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To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty next year, a group of Japanese business leaders unveiled Friday a series of projects including a scholarship fund for American scholars specializing in Japanese studies.

The idea of launching the initiative was hatched in August 1995 by a group of prominent private sector leaders, including Yotaro Kobayashi, head of the Japanese Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), and Toru Hashimoto, chairman of Fuji Bank, to promote bilateral exchanges at the grassroots level.

The organizing committee for the projects, dubbed “A50,” is chaired by Yoshio Okawara, former ambassador to the United States. The “A” stands for both appreciation and America, according to group members.

The organizers said the projects were an expression of their gratitude for U.S. support and cooperation that helped lead to Japan’s post-war recovery, as well as their hope that they will contribute to strengthening the bilateral relationship in the next generation.

The proposed scholarship fund, valued at 300 million yen, would support about 10 people a year.

The first recipients will be selected in March 2001, they said.

The A50 projects also include the publishing of books on the history of the Japan-U.S. relationship in the post-war period. Two books, one from each country, will be published and available in both Japanese and English, the organizers said.

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