Ashinaga Kyoto Internship Program press conference

From left: Kyoto Uni. Assistant Professor Naoki Egami, Assistant Director and Professor Shigeru Takami, President Hiroshi Matsumoto, President of ASHINAGA Yoshiomi Tamai, Mayor of Kyoto City Daisaku Kadokawa, Director and Vice-president Akihito Akamatsu


At 17:00 on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, the Ashinaga Association held a joint press conference with Kyoto University regarding its Kyoto Studies Program. The event was held at the Guest Room of Kyoto University’s Clock Tower Centennial Hall.

In attendance on behalf of Kyoto University were President Hiroshi Matsumoto, Director and Vice-president Akihito Akamatsu, Assistant Director and Professor Shigeru Takami, and Assistant Professor Naoki Egami. Daisaku Kadokawa, mayor of Kyoto City, was also present; Ashinaga was represented by its president, Yoshiomi Tamai.


From left: Kyoto Uni. President Hiroshi Matsumoto, President of ASHINAGA Yoshiomi Tamai, Mayor of Kyoto City Daisaku Kadokawa

The Kyoto Studies Program is part of the Ashinaga Internship Program, which started in late June this year and will run for three and a half months. Ashinaga invites 100 students from the top 100 universities worldwide to participate. During their two-week stay in Kyoto, the interns will study various aspects of Kyoto studies, such as history, culture, art, tea ceremony, and martial arts. The purpose of this program is to provide students with an opportunity to develop an understanding of the “Japanese spirit.” This year, the program will be held twice, in July and September. It will be carried out with extensive local cooperation from bodies supporting the project’s aims, such as Kyoto University, Kyoto City, and the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The press conference, which was moderated by Professor Takami, began with President Tamai setting out the content and purpose of the Kyoto Studies Program on behalf of Ashinaga. This part was followed by messages of support from President Matsumoto and Mayor Kadokawa.


President Matsumoto commented in Japanese, “Kyoto Studies may not yet be established as a formal academic discipline. However, Kyoto has been home to a university since the 9th century, and has a long history as a city of learning. We have the symbols of Japanese tradition and history here. The success of the cooperative relationship between Kyoto University and the Ashinaga Program can be attributed to Kyoto University’s existing Center of Community program. This program is a Kyoto studies project carried out in close collaboration with Kyoto City. Amid increasing globalization, and as the international community becomes borderless, cities have acquired an important status. Kyoto is known throughout the world. I believe that the 100 elite students who come here, at an age when they are most open to new ideas, will certainly return home having absorbed plenty of valuable lessons. I would like to pay tribute to everyone involved in delivering this program.”

President Matsumoto commented in Japanese, “Kyoto Studies may not yet be established as a formal academic discipline. However, Kyoto has been home to a university since the 9th century, and has a long history as a city of learning. We have the symbols of Japanese tradition and history here. The success of the cooperative relationship between Kyoto University and the Ashinaga Program can be attributed to Kyoto University’s existing Center of Community (COC) program. This program is a Kyoto studies project carried out in close collaboration with Kyoto City. Amid increasing globalization, and as the international community becomes borderless, cities have acquired an important status. Kyoto is known throughout the world. I believe that the 100 elite students who come here, at an age when they are most open to new ideas, will certainly return home having absorbed plenty of valuable lessons. I would like to pay tribute to everyone involved in delivering this program.”

Mayor Kadokawa commented, also in Japanese, “This is a wonderful program that enables future world leaders to meet Kyoto University students in person and develop an appreciation of the Japanese spirit. Kyoto is the only city in the world with over one million inhabitants whose culture and name has continued uninterrupted for over one thousand years. Here, the splendid nature, city life, and culture of manufacturing have developed in harmony. I hope that future world leaders could learn from Kyoto, and that Kyoto will also be able to learn from them. For all these reasons, I believe that this internship program is of great significance. I hope it continues for many years.”

Below is the press release circulated at the event.

Orphan-support association Ashinaga organizes “Kyoto Studies” internship with Kyoto University for 100 students from top global universities

Helping future world leaders empathize with the vulnerable and appreciate the Japanese spirit.

Currently, there are 200 million orphans worldwide. The economic gap is growing between the rich and the poor throughout the world.

The Ashinaga Association has been supporting orphans for 45 years by providing educational scholarships, running the “School of Hearts” student dormitories, and organizing activities to support their emotional wellbeing. Ashinaga has supported over 100,000 students through to graduation, many of whom are pursuing successful careers as empathetic leaders in politics, businesses, NPOs, and international organizations. Hakubun Shimomura, Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, is one of them.

Last year, we launched the Ashinaga Internship Program to enable a select group of international students to visit Japan and engage in exchange activities with Japanese orphans. This scheme has given the Japanese students the opportunity to develop and grow though exchange with students from the world’s top 100 universities. It has also been a chance for these elite students to understand the position of the more vulnerable members of society.

The program is founded on the philosophy that support for orphans must go beyond promoting education and independent efforts; we need empathetic leaders who can change the world that these orphans call home.


This year, we also wanted these future world leaders to learn about the Japanese spirit, as we believe that such an opportunity will help them develop greater empathy. We chose Kyoto as the ideal setting for our initiative. We received significant local assistance in arranging the Kyoto Studies Program. Apart from Dr. Hiroshi Matsumoto, president of Kyoto University, and other members of the teaching staff, the mayor of Kyoto and leaders of other bodies, such as the local government and the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry, lent their full cooperation. As such, we could incorporate an unrivaled variety of topics, from zazen meditation practice to cultural experiences, such as the tea ceremony and martial arts.

In completing this program, these students will not only have an understanding of the more vulnerable members of society when they come to lead the world in 20 years but also grow into empathetic leaders who appreciate the “Japanese spirit.” This path, we believe, is the quickest route to the long-term world vision that the Ashinaga Association seeks to achieve.

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