Join University of Tokyo’s Global Online Akamon-kai

Since the spring of 2020, numerous UTokyo alumni associations around the world have been hosting online meetings in order to continue to function despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Koichi Sato, President of San Francisco UTokyo Alumni Association, started the Online Global Akamon-kai, an imaginative endeavor that leverages modern communication technology.

Dr. Sato comments: “Because we have started to use an online platform, we can now reach out to any alumnus/alumna regardless of where he or she lives. In fact, many of those who have returned from San Francisco to Japan now participate in our online events. Since there are no physical barriers/limitations in cyber communication, I have become interested in reaching out to UTokyo alumni groups around the world.”

So far, in 2021, San Francisco Akamon-kai has already succeeded in hosting joint online gatherings with the following groups:

New York Icho-kai/Ichio-kai (January)
Chicago Akamon-kai (February)
Alumni Associations in U.K., France and Germany (March)
Hyogo (Japan) Alumni Association (April)
Alumni associations in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong (May)

The gathering in May was attended by as many as 48 UTokyo alumni affiliated with not only the above five associations but also with Chicago, Thailand, Vietnam,  Guangzhou (China) groups and the Office for Alumni Affairs of UTokyo.

It would have been unthinkable only a year ago for UTokyo alumni to be able to enjoy “personal” interactions with other alumni from around the world in this manner. These joint sessions have been very lively and often went well beyond the scheduled two hours. Participants particularly enjoyed “breakout rooms” which enabled small groups of people to engage in conversations in their respective online rooms.

Dr. Sato is upbeat about these developments. He is interested in hosting a truly “global” Akamon-kai gathering where all the alumni associations from around the world can join together.

Prof. Atsushi Tsuda, Executive Vice President of UTokyo, comments: 

I learned at the New York Ichio-kai meeting (online) that Mr. Sato, President of the San Francisco Akamonkai, was trying to connect alumni around the world in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. That is certainly a great idea. Apparently, many others were thinking about something similar to deal with the pandemic. For instance, Mr. Shunsuke Kanzawa, the secretary general of the University of Tokyo Alumni Association, is also planning to connect the UTokyo alumni associations around the world on Homecoming Day this October. (Everyone is welcome to join the event.)

Last year, all the Taiken (“Hands on Experience”) programs for undergraduates provided by alumni were conducted online. I was a little skeptical if the programs would succeed. However, not only did the alumni offer programs with a good deal of imagination and creativity, but students also adopted the changes well. The experience made me realize the strength of the University of Tokyo community. I am convinced that going forward we will be able to take advantage of online platforms and improve further collaboration between current students and alumni.

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