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Participants of SAKURA Exchange Program in Science Reunite in Tokyo

On September 24(Sat), the reunion of “Japan-Asia Youth Exchange Program in Science” (SAKURA Exchange Program in Science or SSP) was held at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, or Miraikan (Koto-ward, Tokyo). The reunion named SAKURA Science Club was attended by 43 young people from seven Asian countries (China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam), who are alumni of the SSP program now studying at universities or doing research at institutions in Japan.

Organized by Japan Science Technology Agency (JST), the program started in April 2014, with the aim to assist young people in Asia by nurturing their aspirations in science and technology through a short-term invitational visit to Japan.

During the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years of the program, approximately 7,000 young people (high school/university students, postgraduates, and researchers) in Asia visited Japan for the first time in their lives, and were exposed to cutting-edge science technology as well as Japanese culture.

Following their initial experiences in Japan, they have expanded their dreams to continue their studies or to develop research work in Japan, and have now successfully returned to Japan to achieve their dreams. A total of 241 alumni have returned to Japan to pursue studies to date.

At the reunion, after a short lecture delivered by Professor Yasufumi Kawamura of Tokyo University of Science titled “Scientific Experiments to Solve Global Environmental Issues,” the participants had a time and discussed such topics as how to overcome difficulties to realize a return to Japan; good and difficult points about living in Japan; and messages to students who will enter the program or study and promote their research in Japan in the future.

Ms. Wei Zou (27) from China, who is now enrolled in a master course at Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry said, “When I first visited Japan on the SSP program, I dreamed about returning to Japan for studies, and my dream has come true. Though I am facing a language barrier, my professor and colleagues help me a lot.” Mr. Cap Huu Quan (22) from Vietnam, who is now studying computer science at the Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Hosei University, sent a message to future program participants by saying, “I want as many students as possible from my country to come to Japan, because there are lots of things to learn in Japan.”

This year, the SSP program plans to invite a total of some 5,000 young people to Japan from 35 countries in Asia, and exchange programs in the field of science and technology are being developed at many places throughout Japan at educational facilities and research institutions.

JST, an integrated organization of science and technology in Japan, establishes an infrastructure for the entire process from the creation of knowledge to the return to the society. For more information, visit http://www.jst.go.jp/EN/