It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Japanese University Graduates Association of Singapore (JUGAS) on the 50th anniversary of its founding this year! Since its establishment in 1970, JUGAS has played an active role in fostering bilateral ties and building bridges between Singapore and Japan at the people-to-people level.
JUGAS has grown since it started out as a platform to help returned Japanese university graduates interact and forge friendships. Over time, the association expanded its focus to include the promotion of Japanese language learning and Japanese culture, as well as raising awareness of opportunities for higher education in Japanese universities. For example, JUGAS has been a co-organiser of the Japanese Speech Contest in Singapore since 1996. It has also been partnering various Japanese universities, including Nagoya University, the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University, under the JUGAS Education Fund initiative to provide scholarships for young Singaporeans. Moreover, JUGAS has broadened its engagement of Japanese university alumni associations from other ASEAN countries, and maintains close linkages with the Japanese community as well as Japanese business associations and schools in Singapore.
This year, JUGAS has continued its good work, notwithstanding the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It organised the annual pre-departure briefing for students and scholars heading to Japan in a hybrid physical-and-online format, for the first time. The association has also actively helped students facing uncertainty and disruptions with their education in Japan amid the pandemic. While it was a pity that JUGAS had to cancel its annual Shinnenkai Dinner party due to COVID-19, I am glad that the association had used the opportunity to conduct a fundraising activity for donations to the Singapore Red Cross.
The success and growth of JUGAS is a broader reflection of the longstanding and multi-faceted relationship between Singapore and Japan. This is a relationship underscored by robust political and economic links as well as close people-to-people ties. Bilateral cooperation continued amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Singapore and Japan have worked well together this year on supply chain resilience, vaccine multilateralism, and the establishment of Business and Residence Tracks. We hope to drive a flourishing of bilateral cooperation, particularly in areas of mutual interest such as digitalisation and digital trade, infrastructure development, and a safe and sustainable recovery from COVID-19. I believe JUGAS can also play a role in helping to further such cooperation.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of JUGAS, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the association and its members for helping to strengthen the deep people-to-people relations between Singapore and Japan. I am confident that JUGAS will continue its good work and look forward to more friendships being forged among our students and professionals.
PETER TAN Ambassador of Singapore to Japan