On 18 September, a Kyoto University delegation headed by President Juichi Yamagiwa visited Canon Europe's London main office to sign a memorandum of understanding with Canon Foundation in Europe (CFE), headquartered in the Netherlands, to collaborate on a Japan-Africa researcher exchange program.
The partnership was proposed by CFE, now in its 30th year, as a way to support ongoing development and expansion of African studies at Kyoto University. Under the MoU, the University will run a three-year academic exchange program on an annual budget of 50,000 euros provided by CFE, selecting participants from among its researchers and from abroad.
At Canon Europe, the KU officials received a briefing from CFE representatives on the timeframe and other details of the program, before taking part in the signing ceremony. Kyoto University was represented in the agreement by President Yamagiwa, Dr Kayo Inaba, executive vice-president for gender equality, international affairs, and public relations, and Professor Masayoshi Shigeta, director of the Center for African Area Studies (CAAS). Professor Shigeta was unavailable for the signing. Signers from CFE were Mr Paul Kers, chairman of the board, Mr Willem van Gulik, extraordinary member of the board, and Mr Andrew Fisher, vice-chairman of the executive committee.
Afterwards, Professor Itaru Ohta, dean of the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS), delivered a presentation summarizing the 50-year history and achievements of African studies at Kyoto. This was followed by a Canon Europe representative introducing the company's recently launched Africa-based projects, such as entrepreneur development and image-processing skills training.
President Yamagiwa expressed his high expectations for the new program, quoting a Swahili proverb, " Milima haikutani, bali wanadamu hukutana " ("Mountains do not meet, but people do meet"), in saying that he hopes to see it lead to many fresh encounters in Japan and elsewhere, contributing to further advances in African studies.
Mr Kers and President Yamagiwa after the signing of the MoU (photograph courtesy of CFE)
ASAFAS Dean Ohta delivering his presentation