Sasakawa Fellows Reception 2016

The annual Sasakawa Fellows Reception, hosted by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), was held at WMU on 28 October in the Sasakawa Auditorium. At the event, 21 students in the Class of 2016, who were sponsored by The Nippon Foundation through SPF, were honored as WMU Sasakawa Fellows. The total number of WMU Sasakawa Fellows now stands at 553 from more than 60 countries.  

Mr Eisuke Kudo, Advisor to the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and member of the WMU Board of Governors, welcomed the guests that included Mr Koji Sekimizu, WMU Chancellor Emeritus and former IMO Secretary-General, Mr Efthymios Mitropoulos, Former Secretary-General of the IMO and Chancellor Emeritus of WMU, Mr Leif Almö, Honorary Consul of Japan, and the Chairman of the City Council, Mr Kent Andersson. The gathering also included dignitaries from IMO, University Governors, WMU faculty and staff, family members of the Fellows, Sasakawa Fellowship Students in the Class of 2017, and guests who would receive honorary awards at the graduation ceremony on 29 October.

Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, WMU President, addressed the gathering and remarked on the extraordinary support of The Nippon Foundation for the University since 1987. The President noted that in addition to the generous support for students, The Nippon Foundation further supports the capacity building mission of WMU by sponsoring three Professorial Chairs and an Associate Professor as well as numerous conferences and events connected with WMU. She stated, “We express our deepest gratitude to The Nippon Foundation for their partnership in supporting global maritime capacity building and creating a mini United Nations by supporting students from so many different countries and making their studies at WMU possible.”

Mr Mitsuyuki Unno, Executive Director of the Nippon Foundation, addressed the gathering and congratulated the students on the completion of their studies. He spoke of The Nippon Foundation’s commitment to maritime capacity building as well as the oceans noting a recent twitter campaign by the Foundation to gather one-word impressions of the oceans. He noted that 30 per cent of the responses were positive expressing the possibilities of the ocean including words such as “like, love, life, beach, beautiful, swim and sun”. Seventy per cent of the responses were negative with words such as “dirty, depletion, stress, pollution, death and crisis”. The Twitter responses, he said, are a reflection of society’s thoughts and feelings and that these words indirectly convey a sense of danger about the current condition of the oceans. He encouraged the new Sasakawa Fellows to transmit the endless possibilities of the oceans to society at large in order to change the negative 70 per cent to positive. Mr Unno welcomed the graduating students to the family of “Sasakawa Fellows” and presented them each with a certificate. Upon receiving the honor of Fellow, each recipient also became a member of the Friends of WMU, Japan.

At the reception that followed, Rodolfo John Paul Palattao from the Philippines addressed the gathering on behalf of the 2016 Sasakawa Fellows. He referred to the extraordinary experience of studying at WMU where he learned to work effectively with individuals from diverse cultures, and with diverse interpersonal styles, abilities, motivations and backgrounds. He stated, “This opportunity not only afforded me expanded technical knowledge, it was indeed character building which is something that resonates with everyone that has been part of the [WMU] programme. We thank The Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation for affording us this opportunity with only the altruistic expectation that we pay it forward and go back to our home countries and apply what we learned to institute improvements.”

With this ceremony, the Class of 2016 Fellows officially joined the global network of individuals whose lives have been changed by accepting their roles as Sasakawa Fellows. “Share the Pain. Share the Hope. Share the Future,” reflects The Nippon Foundation’s mission of social innovation to achieve a society where people support one another.

The Nippon Foundation, through SPF, is the largest fellowship donor to the University. In addition to the Fellowships, The Nippon Foundation has hosted a week-long field study to Japan for Sasakawa Fellowship Students and since 2001 has regularly hosted Sasakawa Fellow gatherings.

Click here for more information about The Nippon Foundation

Click here for information about the Sasakawa Fellowship Program and Friends of WMU, Japan