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HOME  >  International Grant Program  >  2014  >  Comments by Selection Committee Chair

International Grant Program 2014

Comments by Selection Committee Chair

Akira Suehiro

Outline of 2014 International Grant Program

Since its inception in 1974, the Toyota Foundation has been implementing international grant programs with focus on Southeast Asian countries. From 2009, through “Asian Neighbors Program”, they provided grants to practical projects aiming at solving problems in Asian countries. Meanwhile, the economies have developed and people's living standards has improved in Asia, including China and India, and other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, which are being called “Emerging Asian Economies.” On the other hand, those countries are facing the challenges, namely, aging society with fewer children, growing economic inequality, frequently occurring natural disasters and many other diversified dangers, which Japan has in common.

Reflecting these changes of Asian countries, from 2013, the Toyota Foundation renamed the program from “Asian Neighbors Program” to “International Grant Program” and started a new program targeting four countries which are Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, and Japan. Focusing on common issues of these four countries and Japan, the Toyota Foundation decided to implement future-oriented pilot program which expects the grantees to make policy recommendations.

Focal areas and issues of the Program are as follows: 1. Aging society: The Program aims to deal with the aging society which is approaching faster than Japan and other developed countries ever experienced. Especially it focuses on community-based care and active participation of the elderly; 2. Multicultural society: The Program seeks to find ways to tackle the social problems derived from the transnational movement of people. Concretely speaking, it concentrates on how to build inclusive communities for those who have a connection in a foreign country, particularly those with children; 3. Renewable energy: It tries to find alternatives to high energy consuming society which is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, and move to sustainable society which utilizes various energy sources, particularly renewable energies. Namely, it highlights on “Renewable energy practices for sustainable community development.”

Overview of Applications

We got 73 proposals this year (in comparison with in 2013 and 2012, there were 175 and 106 proposals, respectively.) Nationality-wise, 25 are from Japanese and 48 are from non-Japanese (43 and 132 in 2013, respectively.) The reasons for the decline of applications are various: first that applicants were requested to meet stricter requirements such as asking to review the situations of target countries and create policy recommendations this year. Also, it could be because announcements of call for application ware delivered only through the networks of professional practitioners or researchers, and more general tools for the public were avoided. Thematically-wise, there were 17 applications to Aging society, 21 to Multicultural society, 35, which was the most in number, to Renewable energy.

Follow-up Grants to 2013 Projects

In parallel with calling for new applications, we established a new framework to provide follow-up grants for some grantees of 2013 this year. Those who developed a wide range of network and exhibited outstanding performance were selected to develop and brush up their projects. The period of the each project is two years and they will conduct mutual exchanges, including sight visits to mainly Asian countries. In this framework, the Toyota Foundation secretariat had been in preparatory consultation with the expected candidates and the selection committees examined three cases.

Selection Results

The selection committee gave particular attention on following four points: 1. Whether and to what extent the project fits the thematic focus; 2. Its importance and extent from the academic perspectives; 3. Implementation structure of the project and the stability of the members; 4. Message of expected policy recommendation and its feasibility. We also considered following criteria: whether it focuses on specific communities and plans field level exchanges; whether they are capable of sharing knowledge and experience in the targeted four Southeast Asian countries and Japan in empathy with each other; whether they would try to disseminate their results widely in the ways which have big impacts by creating visual materials or implementing site visits, for instance, not only by writing reports and holding a symposium. As well as these, in the selection process, we prioritize the most the quality of the projects ahead of equitable distribution of the grants to three themes or four target countries.

As a result, thematically-wise, newly adopted projects are; three from Aging society, three from Multicultural society and five from Renewable energy. Target country-wise, they are five in Thailand, three in Indonesia, one in Vietnam. Also, there is one project in Vietnam and the Philippines to compare both countries, and one is to disseminate the experience of Japan. The reason that projects in Thailand were more than other countries is only based on our review of the quality of the projects and their feasibility of making policy recommendations.
In the selection process, program officers of the Toyota Foundation worked hard to find and encourage prospective projects and its members. Also, the additional information about the projects were of great help for the selection committee. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them.

Profile of Selected Projects

In this section, I introduce three projects, one from each theme, out of eleven newly selected projects and also one project under the frame of follow-up grants.

1. Aging society

Yoshiko Tsukada, Professor, Saku University
“Construction of effective network for health care of the elderly in community through cooperative studies between Saen Suk, Chon Buri, Thailand and Saku city, Nagano, Japan” (3.8 million yen)

Community level governments of the Saku city of Nagano, which has a good track record of promoting community health care, department of nursing of Saku University, and that of Saen Suk city and its mayor of Chon Buri province, which is located in 100km east of Bangkok and there are growing number of developing premises for industrial complexes, and Burapha University (means Eastern University) in the province will cooperate in this project. They will exchange knowledge and experiences with each other on measures of “promotion of health and prevention of disease for elderlies in community level.”
Elderly rate in Chon Buri province is increased from 7.4% in 1990 to 9.7% in 2010 (Note: (a person over 60 years old is defined as elderly in Thailand.) It is still low, compared to that of the Bangkok area, which is 12%. However, in the same 20 years, the average number of family members in the province decreased from 4.1 to 2.5, and the rate of one-person household increased from 9% to 32%. Also, 40% of the whole populations are from other provinces, surged from 18% (the numbers are based on the population census in 2010.) The province is the area faces a lot of social changes related to industrialization. It is expected that aging society will become a major policy issue. The representative of this project has been working for two years at the International Nursing Foundation of Japan and has lots of international experience. Both on Japan side and in Thailand side are ready and the contents of the research, the structure of recommendation and their division of roles are clear. It is unique to share experiences in Japan to people in Thailand by using picture-story shows, finger puppets, plays, etc. and it is expected to produce tangible results.

2. Multicultural society

Aoki Rieko, Executive Director, Center for Health and Rights of Migrants (CHARM)
“Building Inclusive Community Health Care System: Lessons Learned from Good Practices in Thailand and Japan” (5.5 million yen)

This is the collaborative project, as well as the above mentioned one, between Thailand and Japan. Its goal is to conduct surveys on comprehensive health care for migrants and make policy recommendations. It is noted that in terms of immigrants from foreign countries, in Thailand, it represents the workers from Myanmar, Lao PDR and Cambodia, whose number is estimated over 1.7 million. In Japan, it represents foreign workers from Asian countries including Thailand.
Raks Thai Foundation, an NGO which has been working on HIV/AIDS issues of foreign migrant workers for a long period, is the counterpart of Thailand. The representative of Japanese side is from CHARM, an NGO which has been tackling HIV and other health issues of foreign migrants. Both have a good track record on the theme of this project. It can be expected to generate synergy effects on the conduct of research and policy recommendation. Interview surveys in six provinces where has lots of foreign workers in Thailand are planned. In Japan, it is projected in Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagano, Hyogo, Kyoto, among others. Regarding dissemination, they put an emphasis on visualizing the results. Meanwhile, it should be noted that there was an opinion at the selection committee meeting that it is not clear whether the cases of “good practice” in Thailand or Japan can be models for the other country as is since the conditions and contexts are different.

3. Renewable energy practices for sustainable community development

Nguyen Thi Hoang Lien, PhD, Lecturer, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Science, Vietnam National University, Hanoi
“Review of Renewable Energy Practices in Philippines and Vietnam: To Develop the Renewable Energy Introduction Metrics for Rural Communities” (5.8 million yen)

This is a collaborative research project regarding the efforts of renewable energy in Vietnam and the Philippines. In Vietnam, it covers the cases of biogas and small hydroelectric generation in three provinces, which are Hoa Binh, Huyen and Lam Dong and those of biomass using coconuts and solar power generation in three provinces, Aurora, Leyte and Iloilo, in the Philippines. Its counterpart has experience of working with Japanese universities and international organizations.
They select community based approaches on renewable energy in specific provinces for their research. Not only its focuses and substances are clear, the project team is firm and reliable. Additionally, it is new to us to compare Vietnam and the Philippines. Meanwhile, since means to disseminate the results and evidence of the budget look insufficient in the application documents, there was an opinion that, if the project would be adopted, it is advisable to consult with the project group again at the selection committee meeting.

4. Follow-up Grants

Wako Asato, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University
“Reconsidering Care Supply System and Multilateral Network Formation” (14.8 million yen)

This project targets Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Taiwan and China and reviews the possibility and the directions of international use of caregivers, including foreign nurses, for elderly people’s care. It should have implications for pressing social challenges Japan faces.

Joined by the members of the Japan Association of Certified Care Workers, the Japan Association of Training Institutions for Certified Care Workers, and the executives of the Nihon Home Helper Association, they have energetically worked and been doing field survey and holding symposiums in close collaboration with all country representatives, who are Dr. Wako Asato of Kyoto University (Japan), Dr. Suwanrada Worawet, Dean of the College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University (Thailand) and Dr. Giang Thanh Long, National Economics University (Vietnam).

They also spend a lot of time and energy on exchanging knowledge by leading Japanese professionals in the fields in Asian countries. Furthermore, Dr. Suwanrada Worawet and the College of Population Studies, the Thailand side counterpart, is currently planning to start a study collaborating with the Chulalongkorn University’s Academic Advancement Programs commemorating its Centennial anniversary, which is the project to draw a futuristic view of society in Thailand next 100 years out. If this plan is materialized, it can be expected to have synergy effects with this project which goal is to build “symbiotic relationship of Japan and Asia looking ahead to the future” supported by the Toyota Foundation.


As introduced projects shows, in the selection process, the committee firstly placed a criteria on the point that how much the applied projects have close contacts with tangible and practical activity in specific communities, not only working on the survey of policies and projects in national level. Secondly, their plans that how they disseminate and share the knowledge and experience at the community level are important considerations for the committee. Lastly, I would like to point out that, being with the vision of the Toyota Foundation, which targets at more future-oriented and practical projects, these two criteria draws a clear line from the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Kaken-hi) of Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

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