Leading Cultural Exchange: Japan Foundation Exchange Program

Cultural exchange is an important aspect countries of the world should pursue. Japan Foundation has been a leading institution forwarding such advocacy between Japan and other nations. Individuals and organizations can enjoy the grants from the foundation as they promote the spirit of cultural exchange through academic and non-academic activities.

Table of Contents

  1. Introducing Japan Foundation
  2. Exchange Programs
  3. Application
  4. Summary

Introducing Japan Foundation

Japan Foundation is an independent administrative institution founded in 1972 by the Japanese Government. It is the only of its kind that aims to promote connection and friendship with other countries on different continents through cultural exchange programs. These cultural programs advocate a mutual understanding of the country’s cultural background manifested in their arts, education, and language. Since its conception, the Japan Foundation has already established connections with 25 countries on 7 continents. Here are the countries:

Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam

There are three fields by which Japan Foundation operates its advocacy. Exerting emphasis on these fields through various programs, whether it be exchange programs or invitational events catering to cultural expression, was the sole purpose of the Japan Foundation in delivering their goal. Japan Foundation implements plans with individuals and organizations who are in one way or another connected with these fields. These major fields are the following:

  • Arts and Cultural Exchange

  • Japanese Language Education Overseas

  • Focus on Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange

※ The Japan Foundation, "About Us"

Exchange Programs

Each exchange program has its unique characteristics and focuses in terms of promoting cultural awareness. Also, they have their respective target collaborations in terms of executing projects and programs. This part of the discussion will outline such characteristics.

Arts and Cultural Exchange

Japan Foundation’s Arts and Cultural Exchange program focuses on sponsoring and delivering projects and programs that fall under the classification of arts and culture. This includes literature, performing arts, visual arts, and other general cultural practices observed in Japan. The foundation co-produce, funds and organizes related programs in various countries in collaboration with other institutions such as museums, performing arts hubs, and other experts in Japanese arts and culture. Art exhibitions, theater tours, film shows, music events, and other examples of affairs connected with the program are included in the roster.

Every year, Japan Foundation accepts applications from individuals and organizations related to the theme and then creates a support system in order to materialize projects and programs. For instance, in the fiscal year 2019-2020, there were 32 visual arts stand-alone exhibitions and programs organized around the world that are coordinated with the Japan Foundation. These events were held in museums or locations administered by the applying organization.

※ The Japan Foundation, "Exhibitions Abroad Support Program (Fiscal 2019-2020)" 

Here are the various grant programs for Arts and Cultural Exchange. Take note that programs that are exclusive only for Japanese participation were not included in the list:

  1. Exhibitions Abroad Support Program: a funding support program for museums and institutions that organize Japanese culture-related activities

  2. U.S. and European Museum Infrastructure Support Program: a funding support program for museums in their plan to exhibit Japanese art

  3. Support Program for Translation and Publication on Japan: a funding support program for translators and writers focusing in Japanese literature

  4. Ishibashi Foundation/The Japan Foundation Fellowship for Research on Japanese Art: exclusive for researchers in the field of Japanese arts to conduct studies in Japan relevant to the field

Japanese Language Education Overseas

Another program advanced by the Japan Foundation would be Japanese Language Education Overseas. It focuses on teaching and enhancing the Japanese language proficiency of people from different countries. Through this program, Japan Foundation supplies direct and indirect support to the institutions responsible for teaching the Japanese language. Specific projects of this particular program are the following:

  1. Japanese-Language Education Assistance Program: J-LEAP: aimed at supporting overseas institutions in their Japanese language education programs

  2. Support Program for Organizations Japanese Language Education: provides support for students of Japanese language education in their studies

  3. Training Programs for Teachers of Japanese-Language: the teaching of methodologies about Japanese language education to overseas teachers

  4. Grants for Specialists in Academic and Cultural Fields: providing support exclusively for specialists in the Japanese language to conduct research activities in Japan

Furthermore, the Japan Foundation, through the Japanese Language Education Overseas opens up opportunities for international students and professionals to pursue careers in Japan. Partnerships are formed with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for individuals who are willing to either study or work in the country after acquiring substantial language proficiency qualifications.

Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange

Lastly, Japan Foundation pushes forward the intellectual interests of the country with other countries. Through Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange, the foundation institutionalized support programs for researchers around the world specializing in Japanese studies. One example of the support given by the Japan Foundation is the infrastructure funding for different international universities for their Japanese studies centers. Another would be fellowship grants for individual or group researchers who endeavor to pursue in-depth research about Japan.

Funding for international exchange conferences is included in the vast support system by this program. Events are held in an overseas location that invites researchers and resource persons that may provide relevant insights about Japan and its relationship to a particular country. Here are the programs included under Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange:

  1. Japanese Studies Fellowship Program: for foreign researchers in Japanese studies

  2. Grant Program for Japanese Studies Program: for organizations administering various Japanese studies activities

  3. Grant Program for Intellectual Exchange Conferences: for organizations that manage conferences that promote understanding the ties of Japan with other countries

  4. Abe Fellowship Program: exclusive for American researchers that aims to conduct policy-relevant studies that address a global-scale concern

  5. CGP Grant Program: exclusive for organizations that explore policy-relevant projects and administer close understanding of Japan-U.S, relationships


The application for the programs of the Japan Foundation varies from one type to another. They may also have different requirements for eligibility. It is best to look into the specifics of each program on the website itself. However, in order to give direct hindsight or the bare minimum of eligibility requirements, let us focus on the exclusions when it comes to eligibility.

It is important to take note that these applications can be done by an individual or an organization. The most basic eligibility requirement for application is that applicants, regardless of individual or organization, should not forward any political or religious inclinations in their respective exchange programs. Also, applicants should not be a member of any governmental organization or any organizations that receive direct support from the Japanese government or any national government included in the list of Japan Foundation. Another requirement for application is the bank account. Individuals and organizations should have a current bank account where the Japan Foundation can give the funding support.

※ The Japan Foundation, "General Instructions" 


Japan Foundation is a great platform where cultural exchange and international awareness can be fostered. Its vast program offerings with its respective inclusions would certainly incite huge interest for people who are engrossed with Japanese culture and way of life. The way it approaches the internationalization project of the Japanese government is noble in itself as it opens opportunities for a wider set of beneficiaries.

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