Annual Online Gathering of Mid- to Long-Term Scholarship Recipients

The annual online gathering for mid- to long-term scholarship recipients took place on December 9, 2023 at 8:00 PM ET. The purpose of the meeting was to encourage a friendly and informal exchange/sharing of experiences and opinions among awardees as well as with representatives of donor foundations and FUTI/UTokyo members.

At the meeting, 2023-2024 award recipients were joined by: Hidekazu Fujioka, Executive Director of Ito Foundation and Ito Foundation U.S.A.; Asako Yamamoto, Administrator of Ito Foundation and Ito Foundation U.S.A.; Asuka Sakai, Senior Director of UTokyo Division of External Relations; Yuichiro Kuwama, FUTI Vice President and CFO; Yuki Haba, President of FUTI Alumni Association; Eri Furusawa, FUTI Advisory Committee member, and members of the FUTI Scholarship Committee (Nobuko Sakurai, Miwako Hosoda, Shohei Koide, Shig Matsushita, Iwao Ojima, Masako Osako, and Junji Takegami).

Nobuko Sakurai, FUTI Scholarship Committee Chair, led the meeting and began with a brief greeting, thanking all for attending the meeting. Iwao Ojima, FUTI President and CEO, gave a brief introduction on the format of the meeting and welcomed Executive Director Fujioka and Ms. Yamamoto of Ito Foundation/Ito Foundation U.S.A.  Mr. Fujioka, who was appointed executive director of the Ito Foundation and Ito Foundation U.S.A. as of September of this year. introduced himself, speaking of the many years of management work in the airline industry prior to his appointment at the Foundation, and how rewarding the last several months have been for him working with students and researchers. He briefly outlined the work of the Foundation and in anticipation of its 30th anniversary next year, he committed that founder Masatoshi Ito’s legacy providing sustainable support to students and researchers will live on. 

The meeting proceeded with short presentations by each of the scholarship recipients followed by a lively question and answer session. They discussed challenges, inspirations, and a sense of satisfaction in studying in the US. Selected quotes are given below.

[A UTokyo graduate student studying at Princeton] 

“My time at Princeton gave me many opportunities to work with celebrated scholars in physics, visit other universities, and build connections in the US. Although I will return to Japan in January, I plan to continue the collaborations in the US. After my anticipated completion of the  PhD degree in September of next year, I hope to get a postdoc position in the US.”

[A UTokyo graduate student studying International Public Policy at Columbia University] 

“Currently I am studying gender and its intersection with public policy. My studies are about how gender is integrated or present in all domains of life and how it can be made visible. SIPA at Columbia is one of the rare schools in the world that has a program dedicated to gender and public policy. I have been taking courses on gender mainstreaming and global affairs and reproductive health policies where I did a comparative study about different reproductive policies across the world and their intentions. “

[A UTokyo graduate student in economics studying at Harvard] 

“My decision to come to the US was based on two challenges I faced when doing research in Japan, one of which was data scarcity in Japan due to bureaucratic obstacles. Because of data scarcity, one must depend on small scale, non-administrative data or simulation-based data which leads to small data biases or results that do not reflect actual reality. The other challenge I faced was that my advisor at UTokyo was retiring and he was one of very few people in Japan who was able to advise me on the method I was developing which is the non-parametric method where statistical assumptions are relaxed in order to provide inference based on data. At Harvard, I am able to overcome these challenges because of ample availability and access to data, and access to human resources.

FUTI Alumni Association president and past FUTI scholarship recipient, Yuki Haba, concluded the meeting by thanking the recipients for their interesting presentations and expressed that he is looking forward to meeting them in person at the year-end gathering the next day, noting that the connection between scholarship recipients, board members, and advisory committee has become an important part of being a Friends of UTokyo scholarship recipient.

Note: Reports submitted to FUTI by scholarship students can be found on the FUTI Recipient Roster page.