Message from President

Photo of UMEMOTO Kazuyoshi

It was my great pleasure to have assumed the position of president of the Japan Foundation on October 1, 2020.

During my term as ambassador to Switzerland for one year and to Italy for three years, I had the chance to be directly involved in various cultural and artistic events, such as the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and Japan, as well as the Milan Expo 2015. I witnessed that the outstanding works of Japanese art and culture that were presented gave many people great joy and excitement, and it brought home to me that their respect for Japan and its culture would eventually help to build a solid foundation for favorable relations between Japan and the world.

In Italy, in particular, the Japanese Embassy and the Japan Foundation's Cultural Institute in Rome carried out various cultural projects together, and it made me deeply convinced that the Japan Foundation plays a major role in promoting Japan's soft-power diplomacy.

It is, therefore, a great pleasure and honor for me to be able to be involved in the operation of the Japan Foundation, and I am determined to exert every effort to fulfill my responsibility.

Since its establishment in 1972, the Japan Foundation has comprehensively implemented international cultural-exchange projects around the world, with a focus on three major fields: arts and cultural exchange, Japanese-language education overseas, and Japanese studies and intellectual exchange, to cultivate friendship and ties between Japan and the world.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the situation. Many cities around the world are locked down, and many people are restricted from moving across borders, both of which have made the holding of mass-participation events extremely difficult. This has had a tremendous impact upon the activities of the Japan Foundation.

Although the pandemic seems to have subsided to a certain extent in Japan, the prospects are still unclear, as the number of Coronavirus cases is still surging in many countries.

Under the current circumstances where the international society is inclined to become more divided and inward-looking, with international exchanges dwindling and stagnant, it is all the more important to maintain and further develop the ties between Japan and the world through culture. The Japan Foundation will make more active efforts to expand its online programs in the fields of Japanese-language education, Japanese culture, and intellectual dialogue.

At the same time, the value of face-to-face interaction between people and of the performing arts created by live performers before a live audience is still irreplaceable. Taking sufficient measures to prevent the spread of contagion, we will continue to carry out cultural projects wherever possible, and we will actively explore the possibility of new types of international exchange, combining “virtual” and “real” forms.

The Japan Foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022. With this major milestone in mind, I will do my utmost to promote and develop international cultural-exchange activities that meet the needs of the new era. I would much appreciate your continued assistance for our endeavors.

UMEMOTO Kazuyoshi
President
The Japan Foundation

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