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Yohei Sasakawa
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【Photo Diary】Visit to the Marshall Islands - 1 [2019年04月30日(Tue)]

I would like to share with you some of the photos taken during my visit to the Marshall Islands from April 23 to 24.

[April 23, 2019: Majuro, The Marshall Islands]

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Arrived in Majuro, the capital of the Republic of Marshall Islands near the equator in the Pacific Ocean

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At the airport, I was greeted by Health and Human Services Minister Kalani Kaneko and Japanese Ambassador to the Marshall Islands Norio Saito

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Laid a wreath of flowers at the Monument for the Pacific War fallen soldiers in the Majuro Peace Park

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The monument was said to be designed by Japanese

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With U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands Karen B. Stewart

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The Majuro Atoll is made up of some 50 islets which is said to resemble strings of pearls

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President Hilda C. Heine gave me a gift of a traditional handcrafted wine bottle case during a dinner she hosted for me

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The dinner was joined by many Cabinet Ministers

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 17:00 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
Imphal Peace Museum to Open on June 22 in Northeast India [2019年04月26日(Fri)]

The Imphal Peace Museum scheduled to open on June 22 at the foot of “Red Hill”

The Nippon Foundation is supporting a project to build the Imphal Peace Museum in northeast India to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal between the Japanese army and Allied forces.

Under the project launched by the Manipur Tourism Forum, the museum is scheduled to open on June 22 in Imphal, the capital of Manipur state on the border with Myanmar, with a theme of “Peace and Reconciliation.”

The Battle of Imphal is often regarded as one of the fiercest battles of World War II. The Imphal Peace Museum is designed to pass on this history to future generations.

On behalf of the museum, The Nippon Foundation is now seeking donations of photographs, letters, notes, documents and other items relating to those who fought in the Battle of Imphal to exhibit and store there.

We are also asking for monetary contributions to the Special Fund for the Imphal Peace Museum, which will be used to train curators and build additional storage facilities at the museum to be operated by the Manipur Tourism Forum.

In the Battle of Imphal that lasted from March until July 1944, Japanese troops crossed steep mountains from Burma (now Myanmar) and attempted to capture Imphal, an important Allied logistic base controlled by the British, with the aim of disrupting the vital supply route for the Nationalist Chinese under Chiang Kai-shek in Chongqing.

But the Japanese suffered a disastrous defeat after they failed to ensure sufficient reinforcements and supplies. Out of the 90,000 Japanese troops massed for the Battle of Imphal, more than 30,000 were killed−not just in the fierce fighting but also as a result of starvation, disease and exhaustion suffered during their retreat after the operation was called off. An additional 40,000 Japanese were wounded.

After the war, due to a local armed struggle for independence from India, the area has long been out of bounds to foreigners without a special permit.

But in recent years, there came a growing call from the local community in Imphal for passing on the story of the cruel war to the next generation.

In 1994, the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare built the “India Peace Memorial” at the foot of “Red Hill” where many Japanese solders succumbed some 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Imphal.

The peace museum is located 100 meters east of that monument and work on the octagonal building, featuring exhibition spaces, a central hall and more, has almost been completed.

The museum plans to exhibit artillery shells and other items collected by local volunteers. But there are currently very few items from the Japanese side. Given the advancing age of the bereaved family members of former Japanese soldiers, there is a sense of urgency to the task of acquiring such items.

Through the foundation’s efforts, I strongly hope that there will be as many notes, letters, photographs and other items as possible donated from Japan in order to convey the lives of Japanese soldiers involved in the Battle of Imphal.

For details regarding donations, please refer to The Nippon Foundation’s website.


Prime Minister Shinzo Ave wrote “Heiwa” or “peace” on this New Year’s calligraphy for the Imphal Peace Museum
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:30 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
Congratulations to 11 Nikkei Scholarship Graduates from Latin America [2019年04月22日(Mon)]

I so enjoyed meeting the 11 young Latin Americans of Japanese ancestry who recently graduated from universities and graduate schools in Japan after studying under The Nippon Foundation’s Nikkei Scholarship program.

The foundation established the program in 2003 to provide scholarships to young male and female Nikkei from Central and South America who want to study in the land of their ancestors.

At our meeting on April 17, the newly-mintedgrads, most of them second-, third- or fourth-generation Nikkei, told me about their experiences as they studied for their degrees and worked to master the Japanese language while living in Japan for between two-and-a-half to five years.

The 11 graduates are from 5 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Paraguay. They brought the total number of Nikkei Scholarship alumni to about 80, with over 30 more currently studying in Japan under the program.

They form part of a close network of current and past scholarship recipients that includes six newcomers who have just arrived. I hope to see them become leaders for the next generation, working for the development of their respective countries and building new bridges between Japan and Latin America.

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Joined by the 11 happy Nikkei Scholarship graduates from Latin America

(April 17, 2019, Tokyo)

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 13:02 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】Sylff Leaders Workshop in Beppu, Oita [2019年04月18日(Thu)]

I would like to share some of the photos taken when I visited Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, to attend the closing session of the Spring Session of the Sylff Leaders Workshop 2018-2019 on April 11. Sylff stands for the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund.

Meeting with APU President Haruaki Deguchi (left)

Group photo with the 20 Sylff fellows from around the world


Engaging in lively exchanges on Myanmar and other issues

with the Sylff fellows over lunch


Addressing the closing session of the Sylff Leaders Workshop


“Now is the time when the world needs you the most,” I told them.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 17:00 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
Sylff Leaders Workshop Held in Oita with 20 Fellows from All Over the World [2019年04月15日(Mon)]

Group photo with the 20 Sylff fellows from around the world

(April 11, 2019, Beppu, Oita)

I had a really good time on April 11 talking with the participants in the Spring Session of the Sylff Leaders Workshop 2018-2019 that was taking place at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) in the spa resort of Beppu, Oita Prefecture, in western Japan.

The week-long workshop brought together 20 Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) scholarship graduates from all over the world under the theme of “The Future of Food Production 2030−What Will Our Children Be Eating? And How Do We Want to Produce It?” The Oita meeting followed a similar session held in Sasayama, Hyogo Prefecture, last fall involving the same 20 alumni.

Talking with the participating fellows, it was gratifying to know that the workshop has become another driving force to strengthen the Sylff network−a diverse group transcending nationality, language, ethnicity, religion and political system.

I was particularly delighted when I heard one of the participants say he was
“really inspired by interacting with the 19 other fellows” during the workshop.

I sincerely hope that they will continue to interact and work together even after the session, and broaden the scope of this working network to include other members of the Sylff family as we grapple with critical challenges the world is facing, such as ocean issues, poverty alleviation and food security that the workshop took up in Oita.

The Nippon Foundation launched the Sylff scholarship program in 1987 to nurture dedicated young leaders who could boldly take on global challenges and devise workable solutions. In the 32 years since then, 16,000 people at 69 universities in 44 countries have received fellowships from the fund.

The workshop was organized by the Sylff Association, which comprises all current and graduated fellows, the 69 Sylff institutions, The Nippon Foundation and its partner organization the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research.

Ritsumeikan APU is one of the three Japanese universities affiliated with the Sylff along with Keio University and Waseda University. I am truly grateful to President Haruaki Deguchi and APU for hosting this successful event.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 17:16 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
Meeting with Myanmar’s Border Affairs Minister [2019年04月10日(Wed)]

At my recent meeting with Myanmar’s Union Minister for Border Affairs Lieutenant-General Ye Aung in Tokyo, I stressed the importance of effectively developing human resources in his country’s border areas to improve the lives of ethnic minorities living there, which would in turn help support the peace process. 

I also told him I was hopeful that the Minister would take a good look at educational and vocational training facilities while in Japan so that Myanmar could upgrade such facilities for youths from ethnic minorities in the border areas.

I was meeting the Minister in my capacity as the Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar and the Japanese Government’s Goodwill Ambassador for the Welfare of the National Races in Myanmar.

Union Minister Ye Aung visited Japan from March 29 to April 2 at the invitation of The Nippon Foundation. After our meeting, he also visited the National Institute of Technology, Nagaoka College, and International University of Japan (IUJ) both in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast as well as Kyoto and Nara in western Japan.


Meeting with Lt-Gen. Ye Aung, Myanmar’s Minister for Border Affairs

(March 29, 2019, Tokyo)

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 13:11 | MYANMAR | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】 Visit to the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh [2019年04月04日(Thu)]

I would like to share with you some of the photos taken during my trip to Bangladesh from February 9 to 12 during which I visited the Cox’s Bazar and other refugee camps.

[February 10, 2019, Dhaka, Bangladesh]


Meeting with Ms. Sheik Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister (left)

[February 11, 2019, Dhaka, Bangladesh]


Meeting with Dr. Shrin Sharmin Chaudhury, Speaker of the Parliament (left)

[February 12, 2019, from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar]


Leaving Dhaka for Cox’s Bazar


Cox’s Bazar camp where more than 700,000 refugees from Rakhine State are said to be living


Listening to people who recently fled to the camp


A watchtower and fence were set up to protect people living in the camp from elephants that cut through jungles.


I was concerned about what would happen should it rain heavily.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 13:48 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】Visit to Myanmar’s Rakhine State [2019年04月04日(Thu)]

I would like to share with you some of the photos taken during my trip to Myanmar from March 21 to 27 during which I visited the western state of Rakhine.

[March 22, 2019, Sittwe, Rakhine State]


Meeting with Dr. Win Myat Aye,

Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (right)


Meeting with Colonel Phone Tint,

Minister for Security and Border Affairs of Rakhine State (left)


Meeting with Mr. San Kyaw Hla,

Speaker of Rakhine State Hluttaw (right)


With senior members of the Arakan National Party

[March 23, 2019, Rakhine State]


Before boarding a military helicopter at Sittwe Airport


At the Hla Poe Kaung Transit Camp for people returning from Bangladesh


Makeshift camp built by China using what appear to be metallic freight ontainers. It must be hard to live in them, considering the temperature.


Inside one of the containers. It’s as basic as this.


Town meeting with villagers of three religions – Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism−getting along well, living in Shwe Zar Village


Taking in the view from the watch tower on the border with Bangladesh


An elementary school built with The Nippon Foundation’s support in a conflict-affected area


Surveying the scene from the military helicopter


What appears to be a Rohingya village that was attacked and torched, with the remains of a house visible

[March 24, 2019, Rakhine State]


Taking a speedboat to the Kyein Ni Pyin IDP camp.

Being a non-swimmer, I was the only one wearing a life vest.


Next, a farming tractor.


Town meeting with people living in the Kyein Ni Pyin IDP camp


IDPs gathered for town meeting


About 6,000 IDPs comprising 1,300 households have been living in the Kyein Ni Pyin camp in the suburbs of Sittwe since 2012


Like a prison, no contact with outside world is allowed


Their movements restricted, they are unable to leave the camp compound.


Getting briefed by representatives of IDPs on their lives in the Thet Kae Pyin Camp since 2012


IDPs confined to a narrow, dark space

[March 25, 2019, Nay Pyi Taw]


Meeting with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing,

Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services (right)


Meeting with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (right)

[March 26, 2019, Nay Pyi Taw]


Meeting with Ms. Christine Schraner Burgener,

U.N. Special Envoy on Myanmar (second from left)


Meeting with Mr. Kyaw Tint Swe,

Union Minister for the Office of State Counsellor (left)

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 13:20 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
Fact-finding visit to Myanmar’s Rakhine State [2019年04月03日(Wed)]

During my recent visit to Myanmar from March 21 to 27 as Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar and Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, I tried to figure out firsthand what’s going on in Rakhine State from where hundreds of thousands of people have fled into neighboring Bangladesh.

After arriving in the state capital of Sittwe, I first held talks with senior officials and political leaders to discuss the situation in the state.

I also toured a transit camp near Maungdaw close to the border where people can stay temporarily after returning from Bangladesh and two IDP (internally displaced persons) camps in the suburbs of Sittwe. In addition, I visited a village where people of three religions − Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism − are living together and getting along well.

I spent a lot of time listening to as many people as possible talking about their lives in the camps.

I then flew to the Union capital of Nay Pyi Taw to exchange views with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and other top officials on Japan’s support for Rakhine State and Myanmar’s peace and national reconciliation process based on the observations I made during my fact-finding trip.

During my previous trip to the region in February, which also brought me to Bangladesh in addition to Myanmar, I held talks with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and visited the Cox’s Bazar camp to talk with refugees living there. These trips have given me opportunities to get perspectives on the Rakhine State issue from both sides of the border. 


Town meeting with people living in the Kyein Ni Pyin IDP camp (March 24, 2019)

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 16:24 | MYANMAR | URL | comment(0)