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Yohei Sasakawa
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【Photo Diary】 Ninna-ji Temple [2019年03月27日(Wed)]
I would like to share with you some of the photos taken during my visit to 
Ninna-ji Temple in Kyoto on October 11, 2018, to attend the “Shinzan-shiki” 
ceremony for the Rev. Taishuu Segawa, to officially become the 51st Head 
Priest of the temple.

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Ninna-ji’s renovated “Shorin-an” residence, for use as tourist accommodation

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With the Rev. Gishin Kanazaki (left) in “Shorin-an”

In a wooden bathtub, enjoying the scent of Japanese cypress

Ninna-ji has beautiful Japanese gardens.

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Joining the “Shinzan-shiki” ceremony for the Rev. Taishuu Segawa

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TheShinzan-shiki” ceremony was held in the Kondo Hall.

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My eyes were glued to a rice cake, which I love.

I was given the rice cake, courtesy of the temple.

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Talking with Director Johei Sasaki of the Kyoto National Museum

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With the Rev. Taishu Segawa, the 51st Head Priest of Ninna-Ji

Photo of my late father Ryoichi Sasakawa, displayed in the reception room
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:32 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
Kyoto temple offers overseas tourists a very special overnight stay [2019年03月27日(Wed)]

Ninna-ji Temple was founded in Kyoto in 888 during the Heian Period. Listed among UNESCO World Heritage sites, it is the leading temple among those known as “monzeki” temples where members of the Imperial Family, including abdicated emperors, served as head priests over many centuries.

About two years ago, The Nippon Foundation launched the “Iroha Nihon – Experience the Soul of Japan” project, under which tourists from overseas who are interested in Japanese culture can stay overnight at some of Kyoto’s greatest temples usually closed to the public.

Ninna-ji is one of the centerpieces of the project. It garnered international attention last summer when it announced that it will host groups of tourists for one million yen (about 9,100 U.S. dollars) per night.

Only a group of up to five persons can stay per night in its historic wooden residence called “Shorin-an” and enjoy a variety of experiences unique to the temple. One Japanese showed interest in viewing the moon exactly from where Emperor Uda, who completed the temple more than 1,100 years ago, did.

I was encouraged when the Rev. Taishuu Segawa, the head priest of Ninna-ji, told me recently that the temple had received inquiries from a person from one of the world’s wealthiest families and a member of a European royal family about staying overnight.

Under the “Iroha Nihon” project, The Nippon Foundation provided funds for renovating the buildings of the participating temples while 10 to 20 percent of the fees the guests pay will be used for preserving cultural properties across Japan.

I sincerely hope that other temples in Kyoto and Nara – and indeed all over Japan – will join the project so that we can contribute more to preserving and restoring the nation’s cultural properties.

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Ninna-ji’s renovated “Shorin-an” residence, for use as tourist accommodation
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 13:30 | ENRICHING CULTURE | URL | comment(0)
Winery to Hire Workers with Disabilities with The Nippon Foundation’s Support [2019年03月20日(Wed)]

Japan is enjoying something of a wine boom these days. But in most cases, wines are made from foreign grapes. Of all wine consumed in Japan, only 2 percent is currently labeled “Japanese wine,” which is defined under new government regulations as being “made from 100 percent domestically grown grapes.”

Japanese wines are now gaining a more favorable reputation abroad with some high-quality Japanese brands winning awards at international competitions during recent years.

As a consequence, production of Japanese wines is rising as more grapes are grown in many parts of the country at a pace never seen before. I am convinced that the Japanese zeal for quality wines will make Japan’s wines globally recognized in ten years or so.

As you may be aware, The Nippon Foundation has been involved in activities to support persons with disabilities all over Japan to help provide them with equal opportunities.

Now, under its “Hataraku NIPPON Project” designed to help create more employment for persons with disabilities, The Nippon Foundation is supporting a project to build a new winery in Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture, in northeastern Japan, which was designated by the Cabinet Office as a “Structural Reform Special Zone.”

Forty persons with disabilities will be employed at the winery, named “Vin Art Paysan” meaning ““wine is a peasant art”

I am pleased to report that the winery is almost completed and is expected to open soon. They plan to start marketing their products in 2024 with annual shipments put at 20,000 bottles.

The Nippon Foundation is disbursing 69.56 million yen out of the project’s total cost of 110 million yen.

I cannot wait for the day when they start shipping their wines!

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Planting seedlings, dreaming of fully grown grapes

My Upcoming Book Reviewed in Nature [2019年03月18日(Mon)]

How would you feel if you had finished writing a book and were waiting for it to be printed and put on the bookstore shelves, when all of a sudden you found it reviewed in one of the world’s most authoritative science journals?

That is exactly what happened to me when I found a review of “No Matter Where the Journey Takes Me: One Man’s Quest for a Leprosy-Free World” (Hurst Publishing, 2019), which depicts my life’s mission to eliminate leprosy and the stigma and discrimination against it from the world, in the March 7 issue of Nature.

My reaction? Pleasantly surprised would be an understatement as I had received no prior notice. I am grateful to Dr. Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation, in Basel, Switzerland, for her review.

She wrote that the book “offers fascinating insights into what it takes to put the disease onto the agendas of decision-makers worldwide, and why positioning leprosy as a human-rights issue as well as a health challenge similar to malaria or HIV has been so effective.”

For those who are interested, you can read the review HERE.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 12:00 | LEPROSY | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation Gifts UAE Univ. with Book Collection on Japan [2019年03月15日(Fri)]
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Catalog of 100 Books for Understanding Contemporary Japan

The Japanese Embassy in the United Arab Emirates gifted Abu Dhabi University (ADU) with a collection of contemporary books on Japan on behalf of The Nippon Foundation.

Japanese Ambassador Akihiko Nakajima, presented ADU’s Chancellor, Professor Waqar Ahmad, with a collection titled “100 books for understanding contemporary Japan” during a visit to the University’s main campus in Abu Dhabi on February 27, 2019.

I hope the students and faculty members at ADU will read these books avidly and deepen their understanding of contemporary Japan.

ADU’s multicultural student body represents more than 80 nationalities, with members of the community from across the globe. The Japanese embassy are coordinating with ADU to nominate one Japanese exchange student for the next academic year, according to local reports.

Under “the Read Japan Program,” The Nippon Foundation donates books about contemporary Japan to public and university libraries overseas. Libraries can receive books from the “100 Books for Understanding Contemporary Japan,” which were selected by a committee of Japanese and foreign scholars, journalists, etc., covering five categories: Politics & International Relations, Economy & Business, Society & Culture, Literature & Arts, and History.

So far, The Nippon Foundation has donated books about Japan to 967 institutions in more than 100 countries.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 11:50 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
NHK World Reports My Meeting with the U.N. Chief [2019年03月14日(Thu)]

NHK WORLD-JAPAN, the international service of Japan's sole public broadcasting organization, reported across the world the news of my meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on February 28.

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Interviewed by NHK (New York, February 28, 2019)

NHK’s report on March 1, 2019 follows:

“UN, Nippon Foundation to protect marine resources”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pledged to step up cooperation with a Japanese foundation to protect marine resources.

Guterres met Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday.

The foundation says Sasakawa and his staff explained they are planning to host a meeting in Tokyo in 2021 that will be attended by the leaders of about 70 island nations. Topics will include the negative effects of climate change on island nations, measures against ocean pollution, and training personnel for marine rescue operations.

Guterres reportedly offered UN support for the plan.

Guterres and Sasakawa also agreed to make greater efforts to encourage those who are working to protect marine resources.

Sasakawa told NHK that he asked Guterres to designate a "no ocean waste day," and the UN chief backed his proposal.

In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, which include the protection of marine resources. The UN says the involvement of the private sector will be essential for achieving these goals.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:42 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Gueterres in N.Y. [2019年03月06日(Wed)]
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Meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Gueterres (NY, February 28, 2019)

Immediately after receiving the 2018 Gandhi Peace Prize at the Indian Presidential Palace in New Delhi on February 26, I flew to New York via Dubai to meet with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other senior diplomats.

At the meeting, which was held on February 28 at the U.N. Headquarters, I discussed with the Secretary-General the challenges facing our oceans today, including plastic waste and other marine litter, issues affecting small island developing states and the need to achieve global action regarding sustainable ocean governance.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 14:15 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】 Gandhi Peace Prize Awarding Ceremony [2019年03月04日(Mon)]

I would like to share with you the photos of Gandhi Peace Prize Awarding Ceremony on Feb 26, 2019, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Presidential Palace, in New Delhi, India.

Over 400 guests attended the ceremony at the Darbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan

Receiving the Prize from President Kovind (right) and Prime Minister Modi (center)

Receiving a beautiful shawl from Prime Minister Modi

Acceptance Speech

"This award will certainly give us renewed encouragement from Mahatma Gandhi."

A full script of my speech at the ceremony is available HERE


I would like to express my sincere gratitude once again for the Government of India's recognition of our work to fight against leprosy in India and the world.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 17:07 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)