Establishment of Global Japan Office at VMU

On March 13, 2017, Global Japan Office (GJO) was established at Vytautas Magnus University. This is to become the first center of this kind in Eastern Europe and in the Baltics. Global Japan Office is to be coordinated by Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS).

Global Education and Investment in the Partnerships

“This is not only an important step in the development of partnership between Japan and Lithuania, but also an incredible intercultural exchange opportunity for students from these countries”, VMU Rector Prof. Juozas Augutis stated. The Rector expressed his gratitude to the Japanese embassy in Lithuania and in particular to the Ambassador Toyo Shigeeda for their support and cooperation.

During the establishment ceremony, Japanese Ambassador in Lithuania greeted the guests in Lithuanian: “I believe that both VMU with its strong social sciences and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies with its humanistic ideas, development of internationalization, and intercultural exchange, will become a great academic network between Japan and Lithuania”, the diplomat T. Shigeeda said.

According to the ambassador, each time he visits VMU, he gains positive energy and is pleased to note the fact that VMU is known not only in neighboring countries but also in Japan for its promotion of East Asian Studies.”Today the establishment of GJO reminds that most important Japanese investments should be focused not only on economy, culture, but most importantly on education, because this way, I hope, Lithuania may considered Japan as an important partner in East Asian, as Japan estimates Lithuania as one of its partners in Europe “, Japanese Ambassador in Lithuania T. Shigeeda said.

For this occasion, the Director of Administration of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Prof. Hirashita, arrived to GJO establishment ceremony from Japan. In his welcoming speech Prof. Hirashita expressed his gratitude to the head of the Center for Asian Studies and coordinator of GJO in Lithuania Dr. Aurelius Zykas for his contribution to Japanese studies in Lithuania. In addition, he assured that he represents the university in Japan, which is recognized as one of the best universities in the land of the Rising Sun and the world, one of its the key priorities is dissemination of the Japanese “voice” in the world. “We do seek to establish branches of Global Japan Office in different regions in the world and support ongoing cultural and academic activities; within ten years, starting from 2014, we are planning to set up 38 centers in various parts of the world”, Prof. Hirashita identified the future activities.

The Director of Administration of TUFS also presented the Joined educational program, which combines Japanese language students of pedagogy and Japanese language students at VMU. “There will also be professional cooperation between academic communities of both universities and organization of social events on Japanese culture, as well as additional educational Japanese language classes in order to enhance cross-cultural and global education”, the Director of Administration introduced their activities and aspirations for the future.


VMU is Among the Leaders of Japanese Studies in the Baltics

“It is gratifying that VMU has been invited to join the most prestigious universities of the world”, the coordinator of GJO, the head of the Centre for Asian Studies at VMU Dr. A. Zykas said. He also expressed the hope that establishment of GJO would improve absorption of projects initiated in Japan, as well as the proposed funding for the development of Japanese studies. According to the coordinator, this decision was reached due to the Centre’s extensive contribution to Japanese studies.

“Over the last decade, MVU has become the leader of Japanese studies in the Baltic countries. Here, more than 100 students are studying the Japanese language, we have as many as 16 partners in Japan, and this is the “birthplace” of the first comprehensive Lithuanian-Japanese dictionary. For me personally the establishment of Global Japan Office at VMU is the greatest evaluation of work done by our team”, Dr. A. Zykas explains.

Global Japan Office is a network of centers developed and coordinated by Tokyo University of Foreign Studies around the world, which aims at contributing to the development of Japanese studies. In 2014 TUFS was acknowledged as one of the Top Global Universities in Japan, and it has been granted an exclusive right to build such a network. Until last year, 11 GJO were established around the world, and they are hosted by most prestigious universities in the world, such as University of London (with the largest center for Asian studies in Europe – SOAS), University of Salamanca, Cairo University, Shanghai International Studies University, Tamkang University, etc.

Before the establishing ceremony, the Rector of VMU J. Augutis and Director of Administration of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Prof. Hirashita signed the agreement of cooperation between the two universities. From Japan to GJO establishment ceremony several TUFS representatives arrived: Professor K. Numano and Dr. Eiko Sakurai, who is the only Lithuanian language lecturer at TUFS University. At the time of signing the agreement, which was attended by representatives of VMU, Rector Prof. J. Augutis remembered that the first international agreement of VMU was signed with Japan.

The negotiations on GJO development between VMU and TUFS were conducted for three years. In 2015, the negotiations were marked by the official visit by the VMU Rector Prof Zigmas Lydeka and delegation. TUFS is one of the few universities in Asia providing Lithuanian language studies, and Lithuanian language teacher, Dr. Eiko Sakurai contributed much for the establishment of GJO.