Scholars discuss common home and happiness for Asia

| Written by Jo. Florendo B. Lontoc

Atsumi International Foundation Executive Director Itsuko Atsumi hands Ambassador Jose Laurel V, conference keynote speaker, a sculpture as a token of appreciation. Photo by Bong Arboleda, UP MPRO


Hundreds of scholars from the Philippines and abroad presented papers on “Sustainable Shared Growth: Our Common Home and Happiness” at the 5th Asia Future Conference, hosted by UP Los Baños (UPLB) through the College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf),  from January 9 to 13, 2020 at the Bellevue Hotel, Alabang, Muntinlupa and the UPLB campus in Laguna.

The conference is organized every two years by the Sekiguchi Global Research Association, a division of the charitable Atsumi International Foundation (AIF) of Japan. It is held in different countries. The association is composed of non-Japanese researchers from all over the world who have conducted advanced studies in Japanese graduate institutions. The conference aims to give these foundation scholars a venue to discuss the future of Asia.


Asia Future Conference Chair Yasushi Akashi makes an “opening declaration”. Looking on are Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda, keynote speaker Jose Laurel V (hidden), UP President Danilo Concepcion, and UP Los Baños Chancellor Fernando Sanchez. Photo by Bong Arboleda, UP MPRO


“We are convening this time in the Philippines, which recent years have shown remarkable economic and other developments,” Conference Chair Yasushi Akashi, council member of AIF, said during his opening declaration. “We intend to focus on the question of the wealth gap, which is increasingly manifest as a global issue of major importance,” he added.

Leading the program were Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Castillo Laurel V, who delivered the keynote speech, “Achieving Sustainable Development Goals in the Age of Social Media”; and, discussing the theme from various perspectives, the panel of: Dean Rolando Bello, Dr. Ferdinand Maquito  and Dr. Josefina Dizon of CPAf; Dean Jose Camacho Jr. of the UPLB Graduate School; Arch. Michael Tomeldan of the UP Diliman College of Architecture; and, Dr. Peter Lee U of the University of Asia and the Pacific School of Economics.


Seated at Table 1 are Student Regent John Isaac Punzalan talking with UP Los Baños Chancellor Fernando Sanchez, and Secretary of the University Roberto Lara talking with Regent Francis Laurel. Photo by Bong Arboleda, UP MPRO


According to Maquito, the first AISF scholar from the Philippines, sustainable shared growth translates to three goals of efficiency, equity, and environmental friendliness. Common happiness would refer to “all our aspirations to lead fulfilled lives”.

The panel discussion was followed by paper presentations by 300 scholars in several roundtable and parallel sessions on a range of topics, from technology, resource and risk management to a dialogue of national histories, cultures, and religion; from literature and education to public governance; and, from empowering social groups to health and peace of mind.


Dr. Ferdinand Maquito of the UP Los Baños College of Public Affairs and Development, an Atsumi International Foundation scholar, introduces the Asia Future Conference to a group of journalists. Photo by Bong Arboleda, UP MPRO


The 20 best papers included studies on:  the social media usage of mothers and the health of toddlers;  urbanization and its effects on human living; liveable underground space design; cognitive empathy and relationship repair; localized climate financing; low-carbon residential energy system; prevalence of child maltreatment; teaching for wisdom; instability of piles in liquefiable ground; and, plastic characterization for easier recycling.

During the opening program, the conference participants were welcomed by UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez. Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda and UP President Danilo Concepcion gave congratulatory remarks.


Atsumi International Foundation (AIF) Managing Director Junko Imanishi introduces the foundation to a group of journalists. Looking on are AIF Council Member and Asia Future Conference Chair Yasushi Akashi and UP Los Baños College of Public Affairs and Development Dean Rolando Bello. Photo by Bong Arboleda, UP MPRO


“There is still much to be done in our country,” Concepcion said. “UP is grateful for institutions like the AIF that have been unceasing in their faithful efforts to provide opportunities for international exchange.” Since 2004, AIF has held 27 seminars in the Philippines on the theme of shared growth.

The AFC, the biggest program of the AIF, was attended by the AIF Executive Director Itsuko Atsumi and Managing Director Junko Imanishi, wife and daughter, respectively, of the late Takeo Atsumi, who was the president of the Kajima Construction Corporation of Japan, after whom the foundation was established.


UP President Danilo Concepcion thanks the Atsumi International Foundation (AIF) for its unceasing efforts at promoting sustainable and shared growth among people and countries. Looking on are AIF Executive Director Itsuko Atsumi, Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda, and Philippine Ambassador to Japan and Asia Future Conference keynote speaker Jose Laurel V. Photo by Bong Arboleda, UP MPRO