TSSCA Commemorated Its Kick-off─Sakura Science Club Brought Us Closer!

On November 26, 2022, Taiwan Sakura Science Club Alumni Association (TSSCA for short) held its first online event, “Tie-up with Taiwan─Sakura Science Club Brings Us Closer.” Event moderator Mr. WU Chia-Hung officially opened the inaugural event. Headed by main coordinator Dr. PENG Chi-How (Professor, Dept. of Chemistry, National Taiwan University), the alumni group enthusiastically introduced many positive impacts of the program.


Honorable guests who are committed to promoting amicable relationships between Taiwan and Japan also congratulated TSSCA on its launch. Both TSSCA and JST extended deep gratitude to Mr. FURUYA Keiji (Member of the House of Representatives of Japan, President of Japan-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Association), Mr. HSIEH Chang-Ting (Representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan), and Mr. IZUMI Yasuhiro (Chief Representative of Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, Taipei Office). They unanimously gave encouraging words for the future successful development of TSSCA and Sakura Science Program (SSP).

Professor UCHIYAMA Hideho, Graduate School of Nanobioscience,
Dept. of Life and Environmental System Science, Yokohama City University (YCU)

The professor described the two SSP programs held so far at YCU. The 2016 program “Get Familiar with Cells and Life” featured cell dissociation and counting experiments, and surgical robot practice at YCU. The 2018 program “Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine” featured a symposium at YCU, and included the participation of National Formosa University, National Yan-Ming University, National Taipei University of Technology, and Tsinghua University. Participants also visited “cell factories” and were able to know about differentiation of pluripotent stem cells; how stem-cells turn into testis or liver; and how nerves regenerate. Prof. UCHIYAMA stated that all participants were able to recognize each other’s strengths and to widen their horizons, as if they all belonged to the same college. To quote the professor, “Sakura Science made everyone closer.”

Dr. CHOU Shyun, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Veterinary Medicine,
National Chung Hsing University (NCHU)

The second keynote speaker revealed how a coincidence during his Sakura Science Program changed his life. While he was enrolled in the doctoral program at NCHU in 2016, he joined SSP. Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University (NVLU) was the host university. Through visits to related universities and facilities, participants from different countries learned about the various specialized fields in veterinary medicine. At the time, an amazing coincidence caused him to reconnect with a Japanese doctor in parasitology through Facebook, which eventually led him to finish his PhD at NVLU in Japan. He did so with the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association scholarship. According to him, “without the SSP program I would not have obtained my PhD in Japan─it was a life-changing event for me.”

In regard to a question on the requirements for Japanese language proficiency, Dr. CHOU stated that it depends on the lab. People may also choose laboratories that conduct research in English. Dr. CHOU also mentioned that he will “engage in future parasitological research that connects Taiwan and Japan.”

Dr. SHIA Wei-Yau, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Veterinary Medicine,
National Chung Hsing University (NCHU)

Opening the session, he spoke on how SSP promoted exchange among young international scholars. Azabu University was the host when Dr. SHIA participated in SSP in 2020─right before the pandemic. Practical hands-on courses in cytology, microbiology, parasitology, reproduction, molecular biology, diagnostic imaging (ultrasound and CT scan) and acupuncture were given during the program. SSP enhanced communication among young scholars; such channels may lead to collaborative research in the future. In Dr. SHIA’s case, someone he met during SSP invited him to lecture about canine periodontal disease at a webinar hosted by Airlangga University.

When a participant asked what kind of collaborations would advance veterinary medicine, he replied─as a small animal surgeon─that he would like to learn surgical techniques from other countries and share such information himself. “This kind of communication is always a benefit to veterinary medicine,” he said.

LIU Chi-Chih, Master Student, University of Adelaide

Next was Mr. LIU Chi-Chih, a master’s student in Australia. He recollected his days at Tokyo Metropolitan Science & Technology High School, which inspired him to eventually seek his graduate degree outside of Taiwan. Besides Math and Science, he also attended other classes like Physical Education. He also competed in Sports Day, a huge school event in Japan where all students cooperate. The group from Taiwan also took part in after-school “club” activities, common at Japanese high schools. From his stay in Japan, he said he learned “teamwork─to work together and learn together” and “not to give up easily.”

Mr. WU Chia-Hung, Earth Science Teacher,
Kaohsiung Municipal Kaohsiung Senior High School (KSHS)

The last speaker was Mr. WU Chia-Hung, who also moderated the event. As a supervisor of students visiting Japan, he observed the positive effects of the Sakura Science High School Program (SSHP) when they visited Omiya High School (Miyazaki Prefecture). The two schools have mutually fostered exchange since 2016. Omiya High School students would usually visit Kaohsiung in February, while KSHS students visited Miyazaki every December. During the program, both schools shared findings about each other’s science projects. This exchange centering around science research went online during 2020-2021. Despite obstacles like scheduling difficulties and communicating in a foreign language, both sides were able to complete their projects. The KSHS group took the results to enter in Kaohsiung’s 62nd Science Fair and the team won a bronze medal, while Omiya High School entered Miyazaki Science Fair and won gold to move on to the national finals. These were unexpected but welcome accomplishments from the exchange program! Besides academic growth, Mr. Wu mentioned that the program promoted a “chain of kindness.”

After the two main sessions, Mr. Raymond Tan from the JASSO Malaysia Office guided the audience on the basic information for higher studies in Japan. JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization) provides educational information to international students. He highlighted world-class science and technology, affordable academic fees, and employment opportunity in Japan. The multitude of QR codes displayed during the session can be accessed from the official video of this webinar, now available on SSC YouTube Channel (Mr. Tan’s speech starts at 1:06:43):

Finally, Mr. ITO Sotaro, Director of Sakura Science Program, congratulated TSSCA and wished for the further strengthening of the alumni network and for members to return to Japan as students, researchers, or business persons.

Flyer created by Mr. WU Chia-Hung