The foundation was established in a year of momentous change, 1989. In Japan, it opened with the end of the Showa period, and the ascension of a new emperor, the start of the Heisei Period. It closed with the fall of the Berlin Wall, an upheaval that changed the map of Europe and beyond. For many people, it was a year that ushered in a new era, new hopes.

For Japan, the 80s were a decade of heady economic growth, led by its export industries. But that success also triggered intense trade frictions and negative criticism, and we felt a pressing need to provide a more holistic perspective of our country—not just our technology and economic achievements, but the depth of the culture and its unique social institutions. TIFO was established with a straightforward mission, “to enhance understanding of Japan.”

During its initial phase, TIFO’s primary focus was on holding international symposia, collaborations in special exhibitions with leading museums outside Japan, donations of books for Japanese studies to university libraries overseas, and internship in Japan for students from Europe, the US and Asia.

The scope of our activities have expanded since then and today, our major activities are based on two pillars. Through grant giving, we support symposia organized by international educational institutions, academic societies and think tanks; events at museums around the world that showcase Japanese culture; research centered on Japan; and human resource development projects. Activities that TIFO itself initiates encourage next-generation leaders to cultivate an understanding of Japan, and promote research and publications on Japan.

In the 30 years since TIFO was founded, the world has changed, Japanese society too, and the need for mutual understanding and trust among nations and regions has grown stronger than ever. Aware of this, we constantly review how best to achieve our basic mission and priority themes. We are committed to maintaining an open stance and to considering and testing new perspectives and approaches. Through our activities, we will continue to contribute to the development/progress of global society.

Year Global events TIFO Activities
Fall of the Berlin Wall; US and Soviet leaders declare the end of the Cold War
TIFO is established on April 11, 1989

Heisei Period starts in Japan
1990 Three Baltic countries gain independence from the Soviet Union; German reunification
History 1st and 2nd TIFO symposiums held in Japan and France
HistoryJapanese panels donated to Louvre Museum
1991 Dismantling of the Soviet Union
History3rd TIFO symposium held in London
HistoryTIFO funds Japan-U.S. Media Conference
1992 Barcelona Olympic Games 
HistoryJapan-U.S. Metropolitan Exchange Symposium in Sendai
HistoryJapanese books donated to National Library of Malaysia
1993 The European Community (EC) integrated market is established
5th TIFO symposium held in SingaporeHistoryHistory
1994 North American Free Trade Agreement starts
Joint symposium held with the Boston Society of Japan on "The Role of the Artist in Contemporary Japan" 
HistoryGrant support for information brochure of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake
HistoryProvides support to the University of Venice for a symposium on Japanese author Tanizaki Junichiro
1996 Atlanta Olympic games
HistorySupports Japanese taiko (drum) performance at the Singapore Japan Culture Festival
1997 Asian currency crisis
HistorySupports Japanese film and performing arts at the University of Pittsburgh
1998 France host the soccer World Cup
EAJS(European Association for Japanese Studies) Fellowship starts
1999 Introduction of the euro,  European Union's (EU) single currency
Scholarship for National University of Singapore provided
Symposium held to commemorate the 10th anniversary of TIFO
2000 Sydney Olympic Games
HistoryTIFO Symposium held at the Louvre Museum
2001 Terrorist attacks in the United States
Supports exhibition on Ukiyoe in Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
2002 Japan and South Korea co-host the soccer World Cup
"The Written Image" exhibition shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY
"Kazari: Decoration and Display in Japan in the 15th - 19th centuries" shown at the British Museum
2003 Iraq War
HistoryThe 30th anniversary of the Vietnam-Japan Friendship Association held at Hanoi National University
HistorySymposium on "Reflections During 30 Years (1970-2000): Indonesia-Japan Relationship on Politics-Economy-Social, Culture and Language" held in Indonesia
2004 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami
Symposium held to commemorate the 15 year anniversary of TIFO
Japanese language education seminar at Old Japanese Students' Association, Thailand
2005 London terrorist attacks occur
HistoryThe Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, holds "Japan Problem Study Group"
First International seminar at held Josai International University
History"Gagaku cource" starts at Institute for medeiaval Japanese Studies, Columbia University
2006 Germany host the soccer World Cup
Supports a symposium held by University of Vienna on ukiyo-e caricatures
2007 Worldwide economic and financial turmoil as the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis hits
HistoryJawaharlal Nehru University International seminar on "India and Japan:Their Relationship in the New Era" held
Workshop held on "tales of Ise" at University of British Columbia 
2008 Benjing Olympic Games
HistoryCompletes conservation of The Mazarin Chest at Victoria & Albert Museum, U.K.
Economic downturn precipitated by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy HistoryFirst Toshiba Youth Conference held
2009 Dubai debt crisis
HistorySymposium held to commemorate the 20 year anniversary of TIFO
HistoryINALCO International symposium of Heian literature study in Paris
2010 Anti-government uprising occurs in Tunisia and ripples to other Arab countries
International academic society for Asian community in Indonesia held
2011 The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
"Chigusa & the Art of Tea" symposium held at Freer Gallery of Art and M. Sackler Gallery
A histrical strong yen (yen to dollar exchange rate updating) TIFO becomes public interest incorporated foundation
2012 London Olympic Games
EIJS International Conference on "EU-Japan Relations: An Agenda for the Future" held
2013 Tokyo wins the right to hold the 2020 Olympics
History10th Toshiba Lecture Series (London and Norwich, UK) held at Sainsbury Institute, U.K.
Mount Fuji registered as a World Natural Heritage Site HistoryThe 40th Anniversary of Japan-Viet Nam Diplomatic Relationship project held at Vietnam National University, Hanoi
2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil
Symposia and lectures held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of TIFO (U.S., Europe, Asia, Japan)
HistoryFirst summer school held for students of Japanese Studies at Center for Japanese Studies, University of East Anglia
HistoryFirst TOMODACHI Toshiba Science & Technology Leadership Academy held
2015 COP21 adopts Paris Agreement
HistoryFirst Toshiba Youth Club Asia held
2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games
HistorySymposium held to commemorate remodeling of Toshiba gallery at Victoria & Albert Museum
HistoryToshiba lecture series at Sainsbury Institute features Japanese robotics
HistoryMassashusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) holds Japan Design Workshop on reginal communities
2017 NASA's Cassini spacecraft ends the mission of Saturn probe
HistoryWorkshop on India-Japan Partnership for Economic Development held at Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations
2018 Zero intraregional tariff of 10 ASEAN countries 
HistoryCambridge University scholarship system starts
2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan
The 30th  anniversary of TIFO (April 11th)
Reiwa period to start in Japan
2020 Spread of COVID-19 
Shifted focus of its activities to on-line amid the pandemic
2021 Tokyo Olympic/Paralympic Game 
Sponsored EAJS Conference 2021