Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund Award Ceremony at Gadjah Mada University

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Your Excellency Governor Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwana the Tenth, Honorable Rector Sofian Effendi, distinguished guests, members of the university community, ladies and gentlemen:

I am honored to be here today to celebrate the initiation of Gadjah Mada University into the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund. Today’s celebration serves as yet another significant milestone in the long history of close ties between Indonesia and Japan.

With SYLFF, we are establishing a firm bond between one of this nation’s most prestigious schools, and two of my country’s premier foundations: The Nippon Foundation and the Tokyo Foundation.

SYLFF is named after my father, the late Ryoichi Sasakawa. His motto was “The world is one family; all humankind are brothers and sisters.” This was his way of saying that all of us must transcend political, religious, cultural, social, and economic boundaries if we are to live together in peace. My father was a firm believer in education.

He believed that educating young people helped them acquire skills and knowledge, as well as instilling them with a strong sense of mission and responsibility. He strongly believed that this feeling would guide them to work for their country’s development.

The Nippon Foundation, which my father founded in 1962, and where I serve as president, engages in numerous and diversified program areas. We work in the fields of basic human needs and human resources development.

Our work includes efforts in public health and poverty alleviation. Education and the training of professionals. Promotion of international understanding and collaboration between people in different countries. We have worked with more than 90 countries over the past 40 years, building partnerships with governments, international organizations, and NGOs. Our fundamental goal in all of this is to help people help themselves.

Among its numerous initiatives, the Foundation places an especially high priority on the elimination of leprosy. In my capacity as WHO’s Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and as President of The Nippon Foundation, I have been pushing toward elimination for more than thirty years. The elimination of leprosy is my own, personal lifework.

Today, only about six endemic countries remain in the world. Leprosy has become curable, thanks to the development of multi-drug therapy. Although Indonesia achieved her elimination target in the year 2000, The Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, are contributing to the continuation of elimination work in Indonesia.

I am convinced that, by the end of 2005, we will have reached WHO’s goal: elimination in every country of the world. However, there is another challenge left for us to tackle, namely, the recovery of human dignity for all people affected by leprosy.

Leprosy has been the most feared of diseases throughout human history. Its victims have been the ultimate outcasts of society, forced to lead lives that deny their humanity. For this reason, last March I approached the UN Human Rights Commission about this problem. There, I addressed the member states on the issue of leprosy and human rights. It was the first time the Commission had ever dealt with this issue, but their response was very encouraging. We are working to build a society free from discrimination based on leprosy.

Another of The Nippon Foundation’s projects is The Nippon Foundation Fellowships for Asian Public Intellectuals, or the API Fellowships. This program was launched in the year 2000 and is being operated in the five countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Japan.

There, it provides leading public intellectuals with fellowships to carry out regional research and exchange activities in their professional field. Public intellectuals are those who work for the betterment of society by applying their knowledge, wisdom, and experience as professionals with moral authority. Since the launch of the project, a total of about one hundred and twenty fellows have been provided fellowships to deal with wide-ranging themes.

In Indonesia the program is being administered by LIPI, but I am pleased to note here that several professors from Gadjah Mada University have provided us with their expertise in the coordination of this API Fellowship.
In this world of globalization, there are people who are suffering from social inequality or injustice. Our grant programs are directed not only toward immediate assistance for these needy people but also toward the nurturing of human resources capable of tackling the root causes of these issues and bringing about changes in the societies.

In order to change our societies, we need dedicated and thoughtful leaders. This is where fellowship programs such as API and SYLFF come in. I always challenge SYLFF fellows to excel academically and professionally, and to demonstrate their leadership in local, national, and global affairs. Membership in the SYLFF network entitles fellows, administrators and faculty at 69 institutions to participate in programs administered by the Tokyo Foundation.

These activities contribute to the enrichment of research by SYLFF fellows, the professional development of administrators and faculty and, perhaps most importantly, the enhancement of opportunities for collaboration between all members of this community. Such collaboration requires trust, commitment to a common goal, respect for diversity, and a genuine willingness to invest in the future.

I am aware that Yogyakarta is a place of great importance in Indonesian history and enjoys a rich culture that nurtures peaceful dialogue among those with different views. Given its location and history of academic excellence, Gadjah Mada University is well positioned to contribute to the development of future leaders for Indonesia.

I am greatly honored to have this outstanding university join the SYLFF network, and have no doubt that its administrators, faculty, and students, will play an active role in the greater SYLFF community.

Gadjah Mada University, welcome to SYLFF!

Terima Kasih!