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Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma recognised for Japan-UK academic co-operation

Sian EGardiner26 January 2018

Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma and Japan AmbassadorUCL’s Japan ambassador Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma has been awarded the Foreign Minister’s Commendation for his contribution to Japan-UK academic and educational relations.

Earlier this month, Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka presented Ohnuma, Professor at the Institute of Ophthalmology, with the award at a ceremony at the Embassy of Japan in London.

In addition to his work as Director of the PhD programme of the Sensory System, Technology and Therapies, Professor Ohnuma has worked over many years to strengthen UCL’s ties with Japan.

Historic links

Professor Ohnuma’s collaborative work includes the organisation of numerous important events. In 2013, he helped to organise celebrations involving various Japanese organisations to mark the 150th anniversary of UK-Japan academic collaboration, when five Japanese samurai – known as the ‘Choshu Five’ – first came to study at UCL.

Speaking after receiving his award, Professor Ohnuma said, “UCL has an amazing history with Japan, which includes the Choshu-Five and Satsuma-19.

“But in my role as UCL’s Japan ambassador and through active interaction with Japanese universities, high schools, and industries, I want to increase the status of UCL in Japan, improving recognition and the number of Japanese students studying here.”

Improving UK-Japan relations

In 2014, Ohnuma played an important part in the ‘Japan-UK Universities Conference for Collaboration in Research and Education,’ co-hosted by UCL and the Embassy of Japan in the UK.

Attended by 14 Japanese universities, 16 UK universities and the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, the conference encouraged further collaboration for not only UCL but many universities in both the UK and Japan.

A champion of future talent, Professor Ohnuma has also worked to encourage mutual understanding between young people in Japan and the UK. In 2015, he established the UCL-Japan Youth Challenge programme to promote interaction between students in both countries.

Hosted by many organisations in the UK, it has since been held annually, with around 100 students from both countries involved.

Contributions to Fukushima

Professor Ohnuma has also made significant contributions to his home prefecture, Fukushima, which was badly affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster. On top of supporting reconstruction efforts in the area, he played a key role in arranging a Memorandum of Understanding between UCL and the Fukushima prefectural government, and supported UCL students’ recent visit to the region.

Of the visit he said, “This month I visited Fukushima – where the East Japan Disaster inflicted huge damage six years ago – with 10 UCL and UCL Academy students, to understand the current status of Fukushima and encourage young generations in the area.”

At last week’s ceremony, Ambassador Tsuruoka congratulated Professor Ohnuma on his significant contribution to UK-Japan relations. Commenting on his award, Ohnuma said, “It is a great honour for me to receive this award from the Japanese Government.”

UCL student opportunity: visit Fukushima in 2018

SophieVinter14 November 2017

Delegates at the 2016 UCL visit to Fukushima PrefectureUCL students with an interest in Japan can apply for a fully-funded opportunity to visit Fukushima during January 2018.

Fukushima Prefecture, with whom UCL has a longstanding collaboration, is inviting two students from any discipline to join a ten-strong delegation to visit from 15-21 January. Delegates will include staff from UCL’s Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction, EPICentre and UCL Academy.

Students can find out more about the opportunity at a Q&A session with Professor Shin-ichi Ohnuma, UCL’s Japan Ambassador, on 24 November 2017 at 12.00-13.00 at UCL’s Confucius Institute (15 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0NS).

The prefecture will fully support the UCL team visit, including the cost of air fare, accommodation, meals and in-country travel.

The successful students will be asked to contribute social media and blog posts about their experiences while they are in Japan, as well as taking part in a group presentation about the visit.

Active collaboration

Tsunami that hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011The Japanese islands face an extraordinary range of natural hazards – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, landslides and tropical cyclones.

In 2011, East Japan suffered from a huge earthquake and tsumani, which killed many people along the coastline. The tsumani affected the Fukushima Nuclear power plant, which resulted in wide-level contamination by radiation. Many people in Fukushima are still suffering from this damage.

UCL decided to contribute to the recovery of Fukushima and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Fukushima Prefecture in 2014.

How to apply

Students can attend the Q&A session on 24 November for further information about the visit.

To apply please email the below details by 2 December 2017 to Sofia Shamim in UCL’s Global Engagement Office with the subject title “Fukushima Fieldwork and Visit – YOUR NAME”.

  • Your full name
  • Status (staff/Phd student /MSc student) and stage
  • A one-paragraph biography
  • A one-paragraph research or study proposal
  • A one-paragraph impact statement.

Please also indicate:

  • Whether your passport has a visa requirement for entry to Japan
  • If the visit will contribute to your PHD/MSc research or your undergraduate study
  • Your level of Japanese language (although this is not a pre-requisite).

Please note students need to obtain permission from their course organisers.