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Sasakawa Speaks to African Diplomats [2007/07/25]

African Diplomats at the Nippon Foundation building

On June 21, ambassadors and envoys from 35 of Africa’s 53 countries met at The Nippon Foundation Building in Tokyo. All African nations with embassies in Japan were in attendance. It was the first time for the monthly meeting to be held at the foundation, and the secretariat took the opportunity to request that Chairman Yohei Sasakawa brief the assembly on foundation’s activities in Africa.

Mr. Sasakawa, the chairman of the Nippon Foundation

Mr. Sasakawa first addressed the current state of leprosy control on the continent, reporting that aside from Mozambique and D.R. Congo, all African nations have achieved the World Health Organization’s leprosy elimination target (less than one person with leprosy per 10,000). He commented that, “we may be able to control leprosy medically within two to three years.” He also pointed out that individuals affected by the disease, including those who have recovered, still face deep-rooted prejudice and discrimination, and requested further cooperation in rectifying this state of affairs.

Mr. Sasakawa next spoke of the Sasakawa--Global 2000 agricultural assistance program, which began in the 1980s with famine relief activities in Ethiopia. He pointed out that although Western countries strongly support a move to large-scale farms, and while many African leaders strongly favor the development of agriculture as an export industry, “70 to 80% of the African population must still struggle merely to feed itself. Improving the farming skills of this 70% is necessary to resolving the issue of poverty.”

To deal with rural poverty, the Sasakawa--Global 2000 program distributes quality seeds and small amounts of fertilizer to farmers, at a charge. Although this practice has fallen under criticism by some who claim that chemical fertilizers damage the environment and that Africa should practice organic agriculture, Mr. Sasakawa rebuffs such criticism. His contentions are that Africa currently has large tracts of unproductive land, and that Western nations use 300 times more chemical fertilizer. He also commented, “Africa has a rich culture and history. Instead of providing guidance from on high, I would like to continue providing support, by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Africa.”

In addition, Mr. Sasakawa noted that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has called for cooperation in assisting Africa, based on the same “Green Revolution” concept espoused by the Sasakawa Africa Association.He said he would like to “take a positive approach” in this area.

Mr. Sasakawa has been to 20 of the 35 countries represented at the meeting, and plans to visit D.R. Congo and Tanzania this fall.
Posted by TNF at 09:30 | Basic Human Needs | URL
Conference Calls for Citizenship for Second generation Nikkei Filipinos [2007/07/18]

More than 200 Filipinos of Japanese descent
attended the conference

On May 19th and 20th, in Manila, the Philippines, the 8th annual Filipino-Japanese Conference, was held, focusing for the first time on the question of Japanese citizenship for second generation Philippine nikkei as its primary theme. The conference was jointly organized by the Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center (PNLSC) and the Federation of Nikkei-jin Kai Philippines, Inc. (FNKP).

Today, 60 years after World War II, second generation Filipinos of Japanese descent are reaching their golden years. In light of this fact, Mr. Hiroyuki Kawai, speaking for the PNLSC, said, “the Japanese and Philippine governments need to work together to build a system granting them citizenship, as was done with similar orphans left behind in China.”

The Nippon Foundation would like to provide its full support for this initiative,” said Takeju Ogata, President of the Nippon Foundation, in his opening speech. “Japan’s peace and prosperity are founded in part on the sacrifices of Philippine Nikkei.”

The fathers of most of these people were originally pre-war immigrants to the country who were then drafted into the Japanese military when it occupied the Philippines during World War II. Many of these men died during the war, but following the Japan’s defeat, those who survived were forcefully dispossessed of their property and repatriated to Japan. The wives and children left behind lived secluded in the mountainous regions of the Philippines. Most of them lost (or in many cases destroyed) any documentation tying them to Japan.

The conference this year was attended by more than 200 second generation Philippine Nikkei, representing 13 chapters of the FNKP from across the Philippines. FNKP Chairman Carlos Teraoka commented, “Philippine nikkei left behind following the war have been called exiles, abandoned by Japan, their homeland.” He pointed out that second generation Philippine Japanese are ageing, and that their numbers are falling each year. He called for progress in granting citizenship and prompt assistance to such people, saying, “These people need to be recognized as Japanese citizens while they’re still alive.”

Danilo C. Almeda, Head of the Alien Registration Division of the Philippine’ Bureau of Immigration and a guest at the conference, described the Philippines’ positive stance on the matter of dual citizenship. “If these people are recognized as Japanese citizens,” he said, “their rights as Filipinos, including the right to own land, can then be protected by appropriate measures.”

At a press conference held during the conference, Mr. Kawai called for the Japanese government to also adopt a progressive posture on this issue, as it had with orphans of Japanese descent left behind in China, touching on a case currently being tried in the Tokyo Family Court. “Honestly, the court’s view seems overly cautious to me,” he said. “I hope the case yields a positive and concrete judgment soon. In the end, however, we need to construct a new system.”

In cooperation with the PNLSC and the FNKP, the Nippon Foundation has striven since August 2006 to help restore Filipinos of Japanese descent to family registers. Its goal is to restore the family registers of 500 people over a period of three years. Through the Japan Legal Support Center, it has also provided aid to orphans of Japanese descent left behind in China and Sakhalin, thus far successfully backing 1,250 Japanese orphans left behind in China, in bids to obtain Japanese citizenship.
Posted by TNF at 10:08 | Basic Human Needs | URL
Challenge Day, a mass sporting event held around the world [2007/07/11]

Kurume City in Fukuoka, one of the municipalities
taking part in this event

Challenge Day is a unique sporting event with a goal of mass participation, held annually around the world on the final Wednesday of May. In Japan, this year's event saw approximately 870,000 people from 92 municipalities take part in a wide range of sporting events.

Since 1993, the Sasakawa Sports Foundation has promoted this event nationwide in an effort to firmly establish physical activity as a part of our daily life. This year marked the 15th annual Challenge Day event.

Challenge Day is an event in which communities with comparable populations compete to see which can achieve the largest number of people who take part in sports lasting 15 minutes or more. It began in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1983, involving 50 municipalities, and since then has gradually spread across Canada to include some 600 communities today. One in five Canadians are said to participate. In addition, Challenge Day is now held in 1,500 places in 30 countries, including Japan, making it a truly worldwide sporting event. Any and all are encouraged to participate, regardless of age or gender, and it is expected that the event will become a bigger draw with each passing year.

In Japan, the competition lasts from midnight through 9:00 pm, and is held as a face-off between pairs of randomly chosen communities of similar populations. To spur competitive spirit, losing communities must fly the flag of the winning community on the main flagpole of its government buildings for one week. According to the Sasakawa Sports Foundation, a total of 871,816 people throughout Japan participated this year, for an average participation rate of 51.5%. Although the 's goal was one million participants, poor weather had a dampening effect on this year’s turnout.
Posted by TNF at 11:12 | Basic Human Needs | URL
Physicians from Mongolia Visit Toyama to Study Okigusuri System [2007/07/04]
At the invitation of the Nippon Foundation, Mongolian physicians and NPO members visited Japan from April 16th to 23rd, to study Toyama Prefecture’s okigusuri medicine system.

With the collapse of the Soviet system, dramatic social changes and financial problems led to a significant decline in Mongolian medical services. Thus, in 2004, the Nippon Foundation embarked on a project to provide assistance, disseminating a system modeled on Toyama Prefecture’s okigusuri system, and last year inviting Mongolian physicians to Japan. This April’s trip was the second tour for Mongolian physicians.

Mongolian physicians at the Nippon Foundaiton

A total of 12 participants were invited: eight physicians, including Dr. Badamjawa Boldsaihan, manager of the Traditional Medical Department at the Mongol National Central Hospital (57) and Dr. Preb Jabzanrgcha, director of the Umngeldel County Hospital in Hentiy, and four members of Vansemberuu-Mongolia, a Mongolian NGO disseminating the system in the country. On the 17th, the group paid their respects to Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, and visited the Kitazato Institute in Tokyo. On the 18th, they traveled to Toyama Prefecture, and on the 19th, they took a tour of Koukandou, a pharmaceutical manufacturer in Toyama City specializing in okigusuri pharmaceuticals.

Mongolian physicians at Toyama

There, the Mongolian visitors learned about quality control and customer service methods from Koukandou personnel. They also visited the printing facility of the Kita Nippon Shimbun and the Institute of Natural Medicine at the University of Toyama Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Mongolian okigusuri kits generally contain 12 different drugs, including digestive medicines and antipyretics, quite similar to their Japanese counterparts, but based on traditional Mongolian medicien. These kits are distributed to some 10,000 households by physicians from county hospitals in five prefectures, primarily in nomadic areas. The physicians also handle refills and collect fees for the drugs used. As indicated by the high rates of fees collected, this system has taken gradual but solid root throughout society.

Currently implemented on a trial basis, this project is expected to supplement Western-style medical care and is slated to expand throughout the country.
Posted by TNF at 11:28 | Basic Human Needs | URL