In September, 70 university students from 35 countries in Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus took part in the MIRAI 2016 summer programme. “MIRAI” is the Japanese word for future. The programme is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (European Policy Division) and organised by the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) in cooperation with EFIL.

MIRAI is a short-term youth exchange where university students who study Politics, Security Policies, Economics, International Relations, Asian Studies, Japan Studies or other related fields explore Japan for a week. The main objectives of MIRAI are to promote mutual understandings, to enhance intellectual discussions and to build strong networks among future leaders of Japan and the world.

During the week-long stay in Japan students had the opportunity to learn about Japanese history and current affairs, experience Japanese culture and exchange ideas with Japanese university students. These intercultural opportunities took place in Tokyo, Hiroshima, Osaka and Kyoto, so the students got to see many sides of the country. In addition, there were visits to museums, impressive temples, famous shrines, the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the Kyocera Corporation and Waseda University in Tokyo. Students also attended a Japanese tea ceremony, and they experienced traveling on Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train.

Two members of EFIL’s secretariat, Paul Claes and Inga Menke, were in Japan during MIRAI to represent EFIL and introduce the concept of Intercultural Learning. EFIL’s involvement in the programme will also include a webinar for MIRAI participants which will focus on reflection and follow up.

During the exchange students posted their impressions and experiences on the MIRAI 2016 blog and the MIRAI Facebook page as well as on Twitter and Instagram via the #MIRAI2016 hashtag.

In December the second leg of MIRAI 2016 will take place when a group of 80 students from 5 European countries will visit Japan for a similar programme.