(ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni)
In 1974, the office of Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs invited representatives of former students from ASEAN countries who had studied in Japan for a reunion meeting in Tokyo. In 1976, at the third annual re-union meeting of it kinds, it was proposed to establish an organization of Japan alumni of ASEAN countries with the aim of fostering international exchange amongst former ASEAN students and Japan.
In January 1977, a three-men Philippine delegations sponsored by Philippines-Japan Societies made a tour to meet the Japan Graduate Alumni Society in each ASEAN member country, laying the groundwork for formation of such a regional organization. Consequently, on 25 March 1977, the Protocol of Intent to Organize was signed in Singapore by delegates representing the Japan Alumni of 5 ASEAN countries namely, The Association of Indonesia Alumni from Japan (PERSADA), the Japan Graduates’ Association of Malaysia (JAGAM), the Japanese University Graduates Association of Singapore (JUGAS), the Old Japan Students’ Association, Thailand, Under the Patronage of His Majesty the King (OJSAT) and the Philippine Federation of Japan Alumni (PHILFEJA).
In June 1977, after several days of meeting in Manila of representatives of the 5 Alumni Associations, the ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni (ASCOJA) was officially inaugurated at the Philippine International Convention Centre as a non-profit and non-governmental organization.
Currently ASCOJA is the Federation of 10 Japan Alumni organizations, later on joining by 5 new ASEAN member countries, they are;
1. Association of Indonesia Alumni from Japan (PERSADA)
2. Japan Graduates’ Association of Malaysia (JAGAM)
3. Japan University Graduates Association of Singapore (JUGAS)
4. Old Japan Students’ Association, Kingdom of Thailand (under the Patronage of His Majesty the King (OJSAT)
5. Philippines Federation of Japan Alumni (PHILFEJA)
6. Brunei Association of Japan Alumni (BAJA)
7. Myanmar Association of Japan Alumni (MAJA)
8. Japan Alumni of Cambodia (JAC)
9. Japan Alumni of Vietnam (JAV)
10. Japan Alumni of Laos (JAOL)
Objectives of ASCOJA
1. To serve as a centre for continuing exchange of information and experience among the member associations on matters of common concern.
2. To undertake worthwhile projects designed to foster closer ties among the member associations for the improvement of their common cultural and material interest.
3. To coordinate the various projects and activities of the different member associations in order to ensure their successful implementation.
4. To establish working relationships among business, professional, social and civic organizations in member-associations and neighbors.
5. To strive towards the promotion of friendship and prosperity in ASEAN in close cooperation with other countries and among the member-associations and neighbors.
6. To foster close study of cultures that promote an Asian orientation in the education of ASEAN youth.
Since 1974, the Japanese Government has played an important role in supporting and stewarding the Alumni Associations of former ASEAN students from Japan in numerous ways such as inviting them for an annual re-union meeting in Japan, funding the activities of ASCOJA including provide scholarships for the children of members of the Alumni Associations to study in Japan (in order to serve the Association after return). With the support of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Asia Japan Alumni International (ASJA) was launched in April 2000 aiming to assist international students, primarily those from ASEAN countries, offering them opportunities to experience Japanese culture for scholarship recipients. In addition, the Foreign Ministry of Japan has facilitated the activities of ASCOJA in sending their junior members for summer camp in Japan. For their part, ASCOJA members association receive youth exchange and the study tour groups from Japan, develop program for them including home-stay to foster friendship and cultural understanding between visitors and the host families.
With the good ties developed over the years , and deep attachment to Japan, most Japan alumni, regard Japan as their second home. Thus when Japan meets with critical issue like the March great tsunami, all Japan alumni Chapters in ASEAN have expressed their grave concern and feeling this disaster as affecting to them and their home accordingly. They were actively launched donation campaigns to assist the victims in Japan. Some of them joined volunteer team to assist the victims at the site. Similarly, their Japanese counterparts were actively display a bond of solidarity in the events that disaster occurred in its neighbor countries. The recent worst flood in Thailand was a clear evident that the Japanese both private and Government sectors were the most active group to provide immediate relief assistance, rescue team and cash contribution to the victims in Thailand.
It has to mention that as of today, over 82,000 individuals (comprising some 26,000 university graduates and 56,000 former research students) from ASEAN have studied in Japan, they returned home and scattering all around ASEAN region. They have become important human resources that have greatly contributed to their national developments with knowledge obtained from their studies in Japan. Several of them are holding important positions in both public and private sectors that have created well being and improved the quality of life of the population in their countries.
An extremely encouraging development of the long history of cooperation and assistants received from ASJA to ASCOJA is not only building good friendship between people of ASEAN and Japan, it also contributed to a closer relationship among members of ASCOJA countries.