October 24, 2011
On Friday, October 21, an opening ceremony was held at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tokyo, Japan, in conjunction with the acceptance of Afghans to study at universities around Japan. The 47 participants who recently arrived in Japan are the first group under the Project for the Promotion and Enhancement of the Afghan Capacity for Effective Development (PEACE), conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Attending the ceremony were, from Afghanistan, Dr. Baray Seddiqi, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, and Dr. Sayed M. Amin Fatimie, Ambassador to Japan; and from Japan, Mr. Kazuhiko Koshikawa, Director-General of the International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nobuo Fujishima, Director-General for International Affairs, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and Ms. Sadako Ogata, President of JICA.
President Ogata said in her speech that she hopes the participants will go on to take on critical roles and use the training they receive in Japan to promote development in Afghanistan going forward. She also discussed her expectation that the participants would become familiar with the lifestyle and culture of Japan, and use their insight into the positive aspects of Japan to promote friendly relations between the two countries. She also expressed her thanks to the 20 universities throughout Japan that were receiving the participants.
In response, a representative of participants expressed their intentions to study in each of their areas of expertise in the limited time given, and to work toward the development of their home country after returning.
The PEACE will provide opportunities to enter master's and other programs at Japanese universities to improve the capacity of civil servants and university faculty members, who are charged with a vital role in promoting development in the fields of agricultural, rural and infrastructure development of Afghanistan. Up to 500 Afghans are expected to be accepted over the next five years. In the first year, 2011, 47 of the 199 respondents recommended by the Afghanistan government were selected and arrived in September and October to work at their studies in 21 different postgraduate courses at 20 Japanese universities. The universities accepting the participants range from as far north as Akita University and as far south as the University of the Ryukyus.
Afghanistan has suffered from an outflow of human resources over the roughly three decades of strife and the breakdown of the country's socioeconomic infrastructure, and many of the people continue to live below the poverty line in dire circumstances. The Government of Japan emphasizes assistance in the following areas; "Assistance for enhancing Afghanistan's capability to maintain security", "Assistance for integration of former insurgents to the society", and "Assistance for Afghanistan's sustainable and self-reliant development". JICA has made a policy of contributing to the economic and social stability of Afghanistan through sustainable economic development and the creation of suitable employment made possible through development and based on the leadership and ownership of the Afghan government, and is providing cooperation with a specific focus on agricultural and rural development and infrastructure development.
Through the PEACE, it is hoped that civil servants and university faculty members will use the expertise, technology, creativity, application skills and other skills they acquire in Japan to improve the functioning of government and become a driving force in reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. It is also hoped that through the understanding they gain of Japanese culture and traditions, the participants will become ambassadors of Japanese culture who will take on the important role of strengthening friendly ties between Japan and Afghanistan.