The Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance to Japanese and American undergraduate and graduate students pursuing study abroad program or international study in either the United States or Japan. A generous endowment gift of $10 million from Mr. Toshizo (Tom) Watanabe to the U.S.-Japan Council makes it possible to award scholarships to students for whom international study would not be possible without financial support.
Beginning in 2016, this scholarship program has allowed Japanese students to study in the United States, and since 2019, has allowed American students to study in Japan. The scholarship will support the cost of attendance to the institution or study abroad program of the applicant’s choice and grants awards to recipients in amounts determined by financial need and other qualifications.
The application period for this cycle covering Fall 2023 – Spring 2024 has closed.
Please see the following documents containing important information:
Eligibility (to study abroad in Japan)
- U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Currently in good academic standing at an accredited college or university in the United States.
- Undergraduate and graduate students (international study by the means of study abroad program or independently enrolling as a degree-seeking students)
- Will be enrolled in an exchange program or credit-bearing course of study at a university or approved academic center in Japan in the upcoming academic year. Applicants who have not confirmed a school or are already enrolled in a Japanese school as a degree-seeking student are eligible. Cannot be used for language schools.
- Demonstrates financial need for international study (i.e., would not be able to pursue international study without financial assistance or support)
- Priority given to undergraduates. Graduate students and international degree-seeking students may also apply.
Preference Will Be Given to Applicants Who Meet the Following Criteria (Note: Not Required)
- Applicants who have been raised by a single parent or an orphan.
- First in family to attend or graduate from college (i.e., first-generation)
- Applicants without international study experience or experience living abroad.
Click here for eligibility requirements to study abroad in the United States.
For any questions, please email [email protected].
Meet the 2023-2024 Watanabe Scholars
Ⓐ indicates a previous recipient of the scholarship
** indicates a TOMODACHI alumnus or previous recipient
^ indicates a graduate student
Home Institution: The institutions where students are enrolled.
Host Institution: The universities where students are currently completing their study abroad or research.
Home Institution: Denison University
Host Institution: Denison University
Nao is a rising junior majoring in communication and global commerce at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. Her international experience and mindset that she has developed as a living in China and earning an International Baccalaureate diploma have cultivated her appreciation for active learning, allowing her to approach issues and find solutions from various perspectives and fields of study. This passion for multidisciplinary learning has continued to flourish at her liberal arts college.
Receiving the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship will enable her to continue her academic journey alongside her peers without the need for a gap year. The scholarship’s support will allow Nao to dedicate more time to her studies and pursue her passion for learning about theater technology while also assisting other international students during her free time.
Home Institution: University of California Davis
Host Institution: Waseda University
Charmaine is a fourth year student at the University of California, Davis majoring in Japanese and communications with a minor in psychology. After growing up in Japan for 8 years, Charmaine returned to America to gain perspective on the cultural differences between the two countries. She is excited to be returning to Japan to study abroad at Waseda University to become better acquainted with how to become a multicultural psychiatrist.
While abroad, she hopes to network with individuals who hope to work together for a brighter future for younger children who struggle with their mental health. With the support of the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship, she will be able to focus on internships centered around childhood early intervention and volunteer to help the community on the weekends. After her study abroad program ends, Charmaine will return to America to attend medical school and eventually start a non-profit organization in Japan that will collect various mental health resources for younger children and families.
Home Institution: Paint Branch High School
Host Institution: Temple University, Japan Campus
Tiffany is a rising freshman at Temple University Japan, where she is planning on majoring in international business and minoring in Japanese. From a young age, Tiffany has been interested in both the American and Japanese business industries. Her father’s job forced Tiffany to learn more about the two cultures; this motivated her to understand the cultural differences between America and Japan. In college, she hopes to gain the skills and abilities needed to become a liaison for companies wanting to connect with either American or Japanese companies. Despite her eager mindset, one thing set her back: the financial burden of college. Knowing her father had limited ability to work due to his injury from the military, she feared that college would be an impossible dream.
With the help of Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship, Tiffany can attend Temple University without burdening her single father who has constantly been providing for her and her sister. With her study abroad experience, Tiffany also hopes to gain more communication skills, especially in Japanese, to help her connect with her Japanese side so that she can reach out to a larger platform of audiences.
Phoebe (John) Buggy
Home Institution: University of Toledo
Host Institution: Rikkyo University
Phoebe is a third year political science major at Toledo University attending Rikkyo University in Tokyo. Receiving the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship means that she is not only the first in her family to attend college, but the first in her family to study abroad as well.
Pursuing language learning has always been something really important to her and she wants to use the opportunities provided by the study abroad experience and the generosity of the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship to pursue a career in the State Department and help support Americans living abroad. She is very excited to go out and see the world and different cultures. Coming from a small town in America, living in a large city like Tokyo will be very different from what she’s used to, but the future is full of changes and she is very excited for it!
Home Institution: St. Edward’s University
Host Institution: Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
Receiving the Toshizo Watanabe Scholarship will allow Jose to keep pursuing his dream of attaining a dual degree in global studies from St. Edward’s University and international relations from Ritsumeikan APU. After three years of taking Japanese in high school, he realized that he wanted to study abroad and immerse himself in the culture. However, as a low income first generation student, a goal such as this seemed almost impossible.Thanks to this scholarship, he will be able to keep studying the language in Japan.
Half of Ritsumeikan APU’s student body is composed of international students. This will enable him to learn more about not just Japanese culture, but other cultures as well. He hopes that gaining a much deeper understanding of cultures and people will give him a more informed view of the world and what people tend to value. These experiences will prove valuable as he works toward his ultimate goal of working at an embassy or consulate. In the end, this scholarship has granted Jose a chance to continue pursuing his greatest dream.
Home Institution: Willamette University
Host Institution: Tokyo International University
Elise is a junior majoring in Japanese studies, psychology and data science. She is looking forward to her year abroad at Tokyo International University, aided by the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship. She became interested in Japan while her family hosted exchange students from Okinawa when she was young, sparking her desire to begin studying the language independently so she could one day become fluent and better understand Japanese culture. By participating in mentorship programs for Japanese students studying English at her college and volunteering to teach Japanese culture to local middle school students, Elise has continued to share her love of language learning to the present day.
She is excited to finally participate in a program that celebrates intercultural literacy by placing students with host families and integrating them into their local community. Elise hopes to participate in music and other creative clubs on campus, using shared interests to improve her Japanese fluency and bridge language and cultural barriers. Elise is extremely grateful for the Watanabe Scholarship and the U.S.-Japan Council for making her dream possible. She hopes to continue studying Japanese linguistics and literature after returning from Japan, fueled by the experiences afforded to her by this scholarship.
Home Institution: Sapporo Shinyo High School
Host Institution: Denison University
Akari was born and raised in Japan; enrolling in Denison University as a member of the class of 2027 will be her first experience going abroad. She is planning to major in Educational Studies and Psychology.
She went from not attending junior high school for two and a half years to being invigorated by her high school teachers when she returned to high school. The experience shaped her ambition to facilitate opportunities for Japanese youth to feel hope for their future and take action independently. She is interested in education in the United States and exploring what has motivated many students to take action for their future selves and exploring their interests.
She strongly believes that in Japanese education, it is essential for a leader to have a multifaceted perspective cultivated through a liberal arts education, as it enables them to lead a team effectively in improving educational opportunities.
The Watanabe Scholarship has given Akari the opportunity to learn more and explore ways to achieve her ambition without any financial burden. Additionally, she is looking forward to meeting members of the U.S.-Japan Council who have diverse backgrounds, interests and perspectives.
Home Institution: Whitney M. Young Magnet High School
Host Institution: Grinnell College
Meilin is an incoming freshman at Grinnell College, intending to major in anthropology on a pre-med track. Her dream is to become a pediatric heart surgeon and establish a non-profit organization combating congenital heart disease (CHD) in Nigeria. At Grinnell, Meilin is thrilled to conduct research on CHD and gain unique perspectives on health around the world. Meilin is fluent in four languages and has traveled to more than 20 countries for the National Chess Team of Japan and the National Golf Team of Brazil. She is excited to continue meeting people from all over the world and learning new languages.
Meilin is very thankful for the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship, as it will support her studies at Grinnell, bringing her closer to her dream of becoming a pediatric heart surgeon. Having participated in a USJC networking event at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago this year, Meilin is excited to engage in the many networking events offered by USJC as a Watanabe Scholar. In high school, Meilin was the president of the Japanese Culture Club and the Japanese National Honor Society, and she hopes to continue following her passion for Japanese culture by joining the Japanese Cultural Association.
Leona Iizuka Ⓐ
Home Institution: Vanderbilt University
Host Institution: Vanderbilt University
Leona is a junior at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in economics. She recently transferred from Brandeis University, where she spent two years double majoring in business and psychology. Born in New York and raised in Tokyo, Leona’s interest in the United States and desire for a liberal arts education brought her to college, allowing her to design a unique academic plan to nurture her curiosity. She firmly believes in the value of a liberal arts education, recognizing that seemingly unrelated aspects of her academic and extracurricular involvement have begun to intersect.
This interdisciplinary approach has equipped her with diverse knowledge and skills. In addition, she had the privilege of interning at a startup in the United States, where she worked as an entry-level consultant and developed her skills as a UX researcher. Leona truly appreciates being part of the U.S.-Japan Council and receiving the Watanabe Scholarship, which has facilitated her academic journey. She is committed to leveraging her experiences and education to contribute to entrepreneurship development in Japan and to strengthen the economic bond between Japan and the United States.
Home Institution: Waseda University
Host Institution: The University of Chicago
Daichi is a graduate student at the University of Chicago pursuing a Master of Science in applied data science. His prior professional experience in the financial industry has motivated him to acquire the latest knowledge in data science and apply it to financial markets, with the aim of contributing to the progress of the global financial industry. Throughout his study at the University of Chicago, he has been particularly excited about collaborating with industry partners to solve real-world problems through data science and deepen his understanding of businesses in the United States.
In the long term, he intends to leverage the knowledge gained through his study in the United States, where data science and machine learning are at the forefront, to contribute to the progress of startups in Japan. He is eager to drive innovation and growth in Japan’s entrepreneurial landscape by applying his expertise. He expresses sincere gratitude to the Watanabe Scholarship for giving him such an opportunity.
Home Institution: International Christian University
Host Institution: University of Massachusetts Amherst
As a child, Sari lived in both France and the United States. She decided to turn down a job offer and postpone her graduation in order to make her dream of studying abroad a reality. She is currently completing a major in sociology with a minor in gender and sexuality studies.
As a freshman, Sari founded ICU PRISM, a student organization on gender issues. She has also been involved in activities close to minorities, such as hosting discussion events, disseminating information, creating communities for minorities and distributing free sanitary products in all-gender bathrooms. As a result of these activities, Sari realizes the importance of raising awareness of gender issues in order to enact change within unequal social structures. Sari also runs an organization on nuclear issues and gender, which is based on her experience studying nuclear weapons and peace in Nagasaki.
She would like to study the connection between racial and gender studies in the United States, where racial studies are flourishing, and hopes to write a paper on the process of the majority becoming aware of their privilege.
Home Institution: American University, Ritsumeikan University
Host Institution: American University, Ritsumeikan University
Nodoka is a junior at American University and Ritsumeikan University. She is majoring in international relations in the Joint Degree Program where she will graduate from both the Japanese and American institutions while pursuing one degree. She has been eager to establish a neutral view of international relations by studying in the two countries ever since she attended high school in the United States and experienced the gap in perspectives between the United States and Japan.
She developed an interest in spreading correct awareness of Japanese culture after learning how Japan is perceived outside the country. During her stay in Washington DC, she was selected as the Goodwill Ambassador for the 2023 National Cherry Blossom Festival and completed her mission to educate local elementary school students about Japan and promote the Japan-U.S. friendship. Though studying in the United States has been economically challenging, the scholarship makes it possible for Nodoka to continue her learning at American University and make the most of this wonderful opportunity in DC.
Home Institution: University of California San Diego
Host Institution: University of California San Diego
Rina is majoring in bioengineering; she loves biology and engineering and aspires to build a medical device that can cure pediatric patients. Interning at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Medical Science allowed her to learn the basics of molecular biological research. During her internship, Rina met a leukemia patient who was not only the same age, but also had the same name. This encounter made her even more determined to help patients. Furthermore, this encounter exposed Rina to a new worldview. She understood that as a healthy individual, she could not interact with the world in the same way these pediatric patients did.
During her stay at UCSD, she is looking forward to learning the basics of manufacturing medical devices and starting a venture company and applying that knowledge. Rina is excited to learn bioengineering in San Diego because she understands that the United States has the largest medical device market and offers her the best educational opportunity to learn about manufacturing medical devices; additionally, because of the fact that doctors, engineers and investors actively interact with one another, she recognizes the opportunity to expand her knowledge.
Moreover, she is hoping to be a bridge between Japan and the United States and contribute to both countries, which is the ultimate goal of the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship.
Home Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Host Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Raised in Tokyo, Misaki now studies computer science and economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Her global educational journey, from the Philippines to Armenia, has fostered her deep respect for diversity, technology and entrepreneurship. Starting at 13, Misaki embarked on her global journey, honing her multilingual skills in the Philippines and immersing herself in Armenian culture. These experiences have sharpened her spirit of independence and her proactive nature.
With aspirations of bridging Japan and the world, Misaki is leveraging her multicultural experiences and dedication to learning. Her focus on emerging sectors shaped by 5G and IoT fuel her dream of launching a tech startup, aiming to catalyze Japan’s economic growth and innovation.
Despite the financial hurdles she has faced as a first generation student, Misaki remains unwavering in her commitment to her education. Her parents, who were never granted the opportunity to attend university, instilled in her the importance of hard work and education. The Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship symbolizes a transformative opportunity for Misaki, propelling her towards her academic aspirations. Her interest in the United States grew from her desire to engage in its diverse, dynamic learning environment, and she hopes to contribute to the tapestry of its multicultural society while she studies there.
Home Institution: DePauw University
Host Institution: DePauw University
Kenshin is a rising sophomore at DePauw University pursuing a major in psychology. He is interested in learning about psychopathology and is especially passionate about helping children and adolescents who are cognitively challenged. Mental health has garnered attention as a major health issue affecting countries globally; therefore, he believes that studying in the United States will provide him with a rich environment that will expose him to multitudes of social and cultural contexts which will aid him in accomplishing his educational and career goals.
As a degree-seeking student, he is looking forward to cultivating knowledge and skills through various practical experiences such as volunteering and participating in internships at mental health care centers. He also believes that such an environment will prepare him to become a global citizen that has a cross-cultural understanding of mental health issues. However, with the unanticipated rise of tuition and the further weakening of the yen, studying abroad has become a challenge for Kenshin and his family. But through the generosity of Mr. Watanabe and the U.S.-Japan Council, he is able to continue his studies with a lessened financial burden. He greatly appreciates the support which has built an increased sense of confidence to achieve his goals.
Jeramy Vargus Rodriguez
Home Institution: College of San Mateo
Host Institution: Kwansei Gakuin University
Jeramy is a junior at San Francisco State University where he is majoring in English education and minoring in Japanese language. Jeramy is a first generation student who is working towards becoming an English teacher in Japan. Receiving the Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship means he gets to experience Japanese culture and language, as well as gain experience living in Japan as a student before he embarks on his teaching journey. Jeramy looks forward to studying the subject he loves in a different country, something he wouldn’t have been able to afford, and the scholarship program will give him the tools, resources and financial support to succeed.
Jeramy grew up in the foster care system up until the age of seven, when he was reunited with his birth father. This experience enabled Jeramy to experience different cultural backgrounds within the United States, which influenced his interest in learning new cultures from around the world. Above all, Jeramy is looking forward to learning the Japanese language and culture firsthand. Moreover, Jeramy loves to read Japanese light novels, so learning the language can open him to a whole new world of books.
Home Institution: Middle Tennessee State University
Host Institution: Kansai Gaidai University
Sabrina is a female African American senior attending Middle Tennessee State University. Sabrina has been interested in Japanese culture since she was thirteen years old and watched her first anime in Japanese. Ever since then, she has dreamed of going to Japan. She loves learning new languages and the Japanese language was very interesting to her. Sabrina was born in Memphis and has lived there ever since. She started studying Japanese in high school, and when she entered college, she majored in Japanese with a minor in global studies.
While at MTSU she made a lot of friends out of the Japanese exchange students on campus. Listening to the exchange students’ experiences living in Japan made her more excited to finally go.
Sabrina is going to be attending Kansai Gaidai in fall of 2023. The Watanabe Scholarship means so much to Sabrina. Sabrina lives in a single-parent household, and this scholarship helps Sabrina pursue her dream of going to Japan which would have been very difficult without financial support. Sabrina looks forward to learning and doing so many things in Japan such as learning more about the language and experiencing the culture firsthand.
Home Institution: University of California San Diego
Host Institution: University of California San Diego
Shota is a sophomore at University of California San Diego (UCSD) majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Business and Economics. He has shown a strong interest in AI and computer vision and dreams of applying his knowledge and skills to our daily lives, particularly in the fields of self-driving cars and drones. Since high school, he has been interested in the technological innovations on the West Coast of the United States and has been eager to study there. He was able to make this dream come true by enrolling at UCSD. Though he was fortunate to receive a JASSO scholarship, currency fluctuations hindered his capacity to fully dedicate himself to his academic pursuits without further financial support.
The generous support of the Watanabe Scholarship enables him to continue his studies in the United States. At UCSD, he hopes to pursue more research opportunities, manage IT-related projects in English and gain experience through internships at American tech companies. Utilizing his study in the United States, he aspires to contribute to the development of human life in Japan, United States and the rest of the world.
Home Institution: Colorado School of Mines
Host Institution: Shibaura Institute of Technology
Micah is a sophomore at the Colorado School of Mines majoring in Chemical Engineering. He will be attending the Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT) in Tokyo. Micah started learning Japanese in his junior year of high school by speaking with Japanese friends online, which spurred a love of Japan’s unique culture and history. He is excited to go to Japan and improve his proficiency in the language, hoping to achieve native-level fluency in the future. He also wants to learn about the Japanese business culture, as he hopes to work in Japan one day.
Micah aims to work in aerospace with a focus on chemical engineering once he graduates. To this end, he will spend his time in Japan learning about JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, and what the aerospace industry looks like in Japan. Thanks to the Watanabe Scholarship, he will now be able to learn and grow at SIT.