Mutual understanding produced from exchanges between people and cultures possessing different backgrounds from one another is an indispensable element in nurturing trusting relations and developing friendly relations among countries and people. Moreover, seeking ways for diverse cultures to coexist through exchanges and dialogue, and establishing common values and rules in the international community leads to the establishment of a foundation for cooperatively working together to address international issues of a global scale.
Setting the 10 year period from the year 2001 as the Decade of Japan-Europe Co-operation, Japan and the European Union (EU) have set down an Action Plan for EU-Japan Cooperation to serve as specific guidelines. This plan recognizes the importance of promoting personal and cultural exchanges, and has promoted cooperation in various fields as one of its priority objectives.
Furthermore, setting 2005, the midway year in the Decade of Japan-Europe Co-operation, as the EU-Japan Year of People-to-People Exchanges, approximately 1,900 diverse exchange programmes were carried out between Japan and 25 EU countries, which had the effect of deepening the relationship between the population of approximately 455 million in the 25 EU countries and the people of Japan.
With a view to carry these achievements into the future, Japan will further promote personal exchanges and dialogue so as to continue to maintain and develop the high level of interest toward the mutual exchanges of people between Japan and the EU which was seen throughout 2005.
Specifically, Japan-EU personal exchanges targeting young people, experts, parties with business interests, and tourists will be promoted on an EU-wide scale in the manner described below. Especially with regard to the exchange of young people, upon whom rests the future of Japan and the EU, the annual acceptance goal has been set at 4,000 people, in addition to which it has been decided that from this year forward 60 high school students will be accepted each year.
- Exchanges of Young People
In order to create a basis for future Japan-EU relations, Japan will implement exchange programmes for the young people of Japan and the EU and promote mutual understanding.
(1) Japan-EU Foreign Student Exchanges
- Japan accepts students from EU member states.
- Japanese students are dispatched through the EU-Japan Pilot Co-operation in Higher Education, which is a multinational student exchange programme with the goal of facilitating student exchanges between Japan and the EU.
(2) Inviting Youths from the EU
- Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme: Youth from EU Member states as a whole will continue to be eligible for the participation in the JET Programme. In addition, the gradual increase in the number of participants in the JET programme from EU Member States will be considered, in response to requests from Japanese municipalities.
- Study Tour of Japan for European Youth: Youths who demonstrate great promise of assuming positions of leadership throughout European countries in the future are invited to Japan in groups. This is carried out in EU Member States as well as candidate EU Member States.
- Japan-Europe Mutual Understanding Scholarship Program for high school students: Two types of invitation programmes, long-term (six months) and short-term (five weeks), are carried out targeting high school students in EU Member States.
- Vulcanus programme: These are programmes which enable Japanese and EU undergraduate and graduate students in scientific and technical fields to receive in-house company training. Students are dispatched for a period of one year between Japan and the EU where training (comprised of language training and in-house company internships) is carried out for students from the other location (Japan-EU joint undertaking).
(3) Working Holidays
- The working holiday system which is implemented between Japan and certain EU Member States is currently undergoing review regarding newly expanding the system to Denmark, Italy, and Ireland.
(4) Exchanges of Young Diplomats
- The acceptance of young European diplomats to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is implemented among certain EU Member States, will be reviewed in terms of also including other EU Member States.
- Exchanges in the Economic Area
In addition to inviting policy makers and experts on economy from EU Member States and the European Commission, the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation will implement exchanges of parties with business interests that serve as leaders who are important to Japan-EU relations in order to promote exchanges between the economic circles of Japan and the EU (Japan-EU joint).
- EU experts Invitation Programme.: Officials and experts from EU Member States and the European Commision are invited to Japan with the aim of promoting understanding of Japan.
- Programmes for providing training to accepted trainees: In order to vitalize trade and investment between Japan and the EU, programmes for providing training related to issues like the business conditions of Japanese corporations to accepted trainees are carried out aimed at middle management executives and parties with business interests in EU Member States (Japan-EU joint undertaking).
- Exchange programmes for experts on investment promotion: Exchange programmes for Japan-EU experts on investment promotion are carried out based on the Cooperation Framework for Promotion of Japan-EU Two-Way Investment (Japan-EU joint undertaking).
- Exchange of Intellectuals and Experts
The exchange of researchers supporting Japan-EU relations on a mid to long-term basis, as well as invitations and dispatches of experts on an EU-wide scale, will be conducted in order to promote shared awareness regarding various issues that exist between Japan and Europe.
(1) Invitation and Dispatch of Researchers between Japan and the EU
- Japan Society for the Promotion of Science: The invitation and dispatch of researchers in every academic field is conducted throughout all of Europe, including EU Member States. Specifically, in line with each career stage and the visitor's research objectives, various invitation channels are provided. Moreover, outstanding young Japanese researchers are dispatched to research institutes and the like in EU Member States. In addition to this bilateral joint research and seminars, as well as the exchange of researchers, are promoted based on memorandums and similar agreements between the corresponding institutes in European countries.
- Japan Foundation programmes: The Japan Foundation extends invitations to persons conducting research related to Japan from among scholars and researchers in humanities and social sciences fields in European regions, including EU Member States. Japanese researchers are also dispatched to Europe.
(2) Invitation, Training, and Dispatch of Intellectuals and Experts between Japan and the EU
- Invitation of opinion leaders: Invitations are extended to those who exert a significant influence on the formation of public opinion in EU Member States (opinion leaders), so that they get a first-hand understanding on Japan.
- Dispatch of experts: Japanese experts and scholars, among others, are dispatched to EU Member States to give lectures.
- Japan Foundation programmes: The Japan Foundation invites cultural specialists (individuals or groups) from EU Member States for a fixed period of time and provides opportunities for them to engage in activities such as exchanges with interested parties in Japan, joint research, or creative activities. Moreover, pre-eminent specialists of Japanese culture are dispatched to EU Member States to provide introductions to Japanese culture, and grant programmes are utilized to support Japanese culture introductory programmes in EU Member States through cultural figures in the private sector.
- Tourism Exchanges
Japan will promote tourism between Japan and Europe, as it possesses major significance as a form of personal exchange. Compared with the number of tourists from Japan to Europe, there is still room for expansion in terms of the number of tourists from Europe to Japan.
- Japan proactively employs the "Visit Japan Campaign (VJC)," with the United Kingdom, Germany, and France being countries which are particularly targeted from among the EU Member States.