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The Japanese Development Experience: A Learning Program for JICA Scholarship Fellows

Starting in early August 2021, GRIPS held four rounds of its intensive summer program, “Understanding the Japanese Development Experience.” This program, designed for Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) scholarship fellows, was organized by GRIPS in collaboration with JICA. The participants were students, mainly graduate students, from a number of 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 engagement 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:

Prof. Shinichi Kitaoka, President of JICA;

Mr. Keizo Takemi, a member of Japan’s House of Councillors;

GRIPS President Akihiko Tanaka;

GRIPS Prof. Emeritus Kiyoshi Kurokawa and

GRIPS Prof. Emeritus Shigeru Morichi.


This year, Universal Health Coverage (UHC) was set as a subtopic for Group 1. In the Group One virtual study tour, Mr. Shoichi Hasegawa, former Executive Director of Jichi Medical University, introduced the university’s mission regarding community medicine. After his presentation, the participants exchanged opinions with Jichi Medical University students. In the special lecture, Prof. Emeritus Kiyoshi Kurokawa of GRIPS and Mr. Keizo Takemi, a member of Japan’s House of Councillors and the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for UHC, talked about Japan’s approach to UHC. 




<Special lecture by Prof. Emeritus Kiyoshi Kurokawa and Mr. Keizo Takemi>



In the virtual study tour for the other groups, the participants visited the Tomioka Silk Mill and the National Diet Building.




<Filming at the Tomioka Silk Mill>




<National Diet Building study tour>



The participants also had meaningful experiences of tea ceremony and traditional calligraphy to deepen their understanding of traditional Japanese culture.




<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 expressing their ideas about those topics and their views on some of the challenges that Japan is currently facing.


The participants 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 voiced 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 in this program the participants gained some insights 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 Three, August 16 to 20, 2021>



The video of the virtual National Diet tour is posted on the Secretariat of House of Representatives YouTube channel at


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