials has become absolutely essential.

Eisuke Sakakibara
Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University
Former Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs, Ministry of Finance

Our Mission

Developing countries face enormous challenges in trying to achieve sustainable development. This is due, in part, to the lack of effective and efficient financial institutions and regulatory regimes. To build such institutions, developing countries need human capital with excellence in management knowledge and skills capable of designing and implementing sound public policies. This is where AGU finds its mission: "to be a school for training and research for future leaders in the policy arena."

The SMIPRP at AGU's Graduate School of Business, in cooperation with WCO, takes a leading role in achieving this mission by offering a master's degree program that nurtures future leaders in customs-related organizations. As a leading research institution in Business and Management, we pursue quality research in such areas as strategic and organizational management and intellectual property rights, offering continuous feedback to future executives in customs-related organizations.

The characteristics of the SMIPRP are threefold:
  • - The SMIPRP places its educational focus on management.
  • - The SMIPRP aims to incorporate Western theories of business management and research findings with those of Japan as the economic center of Asia.
  • - The SMIPRP strives to educate students about the management practices of private companies from a practical standpoint, which we believe contributes to nurturing future leaders not only for the organizational development of customs but also for the sustainable development of countries.

Program Overview

The major objective of the SMIPRP is to provide students with conceptual understanding and technical competence for careers as future leaders in Strategic Management and Intellectual Property Rights. The curriculum is mainly designed for government officials worldwide currently working in customs.

The SMIPRP is a 12-month master's degree program (two 6-month terms) comprising two segments: (1) an academic course common to customs, and (2) a practicum course.

(1) The academic component of the SMIPRP offer lectures and individual supervision aimed at developing a broad understanding of the theoretical, empirical, and institutional aspects of customs policy implementation and administration, in the context of developing countries' economic, social, and organizational development. It starts with the focused teaching of foundational skills in strategic management and intellectual property rights. It then moves to a range of applied topics that help students understand how to design, implement, and evaluate public policies, in particular customs policy, in accordance with development strategies for organizations.

These topics include competitive strategy, organizational behaviors and culture, intellectual property rights (IPR), IPR border enforcement, customs law, customs reforms & modernization, WCO/WTO (World Trade Organization), finance, and multinational business management. A basic academic writing course is also offered, as well as individual supervision for completing the master's thesis (see "Course Curriculum" for details).

(2) The practicum segment is led by the Japanese Customs Administration (attached to the Ministry of Finance), including Japan's Customs Training Institute (CTI: WCO Regional Training Center), AGU's Graduate School of Business, and a former Managing Director of CTI. It involves workshops and seminars, visits to regional customs bureaus, and preparations for final student papers that are presented to the Japanese Customs Administration teaching staff for discussion. Topics covered by the practicum include the theory and practice of customs tariff policy and customs administration, various aspects of customs control and trade facilitation, customs reform and modernization, international treaties and agreements related to customs, and the role of customs in protecting intellectual property rights. This overview offers students an opportunity to enhance their learning with hands-on experience in a customs-related work environment, and to integrate such experiences with their formal education.

The SMIPRP aims to provide students with management knowledge and skills in three main areas:

- Strategic skills: Our understanding of strategic skills is closely related to the conceptual skills managers must have to effectively manage their organizations. These skills are needed to negotiate abstract and complex situations as managers must be able to see the organization as a whole, understand relationships among various subunits, and grasp how the organization fits into its broader environment both inside and outside the organization.

- Relational skills: The SMIPRP considers relational skills as one of the essential managerial skills for managers to build effective social capital and networks. Human relations and interpersonal communication skills help facilitate effective interaction with personnel. These skills include leadership, communication, decision making, negotiation, counseling, and coaching tips.

- Practical skills: Managers must possess technical expertise in their assigned jobs. Practical skills here refer to the knowledge and proficiencies required for the accomplishment of any specific task related to customs. In the SMIPRP, we prepare various lectures and practicums led by the Japanese Customs Administration (JCA) teaching staff for the development of technical excellence in practical customs tasks.

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