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Japan-France Exchange

Kyoto-based Japan-France Exchanges

In 1926, the then French Ambassador to Japan, Paul Claudel, and Katsutaro Inabata established a foundation for Franco-Japanese cultural exchange in Kyoto to promote French language education and cultural exchange.
In 1927, the Kansai Franco-Japanese Institute (Institut Franco-Japonais du Kansai) was built by the Kyoto foundation in the Kujoyama district of Kyoto. Katsutaro, who was also the Chairman of the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, asked business leaders in the Kansai region for their cooperation to the building of the institute. Katsutaro also played a key role when the Institute was relocated to its current location in front of Kyoto University in 1936.

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KFJI when founded in Kujoyama, Kyoto
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KFJI’s current building in front of Kyoto University, refurbished in 2003

The Kansai Franco-Japanese Institute changed its name in 2012 to become the Institut Français Kansai, continuing to serve as a center to disseminate French culture to the Kansai region. The Inabata Group sponsors the Academie de Musique Francaise de Kyoto, which is operated by the Institut Français Kansai.
Meanwhile, when the Société de Rapprochement Intellectuel Franco-Japonais (now Villa Kujoyama) was erected in Kujoyama on the site of the old Kansai Franco-Japanese Institute, Inabata fully cooperated with the construction as part of Inabata Group’s centenary events. An ad hoc team to prepare for the construction was set up inside the head office of Inabata, and Inabata also asked its business partners for cooperation. Under the direction of then-President Katsuo Inabata, all the staffs at Inabata worked together to help bring this project to fruition.

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Overview of the former Société de Rapprochement Intellectuel Franco-Japonais (now Villa Kujoyama)