The annual Sasakawa Fellows Awards Ceremony was held on 28 September for students in the Class of 2020 whose fellowships are funded by The Nippon Foundation. With the 27 Fellows in the Class of 2020, the total number of Sasakawa Fellows now stands at 660 from more than 70 countries. A record number of 31 students in the Class of 2021 are funded by the Foundation as Sasakawa Fellowship Students.
Dr Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, and members of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation that administers the fellowship programme, joined the ceremony remotely from Japan due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The students and WMU faculty and staff gathered in the WMU Sasakawa Auditorium.
Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, WMU President, addressed the gathering and thanked The Nippon Foundation for their continued support to the University which has been ongoing since 1987. She stated that “the Class of 2020 will go down in the history of the University, as a group of splendid individuals, who have all shown reserves of resilience, bravery, commitment and tenacity”. She referred to the honour the students have of being Sasakawa Fellows and the expectations it entails.
Dr Sasakawa congratulated the graduands, emphasizing the important role they will play as members of the Sasakawa Fellows’ Network, working together across sectors, professions, race and national borders. He encouraged them to use the knowledge and experience they have gained at WMU to unlock the new potential of the ocean saying, “The mission that you are tasked with, as maritime experts, is immense. Let us work together to put all our efforts in solving the numerous issues of the ocean on hand.”
The WMU Sasakawa Fellows Programme provides a global network to enable the Fellows to support their countries in addressing maritime policy challenges and to develop excellence in leadership as well as promote international cooperation. “Share the Pain. Share the Hope. Share the Future,” reflects The Nippon Foundation’s mission of social innovation to achieve a society where people support one another.
Following the meeting with Dr Sasakawa, the students were addressed by Mr Eisuke Kudo, Advisor for the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) and WMU Governor, and Mr Takeshi Mizunari, Research Fellow, Ocean Education Division, Policy Research Department of SPF. Mr Kudo emphasized the importance of making connections with other Sasakawa Fellows, while at WMU, and beyond, to advance the global network.
The meeting concluded with Fellows in the Class of 2020 representing the seven specializations of the MSc in Maritime Affairs welcoming the incoming Sasakawa Fellowship Students, some of whom were in attendance personally, with others joining via video conferencing.
Established within the framework of the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, WMU’s mission is to be the world centre of excellence in postgraduate maritime and oceans education, professional training and research, while building global capacity and promoting sustainable development.
About The Nippon Foundation’s Support to WMU
The Nippon Foundation’s contributions to WMU began in 1987 with providing fellowships for WMU students. The WMU Sasakawa Fellowship Programme began in 1988. The Nippon Foundation is the largest fellowship donor to the University, providing 30 new awards on an annual basis.
In addition to providing Fellowships, The Nippon Foundation usually hosts a week-long field study to Japan, although this could not take place in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2001, SPF has regularly hosted Regional Network Meetings for WMU Sasakawa Fellows. The Nippon Foundation further supports the capacity building mission of WMU by substantially funding the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, as well as funding five Professorial Chairs, an Associate Professor and numerous conferences and events connected with WMU.