EcoS Participation in MIRAI Program 2017


In October 2017, EcoS student Kristian Viflot traveled to Japan as participant of the MIRAI program, offered by the Japanese Foreign Ministry. In the following, he describes his experiences in Japan.

“I had the pleasure of joining the first group of this year’s MIRAI Program from October 4th to 11th 2017. The MIRAI Program is a short-term exchange program hosted twice annually by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The Program is meant to promote Japanese culture, foreign policy, politics, language, history, and economy to graduate and undergraduate students from Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus region. In total, we were 84 people from these regions, with 1-2 people coming from each country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan had put together an intense week for us in Japan. At the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo we had lectures and presentations on Japanese foreign policies, such as Japan’s efforts in global denuclearization, North Korea policies, as well as African Aid policies. In Tokyo, we also attended academic lectures on politics, economics and sociology at Keio University where we had the opportunity to exchange our opinions with Japanese students on the same topics. To get a better understanding of Japanese culture and history, we took the famous Shinkansen train to Kyoto, where we saw the Golden Pavilion Temple and the Higashi Honganji Temple, as well as experienced an introduction into the traditional Japanese art form of Noh-theater. To put Japanese foreign policies as a peaceful nation in context, we visited Hiroshima, where we saw the world-famous Great Tori at Miyajima/Itsukushima Shrine, before receiving a first-hand story from a hibakusha (a survivor of the atomic bombing) of the horrific aftermath of the Hiroshima bomb in WW2, as well as visiting the Peace Memorial Park to learn more about the realities of the atomic bombing. Back in Tokyo, we visited Tokyo National Museum, before getting an introduction into the Japanese governments efforts in Disaster Prevention, a pressing issue in Japanese everyday life as well as politics, at the Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park. The week was rounded up with a workshop at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and amazing views of Tokyo from the observation deck at Roppongi Hills.

The Program delivered a solid, first-hand introduction into Japanese culture, politics and economy. It fueled my interest in, and built on my understanding of Japanese people, as well as Japan as a country, and its place in the international society. Moreover, I got to share my views on Japan and the world in general with 84 other people from different cultures than myself, which was very rewarding indeed. The Japanese MIRAI Program surely stands out as an excellent example of cultural diplomacy, with its focus on peace, friendship, and cultural understanding.”

Kristian Viflot with fellow students from the MIRAI group 2ß17 in front of the Great Tori at Miyajima/Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima (Picture: K Viflot)