This week the 4th South African-Japan Universities (SAJU) conference took place at the Future Africa auditorium at the University of Pretoria, where over 220 delegates were in attendance.

According to SAJU, all parties declared a deeply felt belief that collaboration between academics, institutions and nations is the way to go if the world’s problems are to be tackled and if the United Nations sustainable development goals are to be realised across the globe.

“What we have at SAJU is a collective space that allows for transdisciplinary research that crosses national borders and disciplines. We need to ensure that we use this space as this network opportunity cleverly, strategically, efficiently and productively,” said UP vice-chancellor and principal, Professor Tawana Kupe.

Furthermore, the Vice President of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Professor Jun Matsukuma, agreed that with relationships now solidified between South Africa and Japanese scholars over the past decade, it was time now to explore transdisciplinary collaborations, as this promised to create more positive outcomes.

“There is ample room for jurist and engineers, economics and medical scientist, and sociologist and geologist to now work together,” added Matsukuma.

Matsukuma adds that there are three advantages of the SAJU relationship.

Firstly both South Africa and Japan had made significant efforts to confront their own social problems and consequently had a unique perspective about science and its relationship with society.

Secondly, the SAJU forum serves as an ideal platform to hold conversations to foster mutual trust, which is a critical prerequisite for effective research collaboration.

Lastly, the openness of the SAJU forum to engage government and business communities has also afforded the forum the chance to engage and learn from practitioners as well.

[Image – USAf]