The Japan-Russia Youth Forum 2017, jointly hosted by the Japan-Russia Youth Exchange Center and Russian International Youth Center, was held at Hokkaido University on November 20th and 21st, 2017.
First held in 2006 by the Japan-Russia Youth Exchange Center in collaboration with universities throughout Japan, the forum aims to facilitate frank discussions on various problems facing both Japan and Russia, between youths who will lead the next generations in both countries, in a bid to shape the future of Japan-Russia relations.
Thirty students from 20 universities in Japan, and twenty-six youths from 20 Russian institutions took part in lively discussions in this year’s forum, which took place over two days on the theme of “Inter-Regional Collaboration for the Expansion of Economic and Human Interactions.”
Before discussions began on the morning of the 20th, an opening ceremony was held at which Hokkaido University Executive and Vice-President Masanori Kasahara gave an opening address on behalf of the hosts, followed by addresses by the Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Manabu Horii, Consul-General of the Russian Federation in Sapporo Mr. Andrey Fabrichnikov, and Deputy Director-General of the Hokkaido Government’s Department of Policy Planning and Coordination Mr. Koji Toyoshima. From the Russian side, an address on behalf of the hosts was given by the Head of the International Division of the Russian Federation’s Federal Agency for Youth Affairs Mr. Dmitry Ivanov. After the opening ceremony, a keynote speech titled “The Foreseeable Future of Japan-Russia Relations: From Hokkaido’s Perspective” was given by Professor Akihiro Iwashita of Hokkaido University’s Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, enabling participants to deepen their understanding of Japan-Russia relations. After the keynote speech, keynote reports on the forum’s theme were presented by one student representative from each country.
In the afternoon, participants divided into working groups on the three themes of “Regional Development and Revitalization,” “Cultural Diversity,” and “Tourism and Transportation.” In these working groups – comprising a mixture of participants from both countries – proactive discussions were held on various methods of stimulating interaction between Japan and Russia, based on each of the three themes.
Later that evening, the youths took part in a social gathering in which they mingled while enjoying taiko drum and folksong performances by members of Wadachi – the Hokkaido University Folksong Study Group and Choir.
On the morning of the 21st, participants offered proposals for future friendly relations between Japan and Russia on each theme, based on the results of the working groups. This was followed by the closing ceremony, in which Hokkaido University Executive and Vice-President Junji Nishii gave a closing address and handed a certificate to each of the participants.
Friendships that transcend national borders were nurtured during the two-day forum, in which the sight of mutual cooperation between participants indicates there is a bright future for Japan-Russia relations.