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Yohei Sasakawa
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Three Groups of Young People [2011年07月29日(Fri)]

Central Asian Sasakawa Fellows studying in Turkey
(Left: Ms. Yamaguchi)

Three Groups of Young People

I am an avid fan of young people. I devote every spare moment to meet them hoping to be of even a little help to these young people who are now full of dreams for their future.

Recently, three groups visited me.

Group 1
The first group was students of Waseda University; Ms. Aki Yasuda, Mr. Kenta Yoshida, Ms. Yukiko Mitsuzuka, and Mr. Park Myungjin headed by Ms. Eriko Kajita.

They are a part of a team of 10 Japanese students who are going to West Bengal State Bishnapur leprosy colony (150 residents) in India during the period between September 3 and 13. The group will work very hard, toiling to place a purifier-equipped water system with Indian university students.

They have already made extensive preparation plans by visiting and making surveys of five colonies. But it was not easy. During their preparatory work, they not only suffered from diarrhea, vomiting, cough and high fever, but also were constantly in a terribly dangerous environment where they were exposed to the possibility of contacting malaria and dengue. Despite all these experiences, these courageous young people who are going into the field once again, will gain a very valuable experience that will bring them “something” positive and a life-time treasure in the long years ahead.

I would like to pay my sincere respects to these young people who will be living under one roof with the residents of the colonies, many of whom are begging for their livelihood.

I cannot but wish them every success in achieving their goal and return home safely.

Group 2
It has already been 8 years since our fellowship program for the top students from the countries of Central Asia of Kyrygzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan, to study in Turkey was established. Ms. Kyoko Yamaguchi who had once worked with us at the Nippon Foundation is looking after the students with unsparing care in Turkey. She has been contributing to enhancing the alumni network and has also started to dispatch Japanese teachers to Turkey to foster deeper interest, in areas of Japanese economy and culture among others.

Ms. Yamaguchi has once again accompanied this year’s top five students to Japan.

They are;
Mr. Shahin Khaniyev
24 year-old male student from Azerbaijan
Hacattepe University (Ankara)
Doctoral course in Medicine

Ms. Mairagul Zhindybayeva
26-year-old female student from Kazakhstan
Marmara University
Faculty of Management-Finance

Mr. Alemzhar Yergaliyev
24-year-old male student from Kazakhstan
Istanbul Technical University
Faculty of Civil Engineering

Mr. Ali Mamedov
22-year-old male student from Turkmenistan
Istanbul Technical University
Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

Mr. Ruslan Derbishev
23-year-old male student from Tajikistan
Mimar Sinan University (in Istanbul)
Faculty of Architecture

All the students are promising talents who will take up active roles in their home countries in the future. I am certain that their training on this trip in this beautiful country, Japan, will stimulate and satisfy these students who are full of curiosity, and deepen their interest in Japan. I am certain that many years of accumulated small but precious handmade projects will bloom to produce huge results.

I would like to express my gratitude to Ms. Yamaguchi for her enduring passion towards this program.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Wind Makes Profitable Musicians [2011年07月27日(Wed)]

“Red Song Campaign” launched at the Chinese Communist Party’s 90th Anniversary

Wind Makes Profitable Musicians

This is from a Japanese proverb; “wind makes profitable cooper”.
The readers might be puzzled at this proverb but it goes like this;
When the wind blows, dust is stirred up. Dust makes people blind. Blind people buy more shamisen (three-stringed Japanese instrument. In the past many blind people were professional shamisen players.) More shamisens would sell. Shamisen is made of cat’s skin and therefore the number of cats decline. When the number of cats decline, there will be more mice. Mice gnaw on wooden pails; therefore, demand for wooden pails increases and coopers will make more money.

This proverb is a metaphor of a seemingly unrelated cause and effect that bring about unexpected impact.

July 1 was the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of China and the entire nation was in a celebration mood. The special feature of this year’s anniversary celebration was none other than the “Red Song” Campaign.

The campaign originated in Chongqing, where it was launched by Bo Xilai, elite of the Crown Prince Party (Taizi Dang) and the Party chief of Chongqing, the largest city in southwest China, The Red Song is a song that pays homage to the Communist Party and to the history of the People’s Republic of China and its development. The campaign was started on a large-scale by Chinese officials and encouraged companies, organizations, groups and schools to follow along, and it rapidly dominated the nation in a great fad, as it was imitated in different provinces and municipalities.

When Chongqing sent a huge choir, composed of its 1000 citizens, to Beijing in June, it became the talk of the town. Chongqing was ridiculed and nicknamed “Tomato”, or Xi hongshi in Chinese, which is a homonym for “the western red city”.

As many as 46 choirs were formed in each section of the state agency which is the counterpart of the Chinese project of the Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund. They were all immersed in intensive rehearsals, two to three times a week, sparing time from office hours, from as early as the beginning of May, two months prior to the finals of the competition. The selected teams were to be provided with brand new costumes that were designed in line with the verse of the song that they selected and would continue to prepare for the finals with genuine dress rehearsals, in rented music halls and auditoriums.

Twelve teams were selected to advance to the finals at the preliminary contest held in mid-June. After that, the trainings to prepare for the finals became even more intensive and heated than ever before. There were even teams that took their entire team of fifty singers, lodged together in a “training camp” style in the suburbs, and invited professional teachers. The finals that took place on June 28th was wild with excitement as all the leaders of the state agencies were present, professional singers were invited as panel of judges, and was even aired on television.

This “Red Song” Campaign made unexpected professionals profitable. They were the teachers of music.

Choirs were formed one after another at different state agencies, groups, schools, local communities, in a single spell of time. There was a sudden increase of requests for professional music teachers who were invited to coach the teams to improve their quality of performance. Our counterpart, that I have aforementioned practiced twice a week and invited professional teachers who were members of music bands, from two months prior to the competition. The quoted training fee for these teachers was 1,000 Yuan/hour with a car provided. So a two-hour practice would cost 2,000 Yuan (approximately \25,000). The grand total for the two-months training of two-hour session twice a week totaling to 16 training sessions would come to 32,000 Yuan (\400,000). The winner was to receive a prize in cash of 5,000 Yuan (\63,000), so it would be a sizable deficit for the teams.

But this is not the end of the incurred cost. The regulation stipulates that the members of each choir are limited to official staff and therefore there is a very strict screening in order to prevent substitutes from taking part, with the exception of conductors and the accompanists who are allowed to be professionals. This means that together with the professional music teachers, many music bands and choirs were in great demand and they have apparently earned quite a lump sum income.

The 90th Anniversary of the Communist Party of China has ended.
The “Red Song” movement has also quieted down for the time being, but it is uncertain whether this would be the end of the movement or not. One thing is almost certain that musicians will not become “coopers” for another 10 years when the centenary anniversary will be celebrated.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Mongol’s Unique Customs - 1 [2011年07月22日(Fri)]

Nomadic People’s Wish for their Children
(Transferred from the web)

Mongol’s Unique Customs - 1

Each country is blessed with a long history of culture and tradition. Things are likely to go wrong if we think with a Japanese mind.

For example, in Korea women take their meals sitting on the floor with one knee raised. One should be careful not to pick up one’s bowl or to touch a dish containing food that is to be shared because it is a sign that you are about to monopolize all the food in it. Metallic utensils and chopsticks are used in Korea as a legacy of using silver in the old days to avoid poisoning.

Ethnologist Kunio Yanagida says, that the Japanese love of incorporating “beauty in utility” is a unique culture, we should be proud of. There is a campaign to register Japanese food to UNESCO’s intangible world cultural heritage, and I hope that this effort will succeed.

My main thought for writing this blog is to discuss Mongolian customs. Mongol has challenging climate where winter temperature registers minus 30 degrees Celsius and it is not rare for goats and sheep left in the field to die en masse. This gave rise to deity respecting and devil fearing custom which remains strong even to this day. Mongolians believe in a unique relationship between their children and the devil, and as a result they intentionally give ugly names to discourage devils from snatching their sweet children away to death.

Some examples of ugly names: “Burst (shit)”, “Funbishi (wretch)”, “Terubishi (not there)”, “Enebishi (not this)”, “Nerugui (nameless)”, etc. Mongolian equivalent of “bad dog” can also be found among their devil-chasing list of names.

A great deal of commotion was caused in Japan when a parent named her child “Akuma”, meaning devil. That has not happened in Mongolia. It must be because the child with a devilish name might attract the devil to snatch it first.

In complimenting or praising a child, the Mongolian way is to say, “Oh dear, what a clumsy child you are!” or “Oh, how dirty you are!” Mongolian mothers appear to seriously believe that saying “What a sweet child” would be a sure invitation to lose the child to the devil.

As it is the custom in lesser vehicle, Hinayana Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Myammar and Sri Lanka, we should not touch a child’s head as we do in Japan, as they believe that the Buddha resides there.

In cross-cultural exchange, the first step is to get to know the other culture and custom.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Ceremony Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Sylff Program at Massey University [2011年07月20日(Wed)]

Rubbing noses and foreheads in greeting withMassey University Vice-Chancellor Maharey Massey University is one of New Zealand’s finest universities.

Ceremony Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Sylff Program at Massey University

In late June of last year, I was in New Zealand, where I attended the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of a Sylff Fellowship Fund at Massey University.

“Sylff” is short for the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund, which supports students pursuing graduate studies in the humanities and social sciences. For the program to date, endowments of $1 million each have been presented to 69 countries and consortia in 44 countries; and around 13,000 students have received fellowships since the program was first launched in 1987.

I was honored to have the opportunity to address the audience attending the June, 2011 ceremony at Massey University, and an English transcript of my speech is now available at the Nippon Foundation Website. I hope that you will take a moment to have a look at my speech, which addressed the amicable relations between New Zealand and Japan and our shared experience last year of coping with the harrowing experience of a massive earthquake and its aftermath.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Ryoichi Sasakawa - 17th Memorial Day [2011年07月19日(Tue)]

Ryoichi Sasakawa - 17th Memorial Day

Yesterday, July 18th was Ryoichi Sasakawa’s Seventeenth Memorial Day.

The writer is now in Central African Republic working for the elimination of Leprosy. On July 2, I had offered flowers at my father’s tomb in Minoh City, Osaka, and held a modest Buddhist Memorial Service with my mother and her sister by marriage with a Buddhist monk present at his house in Ibaraki City.

It took more than ten years to organize documents that recorded my father’s life and his work. This was only possible with the extra special efforts given by Dr. Takashi Ito, professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo that they could come under full light.

I also thank Keiichi Torii, Advisor to the Nippon Foundation and Makoto Funakoshi, Managing Director of Boat Race Promotion Association, for their genuine cooperation over the years.

I attach below an announcement sent to my acquaintances.

* * * * * *

On an auspicious day in July, 2011

I hope this note finds you well in the midsummer heat.
Time flies, and July 18 was my late father Ryoichi’s seventeenth Memorial Day. He was a man who walked the path he believed in regardless of the criticisms and denigration thrown at him by media and so-called progressive scholars. At times, feeling impatient, I gave him my piece of mind, but he turned a deaf ear. “Let it stand,” he would say, “The man’s got to make his living for his wife and children.” Now I must admit he was one of a kind.

By many years of efforts expended by Dr. Takashi Ito, professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo and an authority on Japan’s contemporary political history, I have now been able to put to rest all documents concerning Ryoichi Sasakawa. “A Critical Biography — Ryoichi Sasakawa” by Dr. Ito will be the last in the series of publication.
They say, do not judge a man until his coffin is closed. I would be most gratified if you would take time to read this piece and recall the times in which he lived.
I wish you a most pleasant and fulfilling summer.

Yours sincerely,

Yohei Sasakawa

I have listed the books on Ryoichi Sasakawa published by Chuokoron and Chuokoron-Shinsha publishing companies.

Ryoichi Sasakawa and Tokyo Trial I “A Sequel-Sugamo Diary” Ed. Takashi Ito
Ryoichi Sasakawa and Tokyo Trial II “Save War Criminals” Ed. Takashi Ito
Ryoichi Sasakawa and Tokyo Trial III “A Suspect, Arrest, Cross-Examination” Ed. Takashi Ito
Ryoichi Sasakawa and Tokyo Trial a supplement “National Defense and Aviation” Ed. Takashi Ito
“Sugamo Diary” Ed. Ryoichi Sasakawa, Revised by Takashi Ito
“Ryoichi Sasakawa Study” Ed. Seizaburo Sato
Sayings of Ryoichi Sasakawa Before the War “Man of Right Wing” Ed. Seizaburo Sato

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Leprosy Elimination Activities in India [2011年07月17日(Sun)]
Leprosy Elimination Activities in India

Yohei Sasakawa
WHO Goodwill Ambassador for the Elimination of Leprosy

I went to India from February 26 to March 2. This was my first visit of the year (2011) although I had been to India forty times in the last ten years for the cause of leprosy elimination.
At the end of 2005, India had achieved the leprosy elimination target of less than one case per 10,000 population, the standard of leprosy elimination as a public health issue established by WHO (World Health Organization). India, however, is a large country with a population of 1.1 billion so that even today there are over 130,000 (2009) patients newly registered every year.
While leprosy can be completely cured by multi-drug therapy (MDT), there remains a worldwide social bias accompanying formerly affected persons, and even their families, and this phenomenon is especially strong in India. My trip to India this time was part of my commitment to help resolve “social disabilities” surrounding leprosy.

On a cold wintery February 26, the day after the first spring storm, I flew from Tokyo directly to New Delhi arriving around 6 p.m. A night was falling and the temperature was a pleasant 20 degrees Celsius, I went straight to the hotel, checked in and unpacked.
The next day, I was invited to attend the very first board meeting of the National Forum. This is an organization established in 2005 at my strong suggestion to Dr. P. K. Gopal, a social worker, himself cured of disease, and other leprosy affected people that they must stand up to recover their human and social rights. The National Forum rests on the principle that leprosy affected people must be the main protagonists of their action. During the last five years, the National Forum had created sister organizations throughout India and organized national and regional forums for leprosy affected people as well as fact-finding surveys on living conditions of the colonies where they lived. The Indian National Parliament Petition Committee, having conducted a survey of colonies of leprosy affected people encouraged by the National Forum, has filed a report urging to repeal laws discriminatory to leprosy. With the Forum beginning to have impact, my next agenda is to establish a supra-partisan group of Indian congressmen and women to support social reintegration of leprosy survivors.
The National Forum, now formally registered as a juridical foundation on February 21, 2011 had called its first board meeting in accordance with its charter.

Nine board members including Dr. Gopal, all of whom are leprosy affected persons travelled to New Delhi from across the country for their first board meeting, and duly conducted its business: approving the charter, electing Dr. Gopal as the Chairman, opening a bank account, establishing an office, planning future activities and setting up an advisory committee. I was proudly invited to serve as Patron of the National Forum. As a juridical foundation, the National Forum now has a platform to expand its activities, the way ahead, however, is not without challenges. First, there is a need to strengthen regional organizations in a vast country like India with the population of 1.1 billion and a decentralized administrative system. Things have to be initiated at the state levels since instructions from the center do not travel far. Leaders in each state have to be able to unite residents of colonies and create a network that will carry their voices to local governments as well as to communities at large. Another urgent need is to train leaders among young persons to work vigorously at the national level.

One of the concrete actions of the National Forum is to put in place a pension scheme for all persons affected by leprosy in India. At present there are pensions at the national level for disabled persons and the elderly, but only a few states such as Delhi and Utterakhand have schemes targeting leprosy affected persons. According to the report issued by the Petition Committee stated earlier, it has requested establishment of a pension scheme for leprosy affected persons with a monthly disbursement of 2,000 rupees (approximately 3,200 yen). Last year (2010) I went to the state of Bihar with the survivors to request setting up of a pension scheme and I flew again to Patna, its capital this evening.

The state of Bihar (in the Eastern part of India) has a population of over 100 million, almost comparable to Japan. It is said to be the poorest state in India due to delay in development and has yet to clear the WHO standard of leprosy elimination. (Incidentally, Bodhgaya known as the place where Buddha has achieved his enlightenment is in Bihar.) As noted earlier, I had visited Bihar in April of the previous year with members of Bihar branch of the National Forum to call on the State Minister of Health, and Sanjay Kumar, executive director for Bihar of the National Rural Health Mission established in eighteen states that lagged in public health, and urged the establishment of a social security system for the leprosy affected persons, specifically a pension of 1,000 Rupees (1600 yen equivalent) per month, and improving their living environment. Mr. Kumar had shown a positive response and requested a list of the names of people residing in colonies in Bihar. I promised I will return with that report. Our members wasted no time in conducting the survey, and in a matter of about two weeks, they had visited 997 households in 63 colonies of the state and completed the survey. As promised, I returned to Bihar in early May accompanying members of the Bihar branch and presented our report by hand to the State Deputy Chief Minister.

These were developments up to nine months earlier. Since then a state general election had taken place and there had been no progress reported even as regards its response to improving the treatment of leprosy affected persons. I decided therefore to revisit Bihar to get things moving.

On February 28, I visited Mr. Kumar at the National Rural Health Mission and Mr. Ganga Prasad, the Deputy Speaker of the Bihar Legislative Council, and asked for immediate establishment of the pension in order to resolve the present situation of the elderly and disabled leprosy affected persons having to beg on streets for their livelihood. The two gentlemen showed deep concern for the present state of leprosy affected people and promised to do their utmost. I then paid a visit to the Honorable Sushil Kumar Modi, Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister whom I had also met last May. He responded to our passionate, or shall I say tenacious, appeal and right there and then called the person in charge at the Ministry of Social Welfare and instructed him to put together a concrete pension plan. He then promised to talk in person with Bihar’s Chief Minister and convince him. This commitment from the Deputy Chief Minister was my biggest harvest of this visit and after three prior visits to Bihar in less than a year.
Also at Deputy Chief Minister’s arrangement, I met that same evening with Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Bihar’s Chief Minister of Health and received positive responses to our list of many requests including the issue of Successful Treatment Certificate required to receive pension, biweekly visits to the colony as requested by the Petition Committee, provision of protective footwear and payment of medical allowances. While the negotiation stalled almost one whole year, things were now going forward and I am now making plans to approach other states.

On that same day, I called on the UK based Leprosy Relief Association, LEPRA, India and received detailed briefing on leprosy in Bihar: for every 10,000 people, there are 1.08 registered patients, with new registrations exceeding 20,000 a year, of which approximately 16% were children. The ratio of new registrants showing symptoms of disability was around 2% and that shows the desirable situation of the early detection of the disease.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | LEPROSY | URL | comment(0)
Leprosy Elimination Activities in Egypt and Lebanon [2011年07月16日(Sat)]
Leprosy Elimination Activities in Egypt and Lebanon

WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination
Yohei Sasakawa

I visited Egypt and Lebanon between December 13th and 16th, 2010.
The main aim of my trip was to visit leprosaria in Egypt and to exchange views with the Ministry of Health and the WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) there on leprosy elimination activities as well as to attend the conference hosted by EMRO in Lebanon.

Egypt had achieved the WHO’s standard for leprosy elimination (less than one case per 10,000 population) in 1994 at the national level. In 2009, there were 700 new cases of leprosy and at the end of that year, the number of registered patients was 912, making for a prevalence rate of 0.13 per 10,000 population. In Egypt, the leprosy burden is heavier in the upstream region where five provinces are yet to achieve the elimination target than in the densely populated Nile Delta region where Cairo and Alexandria are located.

On the morning of the first day, I visited a leprosarium in Abu Zaabal in the north of Cairo. This leprosarium is a public hospital set up as compulsory lifetime isolation facilities (at the time of establishment). Currently it houses approximately 700 residents affected by leprosy (35% of them women). The site can be divided into three main sections; the central area with clinics and pharmacies, and two hospital wards; one for men and the other for women. It was a sunny cloudless day and residents looked contented basking in the well-tended large garden, and maybe due to many long-time residents, it looked more like an old people’s home with medical facilities than a hospital. What struck me most was that while the residents were expressing their gratitude to the medical staff and pleasantness of the facilities. When I asked whether they wanted to go home, they answered murmuring, “No, I don’t want to go home, there is no place to go back”. When I was later interviewed by CNN, I commended the leprosarium for the good environment it offered, even on a global level, with clean facilities and medical staff well-liked by the residents. However, quite frankly, I do not wish these medical facilities to be their “permanent home”. Residents have families. Once cured, they should spend their future with their families. Yet they do not wish to return. That is because the society discriminates and rejects them. Their families can warmly welcome them home only when prejudice and discrimination have been eliminated from the society. Unfortunately, in the world today, despite the fact that most patients are completely cured of leprosy, discrimination against them still persists. My efforts to eliminate the disease and discrimination will not cease till they are able to live with their families without fear and rehabilitated into society.

That afternoon, I called on the WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO). EMRO is one of the six WHO regional offices, which oversees North Africa, the Middle East and West Asia. There are 22 countries from Morocco to Pakistan in the region, all of which have achieved leprosy elimination target (less than one registered case per 10,000 population). Another thing that characterizes this region is that there are countries plagued by civil wars and political uncertainties such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. As I was due to attend a conference hosted by EMRO in Beirut, Lebanon at a later date, we had a briefing session and exchanged our views on leprosy in the region, at the office.

The following day I visited Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria, about 200 kilometers from Cairo. Alexandria is a port town on the Mediterranean Sea, and it is a historic and a very beautiful city known as “The Pearl Of The Mediterranean”. My destination was Amria leprosarium in the southwestern part of the city. Buildings of the leprosarium were surrounded by thick and imposing walls as they were renovated British Army barracks from the colonial period. I was told that facility housed around 200-250 residents at its peak time, about 10 years ago, but today there are only 20 residents with still about 4 new people coming in every year . There was a hospital on the premises where 2 doctors and 6 nurses were stationed at.

That afternoon, I called on The Suzanne Mubarak Regional Centre for Women's Health and Development. Mrs. Mubarak, the wife of the former President Mubarak serves as the executive director of the Centre, which, as a medical institute, conducts research on child bearing and women’s diseases and provides training programs to develop skills in this field. The Centre accepts trainees not only from Egypt but also extensively from the African region. We exchanged views on the improvement of the standards of medical care in the Middle East and African Region.

On my last day in Egypt, I visited the Ministry of Health of Egypt and exchanged views with Dr. Nasar El Sayad, Deputy Minister of Health on leprosy and healthcare services in Egypt. I was told that the private sector played a prominent role in controlling leprosy, and that there were 17 leprosy clinics in Egypt, quite a few of which had long been run by the efforts of Catholic sisters from overseas. In the field of healthcare services in Egypt, the child public health had become an issue, thus currently they were planning to implement a program in collaboration with universities to counter this problem, by mobilizing one million students to establish a habit of thorough gargling and hand-washing. For HIV/AIDS control, an education campaign was running concurrently with the one on hepatitis as strategies were being developed based on the research findings on maternal-child health. A health program had been rolled out to all the schools in the country through which school meals were provided, and preparations were underway to introduce a health insurance system which would cover 70 to 80% of the population.

That night, I left Cairo for Beirut, Lebanon by air. Lebanon is a country of a size of Gifu Prefecture sandwiched between Syria and Israel. Its capital, Beirut, was once called a “Paris of the Middle East” as it used to serve as a financial centre of the Middle East by offering highly developed financial functions, and tourism had thrived as it became the air hub of the region. However, as a result of repeated civil wars and consequent political instabilities, the city has suffered armed terror attacks. Recently the new Cabinet was inaugurated in November 2009 and the local elections in May 2010 were held without major disturbances, yet tension is rising around the investigation of the international tribunal on the assassination of the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.

The day after my arrival at Beirut, I attended the conference hosted by the WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO). This conference was attended by leprosy officers from the Ministries of Health and representatives of NGOs from 14 of the 22 countries in the EMRO Region, who made reports on the situation of leprosy control programs in their respective countries. Whenever I try to describe the leprosy issue, I use the analogy of a motorbike. The front wheel represents curing the disease. The rear wheel is about eliminating stigma and discrimination associated with leprosy. I will renew my effort to work not only on the front wheel of the motorbike but also on the rear wheel now and into the future, through eliminating stigma, discrimination and prejudice in order to create a society where leprosy affected people and their families can live without fear.

The scope of activities for leprosy is steadily expanding “from leprosy disease control & elimination to elimination of prejudice and discrimination caused by leprosy”. I have made appeals at different places to the international community to address the issue of discrimination suffered by the leprosy affected people and their families around the world. With the help of the Japanese Government and interested parties, the Principles and Guidelines for the Elimination of Discrimination Against People Affected by Leprosy and Their Family Members was unanimously adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2010 and by the United Nations General Assembly in December the same year. This Principles and Guidelines clearly state two points namely, that basic human rights, and promotion, protection, and security of freedoms shall not be compromised on the grounds of leprosy, and also the right of persons affected by leprosy and their family members to participate in the community without being discriminated should be disseminated.

Such an unequivocal gesture from the international community towards elimination of discrimination associated with leprosy will serve as a powerful instrument in bringing anti-discrimination activities to success. Willing or unwilling, leprosy affected people are protagonists in the rear wheel battle to eliminate discrimination. They are no longer there to just accept. They need to change their passive mindset and start being proactive, taking action for themselves. In this battle, I do not wish to have a one-sided relationship of “supporter and support recipient” with leprosy affected people. Instead, I wish to have a relationship between comrades. I shall spare no effort or cooperation till I share the victory with my comrades. I shall visit them, have discussions with them, and take actions for them as many times as it takes to achieve this goal.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | LEPROSY | URL | comment(0)
Education commands a long-term strategy [2011年07月13日(Wed)]

North London Collegiate School
A prestigious English Day School with a 150-year History

Education commands a long-term strategy

There is an apt saying: if you plan for one year, plant grain; if you plan for ten years, plant trees, and if you have a plan for hundred years, then cultivate human capacity.

Ryoichi Sasakawa warned: “Evil effect of education can haunt us for hundred years.”

At a time when the Japan Teachers Union was in its heyday, it had, as I recall, 90 per cent rate of organization. Its umbrella organization, Sohyo (General Council of Trade Unions of Japan), was enormously powerful that it was compared with the Imperial Navy of the past. When Motofumi Makieda who passed away last year was the chairman of the Japan Teachers Union, and later the chairman of Sohyo, I remember that there were scandals of teachers distributing the AKAHATA, a communist newspaper in class rooms.

Ryoichi Sasakawa and Buddhist High Monk Toko Kon, mortified by the devastating educational scene went to the country, against strong resistance from Sohyo, made impassioned speech against what the Teachers Union was doing and the need to put education on its rightful path.

It is only recent, and protected by law, that students can rise for the national anthem. The seriousness of evil effects of education remains unchanged.

I spend a great deal of my time in developing regions of the world and I note that national anthems are played at important meetings and events, and even at movie houses. In sport events, young men place their right hand proudly across their heart to sing the national anthem in unison.

Once a year, national contest of martial arts of kendo takes place, and I have to note that spectators sing louder than young Japanese swordsmen and women. If this is the level of respect given by the trainees of Kendo has at its heart propriety, what can I expect of others? I hasten to take blame as an adult for not teaching them properly.

For this author, somewhat interested in golf, I cannot help but note how excellently young Korean men and women perform at world class games. Koreans are much more dedicated than the Japanese to their children’s education, not just sports. The affluent families known as the orange group, send their children accompanied by their mothers to the US to master English, with tuition paid by fathers left alone in Korea. Families with less send children to the Philippines for their English education. Apparently in the Philippines, Koreans are their No. 1 foreign guests.

President Lee Myung-bak is devoted to education, is determined to seize leadership in the field in Asia, and is now building a base in Jeju.

North London Collegiate School, together with Eaton and Harrow, is a world renowned independent school providing highly regarded education for primary, middle and high school student. It has won the first place for five consecutive years until 2010 among International Baccalaureate World schools.

Every year it’s 40 per cent strong graduates enroll at Oxford, Cambridge and Ivy League colleges in the USA. Its sister school will open in Jeju this September.

That is not all. Canada’s famous Branksome Hall School has decided to open in Jeju in 2012. Korea plans to invite a dozen more world renowned primary, middle and high schools to Jeju and will continue to invest a great deal of national resources to locate the world’s top educational facilities.

One of my sons has studied at a well known American prep school. This school had Japanese as its second foreign language and taught it with passion. This school had been invited to Jeju but right after the decision was made, it was told that Korea could not accept the teaching of the Japanese language, thus the whole plan collapsed. They were too naïve.

Education commands a long-term strategy. I am sorry that such a big gap exists between Korea and our country.

Our level of English capacity is extremely low. TOEFL which represents a comprehensive assessment of candidate’s listening, speaking, writing and reading skills, Japan ranks 137 among 150 countries.

Slowly there are changes taking place in Japan: the University of Tokyo studying possibilities of enrolling students in autumn and Keidanren, Japanese Business Federation, deciding to provide an assistance of million yen to students willing to study abroad. The Nippon Foundation has been committed mainly to educating foreign students by establishing scholarships in sixty-nine universities around the world, training sea farers, and providing scholarships for students with functional disabilities.

Given the seriousness of the situation, we have established in great haste a study abroad program targeting excellent young people who can be trusted with the future of the country. The Nippon Foundation International Fellowship supports 2-year overseas study for researchers, business men and women, and bureaucrats in the age group of 30 to 40 brackets. The maximum assistance per year is approximately 15 million yen, with expenses for the family also provided.

Anyone interested are invited to get in touch at the address below:

The Nippon Foundation International Fellowship application will close on August 31, 2011.
Please address your queries as well as mailing your application to:
Mr. Katsuhiro Motoyama and Ms. Yuko Tani
The Nippon Foundation International Cooperation Group
1-2-2 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8404
TEL: (03) 6229-5181/ FAX: (03) 6229-5180
Please check our Website for details.
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A Direct Appeal to President Garcia of Peru [2011年07月11日(Mon)]

Former President Fujimori at work in the poor mountain regions of Peru.
The author is photographed in the center.

A Direct Appeal to President Garcia of Peru
–An amnesty for former President Fujimori –

I asked Giampietri First Vice President of Peru who was in Japan to receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun to hand deliver a letter of petition asking for amnesty and release of former President Fujimori, and he graciously accepted.

The former President Fujimori is serving his term of 25 years on account of the wrongdoing assumed to have committed during his presidency. Recently, the extension of the hospital which had long been the dream of the citizens of Japanese descent has been completed with the support of the Nippon Foundation. At the ceremony attended by the Foundation’s President Takeju Ogata, President Garcia attended without any prior notice and officially apologized for the expulsion of the Japanese descent Peruvians during World War II. The Japanese Peruvians who packed the hall were surprised, and then applauded his courage.

After the ceremony, Ogata was allowed to see former president Fujimori and the meeting took place at a facility under police supervision where he is in custody.

The cancer of his tongue had progressed, and he had lost his jovialness and hope and seemed not to have much left of his life, having psychologically suffered from his daughter Keiko’s devastating defeat in the presidential election (with a difference of 600,000 votes).

Having received this report from Ogata, I decided to appeal directly to President Garcia for the amnesty.

Vice President Giampietri, having graciously accepted to present my personal letter to President Garcia by hand, told me: “On a personal note, I have sympathy for former president Fujimori. While it cannot be said he was without blemish during his term, I question if it is right to treat him as a murderer. It is, however, absolutely necessary to have the agreement of president elect Mr. Humala to prevent political confusion by the grant of amnesty.” “I suspect,” he said, “that Mr. Humala too is considering giving the former president an amnesty because he must realize that the last election had divided the national opinion in two, between Mr. Humala and Ms. Keiko, and I think he understands that amnesty is necessary.”

In Peru, a former president had died in prison in 1931, and there is still an ongoing debate whether that was right. The vice president concluded, “The same mistake must not be made.”

I pray from distant Japan, that my wish will be heard and that Mr. Fujimori will be able to return as soon as possible to his loving family and spend his last days with Ms. Keiko and Mr. Kenji (MP).
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Talk given at the Tokyo Rotary Club Monthly Meeting [2011年07月10日(Sun)]

Talk given at the Tokyo Rotary Club Monthly Meeting
-The Global Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) and the Great East Japan Earthquake Relief Activities-

June 22, 2011
Imperial Hotel, Tokyo

Many would be surprised if I said that there have always been two types of Man, ever since the birth of mankind. We are all humans but there are humans who are not acknowledged as humans. They are the people who have suffered under the burden of leprosy.

I accompanied my father to South Korea to attend the ceremony of the donation of a leprosy hospital, at the age of twenty-eight. I was thunderstruck to see, for the first time, leprosy patients and the situation that they were placed in. What I saw in front of my eyes were people who were not treated as people.

We talk about democracy, freedom and equality and human rights. But there are many people in this world who have no choice but to live a life without the benefit of any of these basic rights. In some countries a leprosy affected person will be divorced by the spouse. They cannot take public transportation. They are not allowed into restaurants or to stay at hotels. Even if the patients are cured of leprosy, it is not rare that even their family members, for two to three generations hence, will not be able to get married.

There are many issues of human rights and discrimination that continue to rule the world. But leprosy which has existed even before the Old Testament was written has always been accompanied by terrible inhuman, merciless discrimination. This could even be the origin of discrimination; man discriminating a fellow man. Looking back into the history of leprosy we find that as many as 50,000 leprosy patients were forced into isolation on different islands such as Molokai Island in Hawaii, Roben Island (South Africa) where President Mandela was confined, many islands in the Mediterranean sea, and Culion Island in the Philippines.
In Japan we find; Oshima Seisho-en in Takamatsu City (Kagawa Prefecture), Nagashima Aisei-en in Oku Town (Okayama Prefecture), Okinawa Airaku-en in Nago City (Okinawa Prefecture), and Miyako Nansei-en in Miyako Island.
Leprosy has a very incomprehensible history of patients being isolated in islands all over the world ever since the ancient times even before transportation and communication had not yet developed.

There are a number of reasons why the issue of leprosy had not been taken up as a major issue. One of the outstanding reasons can be said that the leprosy patients themselves never spoke up being afraid of further discrimination.

Carville leprosarium in the State of Louisiana in America was closed only ten years ago, but Kalaupapa (Molokai Island, Hawaii) leprosarium still remains today. The leprosy patients did not have the right to vote until 1945. This is the situation in a developed country such as America so you can very well imagine what it is like in other parts of the world. It is worth noting that in the Middle Ages in Europe, leprosy patients were made to attend mass for the dead and considered as non-existent for many years.

I visit many countries in support of the cause of leprosy. Whenever I visit the leprosy patients I greet them with a hug and a handshake. I also touch their feet and wash the raw wounds with my bare hands. But I am totally healthy so it is not an exaggeration to say that leprosy is not contagious. Fortunately a marvelous medicine has been developed and available to patients since the 1980’s and we have distributed the medicine free of charge all over the world. But the challenge was to teach the patients to follow the regiment as most people were not used to taking medicine.

One example is my experience with the pygmies that live in the mountains of Africa. We distributed medicine to them but there was no effect at all. We checked to see what the reason was and found that they have a traditional custom of sharing equally all spoils of their hunt amongst them. While the medicine is given to the patients with strict instructions that it is only for the patient but it is likely that they were sharing the medicine equally amongst them. No wonder the medicine was not being effective.

Despite the difficulties that we had come across we persevered and delivered the medicine throughout the world. The result was that of 122 countries that were leprosy prevalent countries in 1985 achieved, except Brazil, the criteria of elimination set by the World Health Organization (WHO) of reducing the number of registered patients to less than one per ten thousand populations.

Yet the big problem with leprosy is that even after the patients are cured they are still discriminated. Therefore we must restore their lost human rights and bring them back into the society. This presents the most difficult solution to this disease.

I have appealed to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (the current Human Rights Council) since 2003. I met human rights expert one by one to explain about leprosy affected people and the existent human rights issue. My efforts bore fruit and finally 59 countries, all the member states of the Human Rights Council and co-sponsor states, adopted the resolution to end discrimination against people affected by leprosy and their families, put forth by the Japanese government. This was followed by a unanimous adoption of the same resolution by 192 countries at the United Nations General Assembly. It was indeed a great joy to ultimately have the agreement of Cuba and China who had initially objected to the Japanese draft resolution. But it must be remembered that the United Nations acknowledgement is not the solution to the human rights issues confronting the leprosy affected people. In fact the real work starts now and we must give it even a stronger impetus to arrive at the final solution.

There are a number of things that I consider very important in the solution of human rights issue and that is the cooperation of the local media. Their contribution would be to cover this very issue, as widely as possible, and to promote further understanding of leprosy through their media reports. In addition to the media cooperation I have asked the cooperation of influential people of the world in agreeing to the principle that discrimination must be eliminated. I have been transmitting the endorsement obtained from the world leaders of different walks of life in a form of a message, the Global Appeal, every year to the entire world. The past signatories were Nobel Peace Prize laureates, CEOs of leading global companies, religious leaders among others. I will continue to devote myself in the work of leprosy elimination and the solution of human rights issues with my three guiding principles of “passion, perseverance and persistence.”

I would now like to touch upon briefly about the Great East Japan Earthquake relief assistance.

So much assistance has poured in to support the disaster-affected areas from both overseas and the entire country. Most of the donations are sent to the Japanese Red Cross Society and eventually delivered to the survivors. But the \280 billion public donation still sleeps in the bank vaults today. Why? One of the reasons for this delay is that the local municipal offices that are mandated to deliver the public donations to the victims are busy with their work of helping the survivors, or some of the offices have themselves been victimized and there are no means of delivering the money.
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