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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.

Intellectuals invited to Japan

To deepen understanding of Japan among public intellectuals and leaders active in various countries, groups of public intellectuals and cultural figures are invited to Japan to hold exchanges with talented Japanese people. The invited individuals and groups get to observe and experience Japanese culture and society and meet and exchange opinions with people from various fields.

For about ten years, we have been inviting young leaders such as NGOs and journalists from the Middle East and North Africa. In June 2014, four people from the United Arab Emirates and four from Qatar were invited to Japan for nine days. Together with four young Japanese entrepreneurs, they visited companies, universities, and areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. They discussed the importance of creating a locus whereby individuals could articulate a sense of belonging.

From China, influential individuals and groups of young and mid-career researchers and intellectuals from various fields such as education, law, criticism, and psychology have been invited to Japan. Social media has been growing in China and many of those invitees wrote about their observations in Japan on micro-blogs, etc. One person even attracted a million views.

Photo of Invited groups from the Middle East and North Africa have in-depth discussions
Invited groups from the Middle East and North Africa have in-depth discussions

Historian invited from India

Together with The International House of Japan, we invited the prominent historian Ramachandra Guha from India for a lecture meeting in Japan. He talked about the political philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian to win a Nobel Prize. His extensive knowledge of the subject and broadminded speaking style enamored the audience. He later went to receive the Fukuoka Prize (fiscal 2015) which is awarded to individuals and organizations that contribute to the preservation and creation of Asian culture.

Photo of Ramachandra Guha speaking at The International House of Japan
Ramachandra Guha speaking at The International House of Japan

Human Resources Development

We support various exchange programs to foster professionals and youths 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 researches in Japan.

KIZUNA Project

For three years from 2012 to 2014, the Japan Foundation gave financial assistance to the KIZUNA Project run by the NPO Peace Field Japan since 2004. The NPO provides opportunities for dialogue and interaction among youths in war-torn areas of Israel and Palestine.

The KIZUNA Project brings Israeli, Palestinian, and Japanese youths together to live in Japan's satoyama (rural woodlands near a populated area). The project aims to foster bonding between the youths from war-torn areas and for them befriend Japanese youths of the same age.

During the three years when the Japan Foundation gave financial assistance to the project, a total of 36 youths participated. In 2014, despite the fierce fighting on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli and Palestinian participants in Japan were reported to have maintained a relationship of mutual respect. The KIZUNA Project is a good example of how fruitful an ongoing project can be.

Photo of KIZUNA Project participants happy to see the buckwheat seeds they sowed sprouting / Photo: Peace Field Japan
KIZUNA Project participants happy to see the buckwheat seeds they sowed sprouting