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Message from the President

The year 2016 put Japan in the global spotlight, as the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Paralympics concluded and attention shifted to the next round of games in Tokyo in 2020-and now many people around the world have high hopes for Japan as the host. Japan Foundation-sponsored programs such as the Japan-Brazil Pops concert and exhibition held during the Rio Olympics, and the Divine Dance SAMBASO: Kami Hisomi Iki hosted in Tokyo as a cultural event of the World Forum on Sport and Culture Official Program, provided the world with a portrait of Japan embodying fresh modes of expression, and built momentum towards the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The year also witnessed the expansion of our programs for strengthening cultural exchange in Asia through our Asia Center, now in its third year of activities. This included stepping up the "NIHONGO Partners" project for sending Japanese-language education supporters to ASEAN countries and other parts of Asia, by more than doubling the number of partners dispatched compared to the previous year. Since its inception, the program has introduced Japanese language and culture to over 210,000 students, and continues to contribute to the promotion of grassroots exchange. We also launched "The Japanese Film Festival (JFF): Asia-Pacific Gateway Initiative" as a comprehensive platform for raising the profile of Japanese cinema and increasing interest in it, while contributing to the vitalization of the Asia-Pacific film industry. The festival created a forum for people to gather and enjoy films through events held in 26 cities across nine countries.

In March 2017, the "Shochiku Grand Kabuki in Beijing" was held in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China. The event was a major sensation, with tickets for the five performances selling out in four days, and over 4,200 attendees thoroughly enjoying magnificent traditional Japanese performances.

Additionally, we hosted the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership/Abe Fellowship Program 25th Anniversary Symposium and reception as an opportunity to explore the future role of Japan and the United States in the international community while looking back at the changes that have occurred over the past 25 years. The JOI Program, which promotes region-based exchanges at the grassroots level, entered its 15th year and continued to share the diverse appeals of Japanese culture through people-to-people interactions.

We also established a secretariat to lay the groundwork for Japonismes 2018, which will celebrate the 160th anniversary of friendship between Japan and France in 2018 by showcasing Japanese culture on a grand scale in Paris and other parts of France. All of our executives and employees are now working together to organize and prepare this epic event as an opportunity to communicate Japanese culture from France to the entire world.

In implementing numerous programs globally, the Japan Foundation is expected to make even greater contributions as a core organization that is dedicated to international cultural exchange. To live up to these expectations, we will proactively carry out activities to overcome differences of culture and language and build empathy and trust in Japan that will help lead to a peaceful and prosperous world, based on our mission of "Cultivating friendship and ties between Japan and the world."

We sincerely appreciate your continued understanding and support.

Hiroyasu Ando
The Japan Foundation
January 2018

Photo of Mr. Hiroyasu Ando, President, The Japan Foundation