In October and December, two groups of each about 75 graduate and post-graduate students from top universities in more than 30 countries in Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus took part in the MIRAI Program 2017. “MIRAI” is the Japanese word for future. The programme is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (European Policy Division) and was this year implemented in Japan by JTB Corporate Sales. As its European implementer, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the third year running had chosen 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 are given the opportunity to 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. There were visits to museums, impressive temples, famous shrines, including Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion Temple and Higashi Honganji Temple in Kyoto, the Miyajima Istukushima Shrine and the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. A full day was spent at Waseda University in Tokyo with lectures on Japonism and on the Japanese approach to International Peace Operations, and on the last day a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo included a lecture “Japan’s Defense Policy” by the Deputy Director of the Defense Policy Division of the Ministry of Defense. Students also attended a lecture by Hibakusha, and atomic bomb victim in Hiroshima, a traditional Japanese masked dance drama (Kawamura Noh stage) in Kyoto, and they experienced traveling on Japan’s famous Shinkansen bullet train. At the farewell lunch at the International House of Japan, the participants met Mr. Manabu Horii, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Paul Claes, EFIL Secretary-General, joined the group in December during the Tokyo part of their stay. During the exchange students posted their impressions and experiences on the blog and the MIRAI Facebook page as well as on Twitter and Instagram via the #MIRAI2017 hashtag.