20th Anniversary of the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund program at Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Budapest, Hungary

It is a great honor to have this opportunity to speak here on the 20th anniversary of the Sylff program at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. I commend the Academy for the outstanding way it has managed the Sylff endowment. In particular, I would like to thank Academy director Dr. Jozsef Palinkas and the Sylff management committee. Your dedicated efforts have helped to produce many outstanding students over the last 20 years.

Since its inception in1987, the Sylff program has sought to develop leaders able to transcend nationality, language, ethnicity, religion, and politics. Leaders who can tackle global issues. At the same time, they must also must display sensitivity to national concerns, have the energy to address them and the capacity to transform society. To date, Sylff has endowed 68 schools in 44 countries. There are now over 10,000 Fellows.

In 1989, Mr. Nemeth Miklos, then president of Hungary, helped tear down the Iron Curtain. In the same year, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences became the 16th Sylff school. Around that time, Central Europe was moving away from communism in the direction of the West. This move required leaders who could build new countries. It makes me very proud that this academy was the first in Central Europe to have a Sylff endowment to help nurture these leaders. To date, 146 Fellows have passed through this fine institution.

When the wall between East and West fell, things began to change. There was political reform in Hungary and other East European countries. A market economy was adopted. Civil society began to develop. The Nippon Foundation wanted to help Central Europe make these changes. To provide assistance, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, a partner of The Nippon Foundation, set up the Sasakawa Central Europe Fund in 1992.

The fund has conducted a great many projects over the last 20 years. In one project, young leaders from Central Europe came to Japan to learn about Japanese society. In others, support was given to civil society and the nonprofit sector. Funding was also provided for television programs that explained market economies. Support was made available for Professor Csaba Mako from this academy to lecture on modern Japan at St. Stefan University. And the Japanese economic development model was taught alongside Japanese business management with contributions from the fund.

Over the same 20 years, this academy has produced several outstanding Sylff Fellows窶忍va Edit Kiss and Lajos Racz, recipients of the title of Doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, to name but a few. It is truly encouraging to see so many brilliant scholars among the Sylff Fellows.

At present, the world is in the midst of a financial crisis. Hungary is of course no exception, and is also grappling with various social issues. I hope very much that the Academy’s Sylff Fellows will rise to the challenge and confront these problems head on.

Please remember that you can draw on a worldwide network of over 10,000 Sylff Fellows to help you in your task. Sylff Fellows are active in many different fields in many different countries. By reaching out and cooperating I believe you can play a leadership role in solving the many challenges facing our world today.

In closing, let me thank once again Academy director Dr. Jozsef Palinkas, his dedicated staff, and of course all you Sylff Fellows. Your efforts are an inspiration to us all.