Chapter IV.
International Exchange and Public Relations Activities

A. Promoting international exchanges

a) The importance of international exchanges

In the international community of today, exchanges among peoples of different countries are actively occurring in line with the advancement of globalization. In such a society, recognizing ethnic and cultural diversity and promoting mutual understanding are indispensable for building truly friendly relations. From such a viewpoint, Japan makes an effort to advance international mutual understanding and promote international goodwill through international exchange, such as the introduction of Japanese culture abroad and personnel exchanges, including intellectual exchanges.

Looking back at international exchange events in 1998, it is evident that the importance of international exchange for Japanese diplomacy is becoming greater than ever. January saw the commencement of UK98, a project to introduce UK culture to Japan, which was combined with a visit to Japan by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and in April French President Jacques Chirac visited Japan to attend the opening ceremony of the "Year of France in Japan." Furthermore, VIPs and many other people from around the world gathered in Nagano to attend the Nagano Olympic Winter Games, which were held in February. In September, as one of the main events of the "Japan Cultural Festival in Moscow," conductor Seiji Ozawa and world-famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, together with the New Japan Philharmonic, performed in Russia. The concert, which was attended by President Boris Yeltsin of Russia and former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, served as a symbol for the furtherance of Japan-Russia relations. Furthermore, on the occasion of the visit to Japan of President Carlos Saul Menem of the Argentine Republic in December, events were held to mark the Celebration of the Centenary of Friendship between Japan and Argentina, implemented throughout the year in both Japan and Argentina. In such a context, cultural exchange and sports events contribute to promoting friendship with other countries through summit-level reciprocal visits.

b) Trends in 1998

A look at trends in international exchanges in 1998 reveals that the importance of youth exchange, including student exchange, is increasing more rapidly than ever. In July, the Obuchi Cabinet reaffirmed the importance of student exchange. As a result, the system for student exchange has been strengthened, for example by organizing a system for providing information to foreign students at Japanese embassies and consulates-general overseas and enhancing support for former foreign students in Japan. Furthermore, at summit meetings, the importance of exchange among youth and students, who bear a responsibility toward the next generation, was stressed, and goals for the further promotion of youth exchange affirmed. For example, on the occasion of the visit to Japan of President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea in October, a Japan-Korea joint exchange program for students in science and engineering departments, with a target of accepting 1,000 Korean students into these departments in FY2010, and a program for student exchange of 10,000 junior and senior high school students over the next ten years were announced. Following this, on the occasion of the visit to Japan of President Jiang Zemin of China in November, it was announced that efforts were to be made toward realizing mutual visits and exchanges of 15,000 young people over the next five years. Furthermore, during the visit of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi to Russia in November, the two leaders agreed to establish the "Japan-Russia Youth Exchange Center," aiming for a drastic expansion of youth exchange.

Under the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, a program for foreign young people to be invited by local governments in Japan in order to teach foreign languages at junior and senior high schools and to be involved in international exchange activities, approximately 36,000 young people in total have come to Japan between the establishment of the program in 1987 and the end of FY1997, contributing greatly to international exchange at the local level.

Active trends of multilateral cultural exchange with cooperation between the public and private sectors can also be seen in Asia. Proposed in January 1997 by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, Multinational Cultural Missions composed of government and private-sector representatives from Japan and ASEAN countries were initiated. At the Concluding Meeting held in April 1998 in Japan, the Action Agenda for cultural exchanges was proposed, which contributes to continued friendly relations and building a sense of community between Japan and the ASEAN countries. Moreover, in response to a proposal by Minister for Foreign Affairs Keizo Obuchi in May, Asian intellectual leaders were invited to Japan in December to take part in a symposium on an Intellectual Dialogue on Building Asia's Tomorrow. The results of this symposium were highly commended at the Japan-ASEAN Summit meeting held later that month, where it was proposed that a second symposium be held in 1999.

The year 1998 drew attention to international cultural cooperation toward the preservation of cultural heritage. The 22nd Session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Kyoto, Japan, in November and December, provided a good opportunity to reconfirm the importance of protecting the World Heritage and to raise awareness toward Japan's contribution in this field. The Committee inscribed 30 new properties on the World Heritage List, including Japan's ninth World Heritage Site, "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara." Japan has continued its active international cooperation for the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage through the Japanese Trust Fund for the Preservation of the World Cultural Heritage, established in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In response to affirmations of the importance of preserving the cultural heritage in the Silk Road region at the Japan-China Summit in November, Japan decided to make additional contributions to the Trust Fund for this purpose. Furthermore, in order to cooperate toward the promotion of culture in developing countries, Japan actively provides equipment through cultural grant aid.

The hosting of the African modern art exhibition "Africa Africa," in line with the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II) in October, shows that relations between Japan and the African region are expanding not only in the area of economic cooperation, but also in the area of cultural exchange.

c) Future direction

Today, international exchange is advancing under the banner of "exchanges of ordinary people," in which people from all levels of society participate broadly in various areas. As a result, cooperation and collaboration in the international exchange activities implemented by local governments, NGOs and other private entities are vital for promoting international exchanges at the state level. From the viewpoint that it is important to develop an environment for exchange in order that such international exchanges can be smoothly and effectively implemented, the Government provides various assistance and cooperates with governments of other countries. In 1998, cultural consultations were held with government officials in charge of cultural exchange from the Republic of Korea, China, Australia, Viet Nam, Egypt, Iran and Canada. Directed at the implementation of detailed cultural measures, Japan also makes use of its network of embassies and consulates-general to formulate international exchange policies based on the current state of affairs in each country.

As the importance of international exchange has increased, there is an urgent need to strengthen the functions of the Japan Foundation, an organization which implements international exchange. In response to a proposal made by intellectuals in January, consideration is being given to strengthening functions for drafting guidelines for regional programs and planning programs open to the community, aimed at becoming an organization with more vitality.

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