Sawako Shirahase

Vice-President for Finance (2022 – 2024)

Position: Vice-President for Finance
Nationality: Japanese
Country of residence: Japan
Discipline: Sociology
Born in: 1958

Academic background

Read Sawako Shirahase’s CV

Sawako Shirahase is Professor of Sociology in the Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, the University of Tokyo. She received her D.Phil. in Sociology from University of Oxford. The title of her dissertation was “Women in the Labour Market: Mobility and Work History of Japanese Women.” She continues to work on social inequality issues focusing on demography, the labour market, and the social security system from gender and intergenerational perspectives. She took the lead in conducting the major sociological survey in 2015, which has been conducted every 10 years since 1955, and she has been the principal investigator of this large project consisting of 100 researchers in Japan for five years since 2013. She has solid experience and is actively involved in international academic community. Shirahase has disseminated her work through publishing books and papers and giving lectures in public both in English and Japanese; most recently, the three volumes of social stratification in the highly aging society with low fertility, Japan in which she is an editor in chief and also contributes papers are published from the University of Tokyo Press in 2021.

Her main field, inequality and demography, is one of most global social issues, and it is her strength to hold an internationally wide network not only in sociology, but also in the social sciences and Japan and Asian studies.

Past and current positions

Professor Shirahase joined the University of Tokyo in 2006, and has served as Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Letters for two years from 2014. She served as the Executive Vice President for International Affairs and Public Relations from 2019 to 2021. She was the first female faculty to hold this position at the University of Tokyo (10,000 faculty and staff).

She is a Director of the UTokyo Center for Contemporary Japanese Studies (TCJS), which she founded in 2020 aiming to encourage to develop global academic network, particularly for early-career researchers and students, and to let them more actively involved in global research collaborations.

She currently serves as a Vice President for Finance and Membership of the International Sociological Association (ISA) (5,800 members worldwide). She now initiates a financial reform responding to various changes related to COVID-19 pandemic to make ISA more sustainable financially.

She has been a member of the Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science (CFRS) of the ISC since July 2019. She is currently engaged in several key positions on national government councils, such as:

  • the Science and Technology Council, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology since 2016
  • a member of the Reconstruction Promotion Committee of the Reconstruction Agency, reflecting the Tohoku disaster in 2017
  • a member of Council for Gender Equality, Cabinet Office in 2021
  • a Council member of Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Heath, Tokyo Metropolitan Government since 2017
  • an Executive Board member at the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games