October 26, 2020
JICA HQ, Tokyo, Japan
Dear JICA scholarship students,
I am very pleased to welcome you to Japan. I would like to reiterate my gratitude that you chose Japan as your study abroad destination during this challenging time. I would also like to welcome you to our JICA family.
Studying abroad at a young age is a significant and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
In 1871, around 150 years ago, Japan organized a diplomatic mission led by highest government officials to visit the United States and Europe. This is known as the "Iwakura Mission."
One keystone of this mission was that it brought many young boys and girls to study abroad. One of them was a seven-year-old girl, named TSUDA Umeko. After completing her study in the United States, she returned to Japan and established the first English Language School for Women which still remains as one of the best women's colleges in Japan.
As this story shows, studying abroad, particularly in different cultural settings from your own, can have long-lasting impacts on your life.
During your stay in Japan, I hope you will be able to gain many things. One, being an academic degree in your field of study.
At the same time, I hope all of you will learn about Japan's modernization experience and how Japan has engaged in development cooperation since World War II.
Japan is the first and best example that has modernized from a non-Western background and established a free, prosperous, and peace-loving democracy based on the rule of law. At the same time, throughout this process, Japan did not lose its traditions and identity. Therefore, I think various aspects of Japan's experience can be shared with developing countries today.
Japan has also contributed to Asia's economic growth through its Official Development Assistance. We are also sharing our knowledge and enhancing our activities across other regions. Based on our experience and knowledge, I firmly believe that Japan can become the real center of development studies throughout the world.
During your stay, I hope that you will gain a deep understanding of Japan, so you can use this knowledge to contribute to the development of your own countries.
These unsettling times will likely continue for a while. JICA, however, remains committed to doing everything we can to help protect your health and well-being. As a member of the JICA family, please do not hesitate to contact any of us, if you have any concerns.
I hope all of you will study hard to achieve your academic goals and become a bridge between your home country and Japan, as well as a bridge to our future.
JICA, with its vision of leading the world with trust, strongly believes that strengthening these bonds is most needed during this unprecedented time.
Once again, welcome to Japan and the JICA family.