Dr. Hirono Miwa

2018 Research Program
U.S. Affiliation: Harvard University, MA
Research Topic: China’s Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Action: International
Responsibility From Local Perspectives

At Kennedy School

No.34Original text is in Japanese
Researching the Origin of the International Order —
Dr. Hirono's Efforts to Increase the Scope and Depth of Her Research

After receiving her PhD in international relations from the Australian National University, Dr. Hirono Miwa entered a Research Councils UK Research Fellowship at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Further, she advised the UK government on its international relations with China. She was familiar with research in the United Kingdom and Australia but had not been involved in any type of research in the United States. Dr. Hirono states, “For the past 10 years I had examined China’s responsibility as an international power. There is a large gap between the United States and China regarding the definition of international responsibility. In the United States, the argument is to emphasize human rights and democracy; but from the Chinese point of view, forcing one to change his or her values is ineffective and irresponsible. Instead, economic development is the paramount responsibility of developed countries.” Therefore, to understand and directly experience the U.S. viewpoint on international responsibility, Dr. Hirono decided to apply to the Fulbright Program.

She decided to study at Harvard University for two reasons. The first reason was that Harvard offers the world top-level research on China, which suits Dr. Hirono’s aspirations. The second reason was the presence of Dr. Arnold M. Howitt, Senior Adviser to the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, at Harvard University and his research on disaster prevention and disaster recovery. In parallel with her international research on China, Dr. Hirono started a research project on the theme of effective localization of disaster relief and humanitarian aid and created a framework for relevant analysis.

While pursuing her research, she enthusiastically audited classes at Harvard Kennedy School. She was particularly excited by the course taught by Professor Samantha Power, who was a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Dr. Hirono says, “I was able to return to the origin of human rights and democracy and study these aspects. These are fundamental ideas indispensable to all human beings, the ideas that go well beyond the argument of the ‘imposition of values.’ The opportunity to learn directly from the people who were working at the very frontlines of this research significantly helped my career as a researcher.”

Regarding the research program, Dr. Hirono states, “My close interactions with other researchers helped me develop my problem consciousness to a greater level than I had ever imagined. Hence, I would definitely recommend the program to others like me, since there is an extremely high probability that this program will help researchers realize their true potential.

On returning to Japan, Dr. Hirono re-assumed her position at Ritsumeikan University, and she is currently involved in reporting the collaborative research that she conducted at Harvard, as well as being engaged in her own writings. She plans to continue her overseas research activities. She will be actively tracking China’s peacekeeping operations and humanitarian aid, to consider China’s international responsibilities from the perspective of developing countries, which tends to be ignored in the study of international relations.