This December, 80 students from universities in 12 European countries took part in the MIRAI 2016 Winter 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 and Kyoto, so the students got to see many sides of the country. In addition, there were visits to museums, impressive temples and famous shrines, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the Kyocera Corporation Kyoto University and Waseda University in Tokyo. Students also attended a Japanese tea ceremony, and they experienced traveling on Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train. Participants also had the change to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan on three occasions for lectures and discussions as well as an evening socialising with junior staff from the ministry.

Two members of EFIL’s secretariat, Inga Menke and Tinna Sveinsdottir, were in Japan during MIRAI to represent EFIL and introduce the concept of Intercultural Learning. EFIL’s involvement in the programme also included a webinar for MIRAI participants which focused on reflection and follow up. Webinars were conducted in sub-groups and took place in February. Inga and Tinna had the change to visit the office of AFS Japan while they were in Tokyo and discuss future cooperation and the Global Citizenship Trimester programme.

During the programme 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.

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