Measuring the Social Wealth by Accounting
Hiroshi Yoshimi , Professor
Graduate School of Economics and Business Administration / Accounting School (Department of Business Administration, School of Economics and Business Administration)
High school : Nagasaki Higashi High School (Nagasaki)
Academic background : Graduate School of Economics, Kyushu University
What is accounting?
In the business world, profit is a very important matter. Human beings can accumulate profit unlike animals. However, measuring profit is difficult. Generally speaking, accounting is the research field on how to measure or calculate it.
Of course, accounting is related to business administration and economics; however, it also has connection to law because accounting calculation rules are needed. Furthermore, public sector accounting, which is my field, is related to public administration, and also covers nonprofit organizations. In addition, the field of environmental accounting is naturally related to global environmental issues. As described above, accounting is an interdisciplinary study field that allows you to view the world through calculations.
How does accounting relate to us?
I have classes on auditing as undergraduate and graduate courses. Auditing checks the results of accounting, and constitutes a part of the study of accounting. Undergraduate students usually study auditing in their final term, just before graduation. In other words, it is the “exit” course in the accounting curriculum.
As a result, it is really unfortunate that many accounting students would graduate without any knowledge of auditing. This is because auditing is the field that has the most interaction with our lives within the field of accounting.
For example, we often find articles on corporate fraud in the media. Some of them would go bankrupt. Even local governments can go bankrupt, just like Yubari City in Hokkaido. Since these cases frequently involve fraudulent accounting practices, auditing, which is supposed to check the practices, had been criticized. It is the occasion that auditing and accounting practices are focused on.
You can see various cases and events from the perspective of auditing and accounting. So recently the media pay greater attention to these issues. Financial crisis, pension issues, how to commercialize new technologies, why brand name items are expensive, etc.—each of these topics can be analyzed using auditing and accounting.
As a profession for audit, certified public accountants (CPAs) have been attracted considerable attention in recent years, and an increasing number of students are trying to qualify it. As one of only two national universities with Accounting School, Hokkaido University provides a course for accounting profession to graduate students who want to become CPAs.
What is your next goal?
While I have keen interest of the field of public sector accounting, research in this area is not yet advanced in Japan. Governments and nonprofit organizations seem to be unrelated to “profit”, but it is actually not true. Governments are sometimes criticized for wasteful spending, and any nonprofit organizations cannot carry out their activities without money. They are also required to achieve a high level of efficiency.
Furthermore, even in the relatively unprofitable business like public transportation, as well as publicly owned business in foreign countries, these businesses in Japan had been often privatized and are expected to generate profit. How are we able to consistent indispensable infrastructure for our life with its profitability? I would like to solve this puzzle.
(1) Hiroshi Yoshimi, Casebook Kansaron (Casebook Auditing) (5th edition), Shinseisha
(2) Hiroshi Yoshimi, Kigyo Fusei to Kansa (Corporate Fraud and Auditing), Zeimu Keiri Kyokai