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VIETNAM ASSOCIATION OF JAPAN ALUMNI OF 20 YEARS BUILDING THE BRIDGE OF DEVELOPMENT & FRIENDSHIP (2001 – 2021)

“May is full of red Flamboyant flowers covering the sky…”  is also a month of overflowing emotion for those who are pursuing a career in the schools or reminiscing about the exciting pupil, student ages.

For the community of Vietnamese alumni in Japan, this May 2021 carries great meaning and brings special emotions. This May, our Vietnam Association of Japan Alumni has just turned 20 years old, marking a big step forward on the path of building a bridge of development and friendship between Vietnam and Japan. 

On May 10, 2001, the Vietnam Association of Japan Alumni was established under Decision No. 12/QDVN-NB of the President of the Vietnam – Japan Friendship Association, and the Association’s Launching Ceremony was held on May 19, 2001. The Association is a member organization of the Vietnam – Japan Friendship Association, whose English name is Vietnam Association of Japan Alumni, abbreviated to VAJA and its Japanese name is ベトナム元日本留学生協会. The establishment of the Association is the result of a long and enthusiastic campaign of the typical alumni who were active in goodwill and were completely voluntary. With that itself as a member organization of the Vietnam – Japan Friendship Association, the Vietnam Association of Japan Alumni is not only an organization connecting the community of former students but also itself carries an important responsibility in contributing to the expansion and strengthening of activities of the Vietnam – Japan Friendship Association, contributing to the cause of the people’s diplomacy in accordance with the guidelines of the Party and State.

Introduce Ceremony of VIETNAM ASSOCIATION OF JAPAN ALUMNI (VAJA), 2001, 105A Quan Thanh, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi
Mr. Nghiem Vu Khai – The First President of the Association (2001- 2003) attended the meeting of ASCOJA with Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro (January 11, 2002, in Bangkok, Thailand)
Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Binh – The President of the Association  (2003 – 2013 period) at a meeting with Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in Japan (2014)
Mrs. Ngo Minh Thuy – The President of the Association (From 2013 to present) and members of the Executive Committee took a photo with the former Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo (2017-2018)

In addition, the activities of the Association are increasingly practical and bring many benefits to the Association’s members in particular and to Vietnamese youth in general: In the past 20 years, the Association has sent nearly 70 High school pupils to Japan to participate in the field trip of JUNIOR exchange programs, dozens of the students to Japan for the short-term exchanges, selected and introduced more than 30 graduate students and postgraduate students to Japan to study under the scholarship program of the Japanese government, selected and introduced nearly 20 young PhDs who are former alumni to Japan to study under the post-doctoral research program under the Toshiba International Foundation, etc… The Association has also welcomed and hosted dozens of Japanese students to exchange and participate in homestays in Vietnam. The dozens of meetings, seminars, exhibitions… organized by the Association are also helpful to Association’s members maintaining cultural or professional exchange relationships with Japan and Southeast Asian countries, helping Vietnamese youth to understand more about Japan and Japanese education. It is a pleasure that the agencies of the Japanese and Vietnamese governments increasingly trust and entrust the Association to host the important programs, events and activities, and many businesses and organizations have become or are looking forward to becoming an Association’s partner. And it is also very proud that we always complete the tasks well, not disappointing the agencies, businesses, and organizations who have trusted us.

VAJA cooperating with the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam to organize an exchange of study experiences in Japan with the students who are about to study abroad in Japan under the Government scholarships
The 8th KAKE Academy Cup International Japanese Speech Contest, 2018 (VAJA co-organized continuously for 6 years)
Picture of the students in a Junior program in Japan
Toshiba International Foundation scholarship recipients during a research fellowship certification session in Japan

For the Association growing and operating effectively as today, it is thanks to the great attention from the government agencies of the two countries: the Central Committee for the External Relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam, The Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations, The Vietnam – Japan Friendship Association, The Embassy of Japan in Vietnam, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT), The Japan Foundation, Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)  and many other agencies and organizations.

At the beginning of the Association’s establishment, the Executive Committee of the first term (2001 – 2004 year) only gathered 13 representatives of the first generation of former alumni. The number of members is also rather limited to about 120 people, mainly located in the North. In the terms of The Second (2024-2007), The Third (2007-2010), and The Fourth terms (2010-2013), the number of Executive Committee members have merely increased gradually to 14 -17 people. The number of members has also gradually increased from 400 people at the end of The Second term to 950 people at the end of The Fourth term. Along with the growth of the number of former international students from Japan, the increase in the types of activities as well as the prestige and results of the activities that have been held over the Association’s terms, the number of members in The Fifth terms (2013 – 2016), The Sixth term (2026 – 2019) has increased rapidly from about 1200 people at the end of The Fifth terms to 1850 people at the end of The Sixth term. At The Seventh Congress for the term 2019 – 2024, based on the reality of the number of alumni and the development requirements of the Association as well as the capacity of the member development, the Congress decided to strive for additional admission to bring the number of Club members by the end of the term to more than 2200 people. Due to the requirement to strengthen the activities, the number of Executive Committee members has also been adjusted to 35  from The Fifth term  to 37 people in The Seventh term. The composition of the Executive Committee from an admittance a very limited number of the representatives of the Central and Southern regions in the first terms has now been attended by an appropriate number of the members representing the groups of former students by the locations across the country such as in Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Da Nang, Can Tho, Thai Nguyen. There are also representatives of the alumni clubs of some Japanese universities such as Fukuoka University, Kyushu University, Handai, Niigata… Simultaneously, the composition of the Executive Committee also includes the representatives of many important professions which were trained in Japan.

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Some pictures of the Association Executive Committee at the congresses

In the course of 20 years of persistence, step by step growth in organization and operation, the Association (VAJA) has been active in performing its functional roles, gradually advancing step by step in taking on and promoting the roles important in the international relationships and exchanges so as to promote and speed up the international cooperation activities in culture, education, economy, and society, continuing to contribute to the development of the national human resources, build people’s diplomacy and strengthen the friendship between Vietnam and Japan.

VAJA leaders in an annual meeting of ASCOJA and ASJA in Japan
VAJA leaders and members meeting with Mr. Kishida Fumio – The Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan

VAJA has received great attention and support from Japanese agencies. Japanese political delegations visiting Vietnam often take their time to interact with representatives of the Executive Committee and members of the club, in which the most memorable memory is when the 14 members of VAJA were invited to join the welcome group to welcome Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress when The Emperor visited Vietnam in the Spring of 2017.

VAJA President Mrs Ngo Minh Thuy and VAJA representatives meeting with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress in Van Mieu, Hanoi (March 2017)

The Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan in Vietnam from different periods have spent their time talking, meeting, and interacting with the Executive Committee and VAJA members.

Representative of the Executive Committee of the Association taken a photo with Ambassador Hattori Norio at the 3rd Congress
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Representative of the Executive Committee of the Association meeting with Ambassador Sakaba Mitsuo
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Representative of the Executive Committee of the Association meeting with Ambassador Tanizaki Yasuaki
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Representative of the Executive Committee of the Association meeting with Ambassador Fukada Hiroshi
Representative of the Executive Committee of the Association meeting with Ambassador Umeda Kunio
Representative of the Executive Committee of the Association meeting with Ambassador Yamada Takio

As the role of Japan alumni participating in the international organizations, VAJA was from an observer member of the Council of ASEAN Alumni Associations in Japan (ASCOJA) at the 14th Congress of ASCOJA in 2001 in the Philippines, after its continuous and effective activities, VAJA was proposed to consider by the ASCOJA Council and became an official member of ASCOJA since 17th Congress in 2007. From 2008 to 2019 at the next ASCOJA congresses, VAJA always sent delegations to fully and actively attend the annual ASCOJA Congresses and ASJA – ASCOJA Symposium in Southeast Asia countries. Also since then, the President of VAJA has been both a representative of VAJA at ASCOJA and a Director of ASJA International under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. As a result, since 2007, VAJA has been actively involved in the consideration and sending of the candidates to study Masters and Ph.D. in Japan under the annual ASJA/MEXT scholarship program. 

Some pictures of The Association members attending the events of VAJA, ASCOJA and ASJA

Since 2008, the activities to connect and introduce the typical students, alumni, and students who have qualified and aspire to exchange and study in Japan have been actively organized by VAJA. Up to now, VAJA has helped hundreds of pupils, students, and doctoral students have the opportunity to exchange, study and research in Japan under the programs sponsored by the Japanese Government. Not only limited to the content of introducing, nominating, and recommending the students and Ph.D. students, VAJA also cooperates with the Japan Student Support Organization (JASSO) under the Japanese MEXT to successfully organize the annual Japanese Education Conference named “Study in Japan Fair” in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City which were serving as a connecting bridge to wing the dream of studying abroad in Japan of thousands of Vietnamese students. By the initiative of VAJA, every year since 2015, in Southeast Asian countries, the Alumni Associations of the countries in turn host the seminars with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, in which VAJA has honored hosted the first symposium titled “JAPAN – ASEAN International Symposium on Education (JASE) for the first time, then JASE for the second time in 2018.

Tổ chức "Hội thảo du học Nhật Bản Jasso 2017" | Đại sứ quán Nhật Bản tại Việt  Nam
JASSO Việt Nam – JASSO Việt Nam
Some pictures of the Japanese Education Conference co-organized by JASSO and VAJA every year

With its role and prestige, VAJA successfully organized the 2012 ASCOJA Congress in Hanoi on the right 45th anniversary of ASEAN and the 35th anniversary of ASCOJA; VAJA was the Chairman of the 20th ASCOJA Congress in Hanoi from September 6-9, 2013 on the occasion of the 40 years of ASEAN-Japan relations and 40 years of Vietnam-Japan diplomatic relations.

ASCOJA 20th Conference in 2013

In addition to the regular activities of selecting and introducing pupils, students, and doctoral students to participate in the field trip and training courses in Japan, each year according to the plans of a number of the educational and training authorities of Japan, VAJA has also expanded its activities by participating in the cooperation agreements in implementing the internship programs for hundreds of students. Joining the Toshiba International Foundation in implementing a research scholarship program for Vietnamese young researchers for 20 PhDs in 5 years from 2015-2019. Since 2018, VAJA has been selected by the Embassy of Japan as the center for introducing each year high school students to participate in the Kakehashi program (studying in Japan for 6-10 months), and the JENESYS program in Japan.

Some photos of the exchange delegations of JUNIOR program students over the years

in Hiroshima Prefecture in 2011
in Hiroshima Prefecture in 2012
in Hiroshima Prefecture in 2013
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in Hiroshima Prefecture in 2014
in Gifu Prefecture in 2015
in Gunma Prefecture in 2016
in Nagoya city in 2017
in Shizuoka Prefecture in 2018
Pictures of VAJA in Japan in the TYCA exchange program
Vietnamese delegation participating in TYCA exchange program 2019
Participating in the farewell party to the students of the Kakehashi program on the way at the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam

Not only limited to the activities of participating in the international education, training, cultural and social exchanges as above, VAJA also regularly attaches importance to the foreign affairs with the Embassy of Japan, a number of Japanese economic, cultural, and educational agencies in Vietnam and especially keep relationships with the Japanese professors and universities. Organizing the exchanges on appropriate occasions, participating in the farewell ceremony of students going to Japan to study abroad, regularly exchanging the related contents in its activities… In particular, on the 35th, 40th, and 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Japan, and the National Day of Japan, VAJA always actively organizes appropriate activities to strengthen the friendship between organizations and people of the two countries.

The Executive Committee of VAJA is deeply aware that, in the terms of the friendly relationship between Vietnam and Japan, which has had a development process of nearly 50 years and is on a very good development track, bringing benefits to the people of the two countries, with its roles and functions being shown step by step and strong progress in the past 20 years, VAJA fully believes that it is necessary and can do better in its role in contributing to the cause of human resource development, to the cause of people’s diplomacy and to strengthening the friendship between Vietnam and Japan.

On this occasion, with the proud achievements in performing our functional roles in the past 20 years, we would like to sincerely thank all the agencies and organizations for their support and assistance to the Association. We also would like to express our gratitude to the seniors who founded, led the construction, and created the initial steps for the Association’s activities. During the past 20 years, you have always stood by the next generation of leaders to help the Association to achieve the continuing success up to now. And, finally, thanks to all the members of the Association who have always supported and participated enthusiastically in the Association’s activities and have always believed in the VAJA Board of Directors from time to time. We hope that you will continue to participate in VAJA’s activities, so that our Association can develop more and more, contributing to bringing the images of the country and people of Vietnam to international friends, especially Japan and Southeast Asian countries.

Best wishes to all of you and your family with good health, happiness, and success.

Hanoi, May 19, 2021

VAJA Communication Department

VIETNAM ASSOCIATION OF JAPAN ALUMNI OF 20 YEARS BUILDING THE BRIDGE OF DEVELOPMENT & FRIENDSHIP (2001 – 2021)
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