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Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange

Promoting Intellectual Exchange

Expanding Intellectual Dialogue and International Outreach

Through intellectual dialogue and international exchanges to discuss issues of mutual concern and international importance, the Japan Foundation is boosting Japan's international outreach and intellectual contribution and fostering mutual understanding.

We host international conferences and symposiums and send and invite experts and researchers. We also provide grants for conferences and other exchange programs in and outside Japan.

Symposium "Asia in Harmony: New Horizons for Cultural Exchange"

For the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, the Japanese government announced the Five Principles of Japan's ASEAN Diplomacy to place importance on ASEAN-related policies.

The Japan Foundation therefore held a public symposium in Tokyo in October 2013 featuring well-known cultural people from Japan and Southeast Asia. Co-organized with the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper, the symposium was in response to the Japan-Asia cultural exchange guidelines proposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by cultural-exchange opinion leaders. The symposium addressed those proposals and aimed to help establish a framework to realize them.

The symposium opened with a greeting from Prime Minister Abe. A panel discussion was then held with Masayuki Yamauchi, Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo, as the Moderator. The panelists included Tadao Sato (film critic), Mansai Nomura (Kyogen actor), Ong Keng Sen (theater artist from Singapore), and Christine Hakim (actress and film producer from Indonesia). They freely talked about new cultural cooperation between Japan and Asia. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun published a major article about the symposium, bringing wide attention to the significance of having exchanges with Asia.

Photo of the Symposium 'Asia in Harmony: New Horizons for Cultural Exchange' taken by Atsuko Takagi
Symposium "Asia in Harmony: New Horizons for Cultural Exchange"
Photo: Atsuko Takagi

Lahpai Seng Raw's First Visit to Japan

Lahpai Seng Raw is the founder of Myanmar's largest civil society group, the Metta Development Foundation. She visited Japan for the first time at our invitation. In 2013, she won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered to be Asia's Nobel Prize. She was recognized for her many years of efforts to have the military government and anti-government forces cooperate and for her work to restore communities ravaged by war and natural disasters.

At a Japan Foundation-organized lecture called "A Persistent Search for Inclusive Peace", Ms. Seng Raw, who belongs to an ethnic minority, talked about her past activities and the hopes and issues of Myanmar's governmental and social changes. Comments from the audience included, "It was a great opportunity to hear about Myanmar's current condition from someone in an ethnic minority" and "I was impressed by her honest views with no political bias."

Through Japanese newspapers and other media, Ms.Seng Raw addressed the Japanese people and stressed the importance of neutrality and transparency in supporting the education of war-impoverished ethnic minorities and resolving related conflicts. She also tirelessly met and networked with people from government ministries and foundations and deepened mutual understanding.

Photo of the Lecture 'A Persistent Search for Inclusive Peace'
Lecture "A Persistent Search for Inclusive Peace"

Human Resources Development

We support various exchange programs to foster professionals and youth to lead international dialogue between Japan and other countries as well as regional and youth exchanges.

We also offer fellowships to scholars and journalists in the Middle East and Africa where they have limited connections with Japan. The fellowships enable them to conduct research in Japan.

Aidemi: Shanghai & Fukushima High School Student International Exchange Program

The Japan Foundation supported the exchange program by the Bridge for Fukushima which sent 13 high school students from Fukushima Prefecture to Shanghai to meet with Chinese high school students.

It was an invaluable opportunity for the Fukushima high school students to broaden their views by visiting China and meeting local people. One Chinese student who met the Fukushima students commented, "I was surprised to hear that 100,000 people in Fukushima still cannot return to their homes. I feel sorry for them. I'm very interested in recovery efforts for Fukushima. After I graduate from college, I want to do something to help Fukushima."

Students in Fukushima played a major role in planning the project. Completed successfully, it is to be followed by regular exchange activities.

Photo of students participated in Aidemi
Students participated in Aidemi