The Japanese Development Experience: A Learning Program for JICA Scholarship Fellows
Starting in late February of 2021, GRIPS held another two rounds of its intensive summer program, “Understanding the Japanese Development Experience” originally offered in summer 2020. This program, designed for JICA scholarship fellows, was organized by GRIPS in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The participants were students, mainly graduate students, from various universities in Japan. The rich program content included lectures, a study tour, a cultural event, group discussion and presentations. The program is intended to give the participants a broad perspective on the Japanese modernization process, and to encourage them to adopt a multi-faceted approach to engaging with the topics.
This program is usually held at GRIPS, Tokyo; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the program features were held online.
There were about 30 participants, diverse in region, career and specialty, in each round of the program. In the first half of the program, they attended a comprehensive series of lectures on the history of Japanese modernization.
The lecturers were:
GRIPS Associate Prof. Andrea Pressello, Japanese modern history;
Prof. Kaoru Iokibe, the University of Tokyo, Japanese political history;
Prof. Tetsuji Okazaki and Associate Prof. Yohei Kojima, the University of Tokyo, Japanese economic history; and
GRIPS Prof. Taichi Ono, health and welfare policy in Japan.
Special lectures were given by:
Mr. Takehiko Nakao, Chairman of Mizuho Research Institute; and
Prof. Takashi Shiraishi, Chancellor, Prefectural University of Kumamoto.
＜Lecture by Prof. Ono, GRIPS: Health and Welfare Policy in Japan and its response to COVID-19 pandemic＞
In the virtual study tour the participants visited the National Diet Building and Yokohama Port Museum. The participants also had meaningful experiences of tea ceremony and traditional calligraphy to deepen their understanding of traditional Japanese culture.
＜Study tour of the National Diet Building ＞
＜Study tour of the Yokohama Port Museum＞
＜Cultural event: Japanese Tea Ceremony＞
＜Cultural event: Calligraphy＞
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 learned from it. On the last day they made group presentations and presented their ideas about those topics and their views on some of the challenges that Japan is currently facing.
The participants, who were already living in Japan, had some unique and insightful experiences in the program. The group membership was rich; the participants, from Africa, South & Central America, Asia, and Pacific Island states, had diverse professional backgrounds and graduate school specialties (including social sciences and engineering). That variety was reflected in the wide range of opinions and perspectives offered in the group discussions. Although the program was only five days long, the participants had a precious opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Japan from various viewpoints—an important takeaway.
We hope that the participants gained some insights in this program that they can apply to their work and to the development of their countries—and that will enable them to contribute toward the development of ever stronger relationships between their countries and Japan.
＜Group photo of Group Seven, February 22 to 26, 2021＞
The virtual National Diet tour is posted on the Secretariat of House of Representatives YouTube channel at