Activity Report (1997) I. Intellectual Exchange


ASEAN-Japan Multinational Cultural Mission (MCM) (Japan)

¥ 5,967,091
This mission, initially proposed by then Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto in a policy speech delivered in Singapore in early 1997, aimed to enhance cultural exchange and cooperation through intellectual dialogue by a group of 20 intellectual leaders from both the governmental and private sectors-two from each ASEAN country and Japan. The Mission members first met at an Inaugural Meeting in November 1997 in Singapore to adapt the first part of an Action Agenda, which outlined the priority areas in future cultural exchange and cooperation: cultural and intellectual dialogue; heritage planning; cultural learning and knowledge development; and media and dissemination. Phase two of the Mission involved cross visits to the ASEAN and Japan countries to better understand the current needs and situation through discussion with leading cultural figures and intellectuals in each country. Recommendations arising from the Mission's visits were compiled and discussed at a Concluding Meeting in Japan in April 1998. The Meeting adopted the second part of the Action Agenda, which called upon ASEAN and Japan to strive for cultural sustainability and creativity amidst critical regional economic conditions. It also set new directions that involve multilateral cooperation and participation among actors from all sectors. The Asia Center and the National Arts Council in Singapore together administered the Mission's work as a Joint Secretariat. Asia Center funds contributed partially to the costs of the initial preparatory meetings, the Inaugural Meeting and the Mission's visits to ASEAN and Japan.


Asia Leadership Fellows Program (Japan)

¥ 18,321,528
This program was created jointly by the International House of Japan and the Asia Center in 1996 to provide selected intellectual leaders of the Asia-Pacific region with an opportunity to spend several months in Japan working together on a collaborative project and to pursue their own individual research agenda. The program promotes mutual understanding and the creation of a close personal network among such leaders and with their counterparts in Japan. In 1997, four fellows were chosen to attend the program from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand. On the recommendation of the 1996 fellows, a fellow from Japan also took part. The group consisted of a playwright, a journalist and poet, an anthropologist, an economist, and a human rights activist. The fellows presented their views on topics related to the general program theme of "Development and Culture" at small workshops; attended specially convened seminars where distinguished resource persons in various fields made presentations; took part in a three-day retreat outside Tokyo with Japanese scholars and NGO leaders; and as a group presented a half-day symposium attended by a public audience of about 100 people on the theme "Culture, Development and Emancipation: The Search for a New Paradigm." A report on the 1997 program with the same title was later compiled and published.


Asia-Pacific Youth Forum (Japan)

¥ 12,470,626
A collaborative program between the Asia Center and the International House of Japan, this Forum invited 26 young researchers, journalists, NGO activists and other opinion leaders from 17 Asia-Pacific countries to Okinawa to discuss common issues, to promote mutual understanding, and to expand a network that goes beyond differences in language, religion and values. This was the seventh year such a program has been held; this year the main program theme was "Identities in Changing Contexts."


Conference of Asian Foundations and Organizations (CAFO) (Japan)

¥ 6,242,875
This conference is part of an initiative, funded in part by the Asia Center since 1995, to develop a network among staff of grant-making foundations, intermediary foundations, and other like-minded organizations in Asia. Begun with an Asia-wide survey of such organizations in the first year, then followed up by a planning meeting and the first CAFO in Bangkok and Tokyo, respectively, the second CAFO was hosted by the Philippine Business for Social Progress in Manila in February 1998. The Asia Center and the Nippon Foundation were the main sponsors of the meeting, which took as its overarching theme "Firming Up Initiatives of Cooperation Among Asian Foundations and Organizations." The participants, over 75 program officers and program management staff of organizations from 13 countries and territories of Asia and some non-Asian observers, met in plenary sessions and in three thematic groups-"Environment and Sustainability," "Civil Society," and "Cultural Exchange and Cooperation"-to assess the progress of networking and collaborative project plans made in Tokyo a year earlier. The meeting ended with more concrete plans for the on-going projects of each thematic group (basically case study surveys related to each of the three themes) and a lively discussion about the nature and identity of the CAFO network. The Conference appointed a Working Group to further refine the issues of self-definition, structure, vision and mission, Membership criteria, and future funding and governance mechanisms. The CAFO members decided to reconvene at a third meeting one year hence to assess these first three "trial" years.


Fellowships for Leaders of the Next Generation (Japan)

¥ 5,503,959
The Asia Center continued for a third year to provide fellowships to selected young Japanese researchers in the fields of social science and humanities and to NGO staff-persons to enable them to learn first-hand about the culture and society of other Asian countries through visits of six months to one year. This year, four Japanese university-based scholars and one staff-person of a non-profit organization used the award to conduct research on urban development in Jakarta; on the economic situation in farming villages in northern Thailand; on social and economic transformation and the lower classes in India; and on nation-building and development in Laos.


Handover of Hong Kong and China after 1997 (Japan)

¥ 112,000
In conjunction with the return of Hong Kong from Britain to China in July 1997, the Asia Center invited Dr. Joseph Yu-shek Cheng, of the Contemporary China Research Centre, City University of Hong Kong, for a lecture on the theme of "Handover of Hong Kong and China after 1997." After the lecture, various organizations and people who are engaged in interaction with China gathered for a meeting to share and exchange information.


International Cultural Exchange and Cultural Cooperation between ASEAN and Japan: Historical Development and Present Situation (Japan)

¥ 4,751,385
The Asia Center commissioned a research project by a Tokyo University Study Group on International Cultural Relations on the history of cultural exchanges between Japan and the ASEAN countries during the past half-century to serve as a reference point when considering cultural exchanges between the two on the eve of the new century. The Study Group carried out comprehensive research into the international cultural activities conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Japan Foundation, and other governmental and semi-governmental agencies, as well as by various private-sector organizations. The scope of investigation was further expanded to embrace the activities of intra-regional cultural exchange within the ASEAN region and cultural exchange activities undertaken by other countries in Europe and North America. The results of the research served as reference materials for the Multinational Cultural Mission (see above).


Okinawa as a Crossroads: Global Intellectual and Cultural Collaboration in the 21st Century (Japan)

¥ 9,794,874
This symposium, jointly organized with the Okinawa Prefectural Government, examined how Okinawa, with its goals of becoming an international nexus for the region based on the principles of "peace, coexistence, and self-sufficiency," can make a contribution to solving such regional problems as threats to the environment and the changes in traditional societies caused by rapid economic development. The symposium consisted of two sessions: "Current Issues in the Asia-Pacific Region" and "Okinawa's View," with seven panelists from outside Japan taking part. They were joined by two Japanese professors, one from the University of Ryukyus and the other from the Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo.


Southeast Asian Studies Regional Exchange Program (SEASREP)

¥ 16,089,315
In an effort to develop Southeast Asian studies by scholars from Southeast Asia, this program, co-funded with the Toyota Foundation, provided support in four forms: fellowships for language training; exchange of professors for short-term visiting lectureships at Southeast Asian universities; master's- and Ph.D.-level fellowships for study and research; and collaborative regional research. The program has been led in its conception and development by four leading scholars from Southeast Asia who sit on the SEASREP Council. The Council meets regularly and has produced a ten-year development plan for Southeast Asian studies in the region. It was the Council, too, that invited five major universities-University of the Philippines, University of Malaya, Thammasat University, University of Indonesia, and Gadjah Mada University-to participate in the program and to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to implement the ten-year program. In 1997, that MOU network expanded to include Chulalongkorn University, Ateneo de Manila University, and National University of Malaysia. With the goal of institutionalizing SEASREP, the Council has incorporated itself as a non-profit organization in the Philippines. The program has two secretariats, in Manila and Tokyo. The Manila secretariat publishes a biannual Southeast Asian Studies Bulletin and the Council also initiates special programs or activities in pursuit of its objectives. Such an activity in FY1997 was the conference on Southeast Asia in the 20th Century reported on below in Part 2 of this report. Asia Center funds cover partial costs of the infrastructure and administration of SEASREP as well as of fellowships and research awards.


Support Program for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam
In 1997, the Asia Center continued for the second year a special program to support the former Indo-china countries as they enter or prepare to enter the ASEAN regional grouping. That program funded both the dispatching of Japanese experts and cross-visits by scholars and officials from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to other ASEAN countries.


1. Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam Seminar Tour

¥ 2,065,463
As Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam become members of ASEAN, they are increasingly confronted with the reality that much of their legal, academic, diplomatic, and economic infrastructure remains comparatively weak due to the effects of protracted wars and to the nature of their economies. To assist in strengthening this infrastructure, two Japanese professors-from Hitotsubashi and Mie universities-were sent by the Asia Center to provide a series of seminars, in which they discussed the establishment of legal systems, marketization transition strategies, structures of ASEAN, AFTA and APEC, and Japan-ASEAN relations.


2. Workshop to Evaluate Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam Support Program

¥ 4,112,645
One of the crucial issues for the Indochina countries is to strengthen intellectual networks in the fields of social sciences and humanities with other ASEAN countries. To that end, and to evaluate the first year of this special program, the Asia Center invited representatives of institutions contributing to human resource development in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to a workshop in Bangkok. They reviewed the progress of ongoing programs and explored the possibilities for further collaboration and networking in human resource development programs in the future.


Support Program for Centers of Asian Studies
Under this program Asia Center support was provided to three leading scholarly centers for the study of Asia in the region:


1. Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong (China)
Studies on Structural Changes in China and Their Influence on Other Asian Countries

¥ 13,257,202
Supplementing previous grants in 1995 and 1996, the Asia Center provided support for joint research by the Centre and the Institute of Oriental Culture of Tokyo University regarding structural changes in the politics, economy, and culture of China in light of Hong Kong's hand-over to China in 1997, and the impact of those changes within Asia. Ten research sub-project were carried on from the previous years, including such topics as "Entrepreneurship and Economic Development in Contemporary China," "The Social History of Hong Kong," "The Hong Kong Studies Project," and "Network for Area Studies Project." The project activities included organizing workshops, collecting and editing data, making directories, and forming a research network. The two universities also formed a joint executive committee to facilitate cooperation with researchers from other institutions


2. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) (Singapore)
Networking for Success: The ASEAN Experience-A Training Program

¥ 22,213,096
For the third year, ISEAS used Asia Center funds to provide a one-month training course on economic and social development policy and on the foreign policy of ASEAN for ten young researchers, administrative officials, journalists, and business people from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Apart from the dissemination of knowledge on the "ASEAN experience," the project is designed to strengthen networking ties between ASEAN and other countries. This year, two Japanese lecturers were dispatched to Singapore to give lectures on ASEAN-Japan relations.


3. Program for Southeast Asian Studies, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) (Indonesia)
Staff Development

¥ 1,115,782
With the aim of strengthening the now three-year old Program for Southeast Asian Studies at LIPI, this Asia Center-administered grant allowed LIPI to send staff researchers to other Southeast Asian countries for study and research, to hold a workshop, and to invite visiting lecturers from Japan. This year, professors from Waseda and Keio universities surveyed the current activities of LIPI's program, and helped LIPI to carry out a feasibility study on intellectual exchange with Japan and Brunei.

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