The Japan Foundation

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The Japan Foundation describes itself as “Japan’s only institution dedicated to carrying out comprehensive international cultural exchange programs throughout the world”.1

Much like Germany’s Goethe-Institut and the French Institut Francais, the Foundation supports arts and cultural exchanges as well as Japanese language teaching and studies as part of cultural soft diplomacy.

It has well-established financial links with a number of corporations including Japan Tobacco International. In 2021 it was a sponsor, alongside Philip Morris International, of the high-profile Future of Asia conference.


The Japan Foundation was established in 1972 and has 25 overseas offices including nine in Asian countries, six in European countries and five in the Americas.2

It estimates that in 2019 more than 1.5m people attended or took part in events it organised around the world and more than 3.8m were learning Japanese.3

The organisation is registered as a “public benefit organisation” in Japan and is supported by a mix of grants, corporate donations and membership fees and government subsidies. According to the 2019/20 annual report this amounted to more than JPY23.7bn (approximately UK£15.4m).3

Many large Japanese companies support the Foundation but the value of individual donations, fees or grants are not disclosed.

Links with Japan Tobacco International

Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has provided financial and other support for cultural activities arranged by the Foundation across the globe since at least 2013. The details are set out below. No specific financial information has been released.


For several years JTI has funded language support in Russia. In 2018 that extended to students from Belarusian State University. Those who won a Japanese language proficiency competition were able to study in Japan for six months. The competition was organised by the Foundation along with the Japanese embassy and JTI.45

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Japanese language courses at the University of Sarajevo were organised by the Japanese Embassy in conjunction with the Foundation and sponsored by JTI.6


JTI sponsored a student package design competition in 2018/19.5


In 2013 JTI supported two exhibitions in Rome marking the 50th anniversary of Japan Cultural Institute.7


In 2017, the Foundation arranged for the Japanese dance company Noism to perform in Romania. The event was called JTI Encounters, which supported it.8


Foundation annual reports from 2013 onwards show that JTI donations for “Japanese language and studies at Russian Universities” on an annual basis.

In May 2018 JTI also sponsored a performance in Russia by the group Drum Tao at the opening of the Japan Year in Russia event.9

In 2021 The Moscow Museum of Modern Art presented Double Vision: Contemporary Art from Japan in collaboration with the Japan Foundation. The event from 14 March to 6 May was supported by JTI.10

United States

In March 2021. JTI was a contributing sponsor to the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival’s opening ceremony in Washington. This prestigious event featured a range of cultural performances.11

The Future of Asia Conference

The Foundation is co-sponsor of the 2021 The Future of Asia conference taking place in Japan. The other sponsor is Philip Morris International (PMI). The incoming CEO of PMI Jacek Olczak was listed to speak at the event.12

Foundation personnel

Kazuyoshi Umemoto was appointed president in 2020 after a long diplomatic career including ambassadorships in Switzerland, the UN Mission and Italy. His predecessor Ando Hiroyasu similarly had a diplomatic background.13

Tobacco Tactics Resources

CSR: Arts & Culture

Japan Tobacco International (JTI)

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  1. Japan Foundation, About the Japan Foundation, Japan Foundation website, undated, accessed May 2021
  2. Japan Foundation, Organization Chart and Addresses, Japan Foundation website, undated, accessed May 20201
  3. abJapan Foundation, 2019 annual report, p11, accessed May 20201
  4. Republic of Belarus, Top Belarusian students of Japanese off to Fukushima University, Belarus official website, 23 March 2018, accessed May 20201
  5. abJapan Foundation, 2018 annual report, accessed May 20201
  6. Japanese Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Japanese Language Course 2015/2016, embassy website, undated, accessed May 2021
  7. Japan Foundation, 2013 annual report, page 54, accessed May 20201
  8. JTI, JTI Encounters 2017, JTI web site, 27 March 2017, accessed May 2021
  9. Japan Foundation, Drum Tao “Bukyo – Drumbeat” in Russia, Japan Foundation webs site, undated, accessed May 2021
  10. Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Double Vision: Contemporary Art from Japan, museum web site, undated, accessed May 2021
  11. National Cherry Blossom Festival, Opening Ceremony, festival website, undated, accessed May 2021
  12. The Future of Asia, website, undated, accessed May 20201
  13. Japan Foundation, Appointment of new President of the Japan Foundation, Japan Foundation web site, 1 October 2020, accessed May 2021