Heading Towards an Intercultural Society
An initiative was launched in fiscal 2009 to link the Intercultural Cities Program (ICC), a joint project of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, and Japanese communities and scholars involved in promoting interculturalism. The initiative, which has engaged a growing number of cities and municipalities, has evolved with the implementation of programs that have sent Japanese local government officials to Europe and invited European leaders and officials to a symposium in Japan. With the addition of Korean cities with similar interests and concerns, the vision of the intercultural city has expanded into an international network.
An increasing number of cities are actively taking part in the initiative, creating the momentum that led to "Asia-Europe Intercultural City Summit 2012 Hamamatsu." Cosponsored by the Japan Foundation and Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, the symposium was attended by mayors and scholars from Korea, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland and the mayors of Shinjuku (Tokyo), Ota (Tokyo), and Higashi-Osaka. The symposium concluded with the adoption of the Hamamatsu Declaration pledging to "regard cultural diversity as a source of the city's dynamism... bring together people of different cultural backgrounds to foster innovation and creativity, and... explore a new urban vision in the age of globalization..." (see)
Reporting on Recent Developments of Post-Disaster Reconstruction and Sharing Disaster Preparedness Capabilities
Shinichi Sakaguchi, Councilor of the Japan Reconstruction Agency lectured on the recent developments of post-disaster reconstruction and answered questions from the audience at the "Memorial Event for the Earthquake and Tsunami Catastrophe from March 11, 2011: The Long Journey to Reconstruction" in Berlin, Germany on March 11, 2013. He also responded extensively to media interviews, contributing to wide coverage of Japan's reconstruction efforts in German newspapers and radio.
In Thailand, the Japan Foundation organized an integrated event consisting of an exhibition, seminars and workshops to introduce the JISHIN ITSUMO project developed by a Kansai region NPO in collaboration with designers. Based on lessons learned from the Great Hanshin Earthquake, the project provides creative strategies for disaster preparedness and awareness building (photo1), (photo2)
The Japan Foundation 40th Anniversary Symposium
On November 9, 2012, the Japan Foundation and the Asahi Shimbun Company cosponsored a symposium titled "Transcending Borders: New Trends in International Cultural Exchange" in commemoration of the Japan Foundation's 40th anniversary (photo)
The symposium traced the 40-year history, during which the societies of Japan and the world and the Japan Foundation have all experienced significant change, and explored the role and position of future international cultural exchange.
The program opened with writer Nanami Shiono's keynote address, followed by panel discussions featuring a diverse lineup of panelists including playwright Oriza Hirata, Professor Yasushi Watanabe of Keio University, Harvard University professor Andrew Gordon, Jan Melissen, Director of Research at Netherlands Institute of International Relations, Jung Sook Park, broadcaster and actress, architect Sou Fujimoto, novelist Prabda Yoon, and Sayaka Murata, president of an NPO.
Held at Yurakucho Asahi Hall in Tokyo, the symposium attracted 500 people who listened to the vigorous discussions among the most prominent names in their respective fields.