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The International Youth Exchange Programs of the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan started in 1959, by launching “the Japanese Youth Goodwill Mission Program” proposed by the then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, to commemorate the royal wedding of His Majesty the Emperor, who was His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince at the time.
“The Invitation of Foreign Youth Program” started in 1962.
In 1967, “the Japanese Youth Goodwill Cruise Program” began as one of the commemorative projects of the Centennial of the Meiji Restoration. Both “the Japanese Youth Goodwill Mission Program” and “the Japanese Youth Goodwill Cruise Program” were projects which provided big dreams and hopes to many Japanese youths as the government would take the initiative to send youths overseas at a time when it was still extremely difficult for them to go abroad on their own.
In 1974, “the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP)” started, based on joint statements issued by Japan and five ASEAN countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined in 1985 followed by Viet Nam in 1996, Laos and Myanmar in 1998, and Cambodia in 2000. Youths from each country cruise on a ship and conduct activities at ports of call. The government of each ASEAN country views this program very favorably and it is considered to be a great honor to participate in the program.
In 1979, “the Japan-China Youth Friendship Exchange Program” started in order to commemorate the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China. “the Japan-Korea Youth Friendship Exchange Program” started in 1987 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea. The characteristic of these two programs is bilateral and reciprocal exchange; expenses for sending and inviting are borne by both countries.
Due to the expansion of the international role of Japan and the remarkable advancement in internationalization in various fields, the improvement of the contents of international youth exchange programs of the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan has been found necessary in order to cope with the ever-changing social environment. Thus, the first action was to reorganize and upgrade “the Japanese Youth Goodwill Cruise Program” which evolved into “the Ship for World Youth Program” in 1988. The contents of the program, which was focused on sending Japanese youth overseas, was upgraded by modifications such as more weight on the exchange between Japanese and foreign youths incorporating discussion, etc. more interactive programs.
In addition, “the International Youth Development Exchange Program” started in 1994 to commemorate the royal wedding of His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince. In this program “the Japanese Youth Goodwill Mission Program” and “the Invitation of Foreign Youth Program” were reorganized and expanded in order to foster youths with a heightened international awareness by enriching the contents of the activities.
In 2002, “the Young Core Leaders of Civil Society Groups Development Program” was launched in the aim of healthy growth of youth leaders who bear the core of social activity.