The Next Generation Global Leaders Program “The Ship for World Youth Leaders” serves as a unique cross-cultural exchange program that aims to provide participating youth with the opportunity to enhance their leadership and management skills necessary to excel in an increasingly globalized world. By engaging in a series of expert-led seminars, and participant-led workshops and cultural activities, participants are challenged to deepen their mutual understanding, broaden global perspectives, and strengthen their spirit of international cooperation. Overall, the Ship for World Youth Leaders program aims to harness future leaders capable of contributing to society by exercising their leadership skills in various fields in the global society while establishing a strong human network beyond borders.


The “Japanese Youth Goodwill Cruise Program” was reorganized and upgraded to the “Ship for World Youth Program” in 1988. The The main objective of the former program, which was sending Japanese youth overseas, was changed, so that the exchange between Japanese and foreign youth became one of the main activities. The contents also became more academic through the introduction of activities such as discussions and seminars. The SWY program marked its 25th voyage in 2013.

Between 1991 and 2016, Canada has been invited to participate in 12 SWY voyages (3, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 24). In 2017, Canada will be participating once again in the 29th year of the program.

Approximately 120 Japanese youth and 150 overseas youth participate in SWY each year. The first SWY was in 1989 and since then over 3,500 youth from around the world have experienced the program. 

The SWY 7 program in 1995 established an alumni network for past SWY participants. Since that time, over 40 SWY Alumni Associations (SWYAA) have been established around the world. As part of the alumni association and individually, past participants promote youth and social development within their community.

For a more in-depth historical look at the ‘Japanese Youth Goodwill Mission Program’ dating back to 1959, visit http://www.shipforworldyouth.org/

Aims and objectives

The aims and objectives of the Ship for World Youth are:

  • To foster the spirit and practice of international cooperation
  • To promote friendship and mutual understanding between the youth of Japan and the youth of other parts of the world
  • To broaden the international awareness of participants
  • To develop youth capable of playing leading roles in various sectors of their societies and in turn contribute to the sound development of youth in their respective countries

How does it work?

The Government of Japan plans, organises, implements and finances the Ship for World Youth. Each year a number of countries are invited to send a delegation to join the program. No, some countries are chosen by the Japanese Embassy in that country- The invited countries will each have a delegation in the program that act as ambassadors for their country.

A typical program commences with the arrival of overseas participants in Japan. Participants spend a few days in Tokyo partaking in a number of institutional visits and experiencing some of the culturally significant parts of the city. Participants then spend a few days on a homestay with a Japanese family in another prefecture or province of Japan. This opportunity to stay with a family and experience Japanese life first-hand is one of the highlights of the program. The homestay is a fantastic opportunity for participants to learn about Japanese family life and to share with their host family what life is like in their own country. Many strong bonds of friendship develop and it is not uncommon for participants and their host families to continue to correspond and visit each other after the conclusion of the program.


As representatives of their country, participants are expected to share the views that the youth of their nation hold on a variety of issues. Canadian delegates will present Canadian culture, history, customs and values and participate in a range of discussions and seminars.

Life on the ship is an amazing experience. With participants from a diverse range of countries eating, sleeping, working and living side-by-side, there are many opportunities for improving cultural understanding, learning the principles of international cooperation and indeed for individual personal growth.

The formal program encompasses a range of activities that contribute to one or more of the objectives of SWY. The specific activities and focus areas differ from year to year, however the following are indicative of the types of activities that participants engage in:

  • Cultural exchanges
  • Sports activities
  • Lectures by international specialists
  • Formal and informal discussions
  • Social events
  • National presentations

In recent years, the formal discussion program has included such topics as:

  • Reform of the United Nations
  • Globalisation
  • Fishing and Oceans
  • Environment
  • Women and Gender issues
  • Volunteerism

University professors are on board to lead the seminars for their subject and takes into account the knowledge brought by the individuals from 10-15 nations.

The informal program is just as important in achieving the SWY objectives. Barriers and misconceptions are overcome as participants talk over lunch, minds are widened during dinner conversations, and life-long friendships are cemented as participants sing and dance well into the night. Delegates are expected to contribute to the informal program by presenting Canada through presentations, discussion groups or other events.

Countries visited

The Government of Japan decides the route and countries that will be visited each year. At each port a cultural exchange takes place, usually with a welcome from the host country, which is reciprocated by the delegations, Participants visit significant places such as schools, museums, art houses, and cultural centres. Local organiztions often arrange a sport event with local youth and there is usually free time to admire the sites and go shopping.


The Ship for World Youth program is organized and implemented by the Management and Coordination Agency of the Japanese Government in conjunction with the Cabinet Office. The Government of Japan covers the cost of airfares to and accommodation in Japan and during the cruise. Only a small amount of spending money is needed for free time during port of call visits and to purchase items from the bar, vending machines & souvenir shop on board the Ship.


English and Japanese are the common languages in the program. Other languages are considered an asset.