Japan-IMF Scholarship Program for Asia (JISPA) 30th Anniversary Event

November 15, 2023

Vice Minister Kanda, Deputy Governor Dalaloy, Chairman Nakao, Members of academia, JISPA alumni and scholars, Ladies and gentlemen. A very good morning to you. It is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to this event celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Japan-IMF Scholarship Program for Asia, or JISPA. My heartfelt congratulations! 30 years is indeed an important milestone.

For the IMF, JISPA is an essential investment in the future of the region and a key aspect of our capacity development efforts to strengthen institutions in it. And since it was first established in the 1990s, JISPA has grown to become a gateway that helps launch successful careers for economic policymakers in Asia and the Pacific region.

Allow me to elaborate a little further on this image. When I consider JISPA’s role, it reminds me of the Japanese “Torii”, which serves as the gateway to an enlightened space. What we hope to achieve with JISPA is to see our scholars, walk through the gate of JISPA and complete their studies, and then move to a different space. We hope to see them become more empowered and able policymakers, ready to contribute to the development of their home countries.

JISPA is also a joint effort resembling the structure of a Torii. The Japanese authorities and participating countries are the two pillars, or Hashira, supporting JISPA. Without them JISPA would not stand. Together, they hold up the upper lintel, the Kasagi, which is the IMF that coordinates and runs the program. And universities are the other lintel, the Nuki, connecting the two pillars.

I very much hope that this collective spirit and joint effort will continue for years to come.

Looking at the flow of today’s program, I see that Kanda-san will offer some congratulatory remarks, followed by Nakao-san’s remarks on the program and its expansion over the years. We will also hear from a distinguished alumnus, Deputy Governor Dalaloy, about the impact of the program on her career. I am grateful to them all for offering to share their unique perspectives.

For my part, I would like to focus on why JISPA is important for the Fund, for participating countries, for Japan and for the region as a whole.

I mentioned earlier that JISPA is an integral part of the IMF’s capacity development efforts.

Strengthening the capacity of economic institutions is an essential part of the Fund: it represents close to a third of our operations. And within these operations, the development of human resources through training, both in-person and increasingly online, plays a central role.

By focusing on the next generation of policy makers, JISPA has been taking that effort one step further. Of course, the program offers the benefits of studying in an international environment, with a different perspective. Most importantly, it equips our scholars with a solid understanding of economic theory and practice. The ultimate aim here is to help support stronger institutions and better economic policymaking.

The Fund also benefits from this, because it helps tremendously with our policy dialogue: the program fosters better exchange and understanding between Fund staff and the authorities, including because it helps our scholars acquire knowledge about how we work at the Fund.

For participating countries, it is a rewarding investment in their human resources. JISPA alumni contribute to institutional capacity and, often times, become main pillars for institution building in their respective countries. Our scholars easily distinguish themselves among peers and climb up the career ladders fast. We have many alumni holding high-level positions in the region, testifying to the success of the program.

And on that point, I would like to welcome some of the most accomplished JISPA alumni joining us today in this celebratory event. Let me invite those alumni to stand up. 

JISPA also plays a key role in Japan’s capacity development efforts in the region. In fact, Japan is the largest financial contributor to the IMF’s capacity development activities, and we are very grateful for that. We consider Japan’s sponsorship of JISPA and its generous contributions as a strong signal of Japan’s commitment to building a better future for countries in Asia-Pacific.

With more than 880 alumni in the region, JISPA provides an excellent foundation for promoting regional cooperation. Personal and professional bonds formed during scholars’ stay in Japan last for a lifetime. These bonds are an invaluable asset and facilitate direct communication in regional fora as JISPA alumni rise through the ranks to become senior policy makers in their countries. This aspect of the program, I believe, is one of the most especially precious at a time when risks of geopolitical fragmentation cloud the global economy.

Before I close, I would be remiss not to highlight JISPA’s versatility and openness to change. Since its inception, JISPA has continued to evolve its content in response to global economic developments and needs of the countries. In this spirit, we have a panel discussion this morning that will explore how we can further enhance graduate level public policy education and JISPA in a fast-changing global landscape. I am looking forward to listening to and learning from the distinguished panelists.

Let me close by thanking everyone who has made JISPA a success and kept our JISPA Torii proudly standing for the last 30 years. My special thanks go to

  • the Japanese Ministry of Finance, for their unwavering support,
  • partnership universities, for their endless efforts to provide the best education and to support to our scholars,
  • participating countries, for their trust placed in the program and sending their young and bright officials to study under JISPA; and,
  • our scholars, for their hard work to complete very rigorous programs.

And finally, I must recognize the dedicated work of our colleagues in OAP, our regional office here in Tokyo. The JISPA team in OAP, (Saika-san, Kazuyo-san and Tamae-san) have toiled tirelessly behind the scenes over many years to ensure the smooth operation of the program and they have always kept a caring eye on our scholars throughout their stay in Japan.

I applaud all who have contributed to making JISPA a success story over the last 30 years!

Thank you very much.