Ten of the people taking part in the programme were from the UK. They started their visit in Tokyo, attending lectures held at Keio University on Japanese politics, the economy and society as well as taking part in discussions with Japanese students and visiting museums, JICA and high-tech and traditional industries. They then travelled outside Tokyo in small groups to regional towns and cities and enjoyed homestays with Japanese families, which they all found relaxing and stimulating.
The scheme concluded with a wrap-up session at the MOFA
on the last day, 22 December. Ms Miki Yamada, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, welcomed the students and expressed her confidence that their experience of the MIRAI Programme would help them contribute to friendly relations between Japan and their home countries. Ms Maud Rowell, who is an undergraduate in Japanese Studies at Cambridge, responded on behalf of the group, saying they all appreciated the opportunity afforded by the Programme and would certainly maintain their interest in Japan and work towards building strong bilateral ties thereafter.
Although the students only spent a week in Japan, we believe they will cherish their memories of their stay. One can gain a flavour of what they experienced from the blog
maintained by AFS Japan
, the organisation that implemented the Programme. Ms Rowell probably spoke for many on the programme when she said: “I’ve made such close friends on this trip, learnt so much about Japanese culture, improved my Japanese language skills, and even had new thoughts about my future plans.”