The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) Administrators Meeting

Tokyo, Japan

I would like to first of all extend my warmest welcome to the representatives from the Sylff institutions from all over the world for coming to attend this meeting. It is an ideal occasion for us, The Nippon Foundation and Tokyo Foundation, here in Tokyo to express our deepest gratitude for your continued dedication to the successful management of the Sylff program.

Almost 30 years have passed since the Sylff Program was established. It was at a time that our world was facing unprecedented challenges. The Cold War was ending; the world was becoming increasingly unipolar; environmental degradation was being put on the table for serious debate; some regions were being plagued by famine; ethnic conflicts were on the rise; and many developing countries were striving to achieve democratization.

All these factors made us anticipate that the world was heading toward instability. Feeling a strong need for leaders with the ability to address forthcoming challenges, we launched the Sylff Program in 1987, as the solution to our apprehension. Sylff fellows are individuals who are eager to use their expertise for the common benefit of mankind. They are capable of transcending ethnic, religious, racial, and national boundaries, and at the same time respect diversity of culture and values. And they have the power to motivate, inspire, win empathy, and influence society. To date, there are over 15,000 fellows with these qualifications in the world from the 69 Sylff endowed institutions in 44 countries. There are already fellows who are actively addressing local, regional, and global issues in the sectors of business, government, nonprofit organizations and academia.

I would like to express my gratitude to each Sylff institution for having a deep understanding of the purpose for which the Sylff Program was founded, and for identifying and selecting such excellent students, whom you are so dedicatedly fostering into leaders capable of meeting the needs of our times.

In the last 30 years since the inception of the Sylff Program, the world has changed at an increasing pace. The world in which we live in today is a very unstable place, and we face a broad array of problems such as war and terrorism, economic disparities, global warming, depletion of natural resources, food insecurity, and the spread of infectious diseases. Moreover the problems are becoming more complex and globalized, and requiring greater multilateral initiatives and collaboration. Such being the world today, there is, and will be, great need for leaders such as the Sylff fellows who are able to exert their influence even in such unstable situations thanks to their training that has equipped them with an overarching view of the world.

As you are all aware we have introduced a new scheme in order to ensure more sustainable grounds to nurture Sylff fellows. But the new scheme is not intended to take the autonomy away from the Sylff endowed institutions to identify, select, and support the fellows. The original scheme will remain as an option for those who feel it most appropriate to be maintained. We ask the administrators to continue your excellent work. Your role is vital to the program, and we need your continued input and advice in order to make the Sylff Program an even more effective program.

Now, I would like to welcome the Sylff fellows who have gathered here from different parts of the world to be with us. We are very touched that your thoughts have remained close to the Sylff program long after your graduation and that you continue to be active members as alumnae. Some of you have also put in tremendous effort to help revitalize the Sylff program at your alma mater. I am always looking forward to meeting the Sylff fellows in action whenever I visit a Sylff institution or am on an overseas trip for our international projects. I would like to ask the fellows to continue your efforts as leaders to make the world a better place for all of humanity.

In this day and age, we can be easily connected through the Internet and SNS wherever we are. Yet, we have asked you to take the trouble to gather here in Tokyo because we felt that it is important to meet directly in person, face-to-face. I would like for you all to make the best of the next three days to share your experiences, exchange ideas, and deepen your relationship with members from different institutions. We would also appreciate it very much if you would get to know us—The Nippon Foundation and the Tokyo Foundation—even better.

I would like to close by expressing, once again, my deepest and sincere appreciation for your strong commitment to the Sylff Program.

Thank you very much.