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PERSADA, the domestic partner of Japan / ASCOJA, the ASEAN region partner of Japan

Konnichiwa to everyone who has completed his or her studies in Japan as an international student. Like you, there are many people in Indonesia, and in Asia as a whole, who have experienced studying in Japan as an international student. Your seniors in this regard are deepening their ties and carrying out various activities. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce our domestic organization and our organization for the ASEAN region in the hope that you will participate in our activities.

The national organization is named PERSADA an acronym of Perhimpunan Alumni Dari Jepang, Association of Indonesian Alumni from Japan, while the regional organization is called ASCOJA an acronym of ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni. ASCOJA functions as a forum of exchange of idea and as executor of common program decided by its Board of Governors.

PERSADA, the national partner of Japan

This is a volunteer non profit organization with head quarter in Jakarta and branches throughout Indonesia. PERSADA was established in 1963 for the purpose of uniting the potentials for national development and at the same time maintaining and strengthening relation with the Japanese people. Any one who graduated from colleges and universities and long term trainees in Japan may join.

Historically, the earliest Indonesian ryugakusei went to Japan in early 1930s who selected Japan as a place of study. At that time Japan had been known as a world power in industry, military and political influence, an Asian country that could defeat European power Russia in 1905. Some Indonesian intellectuals and businessmen who were burning with desire to be independence from the Dutch colonialist motivated their sons to learn technology and business management in Japan. About fifteen boys then found their ways to Osaka and Tokyo. Besides learning the Japanese language and science they also engaged themselves actively in political activities for independence. Even though Japan was dominated by militarists the students could get support from Japanese intellectuals who wished to see independent Indonesia. They are known as pre war or senzen ryugakusei.

After Japan ousted the Dutch colonialist in March 1942 the Japanese Government sent youngsters from many parts of the now Indonesia archipelago with the aim of training future leaders to assist the new colonialist Japan. Many also were recruited from Burma (now Myanmar), Malaya (now Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei), the Philippines, Vietnam and Muang Thai. This group is well known as Nanpou Tokubetsu Ryugakusei. They arrived in 1944 and 1945, and taken care by the Kokusai Gakuyukai Nihongo Gakko or International Institute of Japanese Language, an institution established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in dormitories at Meguro and Shinjuku, Tokyo. Unfortunately not long after their arrival, without enjoying good student life they were caught in chaotic and miserable situation. A few students died as victims of B-29 bombing raid of Tokyo and atomic bomb of Hiroshima.

Most of these two groups came back to Indonesia after finishing study and soon engaged as leaders of independence movements either in military or diplomatic fields. They later became high officials at the foreign ministry, defense ministry, trade and industry, health ministry and in education fields. A few established trading and industrial companies. Needless to say they carried with them the cultural values centered on samurai spirit and knowledge they earned in Japan, and enthusiastically apply them in their careers.

After the war, as a result of the negotiation by our seniors or sempai above with the Foreign Ministry of Japan in the framework of war reparation program, more than one thousand students and trainees had been dispatched to Japan from 1960 to 1964. After learning Japanese language at the same Kokusai Gakuyukai Nihongo Gakko for one year they dispersed to many colleges and universities from Hokkaido to Kagoshima to study engineering, commerce, medicine and arts. Each student was encouraged by Sukarno, the founding father and the first president of Indonesia to also act as small ambassador in introducing the young country and to establish friendship with grass root Japanese people. They are known as baisho ryugakusei. Besides baisho ryugakusei there were also privately sponsored students and those invited by the Japanese government’s organizations. The situation in Japan was high in spirit of catching up with the west in all fields. Everybody works from early morning to late at night. Naturally, they came back with the values of hard work and technical and managerial competence in production. They were enrolled at various state enterprises, hospitals, banks, hotels and universities throughout Indonesia. About twenty percent went to private enterprises related to Japanese capitals as employees. In addition this group brought in and spread in very large scale traditional values in the form Japanese martial arts karate, judo, shorinji kempo and aikido.

Still with the desire to apply the values they brought in from Japan, the above three groups established PERSADA and designed workable programs. Together in PERSADA they created Darma Persada University as well as various Japanese language courses in the regions outside Jakarta. The university has become a pride of all former ryugakusei and has gained attention by the Japanese people and its government leaders as an asset or a living monument of friendship between Indonesia and Japan.

Afterwards, since 1970 the Indonesian ryugakusei consist of students sponsored by both Indonesian and Japanese governments as well as trainees to the Japanese large scale enterprises. Many entrepreneurs including former ryugakusei above sent their children to study engineering and business. In this period the Japanese social system seems to have changed substantially and it appeared that the young ryugakusei could not find environment that is conducive to establishing personal friendship with the people as experienced by their sempai. The people have become rich but rather cool. Both parties have no time allowance or yoyuu in family like gathering, young people gathering, sport and art activities, mountain climbing, skiing or playing mahjong. They were brought up in pop culture, individualism and the pursuance of ultimate efficiency. These new breed of former ryugakusei are now gradually taking over the baton of leadership of PERSADA.

Obviously, PERSADA is determined to carry out its mission to serve as a bridge between Indonesia and Japan. The bridge is expected to provide values needed by each party in real term. Indonesia now needs technology and investment, while Japan may need skilled workers to assist millions of Japanese small and medium enterprises to stay competitive and other values from Indonesia. Moreover Indonesia with its abundant natural resources and human resources as well as market potential must still be considered important.

In the past the relationship is between donor and recipient or between employer and employee, but it would be better now that it be done through partnership on equal footing. China and Korea have shown that through partnership their former ryugakusei have performed well as partners in establishing large number of enterprises that later become real and sustainable sources of prosperity. They called it the golden bridge.

ASCOJA, the regional partner of Japan

ASCOJA was established in 1977 when ASEAN inaugurated its ten years anniversary. Of ten countries in ASEAN now all have enrolled as members of ASCOJA. Each member has its own identity and codes and does not depend on ASCOJA to pursue its idealism, but it is with ASCOJA that they may achieve their goals more efficiently. The spirit of Heart to Heart relationship laid down by the former Prime Minister Fukuda has become the philosophical foundation of this organization.

The Government of Japan appoints ASJA International, a semi government institution, to act as counterpart and sponsor of ASCOJA in receiving and taking care of students selected by ASCOJA to study in Japan and in having ASCOJA governors’ meetings and in undertaking annual reunion gathering or tsudoi of former ryugakusei. All of us are very thankful to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Japan, to most of former ryugakusei, is regarded as second home country, whereby each one always long for visiting. Japan is still a source of inspiration and technology to achieve prosperity and quality life. Japan has given so many valuable techniques and philosophy of life that can be utilized by many countries in ASEAN regions to find and establish strong foundations for sound economic growth. And if Japan has problems, I am sure former ryugakusei in ASCOJA can be relied upon as partners in solving them.

Jakarta, July 27, 2007

Sidharta Martoredjo,
President of PERSADA
Chairman of ASCOJA (2005 - 2007)

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