Dr Masayoshi Shigeta, director of the Kyoto University Center for African Area Studies (CAAS) and the University’s deputy executive vice-president for international affairs, attended the 3rd South Africa-Japan University (SAJU) Forum, held 15-16 July at the Tokyo International Exchange Center.
The SAJU Forum brings together representatives of Japanese and South African universities to discuss their present and future research collaborations. The inaugural meeting took place in 2007 at Hiroshima University, followed by a second event in Cape Town in 2008.
The third SAJU Forum in Tokyo drew a total of 300 attendees over two days, including representatives of 46 universities — 25 from Japan and 21 from South Africa. Other organizations represented included the science ministry MEXT, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), Japan Association of National Universities (JANU), and Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED), as well as South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) and National Research Foundation (NRF).
Comprised of five plenary lectures and four parallel sessions, the event presented reports on past collaborations and proposals for future partnerships in a wide variety of fields, including science and technology, medicine, the environment and energy, agriculture, and education. All sessions were held in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the main focus of the 2017 meeting.
Director Shigeta took part in the “Agriculture and Food” parallel session, held on the morning of day two. He offered an overview of Kyoto University’s African studies, highlighting the advantages of an “area studies approach”, in which the University has extensive expertise. Many in the audience nodded in agreement as Director Shigeta stressed the importance of cultural understanding.
The program also included a poster exhibition, in which Kyoto University’s Interdisciplinary Unit for African Studies (Africa Unit), launched last year, participated and attracted questions from numerous visitors.
The two-day event concluded with representatives of the two countries issuing a joint statement, “Cooperation between South African and Japanese Universities towards achievement of SDGs”, expressing the SAJU members’ commitment to further expanding their research collaboration and the attainment of their goals.
Two days later, on Tuesday 18, Director Shigeta at his CAAS office received a visit from Dr Yoshio Kawamura, professor emeritus of agricultural and rural development economics at Ryukoku University, and three representatives from the University of Pretoria (UP), the principal coordinator for the SAJU Forum. The delegation from Pretoria was comprised of Dean Vasu Reddy and Deputy Dean Maxi Schoeman of the Faculty of Humanities, and Ms Tomoko Kawakita, a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) staffer currently serving as executive management advisor at the UP Centre for Japanese Studies (CJS).
CJS in its present form opened in 2015, after originally being founded in 2011 at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). It serves as a hub for Japanese and South African research institutes, while also promoting cultural exchange through services such as Japanese-language instruction training.
Kyoto University’s ties to South African academia have been growing at an accelerated pace since 2014, when its Institute for Advanced Energy (IAE) signed an academic exchange agreement with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
The third SAJU Forum proved an invaluable opportunity for all to explore new research partnerships, not only in natural sciences and technology, but in social sciences and humanities as well.
SAJU participants and attendees