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UCL delegation visit Japan, こんにちは!

By uclqjle, on 19 September 2017

UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur and a delegation from UCL is currently visiting Japan to strengthen collaborations there.

The relationship between UCL and Japan dates back 150 years to the Choshu Five’s arrival at UCL.

The visit, from from 25 September to 5 October, is part of UCL’s long-term commitment to build on historical links through partnerships with leading Japanese institutions and governmental bodies, research collaborations and student exchanges with top universities.

It is also an opportunity to connect with and celebrate our Japan-based alumni.

Non-exhaustive map of UCL collaborations in Japan

Non-exhaustive map of UCL collaborations in Japan

Historical Legacy

After leaving UCL, the Choshu Five went on to become the founding fathers of modern Japan.

Choshu Five

Choshu Five

The Choshu Five included Hirobumi Ito, who became Japan’s first Prime Minister and is otherwise known as ‘the Father of the Japanese Constitution’ and ‘the Father of  parliamentary government in Japan’. The other men were Kaoru Inoue, who became Japan’s first Foreign Minister, also known as ‘the Father of modern Japanese diplomacy’, Yozo Yamao, ‘the Father of Japanese engineering’, Masaru Inoue, ‘the Father of Japanese railways’, and Kinsuke Endo, ‘the Father of the modern Japanese mint’.

Their legacy is still very much celebrated both in the UK and in Japan. In 2013, UCL took part in a high-profile celebration of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the ‘Choshu Five’ in the UK.

The Choshu Five were followed soon after, in 1865, by a second group from Japan. This group of 19, a mix of students and supervisors, mostly came from the Satsuma region, hence their name ‘the Satsuma Group’. Members of this group went on to be successful diplomats, bring in compulsory education for all and founded Japan’s first modern factory.


Satsuma Group


To symbolise this significant history, the Japan Monument stands in the garden next to the South Cloisters at UCL. The names of the Choshu Five and the Satsuma Group are engraved on the granite monument next to a Japanese waka (poem).


Japanese Prime Minister Mr Shinzo Abe & UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur at the Japan Monument during the Prime Minister’s visit to UCL in 2014.


Japan Monument


The inscription on the side of the monument reads,
(Harubaru to kokoro tsudoite hana sakaru)

‘When distant minds come together, cherries blossom’

Current Student Trends

Following in the footsteps of the Choshu Five and the Satsuma group, many Japanese students have studied at UCL.

UCL is the second biggest recruiter of Japanese students in the UK and the number of Japanese students welcomed every year has remained fairly consistent over the past decade. There are currently over 150 students from Japan enrolled at UCL (2016/17).

Japanese Students at UCL by School (2016/17)

In addition to a vibrant and growing UCL Japanese Society, the UCL Japan Club – alumni group for Japan-based alumni –  has established a tight and strong community to keep in touch with friends and generations of UCL alumni.

UCL also hosts the annual UCL-Japan Youth Challenge. Initiated in 2015, this is a special summer school that welcomes pre-university students from the UK and Japan to UCL. The programme consists of various intercultural learning activities and events for both students and teachers from the two countries.

UCL-Japan Youth Challenge

UCL-Japan Youth Challenge

Current activity between UCL & Japan

There is an exciting amount of engagement between UCL and Japan. UCL Global is currently celebrating the iconic history UCL shares with Japan, as well as highlighting a number of contemporary collaborations. To be part of this and to keep up-to-date with our activities in Japan during the visit, follow us on Twitter.

UCL-Japan collaboration on disaster management

By Sophie Vinter, on 2 August 2016

Written by Dr. Ryo Torii, Lecturer, UCL Mechanical Engineering

Students taking part in the UCL-Japan Young Challenge present during the symposiumA disaster management symposium held at UCL discussed how experience from the Great East-Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 can be used to build safety systems and resilience against future crises.

Expert speakers, staff and students from both the UK and Japan shared their views of disaster management by presenting their academic, industrial and administrative activities towards building a resilient society against unpredictable disasters.

The event was created in the framework of an academic relationship between UCL and Japan that started 153 years ago, when five samurais came to study here.

Lessons from 2011 disasters

The public symposium, on 28 July, was organised by Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma (Institute of Ophthalmology) and Professor Peter Sammonds (Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction).

Tsunami that hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011A delegation from Fukushima prefecture, which suffered from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant problem, reported the history of their response to the disasters and recovery to date.

A strong emphasis was placed on the importance of local community and dialogue.

Hope for the future

Groups of young students – participants in the 10-day UCL-Japan Young Challenge summer school – also presented their thoughts on disasters.

Approximately 50 British and Japanese students at A-level and equivalent shared experience of intensive academic workshops and lectures, cultural and language exchanges.

They presented what they discussed in a “disaster workshop” a day earlier, demonstrating a great awareness of, and consideration for, future risk.

Continuing relationship

Professor Peter Sammonds presenting during the symposiumThe symposium was followed by a reception, opened by Prof Nick Tyler (Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), to celebrate the UCL-Japan partnership.

In July 2015, UCL signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Fukushima prefecture to facilitate the public understanding of Fukushima and to provide high-level educational opportunities to students in the area.

In March 2016, Fukushima prefecture government hosted 15 students and researchers from UCL and the UCL Academy, including a special visit to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

This recent series of events were to follow that up with a special focus on disasters and the resilience of society. This international relationship will continue and be developed even further for the future as a basis of multifaceted interaction.