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Mongolian doctors visit Toyama Prefecture to studying medicine-kit system [2008/06/23]
Mongolian doctors at a noodle restaurant
On May 19th, a team of Mongolian doctors visited Japan to study the centuries-old Toyama medicine-kit system. The doctors, who came at the invitation of The Nippon Foundation, accompanied salespersons on visits to ordinary homes, acquiring experience and familiarity with the system. This was the third such visit that the program has conducted since its launch in 2006.
Dr. Begzuren Dagwatseren (55), of the Mongolian Traditional Medicine Technology and Industry Association lead 10 women and 2 men on this visit. Since 2004, in cooperation with the NGO Vansemberuu-Mongolia (VM), the Nippon Foundation has promoted a traditional-medicine program in Mongolia, promoting use of the Toyama medicine-kit system in five Mongolian provinces and 15 districts with high nomadic populations. The team that visited Japan this year consisted of program workers who had excelled in collecting payment for medicines used. For Gursed Oyunchimeg (54), who achieved the highest performance, it was the second visit to Japan, following a visit two years earlier. After paying courtesy calls to VM Chairman Yuji Mori, The Nippon Foundation and the Embassy of Mongolia, the team moved on to Toyama for on-site training.
Courtesy calls to prefectural offices and city hall
On the first day in Toyama Prefecture, members of the delegation visited the Toyama prefectural offices and Toyama city hall, meeting with the director of the prefectural Health and Welfare Department and the deputy mayor of the city. (Photo: A salesperson describes the system before making home visits)
In the afternoon, the team visited the Mizuhashi Home Medicine-Kit Cooperative, where chairman Norio Kikuchi introduced them to three medicine-kit sales representatives. The team then accompanied the salespeople on their rounds, as they visited local residences and restaurants. (Photo: A commemorative photograph taken in front of a statue of a forebear of today's medicine salespeople)
“This was a great day,” said Team leader Dagwatseren, who made visits to individual homes that day. “It was quite a moving experience. I felt I was visiting the heroine’s home from the popular Japanese television drama “Oshin.” Two elderly women told us they'd used the medicine kits since they were children. It's wonderful how Japan preserves its traditional culture, even as it has developed as a modern nation.”
Later, the team went to the Institute of Natural Medicine at the University of Toyama, the Toyama Medicinal Plant Guidance Center, medicinal companies, the Kitanippon Shinbun newspaper, and other sites to observe the use of the Toyama medicine-kit system, before returning to their home country.
An API fellow giving a lecture on the moderate-Islam movement [2008/06/02]
Dicky Sofjan, an Indonesian fellow
The Nippon Foundation Fellowships for Asian Public Intellectuals (API Fellowship Program), is a fellowship started by the Nippon Foundation in 2000 to develop the human resources needed to address various problems facing Asia. On April 8th, the program held a seminar in the Nippon Zaidan Building in Tokyo. Dicky Sofjan, an Indonesian fellow, gave a lecture entitled, "The Sound of Silence: Moderate Muslims' Response to 9-11 and the War on Terrorism." The program intends to continue to provide fellows with similar opportunities to present their research results to the public.
The scholarship project is operated by five countries: Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. A total of 30 fellows (six from each country) carry out research activities in another of the group's countries every year. Mr. Sofjan is one of the seventh batch of fellows, and comes from Indonesia. At present, he is based at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies in Kyoto University, one of the cooperating research institutes. He earned his doctorate from the National University of Singapore in 2006 and conducted a survey of more than 1,000 Muslims in Indonesia and Iran last year before authoring the text, Why Muslims Participate in Jihad.
The theme of the lecture was "The Sound of Silence: Moderate Muslims' Response to 9-11 and the War on Terrorism." In his lecture, Mr. Sofjan pointed out that, in recent years, the Muslim populations in Europe and the United States have dramatically increased due to factors including high birthrate, immigration, and conversion. The Muslim population is expected to exceed that of the Jews in the United States by 2010. He also reported various perspectives on the current situation in which moderate Muslims, who aim to coexist with Christians and Jews, represent a clear majority of those practicing Islam, yet have been silenced by Muslim extremists.
The speaker referred to Islam's negative image and stated, "While the original Islamic teachings are progressive, Muslims are not necessarily socially advanced. For example, the low status of women in Muslim society is a controversial issue and can fundamentally be solved by pursuing justice according to the original doctrines of Islam."
When an audience member asked what would happen if Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, he said, "Islamic countries have a strong distrust of the United States, which uncritically supports Israel. If Mr. Obama is elected, the conventional concept that there is false democracy in the Unites States will disappear and be replaced by trust. At the very least, his approval rating would be 100 percent in Indonesia, where he grew up."（Photo: Discussion with the audiences）
First meeting of Nippon Foundation Partners [2008/05/26]
The participants of the conference
On April 18 to 19, a conference of internationally active partner organizations of The Nippon Foundation was held at the Nippon Zaidan Building in Tokyo. Founded on October 1, 1962, The Nippon Foundation has in the ensuing 45 years participated in the founding of many partner organizations, both at home and abroad. This event marked the first time that representatives of the various groups had come together for an exchange of views on how to establish joint efforts.
The meeting included representatives from 16 organizations, including The Nippon Foundation. Simultaneous interpretation was provided in Japanese and English. In Chairman Yohei Sasakawa's opening speech, he outlined his hopes for the meeting: "People are interested in what the Nippon Foundation and other foundations do, and what positions they take. Perhaps if the representatives of our organizations can come together and exchange views, we can better understand each other and develop cooperative programs. You were invited here to help you to grasp our collective range of activities."
Clarifying the relationship among the organizations, Sasakawa said, "The foundations here and abroad are all autonomous. They are sibling organizations. The Nippon Foundation has no binding or controlling power over its partners." Chairman Sasakawa also commented that The Nippon Foundation is currently focusing on organizing nonprofit organizations, nongovernmental organizations and volunteer groups, supporting the activities of these groups to assist the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. Thereafter, all participants introduced themselves and discussed their activities, exchanging views on how best to build cooperation.(Photo: Participants listening to reports by the partner organizations)
His Lifework: A Japanese-Brazilian Man on Taiko [2008/04/30]
Fernando Kuniyoshi (34) is a Japanese-Brazilian who is fascinated by taiko, the Japanese drum. Recently, he completed two years of taiko training in Japan and has devoted his life to making and playing Japanese drums. He will soon return to Brazil to realize his dream of promoting the Japanese drum there. When we met him at the completion of his training, he radiated satisfaction.
A Japanese-Brazilian whose parents come from Okinawa Prefecture, Fernando hails from Parana State, in the south of Brazil. Some ten years ago, he came to Japan to work at an electronics factory in Kanagawa Prefecture. At a summer festival, he heard Taiko for the first time and was so taken that he decided to learn to play the instrument. When he returned to Brazil, he initially practiced the art by beating a car tire and a hanging carpet with broomsticks, but on learning that a nearby temple owned a taiko drum, he borrowed it and began practicing in earnest. On admission to art college, he began actually crafting the drums, but realizing his technical limitations, he sought to study in Japan.
It was the support of the Nippon Taiko Foundation and The Nippon Foundation that eventually made it possible for him to study in Japan. He came and received Taiko training at the Osuwa-Daiko Preservation Society in Nagano Prefecture, from 2006 to March 2008. Osuwa-Daiko is a form of the art that has been handed down from the “Warring States” period. It was performed at the Tokyo Olympic Games and Nagano Winter Olympic Games, and is regarded as one of the top three Taiko styles in Japan.
(Photo: Takashi Robson Yamamoto (left), a friend of Fernando who is studying at the graduate school of the University of Tsukuba)
Fernando has undergone rigorous training, including making, repairing and playing the taiko. He had thought that after two years, he would gain confidence and polish his Japanese technique. However, now that he has completed the training, he says, “My technique is not enough. I have realized my lack of skill and feel I have to work harder.” Nonetheless, he received a second-rank taiko technical certificate--the official certificate of the Nippon Taiko Foundation. He remarks, “If I had a little more confidence, I would be able to take a first rank.” After returning to his country, he intends to devote his life to deepening exchanges with various Taiko groups, while teaching Taiko to students in workshops at the art college.
Future leaders exchange opinions at Goa retreat [2008/04/09]
Members of the retreat
From February 17 to 24, young Asian leaders gathered in Goa, India to exchange opinions on a variety of issues, including environmental pollution in Asian countries. A total of 20 people participated from 12 countries, including India, Japan, China, and Bangladesh, engaging in lively discussions on how to build a better Asia. This is the third such retreat; the next will be held in Beijing after the Olympic Games.
The first retreat, held at Beijing University in September 2006, was hosted by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. Eighteen young Asian leaders participated. Subsequent retreats have been held with the support of the Nippon Foundation and in cooperation with the Information and Resource Center in Singapore. Participants in this year’s retreat consisted of university professors, members of NGOs, researchers and artists, many of whom were involved in various projects of the Nippon Foundation and its affiliated organizations. The participants, primarily in their thirties and forties, are regarded as the future leaders of Asia. From Japan, four people attended the retreat, including an expert on satoyama-forest issues.(Photo: The Secretary-General of ASEAN appears as a guest speaker)
Under the theme “Let’s Talk about the Future of Asia,” there were lectures by guest speakers and group discussions in the morning, while participants went out on the streets of Goa and interviewed citizens in the afternoon. They visited various places such as hospitals, markets, and beaches to talk with citizens and to get a sense of the lives of residents. Among the lecturers was Surin Pitsuwan, former Thai Foreign Minister and the current Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), who emphasized Asia’s enormous potential and the importance of building networks in the region.(Photo: Members engaged in discussion)
At the end of the retreat, participants summed up their experience by affirming their commitment to building a better Asia. Now that Asia faces various trans-national problems, establishing networks of these future leaders today is expected to contribute to the resolution of problems tomorrow. A member of the Nippon Foundation who attended the retreat noted, “I think it is significant that the future leaders of Asian countries are gathering and meeting in China and India, which have achieved remarkable development.”(Photo: Members who ventured into the streets)
Winners of the quiz tournament for Chinese students visit Okinawa [2008/03/24]
Students visiting Himeyuri Lily Tower
Winners of a Chinese quiz tournament about Japan came to visit this country on January 24. After meeting with Japanese university students in Tokyo, they flew to Okinawa to visit the Himeyuri Peace Museum, which stands as a tragic reminder of the Battle for Okinawa. On January 31, when they went home, the participants expressed their wish to return to Japan.
On January 25, the party visited Chairman Yohei Sasakawa of the Nippon Foundation, to pay a courtesy call. Sasakawa greeted them with the words, “My hope is that you will maintain your curiosity and desire to learn about Japan. Please enjoy and make the best of your time here.” After meeting with students from Keio University, Hitotsubashi University, Senshu University, and Hosei University, the visitors flew to Okinawa on January 27. (Photo : Paying a courtesy call to Chairman Sasakawa of the Nippon Foundation)
At the Himeyuri Lily Tower and Himeyuri Peace Museum, built to commemorate a tragic incident in which large numbers of female students were killed or forced to kill themselves during a US attack, many of the surviving students reported that the incident came as a surprise to them. On looking through the photos, exhibitions, and videos and learning that so many young people had lost their lives, the Chinese delegation mourned the deaths of these students. Ms. Jin Meihua of Changchun Teachers College said, “I felt like crying, thinking of all those victimized by the war.” “War is sad and cruel,” said Ms. Park Meiling, a senior at Jiamusi University. “Even small children are killed.”
Ms. Park Meiling and Ms. Jin Meihua being interviewed for TV
Some among the party pointed out that the ruins of Shuri Castle resemble the Forbidden City in Beijing, feeling a certain of kinship in the atmosphere on the island. After touring Okinawa, Kobe, and Kyoto, the party returned to their home country on January 31. Many hope to study in Japan or to take jobs in which they can make use of their Japanese abilities. Their visit appears to have strengthened this determination. (Photo : Commemorative photo with the performers of the Ryukyu dance)
“These symposiums,” said Hideki Kato, Chairman of the Tokyo Foundation, “are intended to strengthen cooperation with overseas research organizations and to help identify new systems and policies for the international community in the new millennium.” The series began on January 24, and three symposiums have already been held. They have been popular--all but filled to capacity by nearly 200 individuals. （Photo：Excitement Fills the Auditorium）
Their common theme has been reconciling and sustaining unique cultures and value systems, as the rapid development of globalization homogenizes lifestyles, values and products. The first four symposiums dealt with this theme under the titles: - Dietary Culture in the Global Age (January 24) - Challenges for Peace Building in Africa: the Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo (January 25) - The Pathology of Contemporary Society (February 12) - Humanitarian Support under Conflict Conditions: Perspectives on the Implementation of Universal Values (February 28)
The fifth symposium, to be held from 4:00-5:30 on April 3rd, will be entitled “The Market Economy in China,” and will be delivered by Professor Wu Jinglian, one of China's leading economists and a strong proponent of the shift to a market economy.
12,000 Volunteers Support the 2nd Annual Tokyo Marathon [2008/03/17]
Tokyo Marathon 2008 with Volunteer
On February 17, around 32,000 runners took to the streets to compete in the second annual Tokyo Marathon. Along the course, 2.26 million spectators, significantly more than last year, cheered on the runners as they toiled through central Tokyo. Race setup and related activities were supported by the efforts of some 12,000 volunteers, who braved the cold weather to make the marathon a success. The stories of two of those volunteers follow: (Photo: Tokyo Marathon, 2008)
At the Tokyo Big Sight convention center, where the finish line for the full marathon was located, Ms. Mari Miyashita (30) lead a volunteer team distributing completion medals to runners. During the workweek, she is a management planner at a manufacturing company. She first discovered her fascination with international events during the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998. At the first Tokyo Marathon, she applied for the volunteer leader-training program operated by the Sasakawa Sports Foundation. In charge of retrieving RC timing chips at the finish line, she was deeply impressed by all the runners who exhausted themselves to make it to the finish line. This year she volunteered once again to be a leader at the event. (Photo: Ms. Miyashita)
In the second annual Tokyo Marathon, Ms. Miyashita lead 120 volunteers who distributed medals and retrieved RC timing chips, congratulating runners that finished. This was the second year for many of the volunteers, and they worked efficiently. “Their smiles are great, aren’t they?” Miyashita remarked as she bustled about. This year, she has also volunteered to help out at PARACUP 2008 (a charity road race to help underprivileged children around the world), which is to be held on April 20. (Photo: Completion medals are distributed to runners by volunteers)
Mr. Masahiko Nakao (64), a former newspaper reporter, is fascinated by marathons, which he began training for to improve his health when he was 52 years old. He has participated in several to date, including three races overseas. He ran last year in the Tokyo Marathon and finished, cheered by spectators along the course. He was impressed by the volunteers, who he says worked without complaint in the snow and rain. After injuring his leg last year, he decided to give the injury time to heal this year, and volunteered instead. With 30 other volunteers, he managed spectators around an important Intersection, cheering runners with a broad smile on his dark-tanned face. “It’s cold, but I’m having fun,” he said about his volunteer work. Looking into the happy faces of the runners, he pledged to run once again next year. (Photo: Mr. Nakao)
According to the Sasakawa Sports Foundation, all volunteer positions were filled soon after recruitment began. Helped by good weather on February 17, cooperation between runners and volunteers helped make the event even more successful than the previous year. Mr. Hideyuki Sasaki, General Secretary of Tokyo Marathon Office, acknowledged the contribution of the volunteer leader-training program operated by the Sasakawa Sports Foundation. Volunteerism has apparently taken root. (Photo: Volunteers at a water supply point)
NISVA volunteer Yoshihara: Teaching returnees to the Philippines [2008/02/13]
With support from The Nippon Foundation, Keiko Yoshihara (61), a senior-citizen volunteer with the Nippon Skilled Volunteers Association (NISVA), has since this past October been teaching Japanese to Filipino returnees in the city of Davao. Davao is the second-largest city in the Philippines and the scene of a revival of a local community of persons of Japanese descent, which broke down after the end of World War II.
Ms. Yoshihara originally worked as an educator, teaching mathematics and home economics at elementary and junior-high schools in Ibaraki Prefecture. The year after her husband Fumio (73) was dispatched to Jordan as a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) senior-citizen volunteer in the spring of 2004, she retired early to be at her husband’s side. While assisting at a supplemental school for Japanese children during a one-year stay in Jordan’s capital city of Amman, she had the idea of volunteering on her own. She applied and was accepted to join NISVA at the end of 2006. Her appointment began this past October.
Today, her duties at the Philippine Nikkei-Jin Kai International School, operated by the Davao Japanese Association, include both instructing local Japanese teachers and counseling second-generation Japanese-Filipinos who have returned from Japan with their mothers and speak only Japanese.
Ms. Yoshihara says, “The children are all bright and cheerful, and none of them are truant, which is pervasive at Japanese schools. It is rewarding teaching them, and I interact with them mostly to provide emotional support. This is an easy place to live, with a nice climate and an abundance of fresh fruit.” Her husband quips with a laugh, “Now that I’m a full-time homemaker, compared with Jordan and Davao, it’s Japan that seems unusual. Maybe it’s because people there study too hard in juku cram schools.” For now, Ms. Yoshihara plans to serve for one year in this appointment, while Mr. Yoshihara says he will return to Japan before the New Year, as he currently has only a two-month visa for the Philippines.
This year, NISVA has dispatched a total of 18 senior-citizen volunteers overseas. Ms. Yoshihara is one of the two volunteers who teaches Japanese.
Davao developed before the war with the production of Manila hemp. The city was home to the largest population of Japanese in Southeast Asia, numbering 20,000 people. However, the area’s ethnic Japanese community dissolved after the war. The Japanese Association was reestablished in 1980, and today its membership totals 6,400. Nearly one-half of its membership, mostly third- and fourth-generation people of Japanese descent, work in Japan, and the number of “new second-generation” people, born to one Japanese parent and one Filipino parent, is rapidly growing. The entire town is growing enthusiastic about learning Japanese, and so there is now a pressing need for Japanese-language teachers. （Photo：The bustling city of Davao）
BIMSTEC is an international organization made up of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand for the purpose of promoting Economic Cooperation. The name BIMSTEC began as an acronym made of the original member countries’ names. With the addition of Nepal and Bhutan, today BIMSTEC has seven members and has changed its official name to the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sector Technical and Economic Cooperation. The Sasakawa Peace Foundation is supporting BIMSTEC’s economic research activities under a three-year plan, and the December conference in Tokyo was a part of this support.（Photo：U.S. researchers also presented reports）
In his opening address, CSIRD Director B. S. Malik called for greater interest in the nations of the Bay of Bengal on the part of Japan’s political and industrial spheres. He said, “BIMSTEC, founded 10 years ago, now faces the new issues of the environment and climate change. In our relations with Japan, key issues also include population movements in connection with immigration, energy, and technology transfer. Although the path toward a structure for economic cooperation in Asia is a long one, BIMSTEC is playing a crucial role in working toward this goal.”（Photo：Attendees：listen to call for a greater interest in the nations of the Bay of Bengal）
The conference included reports and discussions on five themes, including “Japan’s Economic Cooperation Duty,” “Prospects and Strategies for Comprehensive Economic Cooperation,” and “The Feasibility of a Free-Trade Agreement Between BIMSTEC and Japan.” Arjun Asrani, former Indian Ambassador to Japan and Chair of the India-Japan Forum, led a panel discussion on Asian economic integration, pointing out that, “Trade negotiations between individual countries are not showing much progress, and with industry backing politicians there is little motive for supporting free-trade agreements.” However, one presenter stated that “spreading Japan’s regional focus (which has been to date concentrated on Thailand and India) more widely around the Bay of Bengal would be beneficial to both sides,” while others were of the opinion that Japan should proactively work to promote the transfer of knowledge. This conference was characterized by the mutual understanding that, as Mr. Malik said, “Although our goal is a distant one, we will not stop working toward it.”