From shamisen concerts to international social research, the Japan Foundation’s activities span a wide range. We bring you a glimpse of the action backstage, the joys and pains that go into making these events happen, featuring stories that only staff members can tell, of episodes that could only happen in that particular corner of the world.
In December 2019, the Japan Foundation sponsored a Latin American tour by the theater company Okazaki Art Theatre, led by playwright/director Kamisato Yudai. Mr. Kamisato's great-grandparents migrated to Peru from Japan during the Taisho Era (1912-1926), and he himself was born in Lima, Peru. Mr. Kamisato has created numerous plays that grapple with themes of immigration and crossing borders. In 2018, he was awarded the 62nd Kishida Prize for Drama in recognition of his work based on his experiences in South America. His plays had previously been presented worldwide, including in Australia, Belgium, France and Indonesia. However, this tour was particularly noteworthy in that it marked his first performances in Latin America.
On November 2, 2019, the Japan Foundation co-hosted the 8th Japanese Speech Contest for Foreigners Engaged in Nursing or Long-term Care with the Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Partnerships (AOTS). With a growing number of foreign-born nationals being accepted into Japan, this speech contest has been held annually since 2012 as a valuable opportunity to hear the experiences of non-Japanese people already working in the country. Speeches were delivered by 10 foreign nationals who passed the first-stage examination and are currently working at nursing or long-term care sites. They introduced daily anecdotes with patients and care receivers and offered recommendations to Japanese people.
"What can we do together to help Asia evolve into a powerhouse of football?" This desire to unleash Asia's full potential on the global playing field is what inspired the 2014 launch of a Japan-Southeast Asia football exchange program by the Japan Foundation Asia Center, the Japan Football Association (JFA), and the Japan Professional Football League (J. League).
As humanity is faced with an unending series of catastrophic disasters around the world, it has become even more important for Japan to share its knowledge and skills internationally.
The Japanese language is taught at 57 public junior and senior high schools in the Philippines, mostly in Manila and Cebu. The Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM), at the request of the Philippine Department of Education, supports local Japanese-language education through activities such as teaching materials development and teacher training. The JFM also assigns Japanese-language specialists to provide day-to-day support for classroom learning and events at secondary education schools in Manila and Cebu. One of the projects that is a very big focus for the JFM throughout the year is a unique exchange program called the "Japanese Speakers' Forum."
Japonismes 2018: les âmes en résonance, a major Japanese arts and culture festival celebrating 160 years of friendship between Japan and France was held from July 2018 through February 2019 in France.
Every February, the Philippines celebrates the National Arts Month. Since 2009, when I was still working with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), I was actively involved in the yearly celebration of the National Arts Month, except in 2017.
On September 14, 2017, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, visited India, and together with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced a Japan-India Joint Statement. The Joint Statement includes the following words: "The two Prime Ministers recognized the importance of expanding Japanese language education in India, for achieving wider and closer industrial cooperation.The Joint Statement includes the following words: "The two Prime Ministers recognized the importance of expanding Japanese language education in India, for achieving wider and closer industrial cooperation.
Building up to "Japonismes 2018: les âmes en resonance," the Japan Foundation held the exhibition "Japanorama: A new vision on art since 1970" from October 20, 2017 to March 5, 2018 at Centre Pompidou-Metz (Metz, France). On February 7, the exhibition's curator Yuko Hasegawa (Artistic Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts' Graduate School of Global Arts) held a debriefing session at the Japan Foundation's Tokyo headquarters. Noboru Takayama, Kohei Nawa and Haruka Kojin, whose works were displayed at the exhibition, also participated. The session featured candid discussions between these artists from different generations and fields.
The year 2017 was marked as the Year of Japan-India Friendly Exchanges by the prime ministers of Japan and India in celebration of the 60th anniversary since the Cultural Agreement came into force in 1957. In fact, sixty years is not a short span of time. Today, Japan and India seem closer but still distant at the same time. Since I was appointed to be in charge of Arts & Cultural Exchange at the Japan Foundation New Delhi in late 2013, I have felt a strong urge to enhance mutual understanding through interactive and collaborative projects in addition to simply showing Japanese culture to the Indian audience. In the ever-growing economy in India, Japan-India cultural exchange has entered a period of transition.