Call for Applications 2023/2024: Western Balkans Meet Japan – A Bridge Into the Future

WESTERN BALKANS/JAPAN – Are you intrigued by Japanese culture? Would you like to immerse yourself in a 7-day cultural experience that lets you delve deeper into it? The good news awaits you.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) are excited to collaborate for the fourth consecutive year to bring you the highly anticipated youth exchange program “Western Balkans meet Japan: A Bridge into the Future”. Taking place from Feb 13-Feb 20, 2024, this program welcomes 14 undergraduate or graduate students aged 20 years old or older, coming from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo* Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia to apply for a great opportunity of personal and professional growth.

Western Balkans meet Japan: A Bridge into the Future is a youth exchange program, organized under the MIRAI Program since 2018, aiming to deepen participants’ understanding of Japan and its policy, promote mutual understanding and reconciliation through intellectual and cultural exchange, and build a basis for future friendship and cooperation between Japan and the Western Balkans.

During last year’s exchange program, 23 participants from WB6 visited Sophia University and engaged with students and a professor from the Department of Education focused on peacebuilding. They discussed their perspectives on peace and identified threats to it, collaborating in groups to develop solutions. The visit involved a campus tour of Sophia University. The participants also learned about Japan’s peacebuilding initiatives, both domestically and in the Western Balkans, through visits to JICA HQ, JICA Tokyo, and JICA Hiroshima. In Hiroshima, they had discussions with JICA Hiroshima and a peacebuilding organization, exploring Japan’s approach to its past and the aftermath of the atomic bomb.

Eligible applicants:

  • Being a currently enrolled student in an undergraduate or graduate program and aged 20 years old or older on arrival in Japan.
  • Living in one of the Western Balkans 6 Contracting Parties and holding a passport issued by one of the WB6 (Applicants who have Japanese nationality are NOT eligible).
  • Having a good command of English.
  • Neither having participated in exchange or similar program(s) by the Government of Japan nor having lived in Japan.
  • Respecting the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation in the Western Balkans.
  • Having a valid passport.
  • In addition to the above eligibility criteria, it is desirable that applicants have interest in Japan or have been involved in studying or activities related to Japan.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro also need to apply for a visa to participate in the program. The organizers will inform the selected participants of the application process once decided.

Round trip international air tickets to Japan by economy class, overseas travel accident insurance, accommodation and transportation in Japan, meals during the program, and admission fees for scheduled activities in Japan are covered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (Participants shall pay their personal expenses, including passport, visa acquisition, vaccination, excess baggage charge, travel expenses between their home and the designated airport, and purchase of souvenirs/personal goods before or during the program).

Read the full overview of the program and check if you are eligible to apply by clicking the following button:


Please fill out this FORM in order to submit your application. 

To learn more about previous youth exchanges, please click the following buttons:


Deadline for applications is 10 September, 20223 at 23h59 CET Time. Only selected participants will be notified.

Contact points:

Marija Bulat                                

Head of Programs/RYCO 


*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence

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