On 2 and 30 September 2020, webinars on intercultural policy were held by the Cities of Ballarat and Melton, two Australian members of the Intercultural Cities Programme (ICC), together with fourteen students from Meiji University, who study intercultural issues in a seminar organised by Professor Keizo Yamawaki.
Professor Yamawaki, one of the leading scholars in immigration policy in Japan, has advised national ministries and local governments on various issues relating to diversity, inclusion and intercultural policy. Every summer he takes his seminar students abroad to study intercultural issues. This summer, because of the Covid-19 pandemic international travel is limited, a webinar with the two cities, which his seminar visited in the summer of 2018, was organised instead.
In both webinars, after an icebreaking session, the city officials presented their intercultural policy and programmes, followed by a Q&A session. After a break, Professor Yamawaki made a short presentation on Japan’s recent immigration policy reform and the students made a presentation on their activities, such as an intercultural workshop for elementary pupils, a roundtable of the mayor and foreign residents of Nakano City, where their campus is located, and production of videos on information on Covid-19 to foreign residents with narration in plain Japanese, followed again by a Q&A session.
In the second webinar, some high school students from Melton were also present, and after the two-hour official programme the Japanese and Australian students had an informal session to exchange about their common interests.
These two webinars had observers from various cities, including Hamamatsu, the first Japanese member of the ICC, Kobe, possibly the second member of the ICC, as well as Maribyrnong, another Australian city in the process of joining the ICC programme. There were also several observers from two Japanese semi-governmental organisations, The Japan Foundation and The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations, both of which have supported the exchange between Japanese cities and the member cities of the ICC network in Europe and beyond, together with the Council of Europe.