Canon Foundation is a collective effort to search the best skills and commitment of the European and Japanese candidates to Canon Fellows to the effort, study and research in all areas of knowledge. Both European and Japanese Canon Foundation Fellows must pass a competitive selection process, approved by Canon Foundation Board with the advice of the Selection Committee. Once elected, Canon Foundation pays the costs of research, travel and stay of all the Canon Fellows at the host university. Since I was appointed, I have appreciate both the human and professional qualities of all the Canon fellows, the commitment of the Foundation staff to its duties, and the support of Canon to success.
It was a privilege and a great pleasure to serve on various committees of the Canon Foundation in Europe. What attracted me was the broad aim and generous vision of the Foundation. Not only does it concentrate on developing close working relationships and friendship between distinguished academics from Europe and Japan. It also has a universal conception of what this involves. It does , of course, promote co-operative interaction between cutting edge empirical scientists. But it also welcomes scholars and artists from a wide range of cultural pursuits.
It was wonderful to meet and learn from these remarkable researchers. And it was also a great pleasure to make new friends from different countries on the committees of the Foundation.
In 2000 after an unexpected invitation to join the Executive Committee of the Foundation I participated in the selection meeting held in Madrid that year. I remained a member until 2010 when I reached the compulsory retirement age set by Dutch law. The assessment of Fellowship applications had been stimulating and educational, indeed I would have been happy to continue with this task. The scope of scientific topics covered was broad and often required me to explore topics outside my immediate areas of expertise. Over the decade there was a steady increase in the number and quality of the applications I reviewed. While the assessments took longer the knowledge that the applicants who received funding were of the highest international standard was adequate compensation.
Visits to Fellows in the UK and Japan reflected the scope of the research supported by the Foundation. I heard accounts of research in education, linguistics, history, social geography and medicine (where topics covered studies of inflammation, cancer and the implantation of artificial heart pumps). On one of the visits made in Japan I was shown a manuscript copied in the middle ages from an older original, which was an important source underpinning the Fellow's study of the early use of Chinese characters in Japanese documents.
Meeting with Fellows at regional meetings proved insightful. Most Fellows found that dealing with the differences in culture between Europe and Japan a valuable experience. The very positive impact that the Fellowship had on the subsequent careers of Fellows was particularly notable. The personal contacts Fellows made enabled them to pursue on going collaborations.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have played a small part in helping the Foundation to foster mutually beneficial relationships between Japan and Europe.
In annual fellow meetings of Canon Foundation in Europe, I am always impressed by excellent and charming alumni members. I hope that you also seize the opportunity to become key-persons bridging between Europe and Japan.
It was a pleasant surprise and an honour to be invited to join the Canon Foundation in Europe. Carrying out the duties which this implies has been a source of pleasure and stimulation over the past 7 years. Coming from an institution that had also pioneered international academic exchange, I was immediately attracted by the long-held commitment of the Foundation to foster working relationships and friendship between distinguished academics from Europe and Japan.
Canon Foundation continues to succeed and generate first-class applications that are complete and convincing, and from which we can observe the candidates’ personality and motivation as well as their involvement in their subject. This personal dimension, which I believe is central to the attraction and success that the Foundation achieves, is always perceptible within the exchanges that occur between members of the Foundation, staff and Fellows : there is a clear and shared feeling that the Foundation cares deeply about those who seek, grant and receive support for their work.
In my experience this exchange of young scientists - made possible by the Canon Foundation - provided a great opportunity for both the Japanese as well as the European fellows. It served as a scientific and intellectual challenge and resulted in a very fruitful experience as many fellows have reported after the year abroad. This exactly is in the full spirit of the Foundation.
For me the great things about the Canon Foundation is its focus on excellence across such a broad range of subject areas, and the way it fosters a community amongst its current and former Fellows. It’s very refreshing to go to a Fellowship selection meeting and hear exciting ideas discussed from Japanese history to pure mathematics, from contemporary social studies and Japanese art techniques to advanced engineering. Of course it’s then very challenging to pick out the best candidates from that mix to fund, but it’s great to see the range of what is proposed and also to see the impact that Canon Fellows’ work has had on many fields – including my own (quantum condensed-matter physics). I also really enjoy the annual Fellows’ Meetings, which bring together current and former fellows from a given geographical area. Recently we have started to combine these with a panel discussion on some aspect of the Europe-Japan relationship; though I am not an expert in this area, I really enjoy these discussions.