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Youth policy cooperation between Germany and Japan has a long tradition that goes back to a cultural treaty that was signed in 1957 between the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan. The first organised youth exchanges between Germany and Japan took place already between 1953 and 1964.

In 1964 young Germans went on an 'Olympia-Fahrt', a trip that later led to the establishment of an official youth exchange programme under the name 'Japanfahrt der deutschen Jugend / Deutschlandfahrt der japanischen Jugend' that was supported by the governments in both countries - in Japan by MONBUSHU, in Germany by the then Ministry for Family and Youth. In 1971 this bilateral programme was extended to include an exchange scheme for experts, executed by IJAB and WYVEA on behalf of the competent ministries in these two countries.

The exchange scheme ('Deutsch-Japanisches Studienprogramm') was run uninterrupted by IJAB on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) in cooperation with its Japanese partner organisation until 2004. Following intense discussions between the two youth ministries (BMFSFJ in Germany and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology/MEXT in Japan), in 2005 a new structure was adopted for the exchange scheme. The National Institution for Youth Education (NIYE) was chosen as the new partner organisation on the Japanese side.

Since then, two study programmes have existed side by side, both jointly managed by IJAB and the Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB) and both following a specific theme. Between 2005 and 2007 the priority theme was media skills for young people and protection for young people from harmful media; between 2008 and 2010, priority was given to "systems and methods for early-years development". For 2011 and 2012 the chosen theme was "cooperation between formal and non-formal education."

The German-Japanese expert exchange programmes serve as a platform for an exchange of experiences in various areas of child and youth services. This dialogue serves to encourage the further development of the child and youth services field in the agreed thematic areas, and to enable participants to identify other points of view and possible solutions to shared problems. At the same time, it contributes towards strengthening relations between Germany and Japan through regular meetings between experts and improving their understanding of the respective cultural backgrounds. Representatives of BMFSFJ and MEXT meet twice a year in order to evaluate and discuss the agenda of this cooperation. The latest set of minutes was adopted during the 2nd German-Japanese intergovernmental talks on 7 December 2012 in Bonn, when participants discussed the continuation of the German-Japanese programmes (German, Japanese).

To make use of the outcomes of the exchange with Japan in a broader context, at the bilateral talks in December 2012 it was agreed to incorporate the results of the bilateral activities between Germany and Japan in events being run in connection with various multilateral cooperation projects. For instance, it was decided to gear the activities in 2013 and 2014 towards integrating young people into society, with special emphasis on the transition from school to working life, since this creates a strong link with the multilateral cooperation project transitions and adds an international dimension to the project's European focus.

Besides IJAB and the Japanese-German Center Berlin, a number of German organisations run expert exchange programmes with their Japanese partners under this German-Japanese youth policy cooperation scheme: Bundesvereinigung Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung (BKJ), the youth hostel organisation Deutsches Jugendherbergswerk (DJH) and Deutsche Sportjugend (dsj).

In addition to the German-Japanese study programme and the expert activities in cooperation with MEXT, since 2002 the Cabinet Office of the Japanese Prime Minister has run a multilateral training programme entitled 'Young Core Leaders of Civil Society Groups Development Program' in Japan and various partner countries. Since 2008 BMFSFJ has regularly been invited to send experts on assignment to Japan and to offer corresponding exchange programmes for Japanese experts in Germany. IJAB lead-manages these programmes on behalf of BMFSFJ.

Planned activities in 2014:

  • German-Japanese expert exchange programme, 10-24 May in Japan
  • German-Japanese expert exchange programme, 5-18 October in Germany (timed to coincide with the closing conference of the multilateral cooperation project „transitions“)

Activities in 2013:

  • Expert exchange programme of the Cabinet Office of the Japanese Prime Minister: 'Social activities and community involvement', 4-19 February in Japan
  • German-Japanese study programme, 11-25 May in Japan
  • German-Japanese study programme, 24 November-7 December in Japan

Activities in 2012:

  • Expert exchange programme of the Cabinet Office of the Japanese Prime Minister: 'Social activities and community involvement', 6-21 February in Japan
  • Study programme: 'Cooperation between formal and non-formal education', 12-26 May in Japan
  • Expert exchange programme of the Cabinet Office of the Japanese Prime Minister: 'Training for youth workers', 8-16 October 2012 in Germany
  • Study programme: 'Cooperation between formal and non-formal education', 25 November-8 December in Germany.

Background information

>> Country information on Japan: www.DIJA.de, a website run by IJAB, offers general and youth policy-related information on currently 18 countries.

BildImage: Sybille Florin

Barbara Charlotte Wurster

Japan: On the way to an inclusive society

Between 11 and 26 February 2019, a group of young experts under the age of 40 visited Japan on the invitation of the Japanese Cabinet Office – the 17th such exchange. Among the group were nine German experts who work with senior citizens, young people or people with disabilities. Here, German delegation leader Barbara Wurster from the Federal Youth Ministry reports on the trip. [read more]

BildImage: Christian Herrmann

Christian Herrmann

German-Japanese study programmes on inclusion and social environments: "I'd like society to be as diverse as this"

Is there something that Japanese experts in Germany, or German experts in Japan can learn about inclusion? Are there any proven models in Germany or Japan for working with children and adolescents in social environments that could provide inspiration for experts? Study programmes were organised in 2016 to explore these two questions and in late November, all participants gathered in Cologne to discuss the answers. [read more]

The Japanese delegation with the Mayor of Koblenz, Marie-Theres Hammes-Rosenstein
BildImage: Anita Demuth   Lizenz: INT 3.0 – Namensnennung – nicht kommerziell – keine Bearbeitung CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Anita Demuth

Empowerment of German and Japanese young people

Since 2002, the office of the Japanese Prime Minister (Japanese Cabinet Office) has run a multilateral qualification programme entitled the "Young Core Leaders of Civil Society Groups Development Program" in Japan and various partner countries. Within this context, IJAB arranged on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) a programme for young Japanese child and youth services professionals, which took place in Berlin and Koblenz from 12 to 21 October. [read more]

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