On May 2, 2013, Mr. Hakubun Shimomura, Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT) was invited to a reception party that took place at Capitol Hill and reached an agreement with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to double the number of Japanese students studying in the U.S. and U.S. students studying in Japan.[1] In the meantime, Akira Foundation (AFJ) has been working on an upcoming Youth Exchange Program with American Councils for International Education (ACIE), in line with the ambitious new steps to follow through on their foregoing commitments to a transformative change in how the Japanese educational system relate to internationalization which makes it more accessible for foreign students and nurtures individuals equipped with ingenuity and expertise to solve shared problems across borders.

To date, the TOMODACHI INITIATIVE, the bilateral public-private partnership launched in 2011 by the U.S. Embassy and the U.S.-Japan Council, strongly supports the program, financially, through the “TOMODACHI Fund for Exchanges” funded by Toyota Motor Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd., and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.[2]  As with the funding from TOMODACHI, the program has been dubbed “TOMODACHI [3] U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program (TOMODACHI-UJYEP).” At present, ACIE and AFJ are working collaboratively to develop their own three-week programs in both Washington, D.C. (plus the New York trip) and Tokyo (plus the Tohoku trip).*

*As of June 17, 2013

For TOMODACHI website, please click here

[1] The Mainichi, Minister eyes scholarship for short-term overseas study (2 May 2013) [Online]. Available at: http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130502p2g00m0dm014000c.html(Accessed: 9 June 2013)

[2] Embassy of the United States Tokyo, Japan, HP:Press Releases: Five Major Japanese Companies Join as Key Partners in the TOMODACHI Initiative (18 April 2012) [Online]. Available at: http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/p/tp-20120418-01.html (Accessed: 9 June 2013)

[3] The TOMODACHI Initiative is a public-private partnership forged after the Great East Japan Earthquake and led by the U.S. Government, the Japanese Government and the U.S.-Japan Council, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. (http://usjapantomodachi.org/about-us/)

SEELS is a social enterprise that provides innovative and compelling English language teaching services operated by underserved Filipino migrants as certified teachers. It targets residential areas with middle- and low-income brackets and plans to scale up and replicate its micro-franchising model to untapped residential areas where under-supported families reside. Akira Foundation works collaboratively with SEELS to foster an inclusive community-based ground for both Filipino migrants and lower-income families in Japan.

SEELS offers its services at very low cost and price, compared to existing traditional English schools common near train stations or around major cities. Most of its teachers have been underserved Filipino migrants living in Japan and will be certified through a high quality teaching-learning method, dubbed the Community and Home Based English Teachers (CHOBET) training program, in collaboration with the national network of Filipino English Teacher in Japan (FETJ).

Akira Foundation provided Mr. Cesar Santoyo, Executive Director of the Center for Japanese-Filipino Families (CJFF) and President of SEELS, with a start-up grant for registration fees and ‘patient loans’ for seed capital. Akira Foundation has been progressively supporting SEELS in terms of operational and strategic management so that it would evolve into a successful and sustainable social enterprise, while addressing dual social- economic issues between the Philippines and Japan at a new level of collaborative and humanitarian approach.

“This partnership is a key to Akira Foundation’s effort to raise awareness of insidious social issues in Japan and realize one of the two pillars in our mission statement: promote social entrepreneurship to bridge between Japan and Global Village,” said Hirofumi Yokoi. “We will invest the necessary resources to make SEELS grow and sustain, while supporting it to create significant opportunities for Filipino migrants and lower-income families in Japan to gain more confidence and independence, both financially and socially.”

Since March 2012, Akira Foundation has been selected among Japanese institutions as a strategic partner for the World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship (WSIE). WSIE was launched at United Nations in 2006. Supported by three UN agencies including UNDP along with International Chamber of Commerce, African Union, and multinationals like PepsiCo, Boeing, CNBC, and Microsoft, the first WSIE took place at the historic city of Muscat, Oman, and has been held every other year with over 70 countries attended. Held on May 17-19, 2016 at United Nations Headquarters, WSIE on “New Frontiers” will showcase “a bold and provocative exploration of what the future of business, market spaces, digital, products, minds, machines, experiences and trans-disciplinary innovations will be like in 2020 with one clear message: Head there.”

Every year, Akira Foundation awards annual and one-time scholarships to enthusiastic international students who "make a difference" by addressing social issues through and after their research at the master or doctoral level. We are confident that their value-driven research will help eradicate social issues and fill the alarming gap of the social entrepreneurship and innovation between other countries and Japan.

For those who wish to apply for this scholarship program, please contact our partner organization, Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES). You will need to submit an application and supporting documents.

Ended this program

Akira-Keio SFC Social Innovation Scholarship (AXIS)
Akira Foundation and Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC) are working together to recognize exceptional international students accepted into the GIGA Program, which is the first English-speaking undergraduate course at Keio University and provides a curriculum integrating information and communication technology and governance.

Hirofumi and Atsufumi Yokoi, Co-Founders at Akira Foundation, said: “This is a great step forward to give some financial support to talented, passionate international students, so that they may come to Japan for undergraduate study. We hope this scholarship would play a vital role in promoting internationalization and advancing next young leaders, more practically and profoundly, in such sought-after fields.” AXIS subsidizes 500,000 yen of the annual academic fees for one year and, thereby, aims to encourage talented international students to sharpen their learning curve in the fields of social and technological development. The awarded students are named AXIS Junior Fellows and are expected to commit themselves to social and entrepreneurial activities in and out of campus.

Other Projects

Akira Foundation sponsors many other projects that match our vision and mission.

The 1st Vulnerable Filipino Migrants International Conference

Supported “The 1st Vulnerable Filipino Migrants International Conference” held at the Osaka University as an institutional sponsor.

The Asia Career Seminar

Supported “The Asia Career Seminar: Cultural difference in the work place” as an institutional sponsor by working with the Japan Research Institute (JRI).

Urbanization in Africa and the Emergence of New Global Issues

Supported the 1st International Conference on “Urbanization in Africa and the Emergence of New Global Issues” to be held at Sophia University as an institutional sponsor.

Smarter African Cityscapes: Evading the Hype

Coordinated in collaboration with African Centre for Cities (ACC) at University of Cape Town and Graduate School of Design (GSD) at Harvard University, and sponsored the session of the “Smarter African Cityscapes: Evading the Hype” at the World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship (THEWSIE) 2012, held in Boston on 26 September.

The Philippine Studies Conference in Japan (PSCJ): Emerging Philippines: New Frontiers, Directions, Contributions

Supported “The Philippine Studies Conference in Japan (PSCJ): Emerging Philippines: New Frontiers, Directions, Contributions" held at Kyoto University as an institutional sponsor.

Connect The Dots: Workshop for Future Entrepreneurs

Sponsored the entrepreneurship program for college students in Japan, “Connect The Dots: Workshop for Future Entrepreneurs,” which was kicked off in Tokyo on 4th August.

Social Innovation Seminar: “Social Innovation (SI): the Movement and Dynamics for Social Change and Impact”

Organized a seminar, titled “Social Innovation (SI): the Movement and Dynamics for Social Change and Impact,” for a delegation from the King Prajadhipok’s Institute (KPI), Thailand, on Friday, September 19.

The inaugural event “Global Empowerment Summit” at University of California, San Diego

Sponsors the inaugural event for “social innovators” in San Diego, California, “Global Empowerment Summit,” which takes place on Saturday, October 17th.