Through the years, the Sasakawa Fellowship Program under the auspices of the Nippon Foundation through the Ocean Policy Research Foundation (OPRF), has significantly supported diverse maritime pursuits of various developing countries at the World Maritime University. Resilient as ever in its efforts for capacity and network building in the maritime fields, this fellowship now has 499 Fellows (WMU Alumni) and 44 ongoing Student Fellowships (22 for S14 and 22 for S15) respectively.
The Gathering Orientation with 2014 and 2015 Fellowship was held at WMU last 26 September 2014 with no less than the Executive Director and Special Advisor of OPRF, Mr. Eisuke Kudo. This year was more historic with its first fellowship beneficiary from Tunisia in the person of Mr. Chihebeddine Badir of the Tunisian Maritime Administration who will be specializing in Maritime Safety and Environmental Management. In strongly sustaining WMU’s policies on equal opportunities for women in the field of maritime studies and employment, this year showed 6 or 27% of the total grants to countries like Japan, Myanmar, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and the Philippines.
The programme commenced with a group photo session followed by the formal orientation at the CPS Hall. Mr. Eisuke Kudo, Special Advisor of OPRF, delivered his Opening Remarks with an aide-mémoire of being grateful to the fellowship, to consistently give best efforts to the academic requirements of WMU and to strongly develop friendships that will advance dynamic Sasakawa Fellows network. Subsequently, Mr. Shinichi Ichikawa from OPRF presented the evolution of Sasakawa Fellowship Program in relation with the Nippon Foundation, OPRF and the Japan Motorboat Racing. Associate Professor Michael E. Manuel, Head of the Maritime Education and Training specialization and holder of one of the three Nippon Foundation-funded chairs at WMU, likewise rendered his message focusing on encouraging students to take advantage of all the vast knowledge, skills and experiences at WMU with the fellows. This was followed by the students’ introduction, presentation on Specialization Courses by the graduating class and group discussion on the future networking sustainability.
The discussions revealed that the Sasakawa Fellows’ individual linkages and collective commitments promises an improved regional and global cooperation on various maritime issues significantly on safety and security, improved training and development programs, human resource management and reliable access to vital information especially during maritime emergencies. Maximizing the potential of ICT in the network will further allow members to take on its dynamic responsibility in mainstreaming focal activities and collaboration of best maritime practices to their respective organizations.
Believing that a comprehensive and global standpoint is necessary to deal with the diversity and complexity of ocean problems, education and training continue to be the valuable underpinning instrument of developing and enhancing deeper international cooperation and capacity development by the OPRF. With the fast-growing and increasing demands of the global maritime industry, the valuable lessons acquired by deserving students through these scholarships will allow them to value the different aspects in the maritime community. As such, the Sasakawa Fellows will be able to propagate dynamic social awareness and responsibility as they afford important direction in ocean affairs through their respective posts in the government, non-government organizations, and academia. Further, the overall goal to mobilize knowledge becomes more achievable with the integrated Sasakawa Fellows networking.
Indeed, the ocean depends so much on us—on how we nurture and sustain this great gift pristinely and peacefully. As we continue fostering better accord and collaboration through Sasakawa, the greater blessings of goodwill, safe and cleaner seas, regional stability and stronger global maritime economy is truly within reach! Guided by OPRF’s philosophy of “Coexistence with the Ocean”, together let us thrive and be bliss!