International Relations

The Massachusetts Hokkaido Relationship

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Friends since 1876

In 1876, the University's third president, Dr. William Smith Clark, was invited to Japan to help establish Sapporo Agricultural College, modeled after the land-grant college in Amherst, (now Hokkaido University) in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the U.S. State Department contracted with the University of Massachusetts Amherst to help strengthen the agricultural curriculum at Hokkaido. Through that program, 11 UMass faculty went to Sapporo and 52 Japanese faculty and students received advanced training in Amherst.

In the 1960s, Hokkaido president Harusada Suginome established the Hokkaido Youth Overseas Training Program through which the prefectural government sent more than 100 young professionals to UMass every summer. Around the same time, the Hokkaido Women's Overseas Study Group began sponsoring visits by Japanese women leaders to Amherst.

In 1969, professor John H. Foster, director of the Center for International Agricultural Studies, learned that the UMass-Hokkaido aid program was designated "the oldest technical assistance relationship between a U.S. university and a foreign university." Learn more...

Partners since 1990

The Massachusetts Hokkaido relationship became official at the Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival) in Sapporo in 1990. Governor Michael Dukakis simultaneously signed papers in the Massachusetts State House. In October 2005, both Hokkaido and Massachusetts celebrated the anniversary of the signing ceremony as has been the custom every five years.

For many years there have been educational exchanges between the University of Massachusetts and Hokkaido University. Every two years UMass students have the opportunity to participate in a summer program at Hokkaido University and Hokkaido University students regularly enroll at the University of Massachusetts.


  • Massachusetts Hokkaido Association
  • Learn more about the William Smith Clark Memorial located on the UMass Amherst campus
  • Visit the UMass Amherst Archives to learn more about the Massachusetts Hokkaido history
  • View our Hokkaido photo galleries
  • View President Wilson's presentation "The Massachusetts Hokkaido Connection"

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