Section 4. Promotion of Mutual Understanding and Cultural Exchange with Foreign Countries




Cultural exchange with other countries is a very important means of deepening understanding of Japan on the part of other countries and promoting international friendship and goodwill. As interdependence among nations is increasing today, it has become more and more important to cultivate personal contacts among nations by promoting, through cultural exchanges, mutual understanding of the social foundation of each nation, such as its language, customs and cultural traditions.

It is the intention of the Japanese government to expand and strengthen various cultural exchange activities, mainly through the Japan Foundation, as a major part of its diplomatic efforts.

Major countries of the world have recognized the importance of cultural exchanges and are endeavoring to promote them. The governments and their related agencies are actively engaged in cultural exchange activities. While it is recognized that the private sector should play the primary role in promoting cultural exchanges and that its initiative should be fully respected, it is also necessary to provide a basis for supplementing non-governmental activities and facilitating their smooth implementation, since some programs require such massive funding or highly technical knowledge that they cannot be successfully undertaken by non-governmental organizations alone. From this point of view, the government established a statutory corporation called the Japan Foundation in October 1972 to carry out cultural exchange programs systematically, effectively and on a stable basis. Since its establishment, the Japan Foundation has undertaken various forms of activity such as personnel exchanges (dispatching Japanese scholars, artists, sports instructors and others engaged in cultural activities to foreign countries and inviting foreign Japanologists, scholars, artists and others to Japan), exhibitions of Japanese works of art, Japanese traditional theatrical and musical performances, promotion of Japanese studies, and cooperation and assistance for dissemination of the Japanese language. Accordingly, the government has gradually increased its contribution to the Japan Foundation to bring the foundation endowment up to fiscal 1979 to \45 billion. The Japan Foundation's budget for fiscal 1979 was about \5 billion. The foundation's programs cover almost all parts of the world, Asia and North America taking about 50% of the total budget of the foundation. In addition to these cultural exchange activities through the Japan Foundation, the government extends cooperation to UNESCO, the Southeast Asian Education Ministers Organization, and other international organizations in exchanging specialists and receiving fellows. Its cultural exchange activities also include rendering services for foreign students studying in Japan, inviting to Japan Southeast Asians who have previously studied in Japan, and exchange visits of young people.

In promoting cultural exchanges, it is important as a matter of course to promote understanding of Japan on the part of other peoples by introducing Japanese culture abroad. At the same time, it is also necessary for Japan to try to understand the culture of other countries. In carrying out cultural exchanges with developing countries in particular, which are making nation-building efforts on the basis of their unique cultural traditions, it is important for Japanese people to make special efforts to introduce the cultures of these countries into Japan in order to create a real basis for better mutual understanding, instead of simply introducing Japanese culture into these countries. The government intends to intensify these efforts.

Furthermore, in conducting cultural exchanges with developing countries, it is necessary, not only to promote the conventional forms of cultural exchange, but also to extend cooperation which will contribute to the enrichment of culture and promotion of education in these countries. The purpose is to cooperate in the true nation-building of these countries by extending not only economic-oriented cooperation but assistance "well balanced between the material and the spiritual consideration". Accordingly, the government has provided grants for cultural cooperation since fiscal 1975 and also donated funds for projects to preserve historical remains in developing countries under the UNESCO campaign. Japan contributed \5 billion to the ASEAN cultural fund, which was created in 1978 by ASEAN countries with the objective of promoting ASEAN's intra-regional cultural exchange. The contribution was made in two installments, in December 1978 and in August 1979. Furthermore, Japan plans to provide a scholarship of $1 million a year to ASEAN countries, under the Japan Scholarship for ASEAN Youth program which will be started in fiscal 1980, as part of its cooperation for the "development of human resources" proposed in May 1979 in Manila by the then Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira.


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