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Escuela Agricola Panamericana Zamorano Interns Report on Experiences in Laos [2008/01/30]

Students studying in Laos

The Escuela Agrícola Panamericana Zamorano was established in 1941 in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, to nurture agricultural leaders from 18 Latin American nations. In keeping with its interest in aiding in the food security of the developing world, in 2002 The Nippon Foundation established a financial need-based scholarship program at the university, and following graduation, a number of these scholars go to Laos and Ethiopia as interns. In December, three interns who had been in Laos since March visited the Nippon Foundation on their way home, meeting with Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, reporting on the results of their research, and speaking about their future goals.

After graduating from the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana Zamorano, the three interns—Ivan Garcia (25) from Panama, Cindy Irusta (24) from Bolivia, and Carlos Lynch (23) from Ecuador—took part in a project to promote the use of cassava at an agricultural school in Luang Prabang, northern Laos. This project, run by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), focuses on use of the cassava plant in such diverse capacities as a livestock feed to replace corn, as a natural adhesive, and as the base component of biodegradable plastics. All three reported to Chairman Sasakawa that their internships had been a great experience.(Photo:Three students visit the Nippon Foundation)

During their time in Laos, the interns worked in the planting of cassava and making feed for pigs, as well as cooperating with four university students to teach students skills such as the use of personal computers. (Photo:Caring for cassava)

When they met with Sasakawa, the students also spoke of their hopes for the future. Ms. Irusta hopes to earn a doctoral degree and work in the fields of urban development and energy generation from recycled resources. Mr. Garcia said he would like to study livestock nutrition at Massey University in New Zealand, and then work in Panama in the future, while Mr. Lynch said he would like to “work for two years to see how the things I have learned can be used in the real world. Then I would like to study drought at an American university.” Chairman Sasakawa replied that he was glad to have had the opportunity to meet the interns, and expressed his hopes that they will learn more about Japan and keep the Nippon Foundation posted on their future activities.
Posted by TNF at 10:41 | Education | URL
Using art to improve academic ability [2008/01/28]

Children enjoy physical learning

As the debate over less stressful education continues, an experiment aimed at combining academic excellence with children’s individual talents has attracted the attention of educators. This program uses artistic activities such as dance, music, drawing and manual arts to help students understand primary subjects like arithmetic, science, and language. On November 13, as part of an experiment, social studies and science classes at Tokyo’s Yanagawa Elementary School incorporated elements of dance, music, and drama. The courses were organized by the nonprofit organization Artwork Japan (chair: Kyoko Ono), which, with support from the Nippon Foundation, brought an instructor from Canada to conduct the experiment,

The instructor was Canadian actress Coreen Lanky. In addition to performing on the stage and television, Ms. Lanky also teaches at schools through the Learning Through The Arts (LTTA) program. The LTTA program uses artistic activities to improve students’ understanding of primary subjects, with the goal of ensuring that no child is left behind. Begun in 1994, this program has been adopted at more than 350 Canadian schools, from kindergarten through high school. It has been reported that the program has improved literacy rates and test scores, as well as reducing juvenile delinquency. (Photo: Ms. Lanky)

The day’s courses included a third-grade social studies class that focused on occupations, and a fifth-grade science class, in which students pretended to be weather forecasters. Both classes made use of drama and dance. Activities in other classes included using sponges to learn about symmetry and similar shapes, a math class that used clay to understand three-dimensional forms, and a visit to the local community during social studies class, followed by musical expressions of the students’ impressions.

Although Japan is experimenting with a wide range of hands-on learning methods, cases in which specialized artists visit schools to assist in understanding primary subjects are rare.
“I was surprised how easy it was to understand difficult subjects as we learned by moving around, because it felt like I was playing,” commented one of the students, who added, “I even enjoyed math, which is hard for me; I usually don’t like it.” Ms. Lanky said, “Children all around the world like to move around and express themselves.” (Photo: Students learn about occupations through role-play.)
Posted by TNF at 14:42 | Education | URL
International symposium on the elimination of domestic violence [2008/01/23]

Symposium on the elimination of domestic violence held at Makuhari Messe

With the support of the Nippon Foundation and private-sector businesses, the National Women’s Shelter Net (Director: Keiko Kondo), an NPO that works to eradicate violence between married, divorced, and unmarried couples, held its International Forum on DV Elimination: The 10th National Shelter Symposium 2007 in Chiba, Japan over a three-day period beginning November 23. Related parties from Asia attended this symposium as well, where they reported on matters such as domestic violence and support systems for victims in their own countries, including measures that need to be implemented to combat the problem.

At 1:00 p.m. on the first day of the symposium, a total of about 800 people from across Japan assembled in the Makuhari Messe International Convention Complex for an opening ceremony led by general coordinator Sachiko Kagami, former NHK announcer and honorary chair of the Chiba City Women’s Center. A keynote address was read by Dr. Mitsuko Horiuchi (former Deputy Director of the International Labour Organization) on behalf of Dr. Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling (former Vice-Chair of the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women), who was unable to come to Japan due to a sudden illness. The message, entitled “World’s Efforts and Japan’s Issues on Eradicating Violence Against Women,” noted that “violence against women is a form of discrimination and should be treated as a human-rights issue” and called on the Japanese government to “think about what is lacking in Japan’s legal system.”(Photo:A banner reading “No More DV” hangs from the main entrance to the venue)

Discussions led by attendees from China, South Korea, Mongolia, and Hong Kong and Japan followed, with discussions on policies for eradicating domestic violence in each country and territory. Although the state of legal protection varies by country, the problem is serious in all countries, with many cases said to have resulted in murder. Reports from attendees included a comment from a Japanese participant indicating that “although the relevant laws have been passed, practical implementation is lacking, and there is no system for educating those that commit domestic violence.” An attendee from Mongolia commented, “If we do not change the traditional view of women as subordinate to men, domestic violence will never go away.” A Chinese participant offered the observation that “we have no special laws on domestic violence, because it is considered a personal matter.” Each country called for strengthening penalties against those that commit domestic violence.(Photo:An exhibition outside the venue calls for legal action on behalf of victims of domestic violence)

The symposium, separated into two sessions, concluded with the unanimous recognition that support and cooperation across national borders is essential in protecting women’s rights. On the same day, jazz singer Tina, a supporter of the goals of this symposium, performed two songs. That evening, a reception was held to commemorate the establishment of a fund for supporting independent living among victims of domestic violence, established with private-sector support. On the following two days, a forum led by women Diet members and an international symposium were held at the Overseas Vocational Training Association (OVTA) in Chiba.


   Attendees at the forum at OVTA     Guestsinger Tina 

According to the National Police Agency, the number of reports concerning violence perpetrated by spouses is increasing across Japan. The number of cases totaled 14,410 in 2004, 16,888 in 2005, and 18,236 in 2006. Since a notable number of cases develop into serious crimes such as murder, the need to address this issue is growing in importance.
Posted by TNF at 15:26 | Social Welfare | URL
Peruvians in Japan: Living in Harmony with Japanese Society [2008/01/21]

Lecturers answering questions from forum attendees

The Asociacion Japones Peruana (AJAPE) provides educational consultation regarding the children of people from Spanish-speaking nations living in Japan. The association, which receives its funding from The Nippon Foundation, recently held its third educational forum, on the theme of uniting leadership in communities. With experts on education, psychology, economics, labor law and cultural anthropology in attendance, the forum featured discussions of how people from Spanish-speaking can live in harmony with Japanese people.

Since 2001, AJAPE has provided consultation on a wide range of subjects for people from Spanish-speaking nations of Latin America, with a strong focus on Japan's educational system. The educational forum began in 2002 and this year hosted about 60 attendees.

Noting that the number of requests for consultation on school entrance examinations reached its highest level ever in fiscal 2006, Vice-Chair Etsuko Takahashi of AJAPE commented that the Japanese educational system provides insufficient information in Spanish. (Photo :Vice-Chair Takahashi)

Marcela Ynez Mendez Vasquez, a researcher at Keio University, pointed out that based on her own experience as an Argentinean living in Mexico, "while it is difficult to change the system, we need to think about what we can offer Japanese society. To become innovative leaders, we need to learn more about our own communities, work with our embassies to secure our rights, and ensure that these achievements reach Japan’s entire foreign community." (Photo: Marcela Ynez Mendez Vasquez)

According to statistics from December 2006, of the 2.08 million foreign residents in Japan, approximately 58,000 are Peruvian—the fifth-largest group after Koreans, Chinese, Brazilians, and Filipinos. As with other foreigners, important issues faced by Peruvians include the language barrier, communication between Japanese-fluent children and parents more comfortable in native languages, and participation in neighborhood associations and school events. (Photo:A scene from the forum)
Posted by TNF at 14:47 | Human Resources Development | URL
Encouragement for second-generation Filipinos of Japanese descent [2008/01/16]

Davao, the Philippines

On November 25, Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of the Nippon Foundation visited two second-generation Filipinos of Japanese descent to offer encouragement in their bid to achieve Japanese citizenship. In the chaos that followed the end of World War II, people with Filipino mothers and Japanese fathers were often unable to attain Japanese citizenship, and today the Japanese government has yet to recognize many of them. The Nippon Foundation supports these individuals in their bids for citizenship and accordingly, during his visit Sasakawa called for Japan to recognize them as Japanese citizens during their lifetimes.

Sasakawa visited Hiroko Shinabara (age, 76; Filipino name: Francisca Maravilias) and Tomiko Sakagawa (estimated age, 71; Filipino name: Ilenia Ongei), who live in the Davao City district of Calinan. (Photo 2: Hiroko Shinabara)

According to the Tokyo-based Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center, which provides support to such people, Ms. Shinabara was born in 1931 in the Davao City district of Toril, as the first daughter of a Japanese father and a Filipina mother. Her father died of an illness when she was seven years old, and after the war her mother also died while fleeing through the mountains with her children. She lost all means of proving the identity of her Japanese father. Ms. Shinabara only remembers her father being called "Bara-san." However, recently her baptismal certificate was discovered in a church, showing her father's name as “Shinaba-Shinaisu,” from Nagasaki.

Two of Ms Shinabara’s three siblings have already passed away, and today she lives with her youngest brother, Eustacio (age, 70). A woman of few words, Ms. Shinabara said, "Although I used my Filipina name to hide the fact that I was Japanese, I have always thought of myself as Japanese because my father was from Japan. I would like to receive Japanese citizenship as soon as possible."

Tomiko Sasagawa was born in 1936, as the oldest of five siblings, to Mitsuhiro Sasagawa (a Japanese carpenter) and a Bagobo mother. Drafted to work on construction of an airfield during the war, her father died in bombing by the U.S. military. After marrying a Filipino man at age 19, Ms. Sasagawa has been blessed with eight children and lives today with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She can write her name in Japanese, and a number of acquaintances have testified that she is the daughter of a Japanese man. (Photo: Tomiko Sasagawa)

Although without a doubt both of these women were Japanese under the Family Registration Law of the time, which recognized children's citizenship based on that of their father, it is difficult for them to attain such citizenship under current circumstances without knowledge of their fathers' family registration. For this reason, application for Japanese citizenship has proceeded using new family registers. In October, the Tokyo family court for the first time approved the Japanese citizenship to two second-generation Filipinos of Japanese descent who were unable to identify their fathers. According to the Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center, 53 such people, including Tomiko Sasagawa (who applied in August), are awaiting court judgment, and a further 20 persons plan to apply by the end of this year.
Posted by TNF at 17:59 | Basic Human Needs | URL
Ceremony held to commemorate Tanzanian control of leprosy problem [2008/01/14]

Presentation of plaque commemorating leprosy control.
(Right: Former Tanzanian Health Minister Anna Abdullah)

On November 12, in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, Yohei Sasakawa, (chairman of the Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination) visited the United Republic of Tanzania. The purpose of the visit was to attend a ceremony commemorating the 2006 elimination of leprosy in the nation. At the ceremony, Sasakawa congratulated all parties involved, calling for further efforts to "free former patients from the discrimination that they continue to face."

Approximately 50 people attended from the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, the WHO, and various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Also in attendance was former Health Minister Anna Abdullah, whose father had suffered from leprosy, and who had worked hard to bring the disease under control.

In December 2006, Tanzania achieved the WHO's leprosy-control target of less than one affected person per 10,000, and today only four countries remain in which leprosy has yet to be controlled: Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, and Nepal. (Photo: Visiting with leprosy patients)

Chairman Sasakawa and his team also examined the state of leprosy elimination work on the Tanzanian islands of Zanzibar and Pemba: home to 600,000 and 400,000 people respectively. Although leprosy is under control on a nationwide basis, these islands have yet to achieve WHO’s goal, standing at a figure of 1.4 per 10,000.

However, Zanzibar’s national hospital receives leprosy patients on an outpatient basis, a fact of which the public is well aware. Further, when the delegation visited the village of Mikindani on Pemba, they found that the 30 patients residing there were living with their families. Both situations show a very positive trend regarding social attitudes toward the disease. (Photo: People who once had leprosy, with their families)
Posted by TNF at 11:02 | Leprosy | URL
IAMU granted NGO status by International Maritime Organization [2008/01/09]

The International Maritime Organization in London

At the 25th assembly of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) held in London from November 19-30, the UN organization bestowed NGO status on the International Association of Maritime Universities (IAMU). With this move, IAMU achieved consultative status as the IMO's 66th NGO, permitting it to speak at official conferences, make proposals, and provide information to the IMO on maritime issues.

The IAMU was established in 1999 with strong support from The Nippon Foundation, and the participation of seven merchant-marine universities from Asia, the United States, and Northern Europe. Its offices are located in Tokyo. Since then, the Association has worked to strengthen international cooperation between maritime universities, in an effort to address the rapid globalization of logistics and the resultant intensification of training for crewmembers.

Today, IAMU has grown to include nearly all of the world’s merchant marine universities, encompassing 48 member institutions from 25 countries, and works in areas such as the development of next-generation maritime training, and safety management systems. In its role as an international network of merchant marine universities, IAMU produces large numbers of graduates who go on to lead the international maritime world.

The International Maritime Organization was established in 1958 as the United Nations’ maritime arm, facilitating the creation of international agreements in such areas as safe passage, ocean pollution, maritime disaster response, and the promotion of shipbuilding technologies. Since the agreements adopted at its biennial assembly become global maritime regulations, there are many international marine organizations that strongly desire consultative status.

The IAMU applied for NGO status in 2005, and this last November it joined the International Association of Ports and Harbors as the second Japan-based NGO to be so recognized by the IMO. According to Dr. Hisashi Yamamoto, secretary of the IAMU, the association plans to make proposals in areas such as the training curriculums for crews of LNG tankers, maritime communication on vessels with international crews, and the role of crewmembers in combating terrorism on the seas. Dr. Yamamoto adds, "We feel a great sense of responsibility now that our activities have been recognized by international society. We would like to contribute in the area of training, reducing the growing burden on the seas from factors such as global warming and the spread of terrorism." (Dr. Yamamoto, secretary of the IAMU)
Posted by TNF at 13:54 | Sea & Ship | URL
Training ASEAN’s maritime officials [2008/01/07]

On the training vessel

To prevent ocean pollution in the region of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Japan Association of Marine Safety (JAMS), with support from the Nippon Foundation, recently brought together twelve officials from Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam at the Maritime Disaster Prevention Center in the city of Yokosuka, Japan, for training in how to handle leaks of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS). In addition to these individuals (four from each country) another 11 individuals, invited from the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia by the Japanese government’s ODA program, also took part in the training session. After five days of training, one trainee said that it had been “…very meaningful training. I now feel confident in responding to an incident.”

The structures currently in place for responding to HNS leaks into the sea remain even more inadequate than those for oil spills. The training sessions were intended, both to train ASEAN officials in charge of ocean pollution, and to build a structure for cooperation between nations. For Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam, this was the second year that such training has been held. The ODA program, on the other hand has been conducted since 1996, but this year was its last.

Trainees in yellow protective suits            Trainees under instruction     

Conducted over the five-day period from November 5-9, the training featured a mix of classroom and hands-on learning. The classroom sessions focused chiefly on the nature and identification of highly-noxious substances (HNS) and how to handle and dispose of them. The hands-on training taught participants such skills as the use of chemical protective suits, detectors and other gear. On November 8-9 they then used the protective suits in drills on board the training vessel Whale, in a simulation of an actual HNS leak. Although it took time for some to put on their suits for the first time, the full course was completed by noon on November 9. When the session ended, the instructors issued the following reminder to the trainees: “The safety of human life is the most important thing. Keep in mind that you cannot respond to a leak unless you know what substance was leaked and in what volumes.”
Posted by TNF at 11:15 | Sea & Ship | URL