Scholarship named after Fukushima historian in offing for study in U.S.

The Fukushima prefectural government's education board is set to inaugurate a scholarship program for local high school graduates to study in the United States. It will be the first public overseas study scheme to be set up by the prefectural education board, according to local government officials. The scholarship system will be named after a historian, Dr. Kan'ichi Asakawa (1873-1948), a native of the prefectural city of Nihonmatsu who spent his academic career mostly in the United States. The program is designed to grant each recipient several million yen annually over a period of four years. No repayment will be required. It is intended to provide financial support to talented young people expected to play an active role on the global stage, thus nurturing promising human resources. Graduates of local high schools eligible The program will start in the new fiscal year beginning on April 1 and, if application, selection and other procedures progress without a hitch, the first awardee of the scholarship will be chosen in the early stages of fiscal 2022, according to officials involved in the project. Subject to the scholarship will be high school graduates eager to study in the United States without proceeding to university education in Japan. Applicants will be taken from among students at high schools in the prefecture. A selection panel, which includes intellectuals from outside the education board, will be formed to narrow them down. Students applying for the scholarship are required to possess high-level academic competence, including English ability, and ensure means to live in the United States at least for several years. Studying at a four-year U.S. university is estimated to cost 4 million to 6 million yen a year, including tuition fees and living expenses, meaning that students' families will need to possess the financial strength to cover spending in excess of the scholarship. Given that background, the education board intends to find students enthusiastic enough to study in a tough environment through a strict selection process. The scholarship scheme is to be based on a 100 million yen donation from a Fukushima-related businessperson living outside the prefecture. The donor has expressed the desire that it be used to help foster human resources capable of flourishing beyond borders like Asakawa. A prefectural official with ties to the businessperson has acted as a go-between between the donor and the education board. The businessperson has suggested an intention to offer additional donations in the future, raising the possibility that the scholarship program will continue for a long time. In Fukushima Prefecture, Asakawa studied at local schools, including Tatsugoyama elementary school where his father, Masazumi, served as principal. As a "samurai" warrior of the Nihonmatsu domain, the father survived the Boshin War fought between the Tokugawa shogunate and the forces of the emerging modern government. The son studied at a "jinjo" (ordinary) junior high school (currently Asaka High School) and Tokyo Senmon Gakko (vocational school, today's Waseda University). He then went to the United States, studying at Dartmouth College and becoming a professor at Yale University. Asakawa is also known to have once sent the then U.S. president a draft letter addressed to Japanese Emperor Hirohito (posthumously known as Emperor Showa) in an effort to prevent a looming war between Washington and Tokyo. In launching the scholarship program, the education board wishes that its recipients will grow to develop international perspectives like Asakawa did and become leading figures in various fields for not only Fukushima but Japan. It also hopes to make it an opportunity to commend Asakawa's achievements. (Translated by Kyodo News)

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