The IX Forum of Russian and Japanese Universities' Rectors

On September 16, 2021, IX Forum of Rectors of Russian and Japanese Universities — the third General Assembly Meeting of the Association of Russian and Japanese Universities was held. The event was attended by rectors of leading universities of Russia and Japan, representatives of the government and the Embassies. In total, 27 Japanese universities and 22 Russian universities were represented at the forum.

The meeting was opened by the President of the Russian Rectors' Union, rector of Lomonosov Moscow State University, academician V.A. Sadovnichy and rector of Niigata University, professor Ushiki Tatsuo, who noted the special importance of cooperation between Japanese and Russian universities, initiating a bilateral dialogue.

V.A. Sadovnichy drew the attention of the meeting participants to the fact that "since the first forum of rectors of Russia and Japan in 2009, systematic cooperation between Russian and Japanese universities has constantly developed, accumulated potential, received support from the leaders of the two countries and in 2016 resulted in the creation of Association of Universities of the two Countries". Victor A. Sadovnichy noted that, taking into account the new members of the Association, it includes 63 leading universities of the two countries. Academician V.A. Sadovnichy stressed that "despite the unusual online kind of work, during the last year and a half, we managed to preserve all the variety of formats of our interaction, like the scientific forum dedicated to sustainable development goals and issues of medicine, as well as the student forum ".

In his greeting, Maruyama Yoji, Senior Deputy Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, expressed satisfaction with the development of Russian-Japanese interuniversity cooperation. "The plans for cooperation between universities were included in the intergovernmental programs of public diplomacy. In Japan, universities cooperating with Russian universities are provided with the support of the ministry through programs aimed at strengthening of the competitiveness of Japanese higher education. During the work of the Association, the number of Japanese students studying in Russia has doubled, and the number of Russian students in Japan has increased by 7 times, "said Mr. Maruyama. He added that "despite the pandemic, communication between Russian and Japanese students and teachers continues online. Currently, the Russian-Japanese interuniversity exchanges are actively developing through the exchange platform created by the universities of Niigata and Hokkaido. "

Addressing the participants of the forum, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of Russia N.A. Bocharova stressed that "holding such a large-scale event is an important stage in the strengthening and development of humanitarian ties between Russia and Japan." "Despite the difficult epidemiological situation, Japanese citizens show a high interest in education in Russia. And we welcome this. As you know, the Russian Federation is currently open to students from all over the world, including Japan. A very important point is building up our interaction. This is confirmed by 600 agreements, memorandums and programs of cooperation between Russian and Japanese universities".

In his greetings the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Russia Kozuki Toyohisa noted the role of universities — as "a place for the creation of knowledge and a forge of personnel" - in the development of Russian-Japanese cooperation. He confirmed that interest in inter-university exchanges is growing. According to him, "this is how the young generation is brought up, the future of bilateral relations will be in their hands. In my youth, I also did a one-year internship at Moscow State University. It was a unique experience for me, "the ambassador stressed. He noted that the theme of this year’s forum was the topic of personnel training in areas contributing to the development of economic cooperation between Russia and Japan. He recalled the 8-point cooperation plan taken in 2016 at the highest level. "Now between Russia and Japan, according to the agreement of the leaders, a year of interregional and twin-city exchanges is being held. More than 250 events were held in Japan, in which more than 400 thousand people took part. I hope that universities in Russia and Japan will also hold and register their events within the framework of the year,"he said.

In the welcoming speech of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Japan M.Y. Galuzin admitted that the relationship between the leaders of our states is developing, striving to promote the entire range of fields, the development of cooperation between Russia and Japan in the interests of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. "Expansion of interaction in this direction is a serious factor for the development of the existing bilateral relations potential. Despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, contacts between higher education institutions and research and educational centers in Russia and Japan continue to grow. " - said M.Y. Galuzin.

During the plenary session, academician V.A. Sadovnichy presented the whole range of formats and projects that are successfully developing on the platform of the Association of Russian and Japanese universities. The activities of the Association are coordinated by the joint center of Moscow University and Hokkaido University, founded in 2019. For two years, the center has organized a series of round tables, webinars, meetings of Russian and Japanese students. "The basis for the development of our cooperation has always been the study of the languages ​​and cultures of our peoples. In order to improve intercultural communication and implement joint educational projects, many Russian universities have departments of Japanese philology and centers of Japanese studies. The largest departments have been developing for decades at Moscow and St. Petersburg universities, MGIMO, universities of the Far East, Siberia, and the Volga region. At the same time in Japanese universities there are departments of the Russian language, which play a significant role in the popularization of the Russian language and culture, "noted V.A. Sadovnichy.

Academician V. A. Sadovnichy in his presentation presented all the levels of university cooperation — from programs aimed at schoolchildren, to the interaction of scientists from the two countries, the development of high technologies. He emphasized that for almost 50 years Moscow State University has been implementing exchange programs with Soka and Tokai Universities; more than 800 students from both sides have been admitted to them. The cooperation of universities was founded even before the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. According to Victor Sadovnichy, the most important role in it was played by Shigeyoshi Matsumae and Daisaku Ikeda — legendary personalities in Japan with whom he was fortunate enough to be personally acquainted.

The Rector of Moscow State University stressed that today the Rectors' Forums have become one of the platforms that ensure the interaction of science, education, and business of the two countries. According to V.A. Sadovnichy, the multiple activities of the Association of Russian and Japanese universities can be described with the Japanese wisdom "Having thought, make up your mind and act, but if you have already decided — don’t hesitate!" He added that representatives of the university community have already thought deeply about our projects. It is time to act and to achieve the implementation of the plans.

Rectors of universities — new members of the Association of Universities of Russia and Japan — Japan University of Economics, Nagoya University of International Studies, Tottori University, I.I. Mechnikov, Volgograd State University, Moscow State Linguistic University named after M. Teresa, Moscow City Pedagogical University, Astrakhan State University, St. Petersburg University of Architecture and Civil Engineering addressed the participants with their brief introductions and greetings. Representatives of Russian and Japanese universities also presented bilateral cooperation projects being implemented at their universities.

A Russian-Japanese student forum and a Russian-Japanese scientific forum were held within the framework of the rectors' forum. On September 12−13, students from 57 universities of Russia and Japan took part in sessions devoted to medicine, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. Within the framework of the Rectors' Forum, the results of the student forum were presented by the co-chairs of the Russian-Japanese Student Union Yekaterina Zimakova and Daiki Kuriyama. Dean of the Niigata University School of Medicine Someya Toshiyuki and board member and vice-rector of Hokkaido University Atsushi Yokota presented the results of the work of the Russian-Japanese Scientific Forum, which was held on September 14−15.

At the end of the Forum, a final communique was signed, in which the parties expressed their intention to develop academic exchanges between Japanese and Russian universities, professional education, which will contribute to economic cooperation between Japan and Russia; to promote the development of the Russian-Japanese student union, interdisciplinary research and cooperation between universities and industry; to collect and spread information on joint research projects between Japan and Russia, as well as on human resource development activities.

The next X Forum of Rectors of Russian and Japanese Universities will be held in 2023 at Lomonosov Moscow State University.