Category Archives: News

Applications, Donations Now Being Accepted for COVID-19 Relief 2021

April 23, 2021

The Sylff Association secretariat is pleased to announce the start of online applications for COVID-19 Relief for Sylff Fellows 2021.

This support scheme is intended to alleviate the financial difficulties faced by currently enrolled and recently graduated Sylff fellows due to the pandemic.

We are now accepting applications through the online application form on the Sylff website. Please carefully read the Call for Applications for information on who is eligible and what applicants will need to submit. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. May 24, 2021 (Japan Standard Time).

We are also seeking donations to help finance the support scheme. Donations may be made through an online system using credit cards or via wire transfer. For details, please visit How to Give.

We hope that all members of the Sylff Association and others affiliated with Sylff institutions will join the fundraising campaign to help young fellows overcome this difficult situation.

*1. We have revised the eligibility criteria for “Category 1” applicants on April 16, 2021, so that fellows who are currently taking a leave of absence from a degree program due to the pandemic can apply.
*2. The Call for Applications may be updated occasionally in accordance with changing conditions. Please check the revision date to make sure that you are referring to the latest version.
*3. Check the COVID-19 Relief program page for information on the overall progress being made to process applications and transfer relief funds.





Sylff to Offer New COVID-19 Relief for Current, Recently Graduated Fellows

April 1, 2021

The Sylff Association secretariat has set up a new financial support scheme for fellows whose efforts to earn a degree or enter the workforce have been negatively affected by the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike COVID-19 relief provided in 2020, whose recipients were limited to fellows who were then enrolled in a graduate program, this new support will also be offered to applicants who have already earned a degree (in or after March 2020) but have yet to find employment.

Surveys of Sylff fellows and Sylff steering committee members conducted last year showed that many fellows, particularly current fellows whose academic period was extended and were looking for work opportunities, were facing financial difficulties.

COVID-19 Relief for Fellows 2021 is thus designed to not only help fellows to continue their studies and research but also financially support recent and soon-to-be graduates who have experienced significant and unexpected disruptions to their career plans due to the pandemic.

A lump sum to cover living expenses for up to six months will be provided to eligible fellows who apply. (The actual amount will be determined by the secretariat, depending on the total number of applicants.)

All eligible fellows are encouraged to apply to mitigate their financial anxieties during the pandemic.

Online applications will open in mid- or late April 2021. Follow the link to view details of application requirements. 

Nairobi Fellow Wins WTO’s Trade Economist Thematic Award

January 21, 2021

The Sylff Association secretariat is pleased to share the wonderful news that Socrates Kraido Majune, a 2013–15 Sylff fellowship recipient and PhD candidate at the University of Nairobi, has been selected as the winner of the 2020 Trade Economist Thematic Award.

The award is a new initiative launched by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in response to the urgent need to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting trade and trade policy.

Socrates’s paper, “The Effect of Lockdown Policies on International Trade Flows from Developing Countries: Event Study Evidence from Kenya,” analyzes different effects of lockdown measures on exporters and importers during the pandemic using data from July 2019 to June 2020 in Kenya.

“I’m deeply humbled and honored to be the first recipient of this award,” Socrates commented. The “findings are important towards understanding the impact of the measures adopted by governments worldwide during the COVID-19 period on international trade.” 

Congratulations to Socrates on winning this prestigious award, and we wish him even greater success in the future.

“WTO Announces Winner of the 2020 Trade Economist Thematic Award,” WTO News

“The Effect of Lockdown Policies on International Trade Flows from Developing Countries: Event Study Evidence from Kenya” (pdf)  



Sylff News 2020: Best Wishes for the Holiday Season from the Sylff Association Secretariat!

December 17, 2020


View video message from Sylff Association Chairman Yohei Sasakawa to all members of the Sylff community.

The year 2020 was one in which the world struggled to cope with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the Sylff Association secretariat launched an initiative called “COVID-19 Relief for Sylff Fellows, even as applications for regular support programs had to be suspended.

The relief initiative provided financial support to 328 currently enrolled Sylff fellows from 56 Sylff institutions, enabling them to continue their studies and research toward their degrees. In a show of unity, about 30 members of the sylff community donated a total of more than US$13,000 for this initiative.  

Though overseas travel was restricted, we were able to meet fellows online through our first virtual Sylff fellows get-togethers in October and November and a meeting with Chinese Sylff institutions to recognize new fellows in December. Fellows have also been sharing their pandemic-related insights and activities through the “Voices from the Pandemic” section of the Sylff website. We invite you to contribute your “Voice” as well. Please send us your article to sylff[a] ([a] must be replaced by @.)  

We will continue to do our utmost to support Sylff fellows during these challenging times. Please visit the Sylff website for announcements of new initiatives and programs.  

We wish you all a healthy and safe 2021

Middle row, from left, Mari Suzuki (executive director, Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research), Sylff Association Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, Izumi Kadono (president, Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research), Ichiro Kabasawa (executive director, Nippon Foundation). Top row, Masato Seko (senior program director, Nippon Foundation), Keita Sugai (director), Yoko Kaburagi (director). Bottom row, Sachiko Matsuoka, Yue Zhang, Tomoko Yamada, and Yumi Arai.


News from the Sylff Website in 2020

COVID-19 Relief for Sylff fellows

Thank You for Your COVID-19 Relief Donations (November 16)

COVID-19 Relief Provided to More Than 300 Fellows, but More Help Needed (September 10)
Applications Closed but Fundraising Continues for COVID-19 Relief for Sylff Fellows (August 3)

Online Fundraising Launched to Enable Sylff Fellows to Continue Their Studies (July 29)
Fundraising Launched to Enable Sylff Fellows to Continue Their Studies (July 21)

Start of COVID-19 Relief (July 17)

Sylff to Offer Fellows COVID-19 Emergency Support, Seeks Donations (June 10)


Support Programs

The status of Support Programs through March 31, 2021

Support Programs and COVID-19, Updated July 22, 2020 (August 6)

Support Programs and COVID-19 (April 6)

Before the outbreak of COVID-19

Mindfulness among Educators in South Africa and Promote Mother and Child Health in Puerto Rico (August 5)

SRA Awardees for Fiscal 2019, Second Round (February 20)

Sylff@Tokyo: Serbia Fellow Researching Legal Principles Connects with Experts in Japan (January 15)



Online Meeting with Chinese Sylff Institutions to Recognize New Fellows (December 16)

Sharing COVID Experiences through Virtual Meetings (November 26)


Voices from the Sylff Community

“Voices” from the Pandemic: Call for Articles on COVID-19 (October 22)

Seventh “Voices” Booklet Now Online and in Print (April 22)



Online Meeting with Chinese Sylff Institutions to Recognize New Fellows

December 16, 2020

The Sylff Association secretariat organized an online ceremony to confirm new fellows in China and hear presentations by one representative each from the 10 Sylff institutions in the country. The institutions are Fudan, Jilin, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Peking, Chongqing, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Yunnan, and Sun Yat-sen Universities. Reports were also made by board and steering committee members.

Among the guests invited to the meeting were newly appointed General Secretary of China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE) Wang Yongli and other association members. The CEAIE works with the Sylff Association secretariat to help the 10 Chinese Sylff institutions implement and improve the Sylff program at each institution.

An online meeting of Sylff Association members in China and Tokyo.

Chairman Yohei Sasakawa of the Sylff Association and The Nippon Foundation thanked the universities in his opening remarks for soundly and prudently implementing the Sylff program since its launch in China in 1992 (at the first five universities above) and 1994 (at the other five). Noting the country’s tremendous growth over the past three decades, he emphasized the need to update the Sylff program to match the current state of China’s society and economy, calling for the generous provision of fellowship to a few, exceptional students, rather than smaller stipends to a large number of fellows.

Chairman Sasakawa making his opening remarks.

Wang Yongli concurred, saying that the CEAIE will cooperate with the 10 institutions toward the goal of making the Sylff program in China more selective.

Mari Suzuki, a member of the Sylff Association secretariat and Executive Director of the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research, encouraged Sylff fellows to participate actively in the global Sylff community by taking full advantage of the support programs and networking initiatives offered by the secretariat.

A presentation by General Secretary Wang.

Representatives from the 10 institutions then explained their selection procedures and results for 2020, with all institutions confirming that the process was competitive, fair, open, and rigid. This was followed by presentations by one Sylff fellow each from the 10 universities. They detailed their academic and social engagement achievements to date and vowed to make a contribution to society in the future.

The fellows were all outstanding students, many of them being recipients of governmental and other global fellowships. The Nanjing fellow was a poet and read one of his works during the meeting. And the fellow from Sun Yat-sen related an episode of having worked as a volunteer at a Hansen’s disease facility. Others echoed Sylff’s founding concept of regarding the world as one family, with all of humankind being brothers and sisters, and of taking the initiative to promote international understanding and world peace.

The ceremony will continue to be held annually to strengthen ties among all stakeholders involved in the operation of the Sylff program in China.

“See you next year!”

Sharing COVID Experiences through Virtual Meetings

November 26, 2020

The Sylff Association secretariat hosted its first virtual Sylff fellows’ meetings on October 27 and November 6 (Japan time) with the participation of fellows who received COVID-19 relief this summer. The meetings were an opportunity for pre-registered participants from around the world to get together online and share their experiences.


Group photo on October 27.

Group photo on November 6.

With the facilitation of secretariat members, fellows described how they are coping with the difficulties and challenges caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 and exchanged views on what new measures would facilitate their academic research and leaderships development initiatives during the pandemic.

Many participants commented that COVID-19 relief was a source of both financial and moral support that promoted a sense of belonging to the Sylff community. They had been concerned about disruptions to their research, with many being forced to change their data collection methods. Suggestions for additional Sylff support included new sources of research funding, mentorship and networking opportunities among current and graduated fellows, and theme-based virtual meetings.

The meeting “was perfectly organized and managed . . . so that we could express ourselves,” one fellow said on the feedback sheet. “The atmosphere was safe, welcoming and engaging. I met the Sylff fellows from all around the world and could share my research topic and exchange our views. I realized that I was not alone in this delicate situation of pandemic and that we can all together search for solutions.”

“I would most certainly recommend this kind of meeting because they help build a strong community of fellows,” another said. “Fruitful dialogue can lead to great ideas that bring positive changes to this world.”

The secretariat, too, was happy to meet the fellows online and to hear their views directly. We are currently reexamining our support programs in order to better respond to their needs under the pandemic. Please look for announcements of future events and new Sylff initiatives on the Sylff website.

Thank You for Your COVID-19 Relief Donations

November 16, 2020

The Sylff Association secretariat is happy to report that over 30 members of the Sylff community donated a total of 1,366,400 yen (approximately US$13,000) to support Sylff fellows affected by COVID-19. Thank you all for giving so generously. The online fundraising system to accept donations via credit card is now closed.

The donations are being used to help defray fellows’ living expenses and encourage them to continue their studies and research at their home Sylff institutions despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic.

COVID-19 has seriously disrupted the research activities of many Sylff fellows and could affect their chances of emerging as future leaders. The support offered by the Sylff community not only helped finance their studies but, as reported by several fellows, gave them a sense of hope and belonging.

Once again, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who made a contribution to COVID-19 Relief for Sylff Fellows.

“Voices” from the Pandemic: Call for Articles on COVID-19

October 22, 2020

The Sylff Association secretariat is seeking submissions of articles about COVID-19 to be published in the “Voices from the Sylff Community” section of the Sylff website. We hope to showcase the insights and activities of Sylff fellows related to the global pandemic and its social impact, the sharing of which may help others to better cope with the difficult circumstances. The articles will also be published in e-book form in 2021.

Articles should describe your insights, analyses, or activities related to the novel coronavirus. They can be written from either a professional or personal point of view. We will accept articles that have been printed in other media.
Two COVID-related articles have already posted on the Sylff website:

Providing Space for Good Conversations on YouTube amid the COVID-19 Pandemic” by James Martyn

“What COVID-19 Can Teach Us about Prison: Reflections on Criminal Policy and the Words of Albert Camus” by Rui Caria

Submission Guidelines

Length: Approximately 1,500 words (may be longer depending on content)
Quotes: Please cite sources if you include quotes
Photos: Digital photos to go with the article are encouraged but not mandatory
Deadline: February 28, 2021
Submission: Send your article to The email subject line should include “VOICES COVID-19”

We are looking forward to receiving your “Voice” about the pandemic.

COVID-19 Relief Provided to More Than 300 Fellows, but More Help Needed

September 10, 2020

To counter the negative impact of COVID-19, the Sylff Association secretariat is providing emergency financial support called “COVID-19 Relief for Sylff Fellows” to ensure that fellows are able to continue their studies toward their degrees at their home Sylff institutions.

So far, we have mobilized internal resources to provide relief to more than 300 fellows to cover their living expenses for about three months. However, we require more financial resources to complete this relief effort. Under the circumstances, we are asking the members of the Sylff community for donations.

The secretariat hopes that former Sylff fellowship recipients and others affiliated with Sylff institutions will take this opportunity to show their generosity and support for current fellows.

Some comments received from relief recipients:

Your letter comes as a bright light in the darkness. […] I am right now moved to tears. Thank you for caring so much about us, the Sylff Fellows, and for giving us hope!

 “This funding will help me in my daily life […] With this help, I can cover my daily expenses and to continue my studies in the best possible conditions during this difficult time.”

 “The […] letter from Mr. Sasakawa, Association's Chairman, and Ms. Kadono, the President of the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research has left me speechless and in deepest appreciation of your association's generous contribution to the continuation of my future research.”

I wish to express my deepest gratitude for the consideration to offer me financial assistance during this rather difficult period. I really have no words to just say how grateful I am - THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

This money will be of great help to me and my family, this period has been very difficult because [of] the pandemic […] and we were trapped there for three more months.”

 “[Y]ou have lightened my financial burden even in a pandemic which allows me to focus more on the most important aspect of school, learning.

We wish to thank all those who already contributed to our fundraising initiative.

[How-to-Give] Our online donation now accepts credit cards - VISA, MasterCard, JCB, American Express and Diners. Please give today! (Donation campaign closed on November 13, 2020.)

SLI Awards for Projects to Increase Mindfulness among Educators in South Africa and Promote Mother and Child Health in Puerto Rico

August 5, 2020

Two Sylff fellows have been selected for a Sylff Leadership Initiatives (SLI) award. SLI supports Sylff fellows’ initiatives to change society for the better with awards of up to US$10,000. (Their applications were received last fiscal year and reviewed before the suspension of new applications for SLI.)

The two winners are Liza Hamman and Holly Horan.

Liza Hamman

Liza Hamman completed her PhD at the University of the Western Cape as a Sylff fellow and is currently working as a department head at a vocational education college in South Africa.

With this grant, she will address the social and emotional challenges faced by both educators and students in South Africa by developing an online, mindfulness training course. “It is my hope that this award will benefit many South African teachers,” said Hamman.


Holly Horan

Holly Horan, a Sylff fellow in 2015–16 at Oregon State University who was also awarded an SRA grant in 2016, is a clinical biocultural medical anthropologist at the University of Alabama in the United States.

With the SLI grant, as an academic and a birth and postpartum doula, she will promote a model of integrated maternity care in Puerto Rico by organizing an international conference for multiple stakeholders. Over the long term, she aims to launch a political and economic movement for health systems reform.

The Sylff Association secretariat is excited to provide support to fellows who are taking social action by applying their ideas and expertise to build a better world for all.

Congratulations to the two Sylff fellows on winning the award. Barring disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the projects will be carried out over a year in their respective countries.