International Grant Program 2013
Comments by Selection Committee Chair
Selection Committee Chair Dr. Koichi Miyoshi
Outline of 2013 International Grant Program
As the Southeast Asian countries got more matured, they came to face critical issues which thus far monopolized by the developed countries. To name a few, aging, environment, and migration are now all casting a gloom over them. The fact is that these problems are identical with those of the Japanese society. In view of this, last year the Toyota Foundation experimentally introduced a grant program to encourage the non-governmental organizations to come up with visions toward the new relationship between the countries and Japan. This year, the Foundation got so concerned with this change that it enacted another grant program, pilot in nature, covering four of the Southeast Asian countries and Japan. It aims to have policy recommendation produced, especially relevant to the issues in common throughout them, namely, ageing, multicultural society, and, consensus-building on local environment.
Also the Foundation expects to promote them to “learn from each other,” “think together,” and, “tackling the issues jointly.” Eventually this sort of mutual learning and close collaboration would transform the once dominant hierarchical relationship between Japan and Southeast Asian countries into the one among equals.
Overview of Applications
The program received 175 proposals, up 65.1% from 106 in 2012. Noteworthy is that those by non-Japanese nationals counted 132, overwhelming 43 by Japanese. In other words, a three-fourth was non-Japanese, a sharp contrast with last year when Japanese were 56, non-Japanese 50.
Theme-wise, the local environment attracted 92 proposals, followed by 45 of multicultural society and 38 of aging society.
The Selection Committee carefully reviewed the proposals and especially looked into, consistency with the program aim, potentials, expected impact, and, feasibility. They made much of the proposals projecting a possible new partnership or mutual learning, making avail of past stocks, as well as the ones that could eventually influence many with broad network. In the end, 20 proposals were approved for grant. The rate of approval out of total applications was 11.4%. In terms of theme, 8 were approved under local environment, 6 under multicultural society, and another 6 under aging society. Nationality-wise, 12 were non-Japanese. The approved grant-awardees, needless to say, would tackle those shared challenges, and in the end, produce and disseminate policy recommendations.
While technical weakness inheres in some, the high expectation is that mutual learning and new partnership would come out, prevailing over those Southeast Asian countries and Japan.
The selection committee would like to thank the Foundation’s program officers, who made a significant contribution to the review process by sharply focusing the program, offering consultation to potential applicants, and collecting additional information about the proposals.
We believe that this program will give an opportunity for Japan and neighboring Asian countries to understand the true image of the others, and to review the old “donor-recipient” mindset. Following the transformation of Japan and other Asian countries, we see more similarity among both urban and rural areas of both sides. Thus we need to understand issues in Asian countries as issues in Japan, and vice versa. We also need to recognize these issues not as isolated issue, but as inter-linked ones. Three thematic areas covered in this program, “Aging society”, “Multicultural society”, and “Consensus-building on local environmental issues” are all common and connected issues in all of these countries.
We believe that each project will have impact, both as an individual project, and also as a part of a program. We hope the whole process - of producing policy recommendation, encouraging mutual learning, and disseminating the findings – can form the foundation of the future partnership between Japan and other Asian countries.