FUTI President Ojima’s visit to UTokyo and Ito Foundation strengthens bonds with partners

A three-week sojourn in Japan presented an excellent opportunity for FUTI President Ojima to engage with important partners and express gratitude to them. Beyond lectures and laboratory visits at the University of Tokyo, RIKEN and others, a primary goal for the President was to reconnect with key partners and convey gratitude for their unwavering support. Unfortunately, due to scheduling constraints, a planned visit to Shin-Etsu Chemical could not materialize. FUTI is grateful to Senior Director Asuka Sakai, Division for External Relations, UTokyo for her instrumental role in coordinating and facilitating various meetings. 

Meeting with President Fujii and Executive Vice President Tsuda of UTokyo 

In the afternoon of October 24, President Ojima had a meeting with UTokyo President Teruo Fujii in the President’s Reception Room together with Executive Vice President Atsushi Tsuda (FUTI Director) and Dr. Shigenori Matsushita (FUTI Director). President Ojima expressed deep gratitude to UTokyo for its efforts in co-hosting the memorial service of the late Professor Hisashi Kobayashi, a former FUTI President. President Ojima reported on the establishment of the “Hsun Kwei & Aiko Takizawa Chou Scholarship,” which supported one student during the transitional period last year but grew to provide scholarships to five students this year as a result of the substantial donations from the UTokyo New York Office (NYO). The ensuing discussions covered a range of topics including the radiant accomplishments of numerous scholarship recipients and the resumption of the “FUTI Travel Award” for the current fiscal year.

President Fujii commended the contributions of FUTI and gave glowing praise and admiration to the esteemed members of FUTI who work tirelessly on a volunteer basis. In a discussion regarding the future direction of the NYO, UTokyo’s hope was to assess the current state and further develop its use such as for joint research projects between UTokyo and US universities. When asked whether NYO would be used for promoting projects collaborating in the US through the “University of Tokyo Edge Capital,” a venture capital firm that started at UTokyo and actively promotes domestic startups that originate at UTokyo, the response was that UTokyo’s current plan is to go through a separate corporation in the case of expansion into the US.

From left to right: Dr. Matsushita, FUTI President Ojima, UTokyo President Fujii, and UTokyo Vice President Tsuda

After the meeting with President Fujii, discussions continued with leaders of External Relations at the subsequent meeting in the adjacent Vice President’s Reception Room, including Vice President Tsuda, Mr. Hiroshi Hirano (Director), Ms. Yasumi Tezuka, (Manager) and Ms. Ikue Shiraishi (Associate Director) and Senior Director Asuka Sakai. Director Hirano and Ms. Tezuka are invaluable supporters to FUTI as they set up the FUTI booth at the annual Study Abroad Fair at UTokyo. Thus, Director Matsushita and President Ojima expressed sincere appreciations for their support. Discussions covered various topics in a cozy atmosphere, including a new organization, GlobE (Center for Global Education globe.u-tokyo.ac.jp). GlobE was launched in April this year as the “university-wide platform for globalized education”, and Vice President and Director of the Global Education Center, Professor Yujin Yaguchi, is central to the program. In addition to the existing system supporting study abroad programs, 24 “Global Liberal Arts Courses” relating to SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are offered in English by 30 or so specially appointed lecturers and professors. The program is open to sophomores and above who have already decided on their major, graduate students, and exchange students, and providing credit for the courses will be decided by each department on a case-by-case basis. 

Meeting with Mr. Hsun Kwei Chou 

In the evening of October 24, Dr. Chou and his wife (of “Hsun Kwei & Aiko Takizawa Chou Scholarship”) and their daughter (Ms. Trina Whiteley) came to the Ito International Research Center to receive an award from UTokyo for their significant contribution to the University. Thanks to arrangements made by Senior Director Sakai, President Ojima and Director Matsushita were able to meet with them before the award ceremony. Director Mishima (Director, External Relations) also joined the meeting.  Despite his advanced age of 87, Dr. Chou was in good health and looked happy with his family. At this meeting, President Ojima expressed his deepest appreciation for the “Hsun Kwei & Aiko Takizawa Chou Scholarship” which was established using a portion of their generous donation to the NYO, providing scholarships to five recipients this year. Dr. Chou was delighted that the donation is being put to good use and asked for FUTI’s continued support. 

Dr. Chou graduated from the Tokyo Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and then went on to the University of Tokyo Graduate School, where he received a Ph.D. degree in engineering. Then, he made the foundation of his successful career at Stanford University. He is well known as a serial entrepreneur and investor, and as an avid philanthropist has donated a great deal mainly to education. When asked about the secret to his continued success, Dr. Chou said, “I have never started a business in a field that I know.” This statement clearly indicates his courage and exceptional talent to sense opportunities and invest in and help forge new businesses. Dr. Chou also said, “The future of Japan’s semiconductor business is promising. This is because Japan is a rarity in the world in that it has everything domestically available, including design, manufacturing, and application, as well as materials and facilities.” 

The meeting with Dr. and Mrs. Chou and their daughter went in very warm atmosphere, which is reflected nicely in a group photo.

From left to right: Ms. Whiteley, Dr. Chou, Mrs. Chou, Dr. Ojima, and Dr. Matsushita

Ito Foundation 

In the morning of October 30, President Ojima, Director Matsushita, Advisory Committee Member, Professor Miwako Hosoda, and UTokyo Senior Director Sakai, visited the Ito Foundation. The Foundation supports Japanese high school students through four years of college, some through graduate school. Its US counterpart, Ito Foundation U.S.A., sponsors the “Ito Foundation U.S.A. – FUTI Scholarship” for Japanese students studying in the US. Both foundations were established with assets in Japan and the US of the late Mr. Masatoshi Ito, former Honorary Chairman and Founder of Seven & i Holdings Co. 

With the passing of Mr. Masatoshi Ito in March just shy of turning 99 years old, there was a change in leadership at the Foundation, including the position of chairman. Thus, it was an excellent opportunity for FUTI to meet with Ito Foundation’s new leaders. Attending the meeting from the Foundations were Mr. Junro Ito, Representative Director of Seven & i Holdings and President of Ito Foundation U.S.A., Ms. Hisako Yamamoto, President of the Ito Scholarship Foundation, Mr. Hidekazu Fujioka, Executive Director of both Foundations, Dr. Yoshikazu Tohyama, Selection Committee Member of the Ito Scholarship Foundation (who also conducts online interviews for FUTI), and Ms. Asako Yamamoto (Administrator for both Foundations). Mr. Fujioka is central to the new administration, who joined the Ito Foundation after retiring from Japan Airlines. 

The meeting started with President Ojima’s condolences to Mr. Junro Ito and Ms. Hisako Yamamoto for the passing of former Chairman Masatoshi Ito, followed by words of sincere appreciation to the Foundation’s generous donations every year, as well as gratitude to Dr. Tohyama and Ms. Asako Yamamoto for their time and support. Director Matsushita reported that the Foundation’s support has provided scholarships to five recipients this fiscal year and that demand for study abroad support keeps increasing as a result of rising costs due to the depreciation of the yen and inflation in the US. Ito Foundation, U.S.A. confirmed their continued support to FUTI. When Director Matsushita invited them to join the Annual Get Together with Scholarship recipients online, they showed strong interest and said that probably, Mr. Fujioka, Dr. Toyama and Ms. Asako Yamamoto would join the event.

Back row from left to right: FUTI AC member Dr. Hosoda, President Hisako Yamamoto, UTokyo Senior Director Sakai, and Executive Director Fujioka. Front from left to right: Dr. Tohyama, FUTI President Ojima, President Ito, and FUTI Director Matsushita.

In summary, FUTI President Ojima’s visit to Tokyo this fall was filled with meaningful interactions, which provided an excellent opportunity to strengthen bonds with partners and supporters, as well as re-established in-person contact that was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. These human interactions with mutual appreciation and understandings are critical to make FUTI’s activities meaningful and impactful.