Warmest greetings from Josai International University (JIU), Japan. On behalf of JIU and the organizing committee of the Asia Summer Program 2022 (ASP 2022), I would like to welcome you to ASP 2022. Last year, it was decided to once more hold this year's program online as was done at ASP 2021 hosted by Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP). Even though participation will be via online sessions, I would like those who are participating in ASP 2022 from all over Asia to take this opportunity to learn more about Japan, Japanese culture, and to gain insights into Japanese society and values. In addition, I think it is important for those participants studying in Japan to take this wonderful opportunity to consider how best to deepen cooperation amongst young people of various backgrounds and cultures of Asia.
After the Meiji Restoration, Japan lifted its seclusion in 1854 with the aim of becoming more westernized. I deeply regret that Japan took part in the invasion of other Asian countries, as well as the fact that we became the perpetrators of war. At the end of World War II, the bombing of Tokyo and the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki resulted in a huge number of victims. Sadly, even today, wars are still being waged all over the world. I hope that we all, as global citizens, will be able to avoid the devastating effects of war and its consequences in the future, giving each country, region and ethnic group the chance to peacefully develop its own particular culture.
Japan is an island country blessed with four distinct seasons. Because of this, we have been able to cultivate our own traditional culture in the areas of clothing, food, and housing. Kimonos, Japanese food, and Japanese architecture, all integral parts of our daily lives, and identifiably part of a unique Japanese culture, have become attractive to people from all over the world. Recently, Japanese youth culture, such as animation or anime, has been growing in popularity. I also hope the participants can experience Japan and its culture in as much depth as possible, even though ASP 2022 will be held online.
Recently, the effects of globalization can be felt in every country, and global human resources are being sought in all occupations. In such an era, regardless of gender, age, disability, nationality, and regardless of our lifestyle choices, work history, and values, we need to respect everyone. The theme of ASP 2022 is "On the path to inclusion, diversity and understanding." The ideas of diversity and inclusion are vital to modern society, as is the desire to look for the good in each other. We also face the need to work in cooperation with people who are different from ourselves, and endeavor to achieve the same goals for the same purposes. As Asia has a high ratio of the world population, the responsibility of the younger generation in Asia will be even greater than in the past.
We must recognize that our civilization has reached a state of chaos and the survival of the human race is at risk. While the outbreak of COVID-19 scared people all over the world, climate change and extreme weather events associated with global warming have been occurring with more regularity. While some developing countries are growing rapidly, the income gap among people in developed countries is beginning to widen. In addition, as we were forced to stay home to prevent infection, we have become over-dependent on the Internet, and having the ability to verify whether online information is correct or fake, has become an essential skill.
In today's world, where IT giants such as Google, Apple, META, and Amazon are further improving their business performance, the importance of scientific knowledge, such as technology, engineering, and mathematics, has been reaffirmed, and we must learn more about artificial intelligence and data science. On the other hand, many people have been trying to find a guide to life using more essential and universal values. As you all must feel, our lifestyle is changing into what has been termed the "new normal",a lifestyle where we have to get used to social distancing due to COVID-19. In addition, we must consider the impact of other changes to our way of life. It is reasonable to expect people will soon be living longer than 100 years, and that global environmental problems such as global warming will continue to deteriorate. In addition, we are faced with related food and energy problems making the need to achieve a carbon-neutral lifestyle and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as advocated by the United Nations, ever more pressing.
It is important for all the participants in ASP 2022 to have a strong sense of curiosity about what is happening in the wider world as well as your home country and region. It is also important to keep learning about global and local changes and events, in addition to maintaining a strong sense of mission and passion for society. For young people from Asian countries in particular, ASP 2022 is a step towards learning not merely fragmentary knowledge and skills, but methods of thinking and living, as well as developing the ability and desire for lifelong independent learning while considering and respecting others. I am sure that stories you have not heard before, and exchanges with people you have not talked with before, will be extremely useful to you.
As mentioned above, I hope that everyone who participates in ASP 2022 will become important human resources who can play active roles in their local regions, home countries, and on a global scale in the future.