In 1954 Japan began accepting overseas technical participants, and by March 2010, the number of participants accepted under JICA programs had exceeded 260,000.
Over the years, many alumni associations have been voluntarily formed by former participants wishing to maintain contact with Japan or learn more about the country. The first association was set up in the Philippines in 1967, and today there are 123 alumni associations in 103 countries (as of March 2010) worldwide with more than 65,000 members.
Initially, alumni associations concentrated on activities conducive to strengthening friendship with Japan and among their members. In recent years, however, they have been involved in more wide-ranging activities, including collaboration in the activities of Japanese embassies and JICA overseas offices and community service.
As alumni associations are independent organizations, the basic approach to support should be to help out with self-initiated activities. Actual forms of support include (1) financial assistance, (2) supply of information, and (3) provision of advice.
"Financial assistance" involves the provision of grants for financially strapped alumni associations. The "supply of information" involves the mailing of various publications. At present, JICA overseas publicity materials and periodicals covering socioeconomic and technological developments in Japan are sent to alumni associations on a monthly basis.