International Youth Exchange

By Ren Hiraoka

It is like we are in another world. I hear high-pitched voices sing “YocchoreYocchore” to the traditional Yosakoi song at the party in the hotel. The members of International Youths of Kochi are dancing “YOSAKOI” with Vietnamese and Latvian. “KOCHI IYEO” is giving an opportunity, challenging something, to youth.  

“I want to give a chance to youths,” Mr. Masaya Maeda said, who he is the leader of Kochi IYEO.  

The members of IYEO are people who have participated in the program hosted by the Japanese Cabinet Office. They hold the Ship for World Youth Program, the Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program, and others, six programs in total for developing outstanding global leaders are responsible for the next generation. This program often said as “Life-changing experience.” “Opportunities are everywhere on the ship.”  

Kochi IYEO started in 1961 at the same time as the establishment of IYEO. There are around 100 people in this association. There are three aims of them are “Contribution to global understanding and international friendship,” “Contribution to society” and “Interaction amongst the members.” It serves the foundation of these things are “to develop coming generation global leaders.” They are contributing by giving the international exchange program in Kochi.  

They hold the Global Youth Leader Forum (GYLDF) on 12th August every year and held the International Youth Development Exchange Program (INDEX) in October last year.  

GYLDF is one of the most significant events and held in quite a considerable scale with more than 200 participants from other prefecture and even countries. As a content, there is the World Tour at the midmorning, which is an introduction to other countries by foreign people. And then, some section meetings start after lunch.  

In the World Tour program, exchange university students, trainees of JICA, youths participated exchange program hosted by the Japanese Cabinet Office, and foreign people who live/visit in Kochi and others do a presentation for 15 minutes, divided into each group. Presenters have practiced hard many times for this by 12th August. This is why all presentations can feel/experience the country and the program. Participants tour some booth presentation.  

They surrounded Yumi, a Japanese Argentine from Argentina who is a trainee of JICA. In her presentation, she said, “follow me.” Then she started snapping her fingers rhythmically. And they watch and imitate her is dancing. This dance is a simple chacarera, an ethnic dance of Argentina. It is said the birthplace was Santiago del Estero in northwest Argentina. It had an Argentine atmosphere floating around here.  

This forum has been making, focused on high school student, for they have hidden potential with youth power, Mr. Maeda said. Through this forum, many youths could get confidence in oneself.  

INDEX 2018 brought 51 participants from 6 invited countries (Austria, Chile, Latvia, and Vietnam) to Japan. Vietnam and Latvia delegations were sent to Kochi Prefecture from 29th September to 3rd October. 

A youth from Vietnam, she said, “One day, I came across an online post of recruiting participants to attend the INDEX Program 2018 in Japan from a page of the Vietnam Youth Union. After reading the program information and requirements, I felt interested in it and wished to be part of it.” She guessed this program would be a great chance to get to know and learn more from others through sharing her knowledge, experience and learn more from the fellows to open her mind while being in an international environment. Then, she officially became one of the seven members of the Vietnam delegation. 

On 29th September, a lecture: “Career formation and intelligence literacy on diversity by Ryoma Sakamoto” was given by Mr. Maeda at the community center. The Iwakura Mission voyaged to the United States and Europe conducted between 1871 and 1873, in the Meiji period. The purpose was to make preparations for treaty revisions and to conduct an investigation of various countries’ institutions and cultures. A ship carrying the mission consisted of some 50 members and accompanied by 50 students. Their program, the International Youth Exchange Program, is based on this action. The fountainhead of this movement is Ryoma Sakamoto’s idea, Mr. Maeda thinks. 

During “Multicultural society,” which is one of the course discussion programs, they learned about Japanese culture and traditions, comparing Latvian and Vietnamese them in a typhoon, on 30th September. Notably, the topic of the death penalty and LGBT marriage are not still allowed in Japan, Vietnam, and Latvia, so they engaged in an in-depth discussion.  

On 2nd October, before the return date, the farewell party was held at Tosa Gyoen. Participants of Japanese, Vietnamese, and Latvian showed dance or song of their own country. Japanese Participants did Yosakoi dancing with everyone in a circle three times. Each culture was functioning at the place without mixed at this time. And at the end of the party, everyone reluctant to part with all, making an exchange parting gift or talking. 

This program was managed thanks to many unsung people, KOCHI IYEO staff/member and hide things what a lot of chance for taking on a challenge.  

In our era, human being, material, and money quickly come and go in the world. According to Kochi Prefecture, the number of foreign residents transition data, it is inchmeal increased the number of 3,348 in 2013 to 4,332 in 2017 as an index of synthesis. Also, according to preliminary figures by JNTO, Visitor Arrivals, and Japanese Overseas Travelers from January to Jun 2018 and 2019, Visitor Arrivals were 16,633,600 in 2018 compared with 15,899,063 in 2018. The rate of increase is 4.6%. On the other hand, Japanese Overseas Travelers, who is the number of 8,783,483, moved to other countries in 2018. In 2019, this number slightly rose to where it is at 9,542,400. These number is forecast to continue increasing for the future. These data indicate Globalization is gradually progressing. 

GYLDF is going to be also held this year. Furthermore, Mexico and Philippines youths coming to Kochi by INDEX are decided. It would become essential things what human resource development in the globalization society. I am sure Kochi IYEO play an essential role. They would continue causing a stir in Kochi. 

“If we came to Kochi with our suitcases full with different gifts, we returned home with suitcases full of new knowledge and experience.” 


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