Category Archives: News

Sylff@Tokyo: Inspired by Sylff Leaders Workshop to Teach Food Justice

July 23, 2024

Susan Banki, a Sylff fellowship recipient at the Fletcher School from 1999 to 2001 and now an associate professor at the University of Sydney, visited the Tokyo Foundation on July 12, 2024.

After participating in the Sylff Leaders Workshop in 2018–19 that was held on the theme of food justice, she developed a deep interest in this issue. She now addresses this topic in her courses at the University of Sydney’s postgraduate Social Justice Program, of which she is the director.

She is currently planning a 12-day food justice trip to India, where she and her students will visit seed banks, agricultural cooperatives, and markets to explore the gender, economic, and political dynamics of the farming sector and the consumption of food.

(From left) Program officer Yumi Arai, executive director Mari Suzuki, Susan Banki, director Keita Sugai.

Sylff Administrators’ Meeting for Five Chinese Universities in Tokyo

July 17, 2024

Sylff administrators from five leading universities in China gathered in Tokyo on July 1–5 to share updates on how the program is being operated and how Sylff funds are being managed at the respective universities. Owing to pandemic-related travel restrictions, this was the first in-person meeting between Chinese Sylff institutions and the Sylff Association secretariat since the series of events in 2018 to commemorate the program’s 25th anniversary in China.

Attending the gathering in Tokyo were representatives of the five universities where Sylff endowments were established in 1992: Fudan University, Jilin University, Lanzhou University, Nanjing University, and Peking University.

After a welcoming address by Tokyo Foundation Executive Director Mari Suzuki, Sylff Association Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, in his opening remarks on July 2, pointed to the major role the Sylff program and other Sasakawa fellowships have played over the past several decades to develop Chinese leaders in a broad range of fields and to deepen friendship and mutual understanding between Japan and China. He also expressed his wish that fellows would spearhead efforts to build a peaceful future in an increasingly globalized world.

Fudan University Executive Vice President Xu Zheng, right, and Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund Program Director Yu Zhan, left, listen as Chairman Yohei Sasakawa delivers his opening remarks.

Following presentations by the Tokyo Foundation on the history and recent developments in the Sylff program, as well as on the various support programs available for current and graduated fellows, the universities introduced the current status of their respective Sylff programs and the illustrious careers many graduated fellows are now pursuing. Private meetings with individual universities were also held to discuss in greater detail the various challenges posed by the pandemic and other external developments on program operations and fund management.


Chairman Sasakawa accepts a gift from Peking University Education Foundation Deputy Secretary-General Geng Shu.

On July 3, meeting participants visited Waseda University—a Sylff institution in Tokyo—to learn from Sylff Steering Committee Chair Shinji Wakao about Waseda’s unique approach to industry-academia collaboration and its highly selective Sylff program, which selects one outstanding graduate student each year to receive a fellowship over a two-year period.

“This was a truly wonderful event,” noted Fudan University’s Executive Vice-President and Sylff Steering Committee Chair Xu Zheng. “It was a valuable opportunity to look back on the past three decades of the program in China and to look ahead to the next thirty years. The seeds sown by the Sylff program not only at the five institutions attending today but at the five other Sylff institutions in China are now flowering and bearing fruit.”

“The administrators’ meeting for five Chinese Sylff universities in Tokyo was a great success,” added Peking University Education Foundation Deputy Secretary-General Geng Shu. “As a rare opportunity for the universities to gather together, this meeting made it possible for us to learn from successful experiences in program operations, which play an important guiding role in the subsequent development of our university’s program. In the future, we also hope to continue to work with The Nippon Foundation and the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research to cultivate more outstanding young talents and contribute to friendly exchange and cooperation between China and Japan.”

List of Participants

Fudan University
Xu Zheng, Executive Vice President (Sylff Chairperson)
Zhu Yifei, Program Manager, Office of Global Partnership
Shabahaiti Mansuer, Deputy Section Chief of the Financial Aid Office, Department of Graduate Student Affairs
Yun Xiaojing, Deputy Director, Department of Liaison and Development

Jilin University
Zhao Yue, Vice Dean of the Graduate School; Researcher
Sui Yining, Vice Dean of the Academy of Social Sciences; Associate Researcher

Lanzhou University
Cao Hong, Vice President (Sylff Chairperson)
Li Chenyang, Program Manager, Graduate School
Yang Yi, Program Manager, Office of International Cooperation and Exchange

Nanjing University
Lu Yanqing, Vice-President (Sylff Chairperson)
Li Ning, Director of Scholarship Administration Office
Liu Dongbo, Assistant Professor

Peking University
Geng Shu, Deputy Secretary-General, Peking University Education Foundation (Sylff Chairperson)
Li Ying, Finance Specialist, Peking University Education Foundation
Li Huishu, Project Director, Peking University Education Foundation

Nippon Foundation
Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman
Takeju Ogata, President

Sasakawa Peace Foundation
Yu Zhan, Program Director, Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund

Waseda University
Shinji Wakao, Vice President for Research and Industry-Academia Collaboration; Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Masahiko Gemma, Vice President for International Affairs and International Fundraising; Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences
Hiroyuki Matsumoto, Administrative Director, Research Promotion Division
Yang Zhen, Administrative Director for International Projects, International Affairs Division

Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research
Izumi Kadono, President
Hidewo Furukawa, Executive Director (General Affairs)
Mieko Nakabayashi, Executive Director (Policy Research)
Mari Suzuki, Executive Director (Leadership Development)
Keita Sugai, Director for Leadership Development
Yumi Arai, Program Officer, Leadership Development
Konatsu Furuya, Program Officer, Leadership Development
Maki Shimada, Program Officer, Leadership Development
Nozomu Kawamoto, Senior Editor, Leadership Development
Riaki Tanaka, Program Officer, Leadership Development
Chie Yamamoto, Program Officer, Leadership Development

Visits to the Geneva Graduate Institute and Uppsala University by Chairman Sasakawa

June 13, 2024

On May 28, Sylff Association Chairman Yohei Sasakawa visited the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, where he met with Sylff fellows and members of the Sylff steering committee.

Mr. Sasakawa is the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and was in Geneva to attend the seventy-seventh World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization, held from May 27 to June 1. The Sylff program at the Graduate Institute, located near the WHO Headquarters and UN Office in Geneva, generously supports two postgraduate students each year, many of whom pursue careers at the United Nations and other international organizations.

Chairman Sasakawa with Graduate Institute fellows Kanikka Sersia, left, and Paula Gonzalez.

The meeting at the Geneva Graduate Institute was attended by Director of Cabinet Laurence Algarra; Director of Studies and SSC member Andrea Bianchi; Executive Director and SSC member Bruno Chatagnat; Executive Director of Studies, Senior Academic Adviser, and SSC member Laurent Neury; and Financial Aid Officer and SSC member Kasia Wasiukiewicz.

From Geneva, he flew to Sweden, calling on Uppsala University on May 30 to meet with Sylff officials and fellows. The Sylff program at Uppsala has a very strong track record over many years and has produced many outstanding fellows. Mr. Sasakawa was graciously greeted by Vice-Rector Tora Holmberg and met with Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and SSC Chair Joakim Palme; Professor of Business Studies and SSC member Linda Wedlin; Professor Emeritus in Peace and Conflict Studies Peter Wallensteen; along with Sylff fellows Caroline Brandt (peace and conflict research) and Naira Topooco (psychology).

Seated facing Mr. Sasakawa are (from left) fellow Naira Topooco, Professor of Business Studies Linda Wedlin, Professor of Political Science Joakim Palme, Vice-Rector Tora Holmberg, Professor Emeritus Peter Wallensteen, and fellow Caroline Brandt.

He also visited the head office of the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation, as well as Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, meeting with Chair of the SIPRI Governing Board Stefan Löfven and Director Dan Smith.

He then returned to Geneva to attend the award ceremony for the 40th WHO-Sasakawa Health Prize, held during the May 31 plenary of the World Health Assembly.

Professor Doreen Ramogola-Masire of the University of Botswana, the 2024 recipient of the WHO-Sasakawa Health Prize, is flanked by Chairman Sasakawa and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.


An Initiative to Broaden Educational Horizons for Rural Youth in India

June 11, 2024

The Sylff Association secretariat is pleased to announce another recipient of a Sylff Leadership Initiatives (SLI) award.

The awardee is Khinvraj Suthar Jangid, who received a Sylff fellowship at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is now an adjunct professor at the Azrieli Center for Israel Studies (MALI), Ben-Gurion University, in Israel, and an associate professor and director of the Center for Israel Studies at OP Jindal Global University in India.

His SLI project was motivated by a desire to enable high school students in rural areas of India to overcome the barriers to a university education—many of which Jangid experienced himself. He recognized that the information and opportunities necessary to enter and succeed in university environments were severely limited for students living outside of large cities.

“The national universities and colleges are very urban spaces wherein youth born and raised in educated families have comfort and confidence,” he writes. But it can be “intimidating . . . [for] rural youth, born and raised in least educated families,” to find themselves in an “elite-educated ecosystem.”

“I went through such an experience after coming to Delhi from a village in Jodhpur in 2004, and I still find hundreds from the same rural area dealing with the difficulties of not knowing what it takes for good and successful higher education.” After a decade and half of living and working in Delhi and Israel, he wished to share his knowledge with the rural youth of his native village.

Jangid speaking to participants at the workshop in May.

With the SLI award, Jangid held a five-day workshop in Jodhpur, India, giving local high school students an opportunity to learn about the various programs offered at the university level, gain tips on improving English skills, and connect with mentors who work in academia. The workshop was also aimed at enhancing understanding of higher education among the students’ parents and to foster an environment more supportive of those wishing to pursue higher learning.

The Sylff Association secretariat lauds Khinvraj Jangid’s determined efforts to help broaden the horizons of youths in his hometown—in spite of the difficulties posed by the security situation in Israel, where he currently resides. We congratulate him for successfully organizing the workshop to share his experiences and look forward to supporting many more impactful projects through SLI.

SLI Award for Project to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in Music through Concerts in Germany

May 23, 2024

The Sylff Association secretariat is pleased to announce another recent recipient of a Sylff Leadership Initiatives (SLI) award for a project to promote “Gender Equality for Orchestra Conductors in Leadership Positions.”

Eleni Papakyriakou, a Sylff fellowship recipient in 2012, received her master’s degree in orchestra and choir conducting from the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. She is the chief conductor and artistic director of Sinfonietta Passau, which she founded in 2022 during the post-pandemic revival of the cultural scene to provide musicians with opportunities to perform. “I decided that I had to help myself and the musicians around me by creating a new orchestra,” she comments.

She also wished to address the problems of unequal treatment, discrimination, and lack of opportunities for women musicians. As a female conductor, Papakyriakou has personally experienced barriers faced by many women. “Currently only 8 percent of conductors in leadership positions in Germany are female.”

She established Sinfonietta Passau with a vision of creating an inclusive orchestra of musicians from many different countries and at various stages of their careers. The orchestra consists of 64 musicians—33 women and 31 men—including Russians and Ukrainians, who left their countries because of the war.

Using the SLI award, Papakyriakou and Sinfonietta Passau held two highly successful concerts in April in the southeast German cities of Passau and Deggendorf. The performances by this unique orchestra, whose program included the German premiere of Passau-born composer Philipp Ortmeier’s “Tree of Life,” communicated an important message of equality and inclusion.

Papakyriakou leads Sinfonietta Passau at the Deggendorf concert in April.

The Sylff Association secretariat congratulates Eleni Papakyriakou on the award and her virtuosic efforts to achieve greater musical and social harmony. We are excited to support fellows who are taking on leadership roles to create positive social impact.

Launch of Preliminary Registration for SRG 2024

May 15, 2024

The Sylff Association secretariat is pleased to announce a call for applications for Sylff Research Grant (SRG) 2024. SRG is intended to enable eligible fellows (doctoral students and recent PhD graduates) to engage in rigorous academic research.

You can check the eligibility requirements, application procedures, and schedule at the following link:

Applicants will be asked to go through a preliminary registration phase to determine their eligibility. The secretariat will NOT respond to individual inquiries concerning eligibility. Please visit the above page to confirm your eligibility BEFORE applying. Applications from ineligible fellows will NOT be reviewed.

Please submit a preliminary registration form (powered by Zoho Survey) from the link at the bottom of the SRG page.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

Chairman Sasakawa Visits Universiti Malaya

May 14, 2024

Sylff Association Chairman Yohei Sasakawa visited Universiti Malaya on May 9 and was warmly welcomed by Vice-Chancellor Dr. Noor Azuan Abu Osman, Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr. Yatimah Alias (Sylff steering committee chair), and Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr. Yvonne Lim Al Lian.

Mr. Sasakawa was in Malaysia to participate in a series of discussions on ways to achieve peace in Myanmar, meeting with Malaysian government officials as well as representatives of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities.

He also spoke with two Sylff fellows (Muhammad Arif Fitri Bin Azizan and Noorilham Bin Ismail) at the university, which joined the Sylff community in 1990 and has produced 75 fellows to date. The program has been administered under the new scheme since 2021, with fellowships being awarded to two to three outstanding graduate students each year who are expected to make major contributions to Malaysian society.

The Sylff Association secretariat hopes to continue working with Sylff institutions to identify and nurture leaders who will help build a better future for not only Malaysia and Southeast Asia but also other countries and regions around the world.


Presentations by Waseda Fellows and Meeting of the Steering Committee

May 9, 2024

On March 22, 2024, Waseda University held its annual meeting of the Sylff steering committee and heard presentations by two Waseda fellows on their recent research and social engagement activities.

The gathering, held at Waseda’s campus in Tokyo and attended by members of the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research (Sylff Association secretariat) as well as the university’s faculty and administrative staff, was the first in four years to be held in person following the outbreak of COVID-19.

War and the Okinawan Diaspora

Participating online from Mexico, Lima Tokumori, a 2023 fellowship recipient enrolled in the Graduate School of Social Sciences, presented an interim report on “Uchinanchu Concepts: Militarization and Ethnicity as Seen in the Cases of Okinawan Immigrants in the Philippines, Peru, and Hawaii.”

Her doctoral research seeks to examine the historical impact of militarization on the Ryukyuan-Okinawan diaspora—who identify themselves as Uchinanchu. She used her fellowship last year to conduct fieldwork around US military bases in the Philippines and Okinawa. She reported on the importance of carefully building trust with her interviewees in getting them to provide detailed information, including on such sensitive subjects like gender and war.

In addition to writing her dissertation, Tokumori is currently involved in various other activities. She volunteers her time for the Business and Human Rights[i] project of the UN Development Program at its Mexico office and undertakes human resources development and administrative duties for the annual event to read aloud the names of all war victims in the Battle of Okinawa. Her plans for next year include conducting fieldwork in Peru and collecting materials in the United States. She hopes to pursue a career in the United Nations.

Empirical Analysis of Workplace Health Measures

Ritsu Kitagawa
of the Graduate School of Economics, who received his fellowship in 2022 and 2023, meanwhile, presented his final report on the “Empirical Analysis of Health Management: Verifying the Effectiveness of Health Support Measures in the Workplace.”

Japan’s declining birthrate and aging population are compelling many companies to give greater attention to making sure their employees remain healthy and active so as to ensure a stable workforce. Kitagawa’s doctoral research aims to quantitatively verify the effectiveness of various health-related workplace measures and to identify best health-management practices.

One of his findings was that supervisor-directed overtime significantly raised stress levels and the likelihood of such physical ailments as headaches, stiff shoulders, and back pain among male employees hired for their expert skills. He also found that metabolic syndrome risks can affect male and female employees differently, with women often gaining weight and men growing slimmer. These results suggest the need for corporate health measures that are customized for gender and career track. Kitagawa has been sharing his findings at various workshops and conferences and advocating for more nuanced workplace policies.

He has also verified the usefulness of app-based health promotion programs and is promoting their use among various companies. He himself has developed an app for LINE that female employees can use and is working for its broad dissemination.

He reported that the two-year Sylff fellowship enabled him to expand his research activities through purchases of research equipment, implementation of questionnaire surveys, and participation in overseas conferences, as well as facilitating research-related social engagement activities.

Ritsu Kitagawa (third from left), SSC chair and Waseda professor Shinji Wakao (fourth from left), SSC member and Waseda professor Kazuyuki Sasakura (second from right), and members of the Sylff Association secretariat.

The Tokyo Foundation expressed its deep gratitude to the Waseda Sylff steering committee for its smooth program operations and effective fund management, as well as for the selection of outstanding fellows and its longstanding cooperation with the Sylff program.

[i] The UNDP’s Business and Human Rights (B+HR) project is supported by the governments of Japan, Sweden, and the European Union. In Mexico, it works to strengthen human rights due diligence among Japanese companies operating locally and along their supply chain.

An Online Orientation Meeting for “Pedro Arrupe” Fellows

May 7, 2024

On April 9, 2024, the Institute of Political Education “Pedro Arrupe” held an online orientation meeting with members of the Sylff Association secretariat. The meeting was attended by six Sylff fellows selected in academic years 2023 and 2024.

Participants included Sylff Steering Committee Chair Massimo Massaro (middle row, left); Sylff fellows Enza Maria Macaluso (top row, right), Flavia Monfrini (middle row, center), Francesca Barbino (middle row, right), Ugo Giarratano, Vincenzo Buffa, Alberto Piacentini (bottom row, left to right); and Sylff Association secretariat members Executive Director Mari Suzuki (top row, center, left in frame), Director Keita Sugai (top row, left), and Program Officer Konatsu Furuya (top row, center, right in frame).

The Sylff program at the institute is called the Idea-Action Research Program and is a framework for young researchers to engage in scientific research geared toward making concrete social contributions, particularly in Sicily, where the institute is located.

The orientation meeting began with opening remarks from Massimo Massaro, chairperson of the Sylff program at the institute, and Mari Suzuki, executive director of the Tokyo Foundation, who both touched upon the value of the program in developing socially engaged leaders. The six fellows then introduced their respective research topics.

Ugo Giarratano explained that he is exploring the panorama of social exclusion and urban marginality in contemporary society; Flavia Monfrini said she seeks to identity narrative processes in the inland areas of Sicily; and Alberto Piacentini described his studies into the nature, evolution, and legal protections from domestic abuse and gender-based violence.

Vincenzo Buffa, meanwhile, presented his analysis of the governance models of community foundations in the territory of Palermo; Enza Maria Macaluso said she is developing practical and theoretical models of participation in Sicily’s inland communities, starting with an experimental, participatory path based on the Philosophy for Communities (P4C) method; and Francesca Barbino noted she is exploring how children may participate in co-designing public policies on comprehensive sexuality education.

The orientation meeting was a great opportunity to get to know the new “Pedro Arrupe” fellows and to hear directly from them about their research topics, which were inspired by their desire to contribute to the well-being of the people and communities of Sicily. We are very happy to welcome the six fellows into the Sylff community and wish them great success in advancing their research and social engagement initiatives.

SRG Applications for FY2024 to be Accepted from May

April 8, 2024

The Sylff Association secretariat will begin accepting applications for Sylff Research Grant (SRG) awards for fiscal year 2024 in May 2024.

SRG provides financial assistance to doctoral students and postdoc researchers to enable them to advance their academic careers by conducting high-quality research with high potential for advancing academic discourse.

The official call for applications will be made in May, but information about the program in fiscal year 2024 is available on the Sylff website:

Be sure to check the Sylff website and newsletter for the official announcement of the program’s launch.

Please note that the Sylff Association secretariat is unable to answer questions about eligibility, application procedures, application documents, and other details of SRG FY2024 until its official launch in May 2024.