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Yohei Sasakawa
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Howard University and Gallaudet University [2011年09月30日(Fri)]

Lunch with Fellows of Nippon Foundation at Gallaudet University
President Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz to my left

Visit to Washington D.C.
-Howard University and Gallaudet University-

I have already written about the Inaugural Tokyo-Washington Dialogue that took place on September 7 and 8, in my blog dated September 21.

I always bear in mind to devote my time in renewing current and old friendship with individuals and organizations whenever I am traveling.

On this trip, I visited Howard University, a unique, historically black university and Gallaudet University, the world’s best university for the deaf.

It was in the evening of the day before leaving for the United States that I received the following “orders” from Gallaudet University to make a speech as the day of your visit coincides with the start of the new semester and welcome ceremony for the new students. So, at a short notice, I asked Mr. Minoru Yoshida of the Nippon Foundation who had acquired a Master’s degree at Rochester Institute of Technology to come to Narita Airport to teach me how to say “Hello” and “The world is one family and all mankind are brothers and sisters” in American sign language, while I waited for the plane.

However, a slow learner as I am, I was struggling with this “lesson”. Mr. Nao Ozawa who was accompanying me on this trip, took pity on me and had a bright idea of videotaping it all. I was told strictly not to, in any circumstance, touch my face or wipe sweat off myself because they are also sign language words. It seemed that “practice makes good” and I was able to get across to my audience at the ceremony with my “instant” sign communication.

President Alan Hurwitz, himself a deaf person, spoke in sign and body languages, quoting words of Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy. He delivered a 30-minute fervent speech and his passion for deaf education and his gentle look he cast upon his students, prevailed throughout the hall.

The Nippon Foundation fellows from Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Nepal were there and it was a happy occasion for me to meet them and to think that the total number of recipients of our scholarship has now numbered to over 200 students.

Howard University is an exceptional historically black university in the East Coast with a unique atmosphere. There are students from Africa as well. It has already been 20 years since we established the scholarship program at Howard University. The members of the SYLFF (Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund) Advisory Committee had prepared a chance for me to meet with the Sasakawa fellows in a small yet a truly heartwarming meeting in their new room, decorated with African artworks of masks and other things that were donated by a benefactor.

Unusually heavy rains, from the influence of the hurricane, continued all during my 3-day visit to Washington D.C., just a few days prior to the tenth anniversary of 9.11. The White House which faces so many financial and economical problems among others seemed far, veiled in haze, though close in distance.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Visit to India [2011年09月21日(Wed)]
Visit to India

I will leave for India today, September 21.

The main objective of my work in India is to fulfill my most important work of having not a single leprosy affected person in India to have to beg for their living.
I will be meeting with state officials and the media, and visiting leprosy colonies

In Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, I will meet with the State Minister for Health and other state government officials in addition to a visit to a health center. In Raipur, the state capital, I am scheduled to have a meeting with the State Minister for Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Sports and Youth Welfare and attend the Media Workshop.

In Hyderabad, the state capital of Andhra Pradesh, SILF (Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation) micro credit presentation ceremony, visits to colonies and meetings with state officials, Leprosy Human Rights Conference and the opening of the Chetana Office are scheduled.

In Delhi, I will be giving a welcome speech at the WHO Global Leprosy Programme Managers’ Meeting, visiting to a leprosy colony, and meetings with the Minister of Law and Justice and Minister of Health and Family Welfare as well as visiting the Indian Medical Association.

I am scheduled to return to Tokyo on September 30.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | LEPROSY | URL | comment(0)
The US-Japan Alliance After March 11 [2011年09月21日(Wed)]

At the Willard Hotel where the Japanese delegation stayed 150 years ago to sign the US-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce

Inaugural Tokyo/ Washington Dialogue
-The US-Japan Alliance After March 11 -

There is no question that Japan's peace and security is ensured by the US-Japan alliance. To be honest, the Japanese side does little to nurture and maintain it.

The primary reason is the unstable political situation in Japan, but that is not all. It is only with constant nurturing of relations in broad areas, including business, university, students and culture, that mutual trust crucial in any partnership is established.

In the past, scores of individuals and organizations have perspired to establish trusting Japan-US relations. And over a long period, we had good relations that did not cause concern that drove me to act.

Recent relations, however, are nothing but poor. It can hardly be said that we have an alliance based on solid mutual trust. Last year we marked 150 years of the US-Japan Amity and Commerce Treaty, and the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace with Japan (commonly known as the San Francisco Peace Treaty), but there were no ceremonies conducted by the governments.

Given the state of affairs, I decided to act truthfully to the teachings of Confucius: To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage or of principle. So we organized a symposium at the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. where the Japanese delegation stayed 150 years ago, with the cooperation of the Ocean Policy Research Foundation (Chairman: Masahiro Akiyama) and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, our partner organizations.

Following on the event of the last year, this will be the first of the five-year dialogue in building strategic network of players for Japan-US relations as well as discovering researchers on Japan- US relations, financially supporting such research and nurturing the talents.

I must repeat, that an amateur person like me has to act speaks of the tragic extent of our present relationships.

I attach a gist of my speech on the occasion. I hope you will be good enough to read it.


Inaugural Tokyo-Washington Dialogue
– The US-Japan Alliance After 3/11 –

Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman
The Nippon Foundation

It is a great pleasure and honor to be given this opportunity to speak before you today at this inaugural dialogue to consider the U.S.-Japanese alliance in the wake of the tragedy of March 11th. I wish to express my sincere appreciation to everyone whose efforts have enabled this symposium to take place: especially The Stimson Center, the Ocean Policy Research Foundation, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, and all our friends both in Japan and here in the United States.

As many of you know, this symposium was originally scheduled to take place in May; then the disastrous events that occurred in Japan on March 11th forced its postponement. Nearly six months have now passed since the disaster. During this time, we Japanese have learned a great deal; and we have come to look differently at various things. Among them, the most significant, I believe, is the vital importance of good relations between Japan and the United States. The speed and scale of the disaster relief activities undertaken under the American military’s “Operation Tomodachi” made many Japanese aware of the importance of maintaining close ties with the U.S. Also, the donations raised by the U.S. – from the grass-roots level to the industrial sector – are contributing greatly to recovery in the affected regions. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation to the people of the United States for your generous and warm support.

Since March 11th, the average Japanese citizen has come, in this way, to realize once more how vitally linked our two countries are. However, at the same time, there is concern that positive dialogue between our two governments often breaks down. Important agreements supposedly reached between our two countries last year – concerning national security, economic issues, and cultural and personal exchanges – have apparently failed to go forward. Moreover, issues relating to the reorganization of U.S. military bases in Okinawa and to our Economic Partnership Agreement have been put on hold. Allowing these matters to remain in limbo is of benefit to neither side.

Unfortunately, discussions toward resolving these various issues have made no headway, especially because of Japan’s unstable political situation. I sincerely hope that with the formation of a new Cabinet under Prime Minister Noda, efforts will now resume quickly toward resolving these matters.

As you all know, global society today is undergoing structural changes of historic proportion, symbolized by the emergence of China and the other developing countries. Too little discussion is taking place today, however, concerning what new roles the U.S.-Japanese partnership should play globally in such times, from a medium to long-term perspective. This is a situation that causes me even greater concern. These are times when the U.S. and Japan should be working together to draw up a new blueprint for establishing a solid partnership that will continue long into the future. What’s needed today, I believe, is for the private and public sector to come together to create a framework that will enable ongoing discussions from a long-term perspective, even as immediate issues are being addressed.

In 2008 and 2009 the Nippon Foundation organized three sessions of the U.S.-Japan Sea Power Dialogue, convened in Tokyo and Washington. Last year, we held a symposium marking 150 years of amity between Japan and the U.S. and the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between our two countries. As organizer of these events, we gave much thought to U.S.-Japanese relations. And the feeling we came away with was that seeking ways to resolve specific immediate issues is not enough. What’s also needed are opportunities for taking U.S.-Japanese relations forward to a new stage through wide-ranging discussions within a greater, global context. Your gathering here today, as leaders who can impact U.S.-Japanese relations today and tomorrow, and your engaging in free and open discussions, will unquestionably serve as a first step toward achieving that goal.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Kii Peninsula Flooding [2011年09月16日(Fri)]

World Heritage Site Kumano Nachi-taisha Shrine Severely Damaged

Kii Peninsula Flooding
- Emergency Relief -

Torrential rainfall from August 30 through September 4 wreaked enormous damage on the Kii peninsula, including the Kumano area, a World Heritage site.

Despite being swamped with responding to the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Nippon Foundation quickly decided to provide support to the following organizations as a first line of action.


Beneficiary: Shingu City Social Welfare Association
Activities: Establishment and operation of the Shingu City Disaster Volunteer Center as a hub for volunteer activities; plans to have Gulliver provide vehicles (14 minivans, small trucks, etc.) free of charge
Amount: 4,970,000 yen

Beneficiary: Wakayama NPO Support Center
Activities: Joint operation of the Shingu City Disaster Volunteer Center; surveys and information dissemination
Amount: 2,001,000 yen

Beneficiary: Wakayama University FORWARD
Activities: Assistance with operation of the Shingu City Disaster Volunteer Center; coordination of student volunteers
Amount: 997,000 yen

Beneficiary: Shirahama Rescue Network
Activities: Transportation of food and supplies to evacuees
Amount: 997,000 yen

Beneficiary: Wakayama Rescue Dog Association
Activities: Custody and temporary care of pets (Southern Mie~Southern Wakayama)
Amount: 975,000 yen

Beneficiary: Ninniko Victim Support Network
Activities: Clearing up of homes; mud removal; support work in flooded agricultural land
Amount: 400,000 yen

Beneficiary: Kishu Umenosato Rescue Unit
Activities: Clearing up of homes; mud removal
Amount: 360,000 yen

Beneficiary: Wakayama Branch of the Japan Bousaisi Society
Activities: Clearing up of homes; mud removal; dispatch of volunteers
Amount: 228,000 yen

Total: 10,928,000 yen
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
The Red Cross Society of China facing credibility crisis [2011年09月14日(Wed)]
The Red Cross Society of China facing credibility crisis

The Red Cross Society of China is not only in a credibility crisis as a result of Guo Meimei scandal, but suspicions are raised even to the question of charitable donations as a whole.

Its competent authority, The Ministry of Civil Affairs of China has released the “Chinese Urban Charity Index” for the first time based on 2010 data, disclosing the situation of charitable activities in the 50 major cities and the amount of donations received.

Shanghai ranked first in amount of charity revenues with more than 5.4 billion yuan ($8.4 million, or \64.8 billion). In Beijing, Shenzhen, Wuxi, Chengdu, and Dalian over 1 billion yuan ($1.56 million, or \12 billion) was collected while Shenzhen topped the per capita donation with 393.66 yuan ($63 or \4,724).

But after Guo Meimei incident (Shenzhen was involved), the revenue from donation was close to zero and the overall nationwide charitable activities have declined rapidly.

The total amount of donations that the Red Cross Society of China and other charitable organizations received in March to May stood at 6.2 billion yuan ($980 million, or \74.4 billion) compared to the 800 million yuan ($130 million, or \9.6 billion) between June to August, after the Guo Meimei scandal. There is a deep rooted distrust towards charitable organizations in China.

The aftermath of the scandal has not only diminished the enthusiasm in making donations, but one of the important roles of the Red Cross, blood donation has been negatively impacted. It is said that lack of supply of blood is now becoming a serious problem.

On Augusts 26, while President Hu Jintao was attending the Nightingale Award Ceremony in recognition of distinguished nurses, he gave clear instructions to the members of the Red Cross Society of China to make organizational reforms to recover the lost credibility and to guarantee transparency and accountability to the public.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Civil Affairs concerned that further Red Cross bashing would incur a huge damage to the overall charitable activities in China, and has requested the media to voluntarily refrain from excessive reporting.

But some of the media and the internet users have retaliated by saying that “there is not enough reflection on their past activities, and they are just trying to evade responsibility.” Their argument is that unless charitable organizations become totally independent from the government and provide thorough disclosure of information, the lost credibility will never be recovered with the citizens and corporations towards donations.

In Japan too, the institutional fatigue seen in the Red Cross Society is a serious problem. An example of this is the delay in the delivery of public donations to the disaster stricken areas and the victims. The Red Cross Society has much to reflect upon and discuss in order to recover the trust of the Japanese citizens.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Traditional Performing Arts Revival Fund [2011年09月12日(Mon)]

Performance of powerful Taiko at the Hidakami Taiko presentation ceremony at Ishinomaki

The Great East Japan Earthquake Relief Activities
-Traditional Performing Arts Revival Fund-

Nippon Music Foundation (President Ms Kazuko Shiomi), a partner foundation of the Nippon Foundation had auctioned “Lady Blunt”, a violin said to be of the greatest treasure, in order to help in the relief activities of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The \1,106,876,322 from the sale of this violin was donated to the Nippon Foundation.

The violin was auctioned at an incredible price of 4 times the highest price ever! The total amount shown above is the converted amount into Japanese yen with commission deducted.

The Nippon Foundation gave careful thought as to how effectively this money could be used. We felt that since it was the money from sales of a music instrument, it would be most appropriate to contribute to the revival of the traditional performing arts that had been damaged by the tsunami, and that this would be answering to the wishes of Nippon Music Foundation that donated the money. So we established the “Traditional Performing Arts Relief Fund (commonly known as “Festival Support Fund”). With this, we started to support various festivals and events so as to bring back the lost vitality of the victims.

Even the weekly magazine “Shukan Shincho” that is normally harshly critical of us, gave positive comment saying, “The operating funds are from the revenue of boat racing to start with, but with this project, those who are amusing themselves in boat racing will be contributing to the revival of local culture indirectly.”

“This summer, I have met people after people who are grappling with the problem of reviving the traditional performing arts in the disaster-stricken regions. Culture of prayer is not second to the necessities of life but it sits side by side. There is nothing but heaps of rubbles. There was but straw-colored ground stretching out into the blue ocean. The sight, an almost mystical sight, appeared beyond the rubbles. That is where culture is mothered.” These are the words of Mr. Yoichi Uchida, an editorial writer of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper, which was carried in the evening edition of August 27, stressing the importance of the revival of the traditional performing arts in the disaster stricken regions. It also mentioned that a folklorist, Professor Hashimoto of Morioka University who has made surveys of local folk entertainment is cooperating with the Nippon Foundation’s revival project of traditional performing arts. It is indeed gratifying to know that the human bond in the entertainment world continues to be alive in the disaster stricken regions.

We have decided to support the following organizations for their purchase of instruments and floats;

1. Kamaishi Federation for the Preservation of Toramai (Tiger Dance), Iwate Prefecture
2. Ishinomaki Association of Hidakami Taiko, Miyagi Prefecture
3. Isokusa Society for the Preservation of Toramai (Tiger Dance), Miyagi Prefecture

It was thought impossible to hold the annual river festival where the Ishinomaki Hidakami Taiko performs every year, but the support from the Nippon Foundation was finalized just in time. However, their regular venue for their practice, such as local gymnasiums, was still used as evacuation shelters so they had to practice at riverbeds, even in the wind and rain, to prepare for the festival. One of the members had been victimized by the disaster and there is also a child who lost his family among the members, but the river festival that took place on August 1 was no different from their past festivals. We were all entertained by their usual powerful performance.

The first performance by the entire Taiko orchestra after the great earthquake was supported warmly by the local people. We received report that the members commented that they had been able to encourage local citizens.

We have received further requests from Ofunato City, Otsuchi Town in Iwate Prefecture and Onagawa Town in Miyagi Prefecture. We would like to continue our full support with great hopes that bonds in traditional arts will be created for the first time in the regions devastated by the great disaster.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Japanese Olympic Committee and the Nippon Foundation [2011年09月09日(Fri)]

Press Conference
-Japanese Olympic Committee and the Nippon Foundation-

Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) and the Nippon Foundation have reached an agreement to hold Mini Olympic Games for the next 3 years in the earthquake and tsunami disaster areas of Northeastern Japan, as part of the Great East Japan Earthquake recovery and support activities.

The Nippon Foundation is also to cooperate in fund-raising activities to seek cooperation from the general public in funding support for strengthening athletes in preparation for the London Olympic Games.

Below is the summary of my statement at the press conference


August 8, 2011 14:00
At the Ajinomoto National Training Center

The Chairman of Japanese Olympic Committee, Mr. Takeda has shown great enthusiasm and ardent wish to cheer up and encourage the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake through sports, especially the youth of the region and give them hope for the future. Thus we, the Nippon Foundation has received request to cooperate with the JOC.

The Nippon Foundation continues to provide various support activities in the disaster areas. We have given support to more than 600 NPOs working in the disaster areas, and we ourselves go to the disaster areas to give condolence and support money to the families who have lost their loved ones or are still missing.

The staff of the Nippon Foundation and our partner foundations, the Sasakawa Sports Foundation and the Blue Sea and Green Land Foundation all have a wide sports network in the disaster areas and therefore, I feel that we are capable of answering to the request of JOC and to cooperate to the best of our abilities.

Especially, the Sasakawa Sports Foundation has supported approximately 8,700 domestic sports activities to date. As is well known, it sponsors the citizens’ sports event called “The Challenge Day” in the local municipalities. This is an event that the loser experiences a terrible humiliation, as it must hoist the flag of the winning municipality, at its office building. What I have heard today was that it has grown into one of the most popular events with more than one million participants from 103 municipalities.

The Blue Sea and Green Land Foundation has 478 sports facilities throughout the country. All the facilities have gymnasium and swimming pool alongside, and there are more than 10 million youth using the facilities annually. Furthermore, they have more than 17,600 trainers constantly training the young athletes at the grass-roots level. This foundation has a basic principle that of the “intellectual, morale and physical training”, it is very important that basic physical strength be developed at a young age, as well as to teach them good sportsmanship and civility in sports.

As Mr. Takeda mentioned, the ultimate goal is not only to become Olympic athletes, but I too would wish that they will become Olympic athletes who are supported and loved by the large community of Japanese citizens. The support of the citizens would be the greatest encouragement to the athletes who, themselves have been training for many years.

The role that sports plays in Japan is very important today. Sports give huge vitality and dream to the youth who are the future of our country, but also to us older generation. Therefore it is important that we start a collective movement to support the Olympic Games that gives us hopes and inspiration. For that we too, would like to be of help in making as many citizens of our country understand the importance of the role that each one of us play in sports.

It is so important that every small donation towards strengthening Japanese athletes would create an invisible bond with the athletes, especially with the youth of our nation. An invisible bond, yet the donors would be satisfied that their contributions have resulted in supporting each athlete in their training and participation in the Olympic Games.

The Nippon Foundation has made a decision to collaborate with the JOC being aware of the magnitude of the role of JOC, which bonds, invigorates, encourages the citizens of Japan, and implants hope for the future.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Tomorrow to Washington D.C., then to Fukushima [2011年09月07日(Wed)]

The Nippon Foundation for ten years provided support to save the children
following the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident.
With the former Chairperson Ayako Sono visiting critically ill children’s ward

Tomorrow to Washington D.C., then to Fukushima

Due to the drifting political situation in Japan, many important agreements have been deadlocked, no means complete list includes, the U.S.-Japan Security which supposed to have reached an agreement last year, economic and cultural issues and personal exchanges. Furthermore, issues concerning the realignment of Okinawa-based U.S. bases and economic partnership agreement are put on the back burner.

Such situation is never desirable between our two countries. While much is expected of the new government, I felt the need not to leave it all up to the government but that as a private person to do my part in strengthening the bilateral relations. Based, therefore, on the three experiences of the past, I decided to continue the Tokyo-Washington Dialogue for the next five years. The first dialogue on September 7 and 8 in Washington D.C. will focus on the theme: “Thoughts on post March 11 Japan-U.S. Alliance”.

On landing in Narita on the 10th, I will slip into Fukushima, to convene the International Expert Symposium in Fukushima — Radiation and Health Risks — sponsored by the Nippon Foundation.

Fukushima nuclear power plant accident is a grave global concern. One would expect the government to convene an international conference to account for what has happened. Again this is not possible due to the troubles of the new government.

The Nippon Foundation as a private organization conducted ten years of save the children project following the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. We thus have detailed health examination data of 200,000 children, something of great interest, no doubt, to mothers. Also, we are continuing with the EU and others to conduct follow-up surveys in Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine, the damaged areas. With these experiences the Nippon Foundation took it on to organize the symposium.

Happily, we have over thirty first line researchers from around the world which invites much curiosity and attention to the conclusions of the deliberation. I am hopeful that the symposium will contribute to the establishment of a thorough framework for maternal and child medical care in Fukushima, as well as the rebirth of beautiful Fukushima.

Due to the limitations of the venue, the participation at the symposium is limited to the researchers this time, but we plan to broadcast the proceedings through Ustream around the world.
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What Tsunami could not wash away [2011年09月05日(Mon)]
Ship & Ocean Newsletter No. 263
June 20, 2011
Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman,
The Nippon Foundation

What Tsunami could not wash away
―In association with the ocean−

The Nippon Foundation lost no time in establishing “Great East Japan Disaster Support Fund” immediately following the calamity and reached out to the victims with emergency support they needed, with a clear objective to assist them to return to the sea as early as possible. The focus of our work after the first phase will be to support the victims rebuild their sea-bound “hometown” with their loving families and long-term members of their community.

Tsunami struck the very foundation of life of the folks whose livelihood depended on the sea

Connectedness with the sea
From ancient times, we Japanese lived with the sea, surrounded by it and depended on it for our livelihood and drew from it our inspiration, comfort and courage to overcome challenges. Especially, the lives of people who made their homes along our northeast coast cannot be separated from the sea. This region prides itself as a leader of the country’s fishing industry, with most of them directly or indirectly earning their livelihood from the sea. They have maintained their lives, negotiating the diverse and complex environment nature created in the Sanriku coast, while maintaining their connectedness with “the beaches” they lovingly call their local coast. Theirs is a life of fishing and shipbuilding, passed on from generation to generation: grandfather to father, father to son and then to his son. They have maintained a division of labor, each supporting the other, over the generations. The local culture and their lives with the sea have known connectedness with their families and communities over the eons.
In a flash the devastating tsunami washed away 300 km of their coastal region, robbing their lives, livelihood and culture. Fisheries and shipbuilding, their sources of livelihood were shattered. Even after four months, no foundation has been rebuilt to start putting their lives together, and for reconstruction with many survivors left to pass time without knowing when they will be able to return to work at sea. In spite of the situation, survivors who have lived all their lives with the sea have been patient and have not been giving up the hope of returning to their sea as soon as possible. They are supported by their pride for having lived with the sea, and the ties they nurtured in association with the sea. In other words, the sea is nothing less than their “hometown” for them.
The reality did not honor their wish, for they had to endure being packed in shelters without privacy, then forced to evacuate to the heights, and they sensed the danger of having their families and communities torn apart, even as they cherished their connectedness with the sea, their “hometown” of their heart. Given this situation, I believe it is important to support their plan of reconstruction and honor the pride they have of the sea. It is important to be mindful of their wishes and engage in helping them put together their lives. This applies to individuals, NPOs, businesses, municipal governments and the national government.

Turning the light of hope to take a step in the right direction
The path to reconstruction is never smooth. And that requires illuminating the path with a light of hope, to gently push their backs so that they would take the step forward. The first step was to provide them with food, shelter and some money to keep their lives going. Support that is required in the next phase, a few months after the disaster will be different. The survivors will need the support to find work to put their lives back together, and to rebuild their hometown with their families and community around the sea. We have developed diverse programs by lighting beacon of hope at every stage supporting men and women to take their next steps forward.

Emergency support activities
The Nippon Foundation established “East Japan Great Earthquake Support Fund”, to provide funds to NPOs and volunteer organizations engaged in emergency support activities. At the same time we also provided condolence and support monetary gifts to surviving members of the family and relatives for each person lost and missing. With generous and goodwill contributions the public donations reached an enormous sum, but they were delayed in reaching the very people it was meant to support as it was bound by the rules of equitable distribution. Moreover, the public donations were not for distribution to organizations undertaking emergency operations, which left a void in covering the urgent support needed. The Nippon Foundation decided that its first step should be to turn on the light of hope by giving out private donations in the form of condolence and empathy monetary gifts.

The author personally handing out empathy money at Ishinomaki City
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Leprosy Elimination Activities in Thailand [2011年09月04日(Sun)]

Visit to the MacKean Rehabilitation Center

Leprosy Elimination Activity

This is an article published in the Seisho (July-August). Seisho is the Bulletin of Oshima Seisyoen Leprosarium.


Leprosy Elimination Activities in Thailand

Yohei Sasakawa
WHO Goodwill Ambassador for the Elimination of Leprosy

I visited Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia, from December 20 -23, 2010. It was a one night/three-day trip (the second night was spent on a night flight). Thailand is a country of constitutional monarchy that is well remembered from the film “The King and I,” starring Yul Bryner and Deborah Kerr. Thailand is also known as the only country that maintained independence amongst all the courtiers that were colonized by the great powers including Japan, before World War II. It can also be said that it is one of the most successful countries in Southeast Asia. All seemed to be going well in Thailand but recently there have been many large scale demonstrations and sit-in protests against former prime minister Thaksin. It seems likely that succession to the throne will also become a big issue as the current King Bhumibol is aging and in bad health.

I visited the second largest city of Thailand, Chiang Mai, in the northern part of the country. It was to attend the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Sasakawa Ryoichi Young Leaders Fellowship Fund at the National Chiang Mai University which is known as one of the most outstanding universities in Thailand. Chiang Mai which is located about 700 kilometers north of Bangkok is known as an ancient city with a history of 1300 years and today it continues to be the center of economy and culture in northern Thailand. It has been 20 years since my last visit to Chiang Mai. It is indeed since the initiation of the Sasakawa Ryoichi Young Leaders Fellowship Fund. During these 20 years I have visited Bangkok several times, and every time I have been very impressed with the remarkable economic development of Thailand, but I was overtaken by surprise at the development of this local city that I had the fortune to visit after 20 years.

The MacKean Rehabilitation Center is the first leprosy institution built in Thailand. Since then, many leprosy facilities have been built all over the country. Since the discovery of Dapsone in 1943, a national Leprosy Management Program was introduced by the government that all leprosy patients would be provided with a place to live and Dapsone. Special teams for the treatment of leprosy patients were dispatched in the northern, northeastern and central Thailand. As a result of all these activities, the leprosy incidence came to be around 50 people per 10,000 population in 1953 which was further reduced to as low as 12.4 people in 1971. It was at this time that the Thai Ministry of Health decided to integrate treatment of leprosy patients into general hospital, and Thailand achieved the elimination of leprosy in 1994.

In 1907, an American Presbyterian missionary, Dr. James MacKean petitioned to the Chiang Mai ruler the plight of the many leprosy patients who had to live under a bridge. Hearing this, the benevolent ruler granted the use of an island surrounded by river and canal. This land was formally a corral and grazing land for the rulers’ elephants, but the local people feared it as a place haunted by the spirit of wild white elephants. Dr. MacKean built small bamboo and wooden cottages and established the “Chiang Mai Leper (the word “leper” has been replaced by “leprosy affected people” today) Asylum” in 1908. Patients seeking to find treatment gathered from not only all over Thailand, but from the neighboring countries of China, Laos and Myanmar. This institution gradually expanded with additional facilities such as clinics, recreation hall and water tower.
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