East Asia 24.08.2012 - 13.09.2012

IFIL, in cooperation with the Swiss foreign policy think tank foraus, is offering a "once in a lifetime" intercultural round-trip through East Asia’s defining cities Tokyo, Kyoto, Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul. Meet leaders, scholars, students and officials to discuss economic, political and cultural issues.

The year 2012 will bring numerous important events to East Asia that will be discussed, analysed or simply enjoyed:

Politics: At its National Congress in autumn, the Communist Party of China is expected to announce Xi Jinping as the next Chinese President. In South Korea, general elections will be held in April and presidential elections in December. In Japan, the recurring question if the Prime Minister will become another one-year wonder (or not), has to be answered once again.
What are the implications of political changes in those three developmental states?

Economics: China and Japan are Switzerland’s most important trading partner in Asia. Besides the free trade and economic-partnership agreement between Switzerland and Japan (which will be in force for three years on 1 September 2012), there are ongoing negotiations with China. What is the potential of those trade links and what is the role of Korea where a new Swiss Business Hub was established in 2010?

Culture: This summer, South Korea will be in the world’s spotlight as it hosts the World Expo in Yeosu (12 May to 12 August 2012). Will Korean Pop culture also take over Europe and what is Switzerland’s image in Korea? We will find it out at a briefing at the Swiss embassy in Korea. In Beijing we will visit art galleries and in Kyoto we will experience the traditional life style, temples and local hot spas (Onsen). Is it possible to grasp on such a short journey the elements that form the Confucian cultural zone of East Asia?

Things we want to accomplish on this trip

  • Explore the bustling cities of Napoli and Palermo through the eyes of local residents and activists
  • Understand how the legacy of organised crime shaped Southern Italian mentality and contemporary political and economic affairs
  • Meet civil society organisations and young creatives who oppose corruption and organised crime, and see how they redefine local communities and business practices
  • Compare the images transmitted through popular representations of the Mafia, such as in the movie The Godfather, with the realities of the area around Corleone • Get in touch with social innovation and environmental sustainability movements
  • Reflect on the role Swiss financial institutions and corporate multinationals play in all this, and discuss the image of Switzerland with local communities

On this study trip you will:

  • Meet a member of the House of Representatives to discuss Japan’s political challenges.
  • Enjoy the Awa Dance Festival in the streets of Koenji, Tokyo
  • Participate in a Japanese business meeting simulation.
  • Stay in an old traditional Japanese house in Nishijin, Kyoto.
  • Embark on the Osaka-Shanghai ferry that takes you through Japan’s magnificent Inland Sea, the East China Sea and the world’s busiest container port of Shanghai.
  • Meet the Swiss business community in booming Shanghai.
  • Take a break from bustling Shanghai in the five-storey Xiao Nan Guo Spa.
  • Experience China’s new high-speed railway networks on our way from Shanghai to Beijing. 
  • Get to know the interns of the Swiss Embassy in Beijing
  • Learn about contemporary Chinese art when visiting galleries in Beijing
  • Enjoy the atmosphere around a Korean BBQ in the capital city Seoul.
  • Visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone where five Swiss soldiers work for the NNSC
  • Many more highlights will be added as we progress with the finalisation of further meetings and events.