The South Africa-Japan University (SAJU) Forum is a platform with the aim of providing a structured framework for collaboration between the higher education institutions of the two countries. Its goals are 1) to increase mobility of researchers and students, 2) to increase joint R&D collaboration, 3) to establish exchange programs among universities and 4) to institutionalize cooperation among universities of the two countries.

The 4th SAJU Forum, held in Pretoria in 2019, opened the door to mutual dialogue between scholars, universities, government agencies, science councils, business and industry in South Africa and Japan. On the occasion, scholars of diverse specialities came together from both countries and shared their research, works, achievements, perspectives and challenges. The 5th SAJU Forum in July 2022 strove to consolidate and extend this dialogue.

This conference typically gathers researchers from universities, research institutions and science councils; researchers and academics from existing South Africa-Japan partnerships or collaborative projects; other academics; and representatives from government agencies and the private sector interested in engaging in relevant research initiatives.



Since SAJU 4, the world has encountered new challenges such as the CoViD-19 pandemic and its significant impact on the quality of human wellbeing, the accelerating effects of global warming, etc. Alongside these, the global community has witnessed high levels of mutual distrust and division based on anti-scientific, anti-intellectual and anti-rational information and thinking.

On the one hand, the rapid development of digital technology has had a major impact on both academia and everyday life. In academia, digital technology is changing the way education, research and results are implemented in society, opening up a world of possibilities. In everyday life, cyberspace has instantly connected people and dramatically expanded the scope of their activities. On the other hand, new challenges have arisen, such as the dilution of the boundary between truth and fakery, and the control of personal information by huge platforms, where problems in cyberspace are directly linked to problems in real space.

As these new challenges erupt, we, in academia, must strive to maintain a free and open dialogue and collaboration based on mutual trust. This is important if, as academia, we are to contribute to solving the grand challenges facing humanity. In this context, SAJU 5 assumed the theme Open Collaboration and Innovation with Trust.

Under this theme, the 5th SAJU Forum offered researchers and students of both South Africa and Japan an opportunity to share their research interests, achievements and perspectives, and to discuss possibilities for collaboration. It provided the opportunity to work out how scholars and universities in Japan and South Africa could explore the further development of collaboration as these societies work to address the grand challenges facing them, thereby helping to shape the development of a global commons of scholars and scholarship.



SAJU 5 envisaged academic collaborations between Japan and South Africa (and surrounding countries), including research collaboration, social implementation, student exchange, development and implementation of joint research and educational programs and recommendations and contributions to policy and measures. It was also hoped that the SAJU 5 Forum would develop a report that would potentially feed into the deliberations of TICAD 8, to be hosted in Tunisia in August 2022.



The Forum combined an abstract-driven academic conference with oral and poster presentations, panel discussions and interactive networking sessions. It was entirely virtual, using conference platforms such as Zoom (, Miro ( and Airmeet (

In addition to the academic presentations, the conference entailed:

  • Keynote lectures on perspectives and challenges toward open academic cooperation with trust,
  • Keynote lectures on lessons from experiences of bilateral cooperation,
  • Panel discussions on research funding, cooperation beyond academia and platforms for academic networking,
  • A student-led session on selected topics.

Research topics were clustered into three broad sub-themes:

  1. Health and wellness: medical science, public health, sports, arts, culture, education, transportation, city planning, and area studies.
  2. Security and social justice: food security, water security, agriculture, environment, clean energy, ecology, citizenship, resource management, poverty reduction, area studies, and politics.
  3. Growth, exploration and conservation: economics, business science, natural sciences, development, art and humanities, sociology, cultural studies, heritage, area studies, and politics.



The 5th SAJU Forum was organised by the Joint Organising Committee constituted from  representatives of related organisations and universities from South Africa and Japan, namely: University of Tsukuba, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Embassy of Japan in South Africa, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Universities South Africa, National Research Foundation, Department of Science and Innovation, Department of Higher Education and Training, Embassy of the Republic of South Africa, Japan.

Click here to view the Conference Report