Message from the Chairman
Message from the Chairman
On the occasion of the New Year 2022, I would like to offer my greetings and good wishes to all of you.
The whole world has been hit by several waves of COVID-19 infections since the beginning of 2020. Unlike the early stages of the outbreak, we now have measures against COVID-19 in place, as evidenced by advances in treatment including life-saving medicines. Thanks to much progress in genetic science, the coronavirus vaccines have been developed at a pace like never seen before and they have proven to be highly effective.
Meanwhile, there are still many unknowns about this virus, including an emergence of new variants; as such, a lot of uncertainties remain about the future. Looking ahead, we also hear experts pointing to a risk of a new infectious disease, even after we get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has made us yet again realize that our social life and economic activities in the world stand on quite fragile foundations, a fact that has been long overlooked. At the same time, the pandemic has highlighted the necessity to establish a new future vision and revamp and create a variety of systems. Many issues have been raised: preparedness for a serious and prolonged crisis, a desirable balance between personal freedom and public welfare, the way globalization operates, to name but a few. Now is the best time to discuss these issues thoroughly as we have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To achieve a better life into the future, we will aim to end the pandemic. Moreover, we must not stop and should steadily continue to bolster social and economic activities while trying to live with COVID-19. Harnessing fully the power of digital technologies, including rapidly-advancing artificial intelligence and big data, would be quite an effective means for achieving this goal.
The pandemic has forced countries around the world to restrict cross-border travel to a great extent, putting some countries in near-isolation by curbing human mobility. It should be remembered that the (massive) movement of and interaction among diverse people gave rise to new creations and made great contributions to the progress of mankind and economic development. Given that, we hope that the restrictions on human mobility will be eased at the earliest possible time and free movement of people will resume. To that end, the countries concerned must exchange ideas and act in a concerted manner, beginning with the establishment of a necessary new structure.
Since its inception in 1974, the Toyota Foundation has run three grant-making programs: Community Activities in Japan, International Grant Program, and Research Grant Program; in addition, it has made grants for the past several years targeting two special subjects dealing with the fundamentals of today’s society: human society and advanced technologies including digital ones, as well as foreign workers and Japan.
In hindsight, however, the results from years of our grant-making have tended to remain only in limited circles of people close to the grant-awardees. We regret to say that our efforts as the Toyota Foundation have been far from enough in disseminating to society the experiences and findings based on the results of our grant-making activities.
Based on this self-analysis, the Toyota Foundation has since last year started to step up efforts to convey information about our activities such as regularly scheduled online seminars. On top of that, the Toyota Foundation would like to take on a variety of challenges by making greater use of digital technologies to become a hub of sharing experiences and findings, while considering a possible partnership with like-minded organizations with broader networks.
Two years from now, in 2024, the Toyota Foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary. While cherishing the very ideal at the time of our inception, we are committed to improving our grant-making activities which are far-sighted, impactful, and truly beneficial to society, in view of major changes that have taken place over the past 50 years in the realities surrounding Japan and the rest of the world.
Lastly, I would like to ask for continued support and encouragement from all of you. Thank you.
The Toyota Foundation (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation)