PARIS – Writing a doctoral thesis in the area of artificial intelligence while staying in Japan was a dream of Hugo Sarrade, who, at 23, fell victim to the deadly Paris terror attacks last November.
In tribute to his hopes, a scholarship program for French students who wish to study in Japan has been established at the initiative of his father, Stephane Sarrade, 50.
In an interview the father said he hopes the new scholarship will give opportunities to young people who have the same ambition Hugo did.
The Sarrade family’s ties with Japan began when the father, who now works for the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, or CEA, won an award for his doctoral dissertation in physical chemistry at an academic conference in Sendai in 1997.
Since then, he has worked on a joint research project with Tohoku University in Sendai and served as a visiting professor at Kumamoto University.
Together with Hugo, he visited Japan five times. Their sense of affinity with the nation deepened through their visits, the father said.
In October last year, Hugo traveled around Japan and got a tattoo on his chest reading jiyuu, the Japanese word for freedom, the father said.
After returning to France, Hugo Sarrade visited the Bataclan theater on Nov. 13, where terrorists went on a shooting rampage during a rock concert, killing 90 people, including him.
The name of the scholarship program, Bourse Jiyuu — Hugo Sarrade, celebrates the sentiment behind his tattoo.
Under the program, €5,000 (about ¥615,000) will initially be provided to one student a year. Scholarship funds will come from contributions from the father and educational institutes.
The first recipient is expected to be announced in late March.
Stephane Sarrade is considering launching another scholarship program for artificial intelligence researchers. He hopes Japanese firms will participate in the second initiative.