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Learning Program on Japanese Development Experience for JICA Scholarship Fellows



Starting in February 10th 2020, GRIPS held two rounds of the intensive winter program, “Understanding the Japanese Development Experience.” This program for JICA scholarship fellows was created in response to request from the main host, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The participants are students, mainly in graduate courses, at various universities in Japan. The rich program content includes lectures, a study tour, a cultural event, group discussion and presentations. The program is intended to broaden the participants’ perspective on the Japanese modernization process, and to encourage them to adopt a multi-faceted approach to engaging with the topics.


About 30 participants, diverse in region, career and specialty, joined each round of the program. In the first half of the program, they attended a comprehensive lecture series on Japanese modernization history. GRIPS Prof. Andrea Pressello gave a lecture on Japanese modern history.  Prof. Tetsuji Okazaki and Prof. Yohei Kojima of the University of Tokyo gave on Japanese Economic history.  Special lectures were given by Mr. Hiroshi Watanabe, the President of the Institute for International Monetary Affairs (IIMA), and Prof. Takashi Shiraishi, the Chancellor of Kumamoto Prefectural University.




On the study tour, the participants visited the national parliament building; then either Haneda Chronogate, the giant logistics terminal or Chuo Incineration Plant. The participants also had a meaningful experience of tea ceremony and traditional calligraphy to deepen their understanding of traditional Japanese culture.


In the second half of the program, the participants applied the knowledge and information they had acquired in the lectures to their exchanges in group discussions about Japan’s development experience and about the lessons that can be learnt from it. On the last day they made group presentations and presented their ideas on those topics and on some of the challenges that Japan is currently facing.




The participants, who had previously lived in Japan, had some unique and insightful experiences. Group membership was varied; the participants came from Africa, South & Central America, Asia and Pacific Island states, with diverse backgrounds and graduate school specialties (from social sciences to engineering, etc.). The variety of the participants was reflected in the diversity of opinions and perspectives in the group discussions. Although the program period was short, only five days, the participants had a precious opportunity to gain an understanding of Japan from various viewpoints—an important takeaway.


We hope that this program gave the participants some insights applicable to their work and to the development of their countries, and that it will make a contribution toward the development of even better relationships between Japan and their countries.

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