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Yohei Sasakawa
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Commending Palau for Co-hosting 7th Our Ocean Conference with the U.S. [2022/05/18]
Palau and the United States co-hosted the seventh Our Ocean Conference in Koror, the largest city in the small Pacific island republic, on April 13-14. Titled “Our Ocean, Our People, Our Prosperity,” the event highlighted the importance of a healthy ocean to small island developing states−and to all communities where the ocean is a primary source of sustenance.

The conference brought together representatives of governments and non-state actors−including the private sector, intergovernmental organizations, academia, and NGOs−to commit to concrete action to advance ocean issues, including ocean-climate issues.

Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, I chose to stay in Tokyo and sent a video message to the event as chairman of The Nippon Foundation. Also sending video messages were U.S. President Joe Biden, Britain’s Prince Charles, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and former U.S. President Barak Obama.

In my message, I praised the outstanding leadership of Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. for co-hosting the event−the first to be held in a small island developing state−together with U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

“In the past, these global ocean issues were handled mainly by the big powers. But, to our delight, the Republic of Palau, one of the first island nations to be affected by the worsening ocean environment, has now been asserting significant leadership.

“It is Palau that has proposed extraordinary ideas such as the development of a sustainable blue economy and the creation of a marine sanctuary for the preservation of the ocean and now hosts the seventh Our Ocean Conference. I am very happy to see that the presence of Palau is gaining importance in the world.”

The Nippon Foundation has provided Palau with some 8.5 billion yen (about $ 65 million) worth of assistance mainly to help the Pacific island republic manage its marine sanctuary and beef up ocean national security. Our assistance includes helping train coast guard personnel and donating a 40-meter coast guard boat, the PSS Kedam.

I was told that President Whipps in his opening speech expressed his gratitude to The Nippon Foundation and our partner organization, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, for our assistance to the republic in addressing ocean issues.

The Our Ocean Conference was started in Washington in June 2014 by then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and held every year−in Chile in 2015, the United States in 2016, Malta in 2017, Indonesia in 2018, and Norway in 2019−until it was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Next year, it will take place in Panama.

The discussion has focused on six main themes−advancing marine protected areas, promoting sustainable fisheries, combating climate change, confronting marine pollution, creating sustainable blue economies, and achieving a safe and secure ocean.

The seventh Our Ocean Conference concluded with 410 commitments worth $16.35 billion across the issue areas of the meeting, according to the U.S. State Department.

The text of my video message to the seventh Our Ocean Conference can be seen here.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 16:09 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Leaving on 2-Week Trip to Malaysia, East Timor, Switzerland, Poland [2022/05/17]
I left Narita International Airport east of Tokyo on May 16 on a two-week, four-nation tour that will take me to Malaysia, East Timor, Switzerland and Poland.

On May 17 in Malaysia, I will meet with former deputy prime minister Anwar bin Ibrahim and other current and past government and party leaders.

In East Timor, I will attend the May 19 inaugural ceremony of Mr. Jose Ramos-Horta, an old friend of mine, who will be sworn in as president of the Southeast Asian nation.

Previously the head of state from 2007 until 2012, he won the second round of voting of the presidential election on April 19 by defeating incumbent Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres. Mr. Ramos-Horta was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for his efforts to bring a peaceful resolution to a guerrilla war in East Timor waged against Indonesia after it annexed the former Portuguese colony by force in 1975. I look forward to meeting with him personally while I am there.

I will then fly on to Geneva to attend the 75th World Health Assembly−the WHO’s decision-making body−in my capacity as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination. In the Swiss city, I will meet May 23-24 separately with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and the health ministers of various member states as well as Ambassador Kazuyuki Yamazaki of the Japanese Permanent Mission to the International Organizations in Geneva.

On May 25 in Poland, I will visit areas near the border with Ukraine to see firsthand the situation surrounding Ukrainians displaced by the continued Russian military attacks. The following day, I will also meet with representatives of Jagiellonian University, the country’s oldest university established in 1364, as well as international NGOs and other partners to discuss how best to push ahead with the foundation’s project to support Ukrainians with disabilities amid the conflict.

In the two-tier initiative, the foundation has provided Access Israel, an Israeli NGO, with about 290 million yen (about $2.25 million) to support its activities to help Ukrainians with disabilities flee their war-torn homeland. We are also dispatching more than 100 Japanese student volunteers to countries neighboring Ukraine to support Ukrainians with disabilities who have fled their country, through distribution of medical supplies, food and other daily necessities.

I will return to Geneva where on May 27 I will present the Sasakawa Health Prize, which was established at the WHO by my late father, Ryoichi Sasakawa, to recognize notable advances made in the promotion of primary health care throughout the world.

I arrive back in Japan on May 29.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 12:00 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
Sasakawa Nursing Fellow Scholarship Launched to Nurture 100 Nurses with Global Perspective [2022/05/11]
The Nippon Foundation and its partner organization, the Sasakawa Health Foundation, have launched the Sasakawa Nursing Fellow Scholarship to support 100 Japanese graduate students over the next 10 years, who gain admission to topnotch nursing universities in the United State and Canada.

The 2.8 billion-yen (about $21.5 million) program is aimed at nurturing nurses with a global perspective and leadership skills who can contribute to the future of community healthcare in a post-COVID-19 Japan.

In order to qualify for the scholarship, applicants are first required to enroll in the Sasakawa Nursing Fellow Program, which features online lectures and monthly reporting requirements. They will also have periodic meetings with reviewers to fully understand the objective, mission and the responsibilities of this scholarship program.

Within the first three years of being accepted into the nursing fellow program, grantees must obtain admission to any of the prestigious universities in North America which are ranked among the world’s top 10 in the fields of public health, nursing, and health science which includes life sciences and medicine, epidemiology, and population movements.

The program will award nursing students a scholarship of up to 13.2 million yen (about $101,000) a year, including tuition, rent, insurance, travel expenses for one round trip to Japan, and living expenses (100,000 yen or about $766 a month), for two years for a master’s degree student and three years for a doctoral student.

Today, it is important that nurses have a good awareness and understanding of issues relating to social justice, human rights, affirmative action and resource allocation.

Raising their competence to tackle these issues enables nurses to practice ethical nursing and contributes to improving the health of individuals, families, communities, and populations locally, nationally, and globally.

In addition, nurses must immerse themselves in diverse cultures, which will help them understand how to respect different opinions and how to be leaders. Through this opportunity, fellows cultivate their ability to incorporate scientific methods into a practical setting.

These are grants, not student loans, so they do not need to be repaid. I sincerely hope that the Sasakawa nursing fellows will deepen their knowledge, enhance their critical-thinking skills and develop their policy-making abilities through graduate studies at prestigious universities in the United States and Canada, and afterwards integrate what they have studied into their work to contribute to society, find solutions to social injustice and stand up to adversity.

The followings are prestigious universities (by category) in the United States and Canada from which applicants must gain admission to qualify for the grants:

(Public Health)
Harvard University
Johns Hopkins University
University of Washington
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Columbia University
University of Toronto
University of California, San Francisco
Emory University
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of California, Berkeley

(Health Science)
Harvard University
Stanford University
Johns Hopkins University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
University of California, San Francisco
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Yale University
University of Toronto
University of Pennsylvania
University of Washington

University of Pennsylvania
Johns Hopkins University
University of California, San Francisco
University of Toronto
University of Washington
Yale University
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Duke University
McMaster University
University of Washington
New York University
Emory University

World University Rankings are based on the latest data from QS World University Rankings, SHANGHAI RANKING, etc.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 21:27 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation to Send 105 Japanese Volunteers to Poland, Elsewhere to Support Ukrainians with Disabilities (2) [2022/05/09]
At the press conference on April 26 to announce that The Nippon Foundation would be providing humanitarian assistance to persons with disabilities from Ukraine, I said I was pleased that the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution on March 24 demanding civilian protection and humanitarian access in Ukraine with a clear mention of “persons with disabilities and older persons”−the point The Nippon Foundation suggested be included in the resolution in line with our goal of creating an inclusive society in which persons with all sorts of disabilities can live and work with dignity. The resolution received 140 votes in favor and five votes against while 38 countries abstained.

Mr. Ichiro Kabasawa, executive director of the foundation, was in Poland earlier in April to lay the groundwork for our assistance. He said Kraków, with a population of less than 800,000, has already taken in some 150,000 Ukrainians who have fled their homes, meaning one in five people living in the city are displaced from Ukraine and thus putting considerable pressure on the local community’s ability to give them access to housing and medical treatment.

I plan to go to Poland on May 25-26 after attending the 75th World Health Assembly−the WHO’s decision-making body−in Geneva, to see firsthand the situation surrounding displaced Ukrainians there and encourage other NGO and international partners to join in our efforts to support those with disabilities.

Out of our network of international partners with whom we have worked before, the foundation has asked former refugees in Macedonia to come to Poland to help prepare for accepting Ukrainians with disabilities. We will also work with Jagiellonian University in Kraków, the country’s oldest university established in 1364. For the last 35 years, the foundation has supported the university under the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) program for its MA and doctoral candidates.

“Our support to date has focused on women and children without disabilities, and we want to offer the same level of support to persons with disabilities. Due to the constantly changing situation there, we want to be flexible in pressing ahead with our aid plans,” I said at the press conference.

“We are dispatching Japanese students because we want them to experience first-hand working with a collection of NGOs from the international community. We believe having young people learn about the current situation in the international community through relief work is very important for Japan’s future.”

I sincerely hope that the foundation’s close partnership with Access Israel, Jagiellonian University, former Macedonian refugees and others will make a real difference in effectively helping Ukrainians with disabilities safely flee their country and live in peace until such time that they are able to return.

Our support for Ukrainians with disabilities is the second phase of the foundation’s assistance to Ukrainian people. On March 28, The Nippon Foundation announced humanitarian assistance totaling 5.08 billion yen (about $39 million) to help Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of their homeland come to Japan−3.55 billion yen (about $27.3 million) earmarked for their travel and living expenses and 1.53 billion yen (about $11.7 million) for NGOs and other nonprofit organizations working to support their daily lives.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:46 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation to Send 105 Japanese Volunteers to Poland, Elsewhere to Support Ukrainians with Disabilities (1) [2022/05/06]
Speaking at a press conference on April 26 to announce The Nippon Foundation’s decision to dispatch 105 Japanese student volunteers to support Ukrainians with disabilities who have evacuated to Poland and other neighboring countries.

The continued Russian military attacks against Ukraine have forced more than 5 million Ukrainians to cross borders into neighboring countries and displaced 7 million more inside the country, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The escalation of the conflict has also left the lives of an estimated 2.7 million Ukrainian persons with disabilities “extremely vulnerable and at grave risk of harm,” warned the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adding: “Many people with disabilities, including children, are trapped or abandoned in their homes, residential care institutions and orphanages, with no access to life-sustaining medications, oxygen supplies, food, water, sanitation, support for daily living and other basic facilities.”

To help these Ukrainians with disabilities, I announced at a press conference on April 26 that The Nippon Foundation will provide humanitarian assistance based on the following two pillars:

First, the foundation will provide Access Israel, an Israeli NGO, with about 290 million yen (about $2.23 million) to support its activities to help Ukrainians with disabilities who have not been able to flee their war-torn homeland.

Arrangements are being made for 10 vehicles to be used by Access Israel for evacuation of persons with disabilities from Ukraine. We will also send medications, clothes and other daily necessities to those with disabilities who cannot physically flee their country.

Furthermore, we will provide temporary shelter and support for daily living for Ukrainians with disabilities who have evacuated to neighboring countries including Poland, Romania, Austria, Moldova, and Slovakia.

Access Israel, which currently has a staff of about 120, was established in 1999 in Israel, a country that has experienced many years of conflict, as an NGO dedicated to promoting accessibility for and inclusion of people with disabilities and the elderly.

Second, the foundation will dispatch 105 Japanese student volunteers to countries neighboring Ukraine to support Ukrainians with disabilities who have fled their country, through distribution of medical supplies, food and other items, management of relief supplies, and dissemination of information.

The volunteers will initially be based in Kraków, Poland, and possibly in Vienna, Austria, and other locations with large numbers of Ukrainian evacuees. They will be sent in seven groups, each consisting of 15 volunteers, for about two weeks each between now and October. The first group is set to leave for Poland on May 30 and come back on June 16 (tentative).

But none of the volunteers will enter Ukraine in accordance with the advisory of the Japanese Foreign Ministry which has raised its travel alert for the European country to the highest level 4, urging all Japanese nationals to avoid traveling there “regardless of purpose.”

The foundation has earmarked about 120 million yen (about $900,000) for their traveling and accommodation expenses.

Our partner organization, the Nippon Foundation Volunteer Center, has started accepting applications for the volunteer mission. Applicants must be Japanese students aged 18 and above, Japanese passport holders and persons able to communicate sufficiently in English. I hope as many Japanese students as possible will apply.

(To be continued)
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 16:42 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
Love Pocket Fund to Donate 30 Million Yen to Help Displaced Ukrainians Come to Japan [2022/04/28]
Love Pocket Fund, established by The Nippon Foundation and three former members of the iconic boy band SMAP−Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Shingo Katori−has decided to donate 30 million yen (about $234,000) to help some 100 displaced Ukrainians come to Japan.

This is part of the 5.08 billion yen (about $39.7 million) in humanitarian assistance that the foundation has pledged to help Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of their homeland.

Under the plan announced on April 21, Love Pocket Fund will provide those who have already arrived in Japan or booked air tickets with up to 300,000 yen (about $2,340) each to cover their travel expenses.

Those who have yet to book their flights will be given e-tickets and money to cover their travel costs in Japan. If necessary, the foundation will make arrangements for domestic flights and Shinkansen (bullet train) tickets.

On April 20, The Nippon Foundation Humanitarian Assistance Team for People Displaced from Ukraine started to accept applications for support with the tentative deadline set at March 31, 2023. A Ukrainian resident of Japan who now works for the foundation will handle inquiries via email and telephone in Ukrainian.

There are almost 1,900 Ukrainian residents of Japan and nearly 1,000 of their family members, friends and acquaintances are said to be seeking to join them.

Mr. Goro Inagaki commented: “Looking at tragic scenes in Ukraine every day, we would like to begin now by doing what we can for them together with you.” Mr. Tsuyoshi Kusanagi said: “I would be delighted if our warm feelings would help those in difficult situations. I pray for peace,” while Mr. Shingo Katori said: “We are sending your love and support to heartbroken people displaced from Ukraine.”

Love Pocket Fund was established in April 2020 by The Nippon Foundation and the trio with an initial aim of supporting doctors, nurses, healthcare staff and volunteers working on the front lines battling the novel coronavirus.

Out of the total donations of 490,410,785 yen (about $3.8 million) the fund has collected as of March 28, 2022, it has supported 43 organizations and hospitals across the nation mainly in their fight against the coronavirus. It stopped accepting applications for COVID-19 support at the end of March 2022.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 13:55 | TOWARD HUMAN SECURITY | URL | comment(0)
Teaming Up with Sazae-san, Main Character in World’s Longest-running Cartoon Show, to Promote the Ocean and Japan Project [2022/04/25]
Appointing Sazae-san (right), the main character in the world’s longest-running cartoon show, as a special partner to promote the Ocean and Japan Project of The Nippon Foundation at a press conference on March 22, 2022.

The Nippon Foundation and Fuji Television Network Inc. have agreed to collaborate to feature Sazae-san, the main character in the world’s longest-running cartoon show, in promoting the foundation’s Umi-to-Nippon Project (The Ocean and Japan Project).

The project, launched in 2017, aims to renew the bonds between Japanese people, especially children and young people, with the ocean, and to pass on clean and beautiful oceans to the next generation.

Aired every Sunday by Fuji TV since 1969, the “Sazae-san” show features the everyday ups and downs of suburban Japanese housewife Ms. Sazae Isono and her extended family, and was acknowledged by Guinness World Records in 2013 as the longest-running animated series. Sazae-san is a household name among Japanese of all ages.

The joint undertaking with Sazae-san announced at a press conference on March 22 consists of the following three pillars.

1) For six months starting on April 3, the opening animation of the weekly Sazae-san show features sea resorts and scenic spots all over Japan.

2) Fuji TV’s 27-station national network will broadcast a special program possibly in mid-September in which Sazae-san and her family will help viewers unravel questions regarding the ocean.

3) Sazae-san will join a series of events to be held all over Japan under the Ocean and Japan Project to give participants, especially children, easy-to-understand lectures on ocean-related issues. Under the project, the foundation sponsors more than 3,500 events, centering on beach cleanup campaigns, in all the 47 prefectures across Japan every year with about 2.5 million people attending.

The collaboration with Sazae-san under the Ocean and Japan Project was first proposed by Mr. Junji Kawaguchi, director of the Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum, which displays art collected by Ms. Machiko Hasegawa, the late author of the Sazae-san manga series.

“I was truly honored and privileged by the offer from Japan’s most recognized fictional character to work with us for raising awareness of ocean issues,” I told the press conference, adding one poll indicated that 97% of Japanese people recognize Sazae-san, probably a much higher figure than those who know the name of our prime minister.

Most of the characters appearing in the Sazae-san series are named after something related to the sea, like Sazae (turban shell), her father Namihei (wave), mother Fune (boat), husband Masuo (trout), brother Katsuo (bonito), and sister Wakame (a brown seaweed native to the coast of Japan).

I went on to say that the “mother ocean”, which covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, is silently crying out, facing serious multi-faceted problems such as rising sea levels due to climate change, acidification, contamination by chemicals, unregulated overfishing and ocean plastic debris.

For 30 years, I have undertaken various initiatives with the belief that there will be no survival for humankind without sustainable environmental conservation of the ocean.

Unfortunately, a survey carried out by the foundation showed that about 40% of children in Japan don’t feel familiar with the ocean and that some 40% of teenagers have never been to the beach.

I sincerely hope that the joint initiative with Sazae-san will help make Japanese, especially children and young people, like the sea and think about what they can do to help address the issues that the ocean faces.

At a press conference on March 22, 2022, to appoint Sazae-san to promote the Ocean and Japan Project. From left, Ms. Nagisa Watanabe, emcee; the author; Mr. Junji Kawaguchi, director of the Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum; Sazae-san; Mr. Ryunosuke Endo, vice chairman of Fuji TV, and Yuichi Kawano, president of Television Nishinippon Corp.

Sazae-san, the main character in the world’s longest-running cartoon show, introduces herself as a special partner to promote the Ocean and Japan Project of The Nippon Foundation.

Sazae-san (far left) and her family.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 21:35 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Addressing Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in Nordic Countries [2022/04/22]
Participating in the Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in the Nordic Countries, “Japan and Japanese Studies in the 21st Century,” hosted by Copenhagen Business School of Denmark on March 24, 2022.

In step with China’s rapid economic growth, Chinese studies have spread fast in many countries, thanks largely to Confucius Institutes, the Chinese language and culture centers partially financed by the Beijing government. Some of these have since been closed amid growing concern that they may be what some critics have called a “propaganda tool” of China. Be that as it may, there is no denying they have helped to promote Chinese language studies.

In comparison, Japanese studies have lagged behind, despite the interest in Japan among young people created by its pop culture and the worldwide popularity of manga and anime.

To help promote Japanese studies, The Nippon Foundation and its partner organization, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, have been providing support to 13 prestigious universities in the United Kingdom since 2009.

For Nordic countries, The Nippon Foundation and the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation launched a new grant program in April 2018, designed to support the development of contemporary Japanese Studies in five Nordic countries−Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Japanese studies programs at institutions of higher learning in the Scandinavian countries have been assuming an important role in cultivating experts on various aspects of Japan. They have also been playing key roles in advancing the understanding of Japanese culture and society in these countries.

However, budget constraints have meant that departments and institutes offering Japanese studies have not been able to expand into new areas of teaching and research on Japan, as desired. The grant program offers the possibility of strengthening and enhancing the provision of contemporary Japanese studies in the Nordic countries.

The grant program operates for a period of five years from April 2019. It consists of two parts: 1) the establishment of lectureships in contemporary Japanese studies, and 2) the provision of research grants for PhD candidates in contemporary Japanese studies.

On March 24, Copenhagen Business School hosted an online Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in the Nordic Countries “Japan and Japanese Studies in the 21st Century.”

The event, which I had the privilege of addressing, was attended by Dr. Elisabeth Nilsson, Chairperson of the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation, Professor Soren Hvidkjrar, Dean of Copenhagen Business School, and Japanese Ambassador to Denmark Manabu Miyagawa as well as Japanese studies lecturers and fellows in the Nordic countries.

“It is my great pleasure to offer support to you who have a strong desire to engage in research on Japan,” I told the participants, adding that The Nippon Foundation’s scholarship as well as our human resource development programs are not limited to funding research and studies but provide opportunities for life-long exchange.

“For this, we already have a network linking more than 30,000 (Sasakawa) fellows all over the world. I hope you too will make good use of this network.”

I sincerely hope that the researchers enjoy their studies, find much of interest in Japan’s culture and traditions, and serve as a bridge in further strengthening ties between the Nordic countries and Japan.


The Nordic universities we support under the program follow:

Aarhus University
Copenhagen Business School
University of Copenhagen

University of Helsinki
University of Turku

University of Iceland

Norwegian University of Science and Technology
University of Bergen

European Institute of Japanese Studies, Stockholm School of Economics

The text of my online message to the Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in the Nordic Countries “Japan and Japanese Studies in the 21st Century” on March 24 can be seen here.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:11 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
Participating in Cleanup Rally with Okayama Governor, Local Residents [2022/04/19]
The author (left) and Okayama Governor Ryuta Ibaragi collecting trash on March 23, 2022, as part of the “Setouchi Oceans X” project launched by The Nippon Foundation and four prefectures that encircle the Seto Inland Sea in western Japan aimed at achieving “zero marine waste.”

I have lived by the conviction that my “battlefield” is where the problems lie as that is where solutions can be found. I can never solve a problem by sitting in a comfortable air-conditioned office reading reports from my staff.

With that in mind, I took a 6 a.m. Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo Station on March 23, arriving in Okayama in western Japan after a 3-hour-and-9-minute journey. I then joined Governor Ryuta Ibaragi of Okayama Prefecture and about 100 local volunteers and residents, including some eye-catching cosplayers committed to cleaning the oceans, for a rally to collect trash on a small island near the Sasagase River estuary.

I was shocked by the large amount of plastic and other waste washed up on the riverbank in an area that is hard for local residents to access.

The event was part of “Setouchi Oceans X,” a five-year project launched in December 2020 by The Nippon Foundation together with Okayama and three other prefectures that encircle the Seto Inland Sea aimed at achieving “zero marine waste.”

Governor Ibaragi told the participants: “No resident in the prefecture wants to see this awful pile of garbage. Let’s make it a rule not to dump trash and collect it if we find it.”

I followed up with an appeal of my own: “If each one of us stops dumping trash, we can make the Seto Inland Sea a model for ocean cleanup campaigns in the rest of the world. Dreaming of that day, let’s do everything we can.”

At the event, the participants cleaned up some 1,500 square meters of riverbank and collected about 10 tons of trash.

According to the foundation’s estimate, 4,500 tons of waste end up in the semi-enclosed Seto Inland Sea annually, of which only 1,400 tons are currently being collected. The waste accumulated on the seabed is threatening the health of crustaceans, fish, seabirds, and many other ocean species.

The Setouchi Oceans X project aims to slash the amount of marine debris in the sea to “infinitely close to zero” by reducing trash inflow by some 70% and increasing trash collection by a little over 10% over the next five years.

Inland seas such as the Seto Inland Sea typically have a relatively small inflow of marine litter from outside oceans. If we go all out in trying to reduce marine litter to almost zero in the Inland Sea, we will be able to see what we want to achieve−“zero marine waste.” The foundation will cover the cost of the project, totaling 1.5 billion yen (about $11.9 million).

It is estimated that most of the marine plastic waste comes from land-based sources and that almost all of it is carried to the ocean by rivers.

We will keep appealing to people not to dump garbage, while analyzing the results of the day’s cleanup drive to explore ways to effectively collect garbage washed up on shore to reduce trash inflows into the ocean.

Speaking at the start of the rally to collect trash on a small island near the Sasagase River estuary in Okayama on March 23, 2022.

The rally is joined by Governor Ryuta Ibaragi of Okayama Prefecture and about 100 local volunteers and residents, including some cosplayers.

I tell the participants: “If each one of us stops dumping garbage, we can make the Seto Inland Sea a model for cleanup campaigns in the rest of the world.”

A large quantity of plastic bottles and other waste seen washed up on the shore of a small island near the mouth of the Sasagase River in Okayama.

Participants collect about 10 tons of trash during the rally.

The author (far right) with Okayama Governor Ryuta Ibaragi speaking to the media.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:55 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Japanese Youths Found Least Optimistic About Future of Their Country: 6-Nation Survey [2022/04/15]
Percentage of respondents replying that their country’s future would “get better.”

The Nippon Foundation conducted an “Awareness Survey of Society and Country” from January 26 to February 8, 2022, covering 1,000 people aged between 17 and 19 in each of six countries: China, India, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The online poll followed a similar survey the foundation conducted in nine countries in late 2019. As in the previous survey, the latest poll showed that in virtually all areas, young people in Japan ranked last behind their peers in the five other countries in terms of their expectations for the future of their country.

Asked whether they believe their country will “get better” in the future, only a little more than one in 10 in Japan (13.9%) responded “yes,” falling way behind those in China (95.7%), India (83.1%), the United Kingdom (39.1%), the United States (36.1%) and South Korea (33.8%).

Regarding whether they think the competitiveness of their country will be stronger in 10 years, a mere 10.9% answered in the affirmative, compared with those in China (89.7%), India (65.6%), South Korea (37.7%), the United Kingdom (34.3%) and the United States (27.4%).

The survey also asked the respondents whether they expect their country will be able to exert leadership in international society. Only one in five in Japan (22.8%) responded “yes,” again lagging far behind China (86.0%), India (79.7%), the United States (61.5%), the United Kingdom (56.2%) and South Korea (53.3%).

The poll was conducted about two months before Japan lowered the legal age of adulthood from 20 to 18, effective on April 1. It had been set at 20 for more than 140 years.

On the question of whether they considered themselves to be adults, about one in four in Japan (27.3%) said “yes,” as compared to those in the United Kingdom (85.9%), the United States (85.7%), India (83.7%), China (71.0%) and South Korea (46.7%).

Queried whether they thought themselves to be responsible members of society, about half of Japanese (48.4%) said they did, still well below young people in India (82.8%), the United Kingdom (79.9%), China (77.1%), the United States (77.1%) and South Korea (65.7%).

About whether they believed their actions could change their country and society, roughly one fourth of Japanese (26.9%) responded affirmatively, compared with India (78.9%), China (70.9%), South Korea (61.5%), the United States (58.5%) and the United Kingdom (50.6%).

Concerning changes in attitude toward social participation since the novel coronavirus pandemic, the results indicated a greater desire to play a role in society compared with pre-pandemic days. Roughly one in five Japanese respondents (18.7%) said they wanted to do something useful for their country and society, although this was far less than the one in two Chinese (53.9%) and one in two Indians (51.1%), with the figures for the other  countries somewhere in between−32.2% for the United States, 28.2% for South Korea and 24.2% for the United Kingdom.

Overall, the latest survey found again that young people in Japan expressed more anxiety and a sense of helplessness about the future to a degree not seen in their counterparts in the other countries.

I sincerely hope that the results of the poll will encourage the government and schools in Japan to press ahead with political, social and educational reforms with a view to helping young adults and people approaching adulthood find ways to foster optimism about the future.

Percentage of respondents replying “yes” to statements related to awareness of social participation.

Percentage of respondents replying “yes” to statements regarding their awareness of political participation.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 07:52 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
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