Dr. Sawako Shirahase

Sawako Shirahase

Senior Vice-Rector, United Nations University; Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations

UNU Centre

Sawako Shirahase is a Project Professor at the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the University of Tokyo. 

She received her DPhil in Sociology from the University of Oxford in 1997 and joined the University of Tokyo in 2006, where she became a Professor at the Department of Sociology in 2010. She served as Vice President of the University of Tokyo in 2018, and was Executive Vice President for International Affairs at the University of Tokyo from 2019 to 2021. 

Prof. Shirahase is a Governing Board Officer of the International Science Council and, as an expert on gender issues, she was the Chair of the Gender Equality Advisory Council that provided recommendations to the Group of Seven on achieving gender equality.

Her main research interests include social stratification and social demography, inequality in income and wealth, and family and social security system in cross-national perspectives. She has run several large research projects as a principal investigator. They are (1) the research project on “A Comprehensive Study Examining the Forms of Social Stratification in an Aging Society and Constructing Public Norms” (Grand-in-Aid for Scientific Research (S), 2008-2012), (2) the research project on “A Comprehensive Study of the Structural Change in Social Stratification and the Mechanism of Generating Inequality in the Ageing Society with Low Fertility” (Grant-in-Aid for Specially Promoted Research, 2013-2017), and (3) research on “An Empirical Research on how to Generate the Structure of Social Stratification in the Aged Society with Low Fertility,” (Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, 2018-2020).

She has published books and articles on these issues, including The Structure of Stratification in the Aged Society with Low Fertility, Vol. 1-3 (eds.) (2021, University of Tokyo Press), Todai Juku: Demography and Society: Looking for the Future in japan (ed.) (2019, University of Tokyo Press), Social Inequality in Japan. (2014, Routledge), Demographic Change and Inequality in Japan (ed.) (2011, Trans Pacific Press), “Social Stratification Theory and Population Aging Reconsidered” (2021, Social Science Japan Journal), “Income inequality among older people in rapidly aging Japan” (2014, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 41:1-15).

She has served as a member of the Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science (CFRS) of the International Science Council since July 2019. She is a Vice President for Finance and Membership of the International Sociological Association (2018-2022), and the board member of Japan Society of Family Sociology.