The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (SYLFF) is a fellowship program aiming to identify fellows who have high potential for leadership in international affairs, in public life or private endeavor. The Sylff Program is a collaborative initiative of  the Nippon Foundation, the endowment donor, and the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research (TF), the program administrator. The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens is the only Higher Education Institution in Greece selected for participation to the program by the Foundation since 1993.

Until today, 305 students of the NKUA pursuing postgraduate or doctoral studies in social sciences and humanities programs with an international dimension have been awarded with the SYLFF fellowship.

For the Academic Year 2019-20 the following six (6) fellows were nominated to receive a fellowship of $8,300 each. The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research, as the program administrator, is responsible for the management of SYLFF fellowship program and payments are made directly by the Japanese Foundation to the nominees.

  • Athanasiadis George, postgraduate student of the Department of History and Archeology
  • Dikaios George, PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration
  • Grammatikopoulos Alexander, postgraduate student of Department of Theology
  • Katopodi Helen, postgraduate student of the Law School
  • Kerentzi Persefoni , PhD candidate in the Department of Early Childhood Education
  • Panagiotakis Achilleas, postgraduate student of the Department of Philology

On February 12, 2020 the above six (6) nominees were greeted by the Rector, Professor M.A. Dimopoulos; the Ambassador of Japan to Greece, Yashiro Shimizu; the Chairman of the NKUA Program Steering Committee, Vice-Rector for Academic and Student Affairs, D. Karadimas and the Professors, members of the Committee:  E. Iliadou (Law), S.Thomadakis (Economics) and I. Panagiotopoulos. (Theology), at the reception for the signature of the fellows' MOUs with the TF

The Rector welcomed the Ambassador and congratulated the fellows for their selection to receive the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship for the academic year 2019-20. He pointed out that being part of the SYLFF family is not only an honor but a responsibility as well, since Sylff fellows should be leaders who will overcome differences, such as nationality, language, ethnicity, religion and political systems, in order to tackle global issues. Their high integrity and drive to address unique issues to their respective countries can make a real difference. But it is also our responsibility, Professor Dimopoulos continued, since the University of Athens is in fact the only Higher Education Institution in Greece selected for participation to the program by the Sasakawa Foundation; it is an honor for us because scholarships are awarded only to selected 69 Universities worldwide in 44 countries.

The students presented themselves and their area of research and also thanked the TF and the NKUA for their support. Indicatively,

  • "It is of great importance that a Foundation promotes postgraduate studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. I am grateful to the Tokyo Foundation and the NKUA Committee for the honorary selection and the financial support they are offering me"- G. Athanasiadis
  • "The honor of receiving a scholarship with significant international recognition is great. Even greater is the opportunity to become a fellow of the SYLFF Association, which offers opportunities for all members to academically grow throughout their careers. I am deeply indebted to SYLFF, as that this scholarship will, first of all, enhance and support my doctoral research in European external action and climate diplomacy" - G. Dikaios
  • "I would like to thank the Tokyo Foundation Committee for selecting me to be among the potential leaders, who represent the organisation worldwide. It is a great honor for me to be affiliated with this scholarship as it offers a great opportunity in order to develop both my research and personal goals" - H. Katopodi
  • "In the underfunded field of the Humanities, this partnership between the NKUA and the Nippon Foundation provides great opportunities for young researches , therefore both institutions should be commended for their initiative" - A.Panagiotakis.

Then, Professor S.Thomadakis, congratulated the fellows, and notified Ambassador Shimizu that "the relationship of the University of Athens with SYLFF and the Tokyo Foundation has been a long and fruitful one. Many Greek students have benefited from the Fellowships and went on to distinguish themselves in their fields and in impactful activities. We cherish and want to nurture and enrich this relationship. We urge our newly successful students, in receiving the fellowship, to seek to achieve socially valuable roles in their respective fields". When receiving this scholarship, our students become members of a large community of over 16,000 fellowships from 44 countries and a very strong Japanese foundation that continues to support its alumni fellows through other programs and opportunities offered to them. We encourage our young fellows to get involved in other programs offered by the TF and actively participate in social activities.

Professor E. Iliadou expressed her satisfaction of the final selection of candidates; the selection process was very demanding because the majority of candidates was highly  qualified, not only judging by academic criteria but also by maturity and extroversion, as revealed during the interview process. Alongside the above, Professor Panagiotopoulos - who had also been the first Sylff nominee from Theology - emphasized the importance of a candidate's personality, extroversion and leadership potential as of the utmost importance for the final selection of the nominees.

As discussed, fellows who have already received the Sylff fellowship can then apply directly to the Tokyo foundation to be considered as candidates under other programs. Mrs Bonori, NKUA Sylff fellow for the academic year 2017-18 was also invited at the ceremony as she has recently been selected from the TF to participate to the Sylff Research Abroad (SRA) program and she gave her impressions.

The Vice-Rector, Professor D. Karadimas congratulated the fellows and also informed them about other support programs offered by the Sylff Association, aiming to facilitate Sylff fellows’ academic advancement, leadership development and networking among one another. He also read a message from Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Sylff Association and the Nippon Foundation emphasizing on the "The choice of what we do with our Association membership, though, is ultimately up to you. I hope you’ll choose to maximize your engagement with our community and enrich your Sylff experience. I look forward to working closely with you to make the Sylff Association a truly dynamic movement that facilitates positive change in society".

Finally, the Ambassador of Japan to Greece, Yashiro Shimizu  thanked the Rector for the invitation and the Committee for the selection of the fellows as well as their constant relationship with the Sasakawa Foundation and their willingness to enrich this relationship. He congratulated the new fellows and expressed his willingness for further cooperation in the fields of education and culture, highlighting also possibilities for cooperation between the two countries in related areas. The Ambassador was also informed about the close cooperation of the University of Athens with Japanese Universities  for the exchange of faculty, researchers and students like Keio, Waseda and Ritsumeikan Universities.

Finally he was particularly interested in the new BA Program in the Archaeology, History, and Literature of Ancient Greece, which it is the first English-taught Bachelor's degree program at a Greek University and is addressed exclusively to prospective University students from countries outside the European Union.  The Rector and the Ambassador agreed to a close cooperation also regarding this new program.

Message from  Yohei Sasakawa
Chairman of the Sylff Association
Chairman of The Nippon Foundation

"Sylff is a global fellowship program aimed at nurturing leaders, like you, who will initiate action to transcend differences and address issues confronting contemporary society. The qualities such leaders must possess will change as society changes, and forms of effective leadership will invariably differ from one region to another.

I hope that every one of you will give renewed thought to what leadership qualities are required in today’s world to promote peaceful, sustainable, and socially inclusive development. And I hope that you will actively share your insights, knowledge, and experience with fellow Association members.

One thing that makes Sylff unique from other global fellowship programs is the support offered to fellows throughout their careers - not just during the fellowship period. The new Sylff Association will play a key role in strengthening this distinctive quality.

The choice of what we do with our Association membership, though, is ultimately up to you. I hope you’ll choose to maximize your engagement with our community and enrich your Sylff experience. I look forward to working closely with you to make the Sylff Association a truly dynamic movement that facilitates positive change in society".