2020 Activity Report

March Activity Report

31 March 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

Pic: screenshot of participants from UP and Sophia University

Online Book Discussion

Sophia University in Japan and the University of Pretoria (UP) had an online book discussion which was held on 16 March 2021.

For the event a book entitled “Convenience Store Woman” was the topic of discussion.

The book was originally written in Japanese and translated into English. Students were given the electronic version of the book to read well in advance and in time for the discussion.

Three students from the University of Pretoria and four students from Sophia University participated. A Professor from Sophia University was the lecturer who guided this discussion.

The session went on for over one and a half hours and was really interesting for all the participants. The entire CJS staff members were also present as observers. It was truly wonderful to see that students across cultures who might appear so different were in fact sharing similar ideas. One comes to realise that the internet is a wonderful tool and that with video conferencing platforms the world is indeed shrinking and that we are much more connected than we realise.

It was truly a great opportunity for students from both sides of the globe to interact and we hope that they further strengthen the bonds created and keep in touch with each other.

We can only hope that other Japanese universities follow and take the initiative to approach colleagues at UP for similar discussions in different fields.

Kick-off Event Inter-University Exchange Project (Africa), “Past and Future of the Exchange Programs in Africa and TUFS”

Professor Shinichi Takeuchi and Ms Chihiro Kumashiro, the coordinator of the project from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies launched a kick-off event for the Inter-University Exchange Project with universities in Africa.

The event took place on 25 March at 09h00 South African time. The extensive program included introductions of their institutions from the University of Ghana, University of Pretoria, University of Stellenbosch, University of Zambia and Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (Rwanda)

Various students who had benefited from the exchange program made a short presentation and answered questions put to them. A booklet with a few of the recent exchange students’ experiences in countries in Africa from TUFS in Japan and of African students’ experiences of their stay at TUFS was also made available

We have no doubt that this event will be most interesting and will encourage more students to partake in the exchange program with TUFS.

Good News from Japan for the whole world

Last week all the television news channels all across South Africa broke the news that Japan had decided that they will indeed hold the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games later this year.

In the dreary atmosphere of the Covid-19 pandemic, this news was like a ray of sunshine bursting through the dark clouds.

Sports is indeed a great common denominator that unites people of all casts and creeds around the world and the Olympic games are the highlight of this great bridging divide. Each of us have our favourite sporting events that we like to watch and this year we believe that sumo wrestling by women will be showcased…at least we hope so.

Despite no spectators being allowed to visit Japan for the event we will all be glued to our television sets to watch this epic event and what most of us look forward to is the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies. We can no doubt expect a phenomenal display from Japan.

February Activity Report

28 February 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

Pic: Students engaged in the Sophia University Online Study Tour

Virtual Exchange Program

The University of Pretoria (UP) together with Sophia University in Japan embarked on the first ever virtual exchange program for UP.

Four students in total participated in this event, two from UP and two from Sophia University. The Sophia University students were welcomed by the Acting Director of the Centre for Japanese Studies at UP, Professor Hennie Stander who also gave an Introduction to UP.

The students were also presented with an online lecture by Dr Nshimbi from UP on South African Economics and Society. This was followed by a discussion by the students from both the universities. The Sophia University students gave glowing feedback on their experience.

This was followed by a meeting by the Sophia Students with the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) in South Africa of which two staff member from JICA are placed at Centre for Japanese Studies (CJS) to assist the University. The session focused on South Africa and Sophia University students expressed interest in coming to South Africa as volunteers.

This virtual exchange was a huge success by all accounts. The full program was from 8 February to 19 February 2021 and was organized by a company called Edu Africa based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Edu Africa have been bringing Sophia University students for a few years now and CJS has been Organising lectures and tours of the University campus. This is the first year that the program was virtual and it seemed to work very well.

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) MEXT 5 Year Project

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies set up a meeting with the International Cooperation Division of the University of Pretoria. This meeting was facilitated by the Centre for Japanese Studies (CJS).

Professor Shinichi Takeuchi from TUFS together with Ms Chihiro Kumashiro and other two colleagues went to great lengths to present the comprehensive MEXT 5 year plan to UP. Although the MEXT plan has been in existence for a while, Professor Takeuchi outlined some exciting new developments that would make it more attractive for UP students to apply for. This would also go a long way in easing the financial burden on South African students at UP who wished to study at TUFS.

Invited to the meeting were the relevant and key personnel of the International Cooperation Division, CJS staff members and TUFS personnel.

Future of the Exchange Programs between UP and Japanese Universities

The Centre for Japanese Studies at the University of Pretoria announced the closure of the Centre in December 2020. They are currently in the process of dis-establishing the Centre and have until June 2021 to do so.

One of the main functions of the Centre was to facilitate the exchange of students between universities in Japan with whom we have MoU’s and the University of Pretoria.

With the closure of the Centre, it was only logical that the International Cooperation Division take on this task. To this end the Management and staff of the Centre met with key personnel at the International Cooperation Division to give them a background on the situation as well as to hand over the process.

We are pleased to announce that the contact person for the exchange process at the University is:

Mr Smart M.Maqubela
Tel: +27 (0)12 420 6610
Fax: +27 (0)12 420 2605
Department of Research and Innovation
International Cooperation Division
Room 1-42, Graduate Centre Building
University of Pretoria, Private Bag X20
Hatfield 0028, South Africa

January Activity Report

31 January 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus, Admin building where the Vice-Chancellor sits, also known as the ‘Ship” because of its shape. In the background is the Humanities tall white coloured building which houses the Centre for Japanese Studies.
University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus, Biblical and Religious Studies Building
University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus, main entrance with the Humanities building in the background

New Academic Year commences for University of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria has 7 beautiful campuses each with its own character and purpose with the main one being the Hatfield Campus. The university officially closed on 23 December 2020 for the year end break and reopened on 4 January 2021. Registration opened for seniors on 5 January 2021. First year students will only be allowed to register on 1 March 2021. All registrations will take place online. While lectures only start on 15 March 2021, most lecturers use this time to plan and prepare themselves. Lots of staff especially the admin staff who were not able to take a vacation in December use this quiet time to do so.

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) Fall 2021-2022 Exchange Program

The Centre for Japanese Studies (CJS) received notification from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies that they were open for the Fall 2021-2022 Student Exchange Program.

The application deadline is 15 March 2021 so we promptly circulated the message to all our students and to our delight we were almost immediately contacted by a student who was very much interested. The Centre put her in touch with a student who went on the exchange program to TUFS and she was very pleased to be of assistance.

We hope in future that the responses grow and that our students take up these once in a lifetime experiences.

Hokkaido University 2021-2022 HUSTEP, JLCSP Exchange Program

Hokkaido University sent the Centre for Japanese Studies information on the Hokkaido University Exchange Programs 2021-2022 and Nomination sheet for our SAS/SRS 2021 Fall program.

The deadline is 12 February 2021 so the message was urgently circulated to all University of Pretoria students.

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies MEXT Research

The Student Exchange Division from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies announced that the application for the program “MEXT Research Students Program through University Recommendation” has started. The deadline is 26 February 2021.

The Centre for Japanese Studies contacted students, lecturers as well as Heads of Departments for possible candidates. Research is a key focus area for the University of Pretoria and students are encouraged to go in that direction so this is a great opportunity for our students to embark on this program.

December Activity Report

31 December 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

Pic: Dr Antony Goedhals visiting Japan
Pic: Dr Antony Goedhal’s book
Pic: Lafcadio Hearn museum in Japan
Pic: Professor Bon Koizumi at the museum next to the bust of his great grandfather, Lafcadio Hearn, flanked by his wife on the left and CJS staff member Ms Arai on the right

Final Event hosted by the Centre for Japanese Studies

The Centre for Japanese Studies (CJS) at the University of Pretoria closed its doors at the end of December 2020. In a grand finale it hosted its final event at the end of November. It was a combination of three events in one. The webinar was called the “Open mind of Lafcadio Hearn – Light from the East”.

The webinar commenced with a message from the Acting Director, Professor Hennie Stander from the Centre who spoke about the Centre, its origins and what it had achieved in the 10 years that it was operational.

The second item on the program was the book launch

Dr Antony Goedhals, a lecturer in Department of English, Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria published a book titled “The Neo-Buddhist Writings of Lafcadio Hearn-Light from the East- “ in May, 2020.

Lafcadio Hearn (Yakumo Koizumi) is a Japanese writer of Greek-Irish descent who was born in Greece on 27th June, 1850 and died in Japan on 26th September, 1904. This year is the 170th birth anniversary of Hearn.

Dr Goedhals spoke about the book and read passages from the writings.

Upon further investigation it was found that an entire museum dedicated to him existed in Japan and that his great grandson was the curator of the museum.

A staff member of CJS who is currently in Japan made contact with Professor Bon Koizumi, the great grandson of Lafcadio Hearn and arranged a trip to the museum.

The third event on the program was a talk by Professor Bon Koizumi

Professor Koizumi spoke about his great grandfather’s life and shared insights and family memories of him which was very interesting. He also loaned the Centre documents from the museum that was made available as an online exhibition to commemorate the 170th birth anniversary of Lafcadio Hearn. The exhibition ran from 20 November 2020 to 30 November 2020.

The documents were translated into English for the English viewers.

The webinar concluded with a question and answer session

The entire event was tremendously successful as CJS also arranged for simultaneous translation both in English and Japanese at the webinar. The webinar was attended by over 170 people from 22 countries across the globe!

MA admission Information for Peace and Conflict studies at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS).

The University of Pretoria was informed around 17 December 2020 that Tokyo University of Foreign Studies was offering an opportunity to its postgraduate students to further their studies on a Master’s level in the field of Peace and Conflict studies. Students wishing to apply would go through the Global Japan Office at TUFS to check their eligibility for enrollment.

There is a close bond between TUFS and the Centre for Japanese Studies as the Global Japan Office for South Africa is located at the Centre. This GJO office will remain active until the Centre is dis-established.

The Centre sent out a message to all its students in mid-December about this MA opportunity but because the students were already on recess we will send out another message in the new year(2021) and specifically to the students who have graduated with their undergraduate and honours studies.

It is a great opportunity for South African students especially at the University of Pretoria who wish to expose themselves to the wonderful culture and knowledge that Japan has to share with the world. We know from feedback that all our students who went on an exchange program to study in Japan found it a life changing experience with many of them looking for a second opportunity to do so. We are so proud of our association with TUFS and the growing interest in Japan that the Centre and GJO office created amongst South Africans and specifically UP students.

Sophia University accepts University of Pretoria for Exchange Program

Sophia University has been sending a group of about 10 students on a tour to the University of Pretoria (UP) as part of a broader tour of South Africa since 2017. Besides a campus tour and a lecture on the History of South Africa by Professor Karen Harris, there is usually also a group discussion with UP students living at a residence called Khotso House. This year due to the lockdown it event took the shape of an online discussion with students between the two universities and it was a huge success because the event was coordinated by the students themselves with CJS overseeing and ensuring that everything ran smoothly.

Sophia University then sent an invitation to UP students for two students to partake in an online exchange program in terms of an agreement with the university.

We were surprised that three students applied and all three were accepted into the program. We thank Sophia University for making this exception of allowing three students into the program.

November Activity Report

30 November 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

Oversight Committee Meeting (OCM)

Every year towards the end of the year, the Centre for Japanese Studies hosts an Oversight Committee Meeting with a Japanese delegation headed by the Embassy of Japan.

The meeting normally takes place on the premises of the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa with a dinner for the participants being hosted by the Ambassador of Japan in South Africa. But this year due to some of the participants still being in Japan, the meeting was held via Zoom.

The meeting is a very high level meeting with the Vice-chancellor of the University of Pretoria, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, the Deputy Deans as well as the Acting Director for the Centre for Japanese Studies and all the staff from the Centre.

From the Japanese side, the Minister was in attendance, the First Secretaries, the Second Secretaries, the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Japan in South Africa (CCIJ), the Executive Director of Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), the Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), it’s Chief Officer, Expert and Project Co-coordinator.

The introduction usually covers the Centre’s growth and direction as well as future plans. An overview of the activities of the Centre for Japanese Studies is presented as well as the financial reports. Any concerns about the Centre are also addressed and discussed.

Centre for Japanese Studies at University of Pretoria closes its doors.

The Executive of the University of Pretoria made a decision to close the Centre for Japanese Studies and this was officially conveyed to the members of the Oversight Committee Meeting at its annual event.

It is indeed a sad time for staff working there as they have invested a lot of time and energy in promoting the Centre and saw over the years how the Centre was growing in popularity.

Among the reasons cited was that the Centre was not financially self-sustaining and the university did not have the means to carry on providing the much needed funds to operate the Centre. Another big deciding factor was that there was no research component coming from the Centre as the Centre focused wholly on events and as a university academic research is key to its operations.

The Centre will officially close its doors at the end of December 2020 and will spend the first half of 2021 dis-establishing. They will be looking at the possibility of keeping the Japanese Language classes continuing but no further events will take place after this year.

October Activity Report

31 October 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) invite UP students

On 2 October 2020, University of Pretoria circulated an invitation to all its students that we received from the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

The invitation was to participate in the Spring 2021 Exchange Program. It was sent to all UP students promptly as the deadline is 15 November 2020. We are hoping that our students take up this wonderful opportunity to experience first-hand the ancient and magnificent culture of Japan and learn a bit of the language.

A previous UP student who was fortunate enough to attend the first ever exchange program at TUFS, Ms Wendy-Rose Govender shared great stories of her experiences of Japan and specifically at TUFS, will be published in the December 2020 report. We also encourage any prospective student who wishes to apply to contact her in this regard.

Pic; UP-TWCU Student Discussion Flyer

First time collaboration with Tokyo Christian Woman’s University (TWCU)

The University of Pretoria collaborated for the first time with Tokyo Christian Woman’s University who reached out to us for a possible event.

The online discussion was organized to promote the newly established relationship and the event took place on 29 October 2020 at 08h00 South African Standard Time and 15h00 Japan Time.

Professor Mizoguchi from the English Department at TWCU proposed a discussion on the novel “City Lovers” by Nadine Gordimer as well as on South African culture.

With the assistance of Professor Cornne Sandwith from UP’s English Department and Dr Antony Goedhals, students were invited.

The invitation went out to all UP students who were interested in exchanging their thoughts on Nadine Gordimer’s anti-apartheid short story “City Lovers” (1972) and its film adaptation “City Lovers” (1982).

From TWCU’s side, the participants were Professor Mizoguchi’s 3rd year students.

All the participants were provided were provided with the text, some short secondary sources, and a URL of the film in advance.

The discussion was attended by 23 students.

September Activity Report

30 September 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University presents

Fostering Innovation through Diversity- Japan’s demographics dynamics

By 2050 more than two-thirds of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas. This rapid increase will take place mainly in developing countries and, according to the UNDP, Africa and Asia — both still less urbanized than other regions — will have the fastest urban growth rates. The regional revitalization initiative’s aim is to reverse the concentration of the country’s population in the urban areas and to re-invigorate the economies in rural parts of the country. In these rapidly changing and unpredictable times, it’s now more crucial than ever that we are agile enough to adapt to new social trends.

This webinar plans to discuss, among other aspects, the role Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University has to play in regional revitalization as well the lessons that Japan and South Africa can learn from each other with regards to innovation and diversity.


Haruki Deguchi is the president of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University and the vice-chancellor and trustee of The Ritsumeikan Trust. He is well known as the cofounder of Lifenet Insurance, the first independent Japenese insurance company to be created in 74 years. He holds a degree in Law from the University of Kyoto and has previously lectured at Keio University and Waseda University. He has written more than 35 books and writes a monthly opinion column for The Japan Times.

Event information

Date: 19th September 10:00 (SAST)
Speaker: President Haruaki Deguchi, Ritsumeikan APU
Commentator/Moderator: Dr Chris Nshimbi, Department of Political Sciences, UP
Registration Link: https://weareapu.zoom.us/webinar/register/4415985880395/WN_nYe3ZyjXRl-Q_nHXpabM0A
For more information: Mr. Martin Manganye
Email: martin.manganye@up.ac.za

APU Webinar facilitated by Centre for Japanese Studies(CJS), University of Pretoria(UP)

The above webinar took place on Saturday 19 September 2020. The speaker was the President Haruaki Deguchi of Ritsumeikan APU.

The Vice-Chancellor of UP, Professor Tawana Kupe, the Dean of Humanities Professor Vasu Reddy as well as the Acting Director of the Centre for Japanese Studies, Professor Hennie Stander were in attendance. The webinar was a huge success.

Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) is one of the leading international universities in Japan.

・ APU has developed a bilingual education system in which 90% of undergraduate classes are held in both Japanese and English.

・ President Deguchi is a core member of governmental regional revitalization committee

・ APU has received international students from 155 different countries and regions since its inception.

Dr Nshimbi, a lecturer at UP in the Humanities Faculty and also the moderator of the webinar, as well as CJS staff member Mr Martin Manganye also studied in APU.

Pic; Some of the students who participated in the online discussion and agreed to be photographed

UP holds online Students discussion with Sophia University

In 2019, students from Sophia University visited the University of Pretoria and the tour was such a huge success that word got around and another group arrived at the University in February 2020.

Due to the lockdown, CJS decided to arrange an online discussion with Sophia University students and students at the University of Pretoria.

The discussion was most interesting as can be seen from the question in the poster and we had coordinators from both universities. The participants from UP all of whom live at the university residence called House Khutso which is an all female residence overlooked by Professor Lise Korsten who specializes in Food Security.

Study in Japan Fair

The Study in Japan Fair took place from 14 to 18 September 2020. This is initiative that is run by Hokkaido University, Zambia branch.

Last year CJS assisted them to present this fair at the Fortis Hotel in Hatfield which was just down the road from the Main Hatfield campus of the University of Pretoria.

The event was such a huge success and drew such a large crowd that the venue was so packed to capacity there was no sitting or standing place. We had to turn large crowds of people away and encouraged them to visit our Centre after the event where we could share the pamphlets with them.

This year, due to Covid-19 virus, the fair was held online for a whole week.

ABE Initiative

African Business Education (ABE) Initiative is for Masters and PhD Program and Internship Program for Youth from Africa.

The ABE Initiative Scholarship is now Open! For information kindly access the link.

Link: https://www.up.ac.za/centre-for-japanese-studies


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the commencement of the ABE Initiative at the Fifth Tokyo Conference on African Development (TICAD V) held in Yokohama, Japan, in 2013. The ABE Initiative aims to develop human resources in both public and private sectors. More than 1,400 participants from all the 54 countries have joined the program since 2014 The program has provided African youths with opportunities to study at Japanese universities and to work at Japanese enterprises.

Eligible Applicants:

The ABE Initiative aims at fostering leaders with proven ability to contribute towards Africa’s development in collaboration with the Japanese private sector. JICA is looking for prominent young South African nationals who are or anticipating to be involved in industrial development activities in both public and private sectors, and who have strong motivation to strengthen economic ties between South Africa and Japan.

August Activity Report

31 August 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

Pic: Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum housed in this Matsue Castle in Matsue City, Shimane Perfecture
Pic: View from the museum of the great lake Shinji, overlooking the city
Pic: Ancient relics on the grounds of the museum
Pic: street view of the hose where Lafcadio Hearn lived with his Japanese wife
Pic: Inside the museum
Pic: Prof Bon Koizumi with his wife and Ms Keiko Arai next to the bust of Lafcadio Hearn

Visit to ancient Japanese Heritage

A University of Pretoria (UP) academic wrote a book on the Neo-Buddhist writings of Lafcadio Hearn-light from the east. This prompted an interest in Lafcadio Hearn and what we found was truly amazing and mind blowing. Lafcadio Hearn was a Japanese writer who was born in Greece and grew up in Ireland. He has the great grandson, Professor Bon Koizumi from Shimane University.

CJS staff Ms Keiko Arai made contact with him. Prof Koizume is the Director of Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum. The museum is housed in what one might call an imposing structure, the Matsue castle and is designated as a National Treasure in Japan and was built in 1600. The castle is situated n Shimane Perfecture. It is one of the few medieval castles remaining in Japan.

From the top of the castle you can see one of the three great lakes of Japan, Shinji Lake. This lake overlooks the entire city.

Ms Keiko Arai went to visit the museum, met with Prof Koizumi and his wife and visited the house of Lafcadio Hearn where he lived with his Japanese wife. She took the above amazing pictures of this memorable outing. We, at CJS and South Africa are truly blessed to have been able to learn more about this fascinating history of Japan and to be able to find a living relative associated with the castle.

Centre for Japanese Studies (CJS) in South Africa hosts another Webinar with Japan

CJS hosted another webinar event on 11 August 2020 with a Professor Kosuke Shimizu of Ryukoku University in Japan. Prof Shimizu is Professor of International Relations, Department of Global Studies and Dean of Research .

The webinar was entitled “ C ovid-19 and Construction of the Self: pandemic in the era of democracy”. The event generated a fair amount of interest both between academics and students from South Africa and Japan. It was encouraging to see that the topic stimulated healthy debates all round.

The speaker and presenter Professor Kosuke Shimizu is well known to the University of Pretoria as he visited UP in 2019 to give talks on Buddhism. The Moderator of the presentation was the equally well known Professor Maxi Schoeman who is the Head of the Political Sciences Department in the Humanities Faculty of UP.

Tokyo Olympics comes to South Africa

Not only was Japan disappointed that the Tokyo Olympic Games did not take place but we South Africans were equally disappointed. More so because we could just imagine the kind of first class presentation that we would see from what many of us South Africans call the Super First World Nation of Japan.

To the delight of many South Africans we caught a glimpse of just that. Sometime in August we received via social media a video that was circulating all over this country.

This video was a most spectacular fireworks display that we have ever seen. The message to this video was that the fireworks were prepared by Tokyo for the Olympic Games but cannot be stored until 2021.

What a treat that was for the whole world to see. A mind blowing display like no other! Set against the backdrop of the gigantic Mount Fuji and what seems like the shores of a great lake.

We were enraptured and captivated by this almost 3 minute display of continuous fireworks.

Thank you Japan!

I must add that we did our bit by circulating it to all. One of the most memorable videos that we have seen so far.

July Activity Report

31 July 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

Centre for Japanese Studies (CJS) Newsletter

The long awaited Newsletter, Volume 8 from the Centre for Japanese Studies is finally available.

Much careful preparation goes into compiling this newsletter which not only goes to the Director back and forth for input and approval but also to the Language Unit for editing as well as to the Department of University Relations who ensure that we meet all criteria, standards as well as adherence to all regulations and policies of the University of Pretoria.

CJS JICA staff member, Mr Martin Manganye was responsible for the excellent publication.

We kindly request that all our readers access our website to read this as well as all our newsletters.

The link to our website is,

Centre for Japanese Studies (CJS) Hosts its First Webinar

CJS decided to do a webinar activity on the Corona virus and how the Japanese government handled the situation. We felt that it was a very good idea and that it would generate a lot of interest.

It was entitled “Covid-19 and Beyond: A perspective from Japan and South Africa.“ It was a comparison between South Africa and Japan.

We co-hosted this event with Afriasia with Professor Mine from Doushisha University. The webinar took place on Saturday 4 July 2020, 11am South African Standard Time (SAST) and 6pm Japan time.

The platform used was Zoom and because it was limited to 100 people only, preference was given to professors, academics and research students.

The talks were very interesting and we were glad to report that the event was very successful and that we plan to host many more during this lockdown period.

Japanese Language Course goes On-line

The Centre for Japanese Studies in consultation with Enterprises at UP who present our Japanese Language Course decided to take the course online to keep the program going since we were not having physical classes and the campus has been under lockdown.

The university platform called Blackboard was used to present these online lectures live with the Japanese Language students who had already enrolled for the course and the lecturer. Mr Manganye, a staff member at CJS decided to join the first class to witness first-hand how it would go.

It is presented live where students are able to interact and engage with the lecturer during the class.

We are happy to report that the initiative is very successful and we are looking into the possibility of offering this class to students from all across South Africa. Since it is the first of it’s kind in Africa we are hoping that it will grow and become even more successful in time.

June Activity Report

30 June 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

Online Japanese Language Course

Due to the Corona Pandemic, Enterprises at UP, who presents short certificate courses on behalf of the University of Pretoria, were unable to go ahead with Japanese Language Course classes decided to take the classes online on the e-learning platform.

The staff of the Centre for Japanese Studies was invited to a demonstration of how the presentation of the classes would take place. The platform chosen is called Blackboard and allows the lecturer to interact with each student and present the classes in live time.

The University of Pretoria has been using this platform for a while now. The launch of the online Japanese Language classes commenced on 26 June 2020.

We are very pleased to announce that it went off without any problems and was very well received by the students.

MoU request from Tokyo Woman’s Christian University

The Centre for Japanese Studies received a request from the Tokyo Woman’s Christian University (TWCU) for a possible comprehensive type of MoU with the University of Pretoria.

The request was well received and was referred the International Cooperation Division to take the request further.

It is very encouraging to see that more and more Japanese universities are reaching out to South Africa and specifically to the University of Pretoria.

Readers can read all about the university at


CJS was informed that by JICA that in a lead up to TICAD 7 held in Yokohama in August 2019, UNDP started to convene a monthly gathering, “AFRI CONVERSE”, to galvanize discussion on African development and TICAD as well as to promote networking among stakeholders.

A new series was started from this month both to review TICAD 7 in 2019 and prepare for TICAD 8 in 2022.

The session will be held on 26 June 2020 (17:00 Japan TIME)

lJICA and UNDP co-hosted the first AFRI-CONVERSE of 2020. This session looked into Africa’s current situation of surging innovation in the continent and boom of start-ups, looking into opportunities and challenges, with an implication of COVID-19. The discussions were around future collaborations between African startups and Japanese private sector.

Distinguished speakers were
– Akihiko Kodama, Private Sector Development Group, Economic Development Department, JICA
– James Kuria, Head of Middle East & Africa Business Development, Global Strategy Office, Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting LLC
– Shigeru Handa, Director, Asia Africa Investment and Consulting Pte Ltd

The Moderator was:
Tetsuo Kondo, Director of UNDP Representation Office in Tokyo

We think that this is a start to a great initiative that will bring the continent and Japan even closer.

School of Japan Studies

The Global Japan Office in Pretoria located at the Centre for Japanese Studies were very excited to receive information on the School of Japan Studies, the new undergraduate program which started in April 2019.

At the School of Japan Studies, Japanese and international students study together, using both English and Japanese as the media of instruction.

Those who do not have any Japanese proficiency at the time of entrance will strengthen their language ability through the Basic Japanese courses which are held intensively during the first two years.

This undergraduate program is perfect for those who wish to study in Japan, about Japan and its language, culture, society and education.

We immediately informed all our students as well as the general public through our databases.

May Activity Report

31 May 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

The University of Pretoria a ghost town

The University of Pretoria was officially closed on 26 March 2020 following the announcement of the South African government to implement a lockdown of the entire country from 26 March 2020 to 21 April 2020 and this was later extended to 31 May 2020.

The above pictures were taken by a colleague who had to retrieve a file from her office at the university.

The regulations to enter the premises are so strict that only permission from the Vice-chancellor and Principal can allow access.

Apart from the security personnel and a few cleaning staff, there is no one at the university. As you can see from the pictures above the university is completely deserted and where previously you would struggle to find parking, now the parking lots are empty.

Currently all the UP lecturing is being done online and very successfully, so we doubt if physical classes will resume anytime soon.

Pic; Mr Kota Toba from the Embassy of Japan

Embassy of Japan colleague returns to Japan

A colleague from the Embassy of Japan in South Africa, Mr Kota Toba finished his term in South Africa and returned to Japan on 16 May 2020.

Mr Toba was the Cultural Attache (Second Secretary) and his job function was to deepen the relationship between Japan and South Africa through cultural events and exchange programs like JET and MEXT at the Embassy of Japan.

The Centre for Japanese Studies worked very closely with Toba san as he was our contact person with all dealings with the Embassy.

He regularly visited our offices at the university for meetings and he accompanied new officials from the Embassy to introduce the Centre as well as the Faculty of Humanities.

He was also our go to guy whenever we needed to liaise with the Embassy.

He returned to Japan after spending 4 years in South Africa. He took up his previous office at the house of the councillors, the upper house of the parliament of Japan.

We at the Centre for Japanese Studies, thank him for all the years of great assistance, kindness and generosity that he showed us and we will miss him a lot. We wish him well going into the future!

CJS ‘s Webpage and Facebook

The Centre for Japanese Studies is pleased to announce that it has updated it’s web page with a bit of new information.

Information regarding scholarships to Japanese Universities has also been added.

We advertised the scholarship opportunities to all our students via ClickUP which is an interactive learning site that each and every student of the University of Pretoria has access to.

The face book page has a video on the Values of Japan.

We would like to encourage all our readers to please visit our website or Facebook account.

Japanese Language Course

The Centre for Japanese Studies are in consultation with Enterprises at UP who present our Japanese Language Course to present the course online for all our registered students.

Two weeks into the commencement of the course, the course had to be postponed since contact classes were no longer allowed due to the Corona virus pandemic.

All our students were eagerly awaiting the resumption of classes but since this is not going to happen soon, we have decided to present the classes using a virtual platform called the Blackboard that is available to each and every UP student.

Africa-Japan Business Women Alumni Network (JABWAN)

Ms Mpumi Maesela, Business women, South Africa was a participant from 2015 of the Africa-Japan Business Women Exchange Seminar implemented by JICA Yokohama.

Ms Maesela sought the assistance of CJS to implement an alumni programme for the Africa-Japan Business Women Exchange Seminar. There has been real progress and a positive impact by both African and Japanese women who experienced the programme.

The alumni programme aims to create a supportive community that keeps the women connected. The alumni programme shares learning from past participants on what works and what else can be done to improve.

This also to ensure that the vision and mission of Ms. Hayashi, the Mayor of City of Yokohama lives on to a bright legacy to be commended by all both Japan and African businesswomen.

HumanitiEATES 100 Recipe Book

The Dean’s office in the Faculty of Humanities started an initiative to compile a range of different recipes from the Rainbow Nation staff members.

This project was started because people were stuck in their houses and one good way to keep the spirits up was to cook up a storm with some delicious unusual recipes.

CJS’s own Ms Keiko Arai who returned to Japan contributed a traditional Japanese recipe called Temaki-sushi. And who does not love sushi!

It is colorful, hand-rolled and so simple so that you can make your own sushi at home.

Thank you Keiko, for bringing a wonderfully famous dish of Japan into our homes in South Africa.

Order of the Rising Sun

It is a matter of National Pride when a South African receives an honour from another country, in this case from Japan.

A famous South African musician, Abdullah Ibrahim received the Top Japanese Order of the Rising Sun.

According to an article in the Cape Argus – Internationally recognised jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim has been bestowed with The Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government.

Ibrahim is one of several foreign recipients of the 2020 Spring Imperial awards conferred by His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan.

Ibrahim will receive The Order of the Rising Sun in recognition of his lifetime achievement in emancipating the people of South Africa and the world through his music, as well as his contribution to Japan-South African friendship through his works, performances and profound understanding of Japanese culture and spirituality,” the Japanese embassy said in a statement.

Ibrahim, 85, has previously received South Africa’s National Order of Ikhamanga as well as numerous international awards.

Ibrahim, who started playing professionally aged 15, has consistently fought against racism and injustices.

His well-known composition, Manenberg, was loved and regarded as an informal national anthem during the time of apartheid.

He also has an intrinsic understanding of Japanese culture and spirituality through his long-time engagement with Budo, a Japanese term for “martial way”.

It refers to those disciplines with a common goal, whether it be spiritual, ethical or moral self-improvement.

Ibrahim has been conferred full mastership from the grandmaster Yukio Tonegawa of the Bujutsu Kodosoku-Kai Yakami-ryu Taijutsu, and previously owned a dojo in Cape Town.

He has performed several concerts in Japan, including at the Unesco World Heritage Site, Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto, in 2003, 2006, 2010, 2015 and 2019.

Closer to home, Ibrahim has performed in celebration of the centenary of the Japanese Consulate in Cape Town, the oldest Japanese mission in Africa, on Heritage Day in 2018.

His most recent performance in Japan was in September last year, during the Rugby World Cup.

-as per the Cape Argus (IOL)

April Activity Report

30 April 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Anita Devchand

South Africa and the University of Pretoria Officially on Lockdown

The Coronavirus affected South Africa and in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus, the South African government decided to implement a lockdown.

The University of Pretoria was officially closed on 26 March 2020 following the announcement of the South African government to implement a lockdown of the entire country from 26 March 2020 to 21 April 2020 and this was later extended to 30 April 2020.

People are not allowed to leave their homes except to buy food and other essential necessities. Not more than two family members are allowed to travel at any one time. If they do go to the supermarkets they are supposed to stand 1 meter apart. Some stores have demarcated this by placing stickers on the floor. People are not even allowed to leave their homes to jog or exercise outside or to take their dogs for a walk. Everyone who goes out in public must wear masks to cover their nose and mouths. To ensure compliance the military has been deployed to assist the police and they patrol the streets regularly.

Because a lot of the poorer communities can no longer work as gardeners and domestic workers or as vendors most of them have lost their livelihood and are without any income/money. The government is now giving them a little money like R250.00 and are also distributing food parcels but on a very limited scale.

Most other communities that have regular salaries still coming in have opened their hearts and are cooking and providing two meals a day to the informal settlements as well as to the homeless in and around their areas. These voluntary community members have built temporary shelters to house the homeless and cook and provide meals on a daily basis. They also distribute food parcels as and when they get donations from companies and individuals.

All UP students were requested around 17 April to go home and take the leave as recess. This means that the June/July recess period now falls away.

Staff members were asked to leave the campus and are required to work from home. So far this is working out quite well and we hold virtual meetings with our colleagues on a weekly basis. The downside is that we are unable to hold any events or activities or public gatherings of any nature.

Japanese Professors discouraged from coming to UP

Professor Masafumi Nagao was due to arrive in South Africa at the University of Pretoria at the beginning of April. He was however requested by the Executive of UP not to come into the country due to the Corona virus scare. At the time everyone was very uncertain on what was going to happen since this was just prior to the lockdown and in retrospect it was a very good decision.

CJS JICA Expert leaves South Africa

Mrs Keiko Arai, the JICA expert assigned to the Centre for Japanese Studies returned to Japan as the JICA office in Pretoria closed.

The Hatfield Campus of the University of Pretoria as well as the surrounding area where she stayed also became quite deserted and she was left all by herself. She then made a decision to return to Japan and spent two weeks at a hotel in Tokyo as part of a self-quarantine before returning to her parent’s home.

Japanese Exchange Student Returns to Japan

The only exchange student at the University of Pretoria from Japan had to reluctantly return to Japan amidst the call for a lockdown.

Ms Fukino Akaishi who very enthusiastically arrived at the Hatfield Campus had to leave shortly thereafter. We anxiously wait for her return as soon as the restrictions are lifted again.

The government has subsequently closed all the borders to South Africa amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Japanese Language Course

The Japanese Language Course offered by the Centre for Japanese Studies has had to suspend all lectures as no persons were allowed to gather in one place.

All classes will resume once the ban is lifted.

We are also looking into the possibility of offering an online Japanese Language course as now there seems to be a greater need than ever. We are currently exploring this idea in conjunction with the Japan Foundation and Enterprises at UP who currently run the Japanese Language Course.