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Vietnamese government officials visit Japanese welfare facilities in preparation for basic law for the disabled [2008/06/25]

Meeting with Setagaya Ward personnel

The government of Vietnam plans to establish a basic law to aid its many citizens with disability. At the invitation of the Nippon Foundation, members of the team working on this project visited Japan from May 11 to 18 to observe facilities for those with disabilities. (Photo: Visit to Human Care Association independent-living center for the disabled)

Vietnam, which is reported to be home to 5.1 million individuals with disabilities (as of 2005), has yet to establish a law to aid these people. However, it is currently working rapidly to rectify this situation, based on the current Japanese system.

The visiting group consisted of seven members from Vietnam's Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Finance, and was lead by MOLISA Deputy Minister Lu Bak Hong. In addition to visits to independent-living facilities for those with disabilities, they went to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the Cabinet Office to learn about Japanese government policies on the disabled, focusing mainly on the “Independence Support Law for Those with Disabilities.” Japanese representatives described the circumstances at locations such as a home for the disabled in Hachioji, a group home for the mentally disabled in Hino, and such Tokyo facilities as an employment center, its related factories, and a medical massage center.(Photo: Representatives visiting Japan)

On the 13th, Yasuyuki Motohashi, manager of the Handicapped Facilities Promotion Department of Setagaya Ward's Health and Welfare Division, and Teruhisa Yokoyama, representative of the Center for Independent Living HANDS Setagaya, gave a presentation on local measures to support those with disabilities.

Mr. Motohashi described the conditions following the establishment of the Independence Support Law for the Disabled. Mr. Yokoyama, who uses a wheelchair, and has been assisted by helpers for 40 years, spoke from the perspective of someone who receives aid under the system. (Photo: The visitors with Chairman Sasakawa)

The visitors from Vietnam showed strong enthusiasm for establishing a similar system in their own country, asking questions on many topics, including how handbooks for the disabled are issued, how levels of disabilities are designated, the number of helpers active in Setagaya Ward, and the amount paid under basic pensions for the disabled. Finally, they paid a courtesy call on Chairman Yohei Sasakawa of the Nippon Foundation, who offered encouragement and issued a call to work together on behalf of the disabled.
Posted by TNF at 10:06 | Social Welfare | URL
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.
Posted by TNF at 13:04 | Human Resources Development | URL
WHO Sasakawa Health Prize awarded to Morhan [2008/06/18]

Commemorative statue presented by Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General [left]

The 2008 Award Presentation Ceremony for the World Health Organization's (WHO) Sasakawa Health Prize was held at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 22nd. Chairman Yohei Sasakawa of the Nippon Foundation presented USD 40,000 in prize money and a commemorative statuette to the winner, the Brazil-based Movimento de Reintegracao das Pessoas Atingidas pela Hanseniase (Morhan), which supports and promotes the cause of individuals recovering from leprosy. (Photo: Members of Morhan in Rio de Janeiro)

The Sasakawa Health Prize, which honors individuals and groups that make innovative contributions in the field of health and sanitation, was this year awarded Morhan for its work to winning social acceptance in Brazil society for those recovering from leprosy. Brazil is still considered endemic by the WHO.

Established in 1984 to advance the goals of the WHO's Health for All initiative, the WHO Sasakawa Health Prize is presented to individuals and organizations that contribute to health promotion and primary healthcare. From 1985 through 2008, the prize has been awarded to 20 groups and to 29 individuals.

As a private-sector organization, Morhan engages in sustained efforts to control leprosy in cooperation with Brazil's Ministry of Health. These broad-ranging activities include prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and activities intended to win societal acceptance for individuals recovering from leprosy. Morhan undertakes both educational and informational services designed to fight bias and discrimination. The group has also established a community center to prevent the spread of leprosy and has helped the Brazilian government establish laws safeguarding the human rights of individuals recovering from leprosy. (Photo: Members of Morhan make frequent visits to leprosy facilities)

In 1988 Morhan held 12 academic conferences to address issues faced by individuals recovering from leprosy. Over the years 1986 through 1988, it also took part in establishing a new constitution for Brazil. The organization also provides continuing support for thalidomide patients, the disabled, and the socially disadvantaged.

“We hope this prize will encourage Morhan to do even more,” said Chairman Sasakawa at the Awards Presentation Ceremony, praising Morhan's work.

Morhan member and recovering leprosy patient Torres gave a speech on receiving the prize, describing the organization's joy at receiving the prize and emphasizing its plans to continue working to promote respect for those recovering from the disease.

“We will continue to fight discrimination against leprosy patients,” he said. (Photo: Chairman Sasakawa delivers a congratulatory speech)

According to the WHO, the Democratic Republic of the Congo successfully brought leprosy under control as of the end of 2007. WHO defines success as a rate of infection of below one case per 10,000 population. Today, only three nations – Mozambique, Nepal, and Brazil – have yet to bring leprosy under control. (Photo: Torres delivers a speech on Morhan's receiving the prize)
Posted by TNF at 14:27 | Leprosy | URL
Checking the Earth’s health through its coral reefs: a Reef Check workshop on Ishigaki Island [2008/06/16]

Photo: Reef inspection training on the clear seas of Ishigaki Island (Provided by Coral Network)

Coral Network is a nonprofit organization that promotes conservation activities related to the natural environment of the sea, especially coral reefs. It held its first workshop of the year from April 3rd to 6th in Ishigaki City, Okinawa Prefecture. The purpose of the workshop was to train coral reef monitoring leaders on “Reef Check,” part of a global survey of coral reef health. The workshop was attended by nine people from the Tokyo metropolitan area and Okinawa. (Photo: Detailed explanation before training at sea (Secretary-General Miyamoto is at the center))

More than 450 coral types have been identified in the world; coral reefs are formed by the accumulation of calcareous skeletons after these corals die. Coral reefs play an important role in the marine ecosystem and provide a secure living space for many forms of life, even human beings. They also serve as an indicator of environmental change on a global scale, including climate change. Unfortunately, it is feared that reefs in many seas are facing a serious crisis.

There are limits to the number of surveys researchers can conduct on coral reefs. To remedy this problem, a group of international coral reef researchers devised a method to conduct regular global surveys based on the cooperation of volunteer divers. This method is called “Reef Check,” which aims to conduct periodic and standardized surveys of coral reef health around the world for use by researchers. The Reef Check network, which was established in 30 countries in 1997, has expanded to 84 countries, and the number of monitoring locations in Japan has increased to more than 20. (Photo: Confirming the steady recovery of coral reefs from a bleaching event discovered last year)

Coral Network is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote reef check surveys in Japan. Its Secretary-General, Yasuaki Miyamoto, and other members are registered as coordinators by Reef Check headquarters in the United States. They are currently engaged in training monitoring leaders in Japan. Monitoring leaders are certified as “team scientists,” who have learned Reef Check’s globally standardized survey methods. These team scientists conduct reef checks in their local region and train volunteer divers.

In order to obtain certification, divers of a requisite experience level take courses on five academic subjects, including fish, invertebrate animals, corals, and coral reefs. They also take a two-day marine training workshop on identifying bottom sediment and must pass the examinations given on every subject. At the workshop held at the International Coral Reef Research and Monitoring Center of the Ministry of Environment on Ishigaki Island, experienced divers struggled to learn how to identify and classify corals and invertebrate animals. Then, after listening to lectures for two days, they undertook a two-day diving course in the waters off Yonehara Beach. (Photo: Courses at the Ministry of Environment Center, after which difficult examinations were administered)

This workshop for training monitoring leaders has been financially assisted by the Nippon Foundation for three years. So far, nearly 30 people have been certified as “team scientists” and are currently engaged in reef check surveys in their local region. Miyamoto says, “An increase in the number of leaders means an increase in the number of reef check points in Japan, which will lead to the expansion of our environmental conservation network.” Coral Network plans to hold two more training workshops this year. (Photo: Learning about the distribution of coral reefs and their role in the global ecosystem)
Posted by TNF at 11:18 | Sea & Ship | URL
Uppsala University celebrates the 20 years with SYLFF [2008/06/11]

Uppsala University

It has been 20 years since Uppsala University in Sweden joined the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (SYLFF), with the goal of developing new leadership for the future. On April 11th, a ceremony to mark this anniversary was held at the university, at which Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, spoke, telling fellowship students, “I hope you will valiantly carve a new path into the future.”

Uppsala University, which was founded in 1477, is the oldest and most prestigious university in northern Europe, having produced eight Nobel laureates. It is also the alma mater of Carl Linnaeus, who is known as the father of modern taxonomy. Uppsala City, in which the university is located, is the former capital of Sweden and has a population of about 180,000. With 45,000 students, it has the atmosphere of a typical university town. (Photo: Chairman Yohei Sasakawa)

The celebration at the university was attended by 50 people, including professors and students. Following Rector Hallberg, Chairman Sasakawa delivered a speech and pointed out that the SYLFF program has reached 68 universities in 44 countries, with more than 10,000 people receiving fellowships. He stated, “The SYLFF Fellows from Uppsala University, who are already blessed with leadership potential, are at the heart of this network. By bringing your knowledge and experience to bear on the common problems that confront us, I believe you will help to move the world in the right direction..” (Photo 3: Chairman Sasakawa handing out certificates)

Following his speech, Chairman Sasakawa handed out certificates to nine new SYLFF fellows. Ms. Marie and Ms. Magdalewa, who were among the new fellows, said, “We have been given a rare opportunity. We want to make use of it to study hard.” (Photo 4: Ms. Marie (right) and Ms. Magdalewa)

The SYLFF program began in 1987. Each university receives an endowment of US$1 million and invests it, with the proceeds being used to provide students with fellowships. Uppsala University received the 2nd SYLFF endowment in 1988. So far, 47 people have received fellowships at the university.
Posted by TNF at 09:09 | Education | URL
Ten Japanese Schools Join Friendship School Program [2008/06/09]

Higashidate Elementary School Principal Shishido (right) and AEFA Secretary-General Endo

With the support of the Nippon Foundation, the Japan-based Asian Education and Friendship Association (AEFA), builds schools for minority communities living in Asia's remote mountain regions. AEFA also encourages the newly constructed schools to sign friendship agreements with Japanese schools in order to foster international exchange. This fiscal year, 10 Japanese schools will join the sister school program. One of these was Higashidate Elementary School in Fukushima Prefecture. Higashidate will be the first school from Fukushima to participate. Masayoshi Endo, Secretary-General of AEFA, visited the school to sign the agreement, and introduced its new sister school--Natur Elementary School in Salavan Province, Laos--in a lecture to the students. (Photo: Higashidate Elementary School)

Higashidate Elementary School serves the town of Yamatsuri, located at the southern end of Fukushima Prefecture. The town has a population of about 6,548 and is famous for its progressive policies. Specifically, in recent years, it has resisted the national policy by refusing to merge with other municipalities, refusing to join the national resident registry network, and paying its town councilors a per diem. It has also built the Mottainai Library, which houses about 435,000 books donated by people all over Japan. Higashidate Elementary School was founded in 1873.(Photo: The activities of AEFA explained in the principal's office)

Regarding the new friendship agreement with Natur Elementary School, Higashidate Elementary School Principal Shishido stated, “There are many disadvantaged countries in Southeast Asia. I believe that learning about the actual situation in these countries will encourage our children to create new hopes and dreams for the future.” The school plans to send its students' essays and artwork to Natur Elementary School and to introduce an environmental study of the Kuji River, carried out by its fourth-graders. (Photo: Secretary-General Endo Speaking to the Children)

Natur Elementary School' s classes are currently conducted in a crude hut. By the end of the year, however, a new building consisting of three classrooms, a community space, a toilet, and a well will have been built through AEFA. In his lecture, Secretary-General Endo introduced Salavan Province in Laos and the children of Natur Elementary School, promising, “We will build a new school by Christmas and deliver your letters and pictures to the kids there.”(Photo: The current Natur Elementary School)

According to AEFA, 38 schools have been constructed to date, as part of a project that started in 2005. About 40 Japanese schools have signed friendship agreements. This year, AEFA plans to build 15 schools: 10 in Vietnam, 4 in Laos, and 1 in Thailand. In Japan, 10 new schools, including Higashidate Elementary School will become sister schools.
Posted by TNF at 10:25 | Education | URL
Ocean Experience Cruise for Children [2008/06/04]

Lunchtime on the deck of the Fuji Maru

The children on this cruise may have been nervous at first, but by the end, they had a hard time saying goodbye to their new friends. The Blue Sea and Green Land Foundation hosts the B&G Cruise for Ocean Experience, with the aim of helping the next generation develop healthy minds and bodies through marine activities. I took part in the 30th annual cruise the Fuji Maru, a 23 thousand ton passenger ship that sailed between Tokyo, and Ogasawara from March 26th to 31st.

This year’s cruise consisted of two parts: the cruise itself, and activities in Ogasawara. On board, the 497 children lived together in extremely limited confines. Four children from different grades were assigned to each room, so junior high school students could take care of elementary school students in the same room. Since the students didn’t know each other beforehand, it took some time for them to develop a sense of camaraderie. Many children were not accustomed to group living and felt nervous aboard a rolling ship.(Photo: Girls enjoying canoeing)

Nonetheless, the children were highly enthused about the activities at Ogasawara. During the tour of the pilothouse, everyone listened attentively, though some were suffering from seasickness. They saw albatrosses from Torishima Island on the outward voyage, and were impressed on the homeward voyage by Sofu Iwa, a large pillar of rock protruding 100 meters out of the sea. Mai Nakamura, a former Olympic swimmer, and Michihiko Ueki, a former motorboat racer, participated in the cruise as special lecturers and talked about their experiences, encouraging children to have big dreams and objectives for their future.

       Whales in Ogasawara             Snorkeling with underwater creatures

The ship anchored at Ogasawara, where we stayed for two days. Children boarded fishing ships to take part in the whale-watching tour, and shouted with joy when they saw humpback whales swim gracefully by. At Kominato Beach, they struggled to paddle two-man canoes, went snorkeling, and learned lifesaving. Their shining eyes showed the joy with which they took part in these new experiences.

In a letter sent to the B&G Foundation, an elementary school student wrote, “When I went to the sea, I used to pick up shells and play on the beach. Even then, I felt that the sea was vast, but this experience made me realize that it was even bigger. On this cruise, I learned that the sea was fresh and beautiful and supported a lot of life. I think we should work to protect it.” A mother stated, “My daughter was deeply impressed by the experiences that she could not have at school or in her daily life and came home with new knowledge.” Another parent was pleased with the growth of his child, saying, “My child found how wonderful it was to meet other people.”(Photo: Exercises on the ship)
Posted by TNF at 10:57 | Sea & Ship | URL
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)
Posted by TNF at 15:10 | Human Resources Development | URL