KYUSHU UNIVERSITY 先生の森KYUSHU UNIVERSITY 先生の森

Keep on asking questions to unravel the reality of our society and ensure a sustainable future for both industry and the earth!Keep on asking questions to unravel the reality of our society and ensure a sustainable future for both industry and the earth! Head of the Department of Economy and Business, School of Economics Director, Economic Systems Major, Graduate School of Economics Professor, International Economic Analysis Course, Department of International Economy and Business, Faculty of Economics Shigemi Kagawa

Head of the Department of Economy and Business, School of Economics Director, Economic Systems Major, Graduate School of Economics Professor, International Economic Analysis Course, Department of International Economy and Business, Faculty of Economics

Shigemi Kagawa

Professor Kagawa is a rising star expected to become a driving force in the world of economics in the future. He has an unusual background, despite having graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, his specialism is economics. Seeking to unravel economics from a mathematical perspective, his research covers a wide range of fields, including the environment, energy, and resource management policy, with a focus on the industries that support the Japanese economy. His motto is, “Keep on asking questions, keep on taking action.”

Professor Kagawa is a rising star expected to become a driving force in the world of economics in the future. He has an unusual background, despite having graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, his specialism is economics. Seeking to unravel economics from a mathematical perspective, his research covers a wide range of fields, including the environment, energy, and resource management policy, with a focus on the industries that support the Japanese economy. His motto is, "Keep on asking questions, keep on taking action."

Profile Details

Originally from Tochigi Prefecture, Professor Kagawa studied civil engineering at Tohoku University's Faculty of Engineering. In his undergraduate days, he said that he hardly ever attended classes, as he was too busy having fun. His grades were poor and he was unable to take his preferred major. However, he took and passed the entrance examination for the then-newly established Graduate School of Information Sciences, which he kept a secret from his undergraduate lecturers. In the course of delving deeper into regional, urban, and environmental planning, he became fascinated by research investigating economic phenomena. While writing his master's thesis, Professor Kagawa was astonished by the classical approach to economic analysis demonstrated by Wassily Leontief, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. After completing his master's program, Professor Kagawa spent two years working for a company before he returned to graduate school. He received his doctoral degree in 2001, when he finished the doctoral program early. He then proceeded on as a researcher at the National Institute for Environmental Studies, where he was appointed assistant professor at Tohoku University's Graduate School of Information Sciences in 2003. He then went on to become an assistant professor at Kyushu University's Faculty of Economics in 2006, eventually taking on the role of a full professor in 2016. In 2017, Professor Kagawa held the posts of Head of the Department of Economy and Business, School of Economics and Director, Economic Systems Major, Graduate School of Economics.

What is your research about?What is your research about?

At Professor Kagawa's research lab where every wall is covered in bookshelves. "It is not easy to find the answer to a question, and that makes research very interesting," he said passionately.

A copy of the journal article written by Wassily Leontief, winners of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. "How astonishing it is to express the society with mathematical formula!" he thought and this classic paper brought him into the field of Economics.

He carries out fieldwork two or three times in a year as he believes it is important to see things with his own eyes.

At Professor Kagawa's research lab where every wall is covered in bookshelves. "It is not easy to find the answer to a question, and that makes research very interesting," he said passionately.

The problem that we face today is that, as well as helping to sustain our lifestyle, industry is a major cause of global destruction. Many companies are striving to reduce their CO2 emissions to be more environmentally friendly, but the reality is that we still cannot break out of our economic cycle of mass production and mass consumption of products that impose a heavy burden on the environment. To better understand this social reality, we must think about the sustainability of industry itself. My research involves investigating economic systems from a variety of perspectives, to see whether there might be a system that enables industry to develop sustainably.

A copy of the journal article written by Wassily Leontief, winners of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. "How astonishing it is to express the society with mathematical formula!" he thought and this classic paper brought him into the field of Economics.

Take hybrid cars, for instance. They have high fuel efficiency and low CO2 emissions, so they give the impression of being kind to both the household budget and the planet. But how much CO2 is emitted in the course of mining the resources, processing the materials, and manufacturing the parts required to build a single car, and to transport all those by ship or truck? In addition, if fuel efficiency (km/l) increases, gasoline costs decrease through the fuel efficiency improvement, increasing the distance traveled by the car and thereby actually increasing the volume of gasoline consumption. Policies such as eco-car subsidies increase the number of people who buy new cars, so they actually have the potential to cause CO2 emissions to rise. So when you look at the product life cycle of these cars overall, do they really cut CO2? Can you truly say that they are environmentally friendly?

He carries out fieldwork two or three times in a year as he believes it is important to see things with his own eyes.

My research covers not only the production side, but also sustainable behavior analysis and the product life cycle from a consumer perspective. For example, what would you do if your refrigerator broke down and you were told that it would cost ¥100,000 to fix? You would give up on it and buy a new one, wouldn't you? However, if the manufacturer offered a long warranty and the repair was therefore free, you would probably continue to use it. That would be better for the environment and more economic. But if you did that, the number of refrigerators that companies produce would fall — as would their profits, of course. Accordingly, there is a need to investigate the sustainability of industry from multiple directions simultaneously.

In the international community, there is also the question of how countries should cooperate and work in partnership to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric pollutants. Hydrogen and other alternative energy sources are currently undergoing research and development, but what environmental and economic effects will they have once their use becomes widespread? This issue is likely to be of growing importance in the future. It is not just about producing research output; it is necessary to condense your findings and get them reflected in specific policies, so that action can be taken. You need to lay the foundations to facilitate discussions that involve the stakeholders who hold the key to building a sustainable industrial system, and then put the specific fruits of those discussions to use in effective technology policies. Another of my roles — indeed, my mission — is to conduct research focused on demand policies and waste recycling policies. Once applied, I hope that the study will be effective in alleviating the environmental burden arising from mass consumption to some extent, however small.

The key to this research course is here!!The key to this research course is here!!

I can propose solutions by using mathematical formulas to shed light on our complex society and conduct data analysis!I can propose solutions by using mathematical formulas to shed light on our complex society and conduct data analysis!

The biggest attractions for me are the fact that the topics of my research emerge from simple questions about daily life in the world around us and the possibility that an answer that I discover might solve a social problem. We make things, we consume them, and then we throw them away. Although our economy is very simple, if we introduce the concepts of demand and supply into it, complex questions arise. For example, you have to make actual calculations and carry out analysis focusing on things such as the current level of CO2 emissions and the CO2 emissions after the policy introduction in order to find out the effects. Depending on the final calculation results, policies that seemed good for the environment at first glance had actually been bad for it. When you make a discovery like that, this makes it really exciting. Every day, I have a conversation with the data and I feel excited, wondering which way the results will go. Results will be out of my hands once they are released; you will just be thrilled that these results will become policies to be implemented which will influence the Japanese economy. I think that this is a field of study that allows you to really taste the adventure of being a researcher.

DAILY SCHEDULEDAILY SCHEDULE


Time-out Session

On days off, the professor forgets all about work and fully recharges his batteries by watching movies or going for a drive to a hot spring. Professor Kagawa is also an incredibly keen fisherman. He sometimes charters a boat at Itoshima’s Dainyu Fishing Port and has been known to catch an 80cm long seabream fish!On days off, the professor forgets all about work and fully recharges his batteries by watching movies or going for a drive to a hot spring. Professor Kagawa is also an incredibly keen fisherman. He sometimes charters a boat at Itoshima's Dainyu Fishing Port and has been known to catch an 80cm long seabream fish!

The Teacher's Must-have Items!The Teacher's Must-have Items!

Programming software

MATLAB & Simulink (MathWorks), numeric calculation software beloved by engineers and scientists. The professor has been using this software for 20 years and says it is the most indispensable item for his research.

Notebook

Any ideas or insights Professor Kagawa have are written down immediately in his notebook, into which he also tucks any relevant documents. He doesn't have separate notebooks for different research themes, so everything in Professor Kagawa's brain is stuffed into a single notebook.

Projector

The BenQ projector is used every day for his students' research presentations. It is such a permanent fixture on the desk in front of the whiteboard in the professor's office that if it happens to be moved somewhere else, his students will usually ask, "What's wrong? Has something happened?"

Message to the StudentsMessage to the Students

Research ability = humanity. Being cooperative leads to new discoveries!

People imagine that research is all about making steady progress on your own, but combining your research outcomes with those of others takes you on to the next step. That is why teamwork and being cooperative are just as important as your passion for research. It is during your undergraduate years that you grow as a person in terms of your links to others. In the future, there will be more opportunities for joint international research, so I would like students to develop their leadership skills. Revitalizing teams and organizations opens up greater possibilities for your research to benefit society. I want students to dedicate themselves to their research and to be their own harshest critics. That experience makes you a person of even higher caliber. Research ability is nothing more than humanity itself. Keep your antennae up, maintain an awareness of questions and problems in your day-to-day life, and keep honing your spirit of inquiry at all times.

Back to Top of PageBack to Top of Page