The Training Programme For Young Leaders, the former Youth Invitation Program, began in 1984 for six countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand). During the past 20 years, the program has played a significant role in deepening friendship between Japan and ASEAN countries. The program has since expanded to cover 120 countries, and the total number of youths who have participated in the program through 2003 is more than 26,000.
The alumni associations of the Training Programme For Young Leaders were organized one by one in the six ASEAN countries, started with Indonesia in 1985 for the former training program. The original idea behind setting up alumni associations was to deepen the friendship that was cultivated through the program. Today, alumni associations for the Training Programme For Young Leaders have been established in the three new ASEAN members of Cambodia, Laos, and Viet Nam as well. (The alumni associations of Brunei and Singapore have been closed already.)
All of these associations were integrated into an organization called AJAFA-21, or ASEAN-Japan Friendships Association for the 21st Century, in 1988 with the objective of fostering closer relationships between ASEAN countries and Japan through social, cultural, educational, and other activities. AJAFA-21 hosts the Regional Leader Forum as well as the Annual Executive Council Meeting on a rotating basis among the member countries. These activities help expand human networks not only with Japan but also with neighboring countries.
(1) Networking among Ex-participants
(2) Cooperation for JICA's Activities
(3) Friendship Exchange with Japan
(4) Community Volunteer Activities
Although alumni associations are independent organizations, JICA provides some financial support. JICA values its cooperation with alumni of JICA activities, not only the Training Programme For Young Leaders but also JOCV activities, and other programs. It also carries out publicity work for the Youth Invitation Program and Training Programme For Young Leaders as well as for Japanese ODA in general.