Feature Story – Somewhere in the world today

Every day, somebody, somewhere on the planet, is acting as a bridge between Japan and the world. We bring you stories direct from artists and researchers working on location around the globe, who share their various experiences, ranging from sketches of street life, to profiles of people encountered on the job.


The Power of International Cultural Activities that Connect Regions and the World
- On the occasion of the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship being awarded to 100 organizations

The Japan Foundation established the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship* in 1985, and has been supporting organizations which, via their international cultural exchange activities nationwide, deepen connections and cooperation between people in Japan and overseas, thereby fostering the mutual exchange of knowledge, ideas and information, and encouraging people to think together. Last year, in fiscal 2016, the Prizes for Global Citizenship reached the milestone of being awarded to the 100th organization.
With that in mind, we asked Professor Yasushi Watanabe at Keio University SFC, who has a detailed knowledge of organizations that contribute to regional development by undertaking international cultural activities in regions throughout Japan, to contribute a piece about the significance of international cultural exchange in the regions, the outlook for that exchange and the role performed by the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship.

2017.8. 1

Serving as a Bridge between People in Japan and the United States through Grass-Roots Exchange

Today, numerous exchange programs are available in Japan aimed at promoting mutual understanding with people throughout the world. One of these programs is the Japan Outreach Initiative run jointly by the Japan Foundation together with Laurasian Institution in the US, a program for the deployment of grass-roots Japan-US exchange coordinators. This program, also called JOI (joy), the abbreviation of the program name, deploys Japanese coordinators from Japan to the US for two weeks to promote deeper interest and understanding of Japan through exchange activities rooted in the local community. The program is entering its 15th year in 2017, having started in 2002. In October 2016, a symposium was held at the Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Urawa in commemoration of the 15th year, entitled "The Value of International Exchange in the Community". In this issue we will introduce the activities of the JOI coordinators and some of the statements by the panelists at the symposium.


Why I Study Japanese -Kevin Reynolds-

The Japan Foundation and Japan Educational Exchanges and Services organize the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), which measures and certifies the Japanese-language proficiency of those whose native language is not Japanese. Canadian figure skater Kevin Reynolds passed the N2 level of JLPT in December 2016. When he came to Japan in April 2017, he talked about how he encountered Japan and how he started studying its language.

2017.6. 2

Imagining Japan's Tomorrow

For more than 40 years the Japan Foundation has supported the publication of Japan-related books around the world through its Support Program for Translation and Publication on Japan. Through this support program, books in over 50 languages have been published in a wide array of genres, including classic and contemporary literature, history, sociology, politics, economics, and cultural theory.


Forty Years of Introducing Japanese Manga Culture to North America

The Japan International MANGA Award, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, recognizes manga artists who have made a contribution to the spread of manga culture overseas. The Japan Foundation hosted a lecture by Frederik L. Schodt , one of the leading translators of Japanese manga, who was invited to the 10th awards ceremony for the MANGA Award held on February 6, 2017. Schodt has worked as a manga translator for over 40 years, ever since he developed a fascination for Japanese manga, and he also interacted directly with legendary artist Osamu Tezuka. In 2016, the English edition of The Osamu Tezuka Story, translated by Schodt himself, was published by Stone Bridge Press in the U.S. (aided by the Japan Foundation's Support Program for Translation and Publication on Japan). During the lecture, moderated by Yukari Shiina (a translator of U.S. comics, manga researcher, and major fan of Schodt), he spoke of his passion for translating Japanese manga and his love for the works of Osamu Tezuka.


Damage to Cultural Heritage from the 2016 Ecuador Earthquake: Museums and the Understanding of Cultural Diversity

The Japan Foundation dispatched Professor Shuichi Odaira of Tokai University and a specialist in the archaeology of the Andes from September 2 through 15, 2016, to survey the damage caused to cultural heritage from the earthquake in Ecuador that occurred on April 16, 2016. Professor Odaira held a briefing session subsequently on December 16 of the same year at the Tokyo National Museum. In accordance with the request from the Foundation, he has shared with us a report based on his talk, provided here in digest form.


Yasuhiro Suzuki Connects the Neighborhood with the Globe

The London Design Biennale 2016 was an international design exhibition held in September 2016 that saw the participation of 37 countries. Yasuhiro Suzuki, an artist who creates artworks based on concepts taken from discoveries and memories in daily life, was chosen to represent Japan at the exhibition. Suzuki, who had recently reconfirmed his artistic position by holding a large-scale solo exhibition at an art museum, responded to the theme of the Biennale, "Utopia by Design," with the words "neighborhood globe." What exactly does Suzuki mean by "neighborhood" and "globe"? Together with Noriko Kawakami, who served as the curatorial advisor for Japan's participation, Suzuki looks back on the Biennale.

2017.2. 8

A Message from Cai Guo-Qiang to Japanese Art Students
―The Japan Foundation Awards Commemorative Lecture Report

Contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang is known for his works that combine the dynamism of the "gunpowder drawing" technique, a blend of creativity and destruction, with abstract artistic concepts. He was selected as one of the recipients of the 2016 Japan Foundation Awards. Every year since 1973, the Awards have been presented by the Japan Foundation to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to promoting international mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and other countries through academic, artistic, and other cultural pursuits.


Lessons to Learn from European Initiatives for "Religious Minorities"

Against the backdrop of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, the world is still unable to cope with the issue of refugees crossing national borders to flee the horrors of war. At the same time, however, the threat of terrorism in Europe is still real and present. This issue is further complicated by problems related to religion and Islam in particular. For Europeans, these problems are more pressing than what people living in Japan imagine. We came to realize this through our participation in a seminar organized by the Council of Europe under its Intercultural Cities programme, "Tackling Prejudice and Engaging with Religious Minorities."


How did Japanese-language Education Develop in Brazil, the Home of the Largest Nikkei Community?

Brazil is home of the largest community of Nikkei, or people of Japanese descent. Their number reaches approximately 1.6 million. When Japanese migration began in 1908, Japanese-language education in Brazil was implemented with priority given to heritage language education for Japanese-Brazilian children. As the generational change in the Nikkei community advanced, however, heritage language education has shifted to teaching Japanese as a foreign language. The Centro Brasileiro de Língua Japonesa (CBLJ) was established against this backdrop in 1985, and has provided support to Japanese-language teachers and learners, and worked to popularize Japanese culture. It has also contributed to the advancement of Japanese-language education in South American countries with large Nikkei communities. The CBLJ was given a 2016 Japan Foundation Award for its distinguished achievements. Armando Toshiharu Tachibana, President of the CBLJ, delivered a lecture on October 20, 2016, at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) in commemoration of CBLJ's receipt of the Japan Foundation Award. The lecture was titled "The Situation and Challenges of Japanese-language Education for Future Generations: The Meaning of Japanese-language and Culture to Brazilian Youths."

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