Since its establishment on October 2, 1972, the Japan Foundation has for 40 years been conducting various international cultural exchange activities all over the globe.
President's Message to Commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Japan Foundation
The world today is said to be at a historic turning point.
In Japan, the Great Tohoku Earthquake in March 2011 brought about profound changes to our daily lives and various aspects of society. The disaster presented a number of critical issues that directly impact our lives, such as improving disaster response capabilities and formulating environmental and energy policies. The euro crisis and the Arab Spring are challenging the very systems and values that are the basis of our society, including the institutions of the market economy and democracy, while the rapid evolution of social media technologies on a global scale is creating a diverse and dynamic flow of information that transcends political systems and nations, and new ways to connect people globally.
Yet in this period of transition, there are negative signs of change in how Japan is being perceived by the rest of the world. The international community that once admired Japan for its successful modernization and remarkable economic development is shifting its interest to the newly emerging economies such as BRICs. In addition, Japan now faces bleak prospects for economic growth due to its dwindling labor force population and declining power. What is more, the tragic events of 3/11 have seriously undermined Japan’s long-standing image as a safe country. I believe it is being questioned what new roles Japan can play in today’s changing world.
Such signs make it imperative for us to earn the trust and respect of people around the world for Japan to continue to prosper in the global community. To that end, we must discuss and work hard with many people beyond borders. We can create new values for others by sharing our own values and wisdom through various cultural exchanges, interactions, and dialogue with people from around the world.
Now more than ever Japan needs to engage in international cultural exchanges and work hand in hand with people across the globe to prosper with the rest of the world. This is cultural exchange to introduce the captivating charm of the arts and culture of Japan, a nation blessed with natural beauty and rich traditions, and to share the vibrant values of the Japanese behind it. This is also cultural exchange that is proactive, collaborative and bidirectional, and able to elicit a sense of community and fellowship from people in all corners of the world.
In the days following 3/11, Japan impressed the world with scenes of disaster-struck communities maintaining discipline and people selflessly helping each other through an exceedingly difficult time. Japan demonstrated resilience and determination in disaster recovery and reconstruction, and offered signs of hope for a new society in the future. And today there is a growing sense that the challenges faced by Japan are not Japan’s alone but are common to much of the world.
The Japan Foundation aspires to create many more opportunities for dialogue and discussion to work together on global challenges and to make a positive contribution to the international community in partnership with people around the world. We strongly believe that encounters between cultures and connections between peoples can help us gain the wisdom necessary to carry our world into a new era and help us generate new values.
As we embark on our 40th year in operation, we at the Japan Foundation look forward to standing at the forefront of new international exchanges as we continue to fulfill our work and mission with our friends and partners across the world.
The Japan Foundation