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Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Fulbright Program fundraising drive gets big backers

Staff writer

Former Ambassador to the U.S. Yoshio Okawara, speaking Tuesday at a fundraising event for the Fulbright Program, stressed the importance of education exchanges between Japan and the U.S.

The event for the J. William Fulbright Centennial Fundraising Campaign was held to mark the establishment of an advisory council for the fundraising drive.

The goal is to raise $200 million through March 2008 from the private sector for the Fulbright Program of fellowships and scholarships, named after the late Sen. James William Fulbright.

The money will fund more than 40 Fulbright educational grants over five years.

Okawara, the advisory council's chairman, reflected on how the exchange program helped Japan after the war as it rebuilt and became more internationally minded.

"The goal of the fundraising may not be easy, but I am eager to achieve its goal," the former envoy said.

Toyota Motor Corp. Vice Chairman Fujio Cho, another member of the council, spoke of the importance of student exchanges between the two nations.

"Japan and the U.S. must understand each other more profoundly, not only in the business world but in cultural and social ways as well," Cho said.

Other prominent members of the advisory council include former U.N. Undersecretary General Yasushi Akashi, and Fujio Mitarai, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren). Former Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono and former health minister Yuji Tsushima were also present at the council's kickoff.

The centennial campaign was named for the birth of the program founder. Fulbright was born in 1905.

The program was created by the U.S. Congress in 1946, based on a proposal the year before by Fulbright to have an international educational exchange program for Americans.

The Fulbright Program is the world's largest educational program, and has helped more than 270,000 students and scholars to study abroad.

More than 8,300 Japanese and Americans have participated in the program since it was introduced here in 1952.

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The Japan Times

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