Ms. Siriwan Assawawongsathien has been studying at Graduate School of Public Policy, the University of Tokyo since October 2011 on a study leave from the Bank of Thailand. She loves travelling around Japan and exploring Japanese cultural activities during break from her intensive studies. Please read an interview with Ms. Siriwan.
Please outline your work responsibilities before enrolling on your studies in Japan.
I worked for almost three years at the Bank of Thailand in the Prudential Policy Department under the Financial Institutions Policy Group, which is principally responsible for issuance of prudential regulations. First, I was in charge of the risk-based supervision particularly credit risk according to Basel II risk management framework. In addition, I studied and analyzed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and its impact on Thai regulatory policies such as Volcker rule. Later, my duty was shifted to capital adequacy regulations when the new Basel III framework was introduced.
What led you to study in Japan, and what motivated you to apply for the JISPA?
Japan has many interesting facts that attract my interest, which include (1) one of the few nations in the world that has great economic power; (2) an Asian country with high living standards, social conditions, technological innovation and education; (3) significant challenges posed to policy makers such as deflation and stagnant growth and aging populations; and (4) Japan’s long history and interesting cultures. Last but not least, Dr. Tarisa Watanagase; the previous female governor of the Bank of Thailand was educated in Japan as well. So, why not Japan?
Additionally, JISPA provides a good opportunity to broaden my knowledge and instill capacity building by offering top-ranked universities in Japan in terms of public policy to choose, supporting academic field trips, and also organizing many seminars and conferences in various global issues which are not available for other scholarships.
What are you studying?
Currently I am studying at the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Tokyo. The program does not only deliver specialized knowledge in this related field, but also develop practical competencies of students, In addition to well-rounded knowledge foundation, it allows me to choose specialized courses that fit my interest and future career. I basically choose to study economic and financial courses such as Topics on Modern Japanese Economy, Central Banking, and etc. Ultimately, I would be nurtured to have the capability to apply knowledge obtained from various courses in policy design, implementation and evaluation and be able to resolve policy challenges confronting modern society.
Please tell us of one experience in Japan that made you feel happy, sad, surprised, or moved.
Among valuable and enjoyable moments during my stay in Japan, one of the most impressive experiences was when I went to the Tohoku trip during summer last year. We visited many places seriously affected by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster and Fukushima Nuclear Plant incident. We explored Fukushima by meeting with a medical doctor and NPO Frontier volunteer in Minami Souma city. We had a session with Onagawa Town Mayor in Miyagi prefecture and headed to Minami Sanriku town to meet with temporary housing community leader. We also visited a seafood processing factory which was strongly hit by the Tsunami and had a chance to meet with Rikuzentakada City Mayor. Before the end of the trip, we spent time volunteering at the Shichigahama volunteer center for our last day.
This trip really equipped me with first-hand experiences about the current situation of the affected area. Seeing and talking to those people provided me examples of actual social contributors. Furthermore, it was sunburn that left me with another good piece of memories from the volunteering work. Importantly, without doing the volunteer I would not have felt how difficult it is to restore everything back in place again. It all requires robust efforts, durable time, positive attitudes, and motivated hearts. What I learnt from such a trip was much more than I expected. It conveyed me countless worthwhile lessons including understanding the challenges and difficulties of real-life public policy implications, encouraging being socially responsible individual, and reminding of whom public policy is meant for. The “Never Give Up” and “Nationalistic” spirits of Japanese really motivated and I could possibly answer why Japan, no matter how many times or how severe earthquakes or natural disasters happen, remains a great country up until today.
Please describe your experience and/or impression of the JISPA.
Exclusively for JISPA scholars, OAP has organized a series of seminars on various current economic topics. These seminars allow us to participate, ask questions and get acquainted with discussions in the international setting which beneficially prepare us to be comfortable when we actually confront them in the future prospect. Moreover, OAP invites us as observers to take part in regional conferences on important and hot macroeconomic and financial issues facing the global economy. These permit me to learn and meet with officials from governmental authorities and key economic agencies such as the IMF, the Bank of Japan, and the Japanese Ministry of Finance, in which I may otherwise have. Such opportunities would not be possible if I am not a JISPA scholar. JISPA also offers us with great and diverse international networking among JISPA scholars and classmates which we could connect and support one another for forthcoming future.
What is your future career vision and dream?
What differentiates developed economies from developing countries is something I have so far absorbed and learnt from Japan. It is not capital and neither labor nor technology but human capital. It is a totally important factor endogenously accumulated over time that progresses the technology. With highly motivated and strived to learn, I could contribute as a part of effective human capital and valuable asset that a country could afford to have. I thus hope in the future to be one of the Thai major cogwheels in positively rolling and driving the nation forward.
What is your favorite proverb or motto?
Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities, but seize common occasions and make them extraordinary.
Any message to Japan?
Japan, You are my hero and will still be forever!
Please provide us with any comments that you wish to convey.
I would like to say a special thank you to JISPA for such a great and continuous support. After returning home, definitely this decent opportunity and experiences I have acquired would be employed in my work performance, career development and to benefit my country in the long run.
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