Joy of Meeting with Scholarship Alumni from Around the World [2019年05月31日（Fri）]
The Nippon Foundation is funding a two-year graduate program for Japanese and Southeast Asian students to receive a Master of Arts in International Peace Studies from the University for Peace in Costa Rica. The program, called the Asian Peacebuilders Scholarship (APS), has the academic collaboration of Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, where students first take an introductory English training module and courses related to Asian studies
In the 14 years since it was launched, a total of 291 students from Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar have completed the program, and now work for the United Nations, other international organizations, government agencies and NGOs.
As you may be aware, The Nippon Foundation providesa wide variety of scholarships to students around the world. The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) has bestowed fellowshipson about 16,000 people at 69 universities in 44 countries. We have supported 611 graduates from theWorld Maritime University of Sweden as well as 1,290 students from 143 countries who studied at international maritime and ocean-related institutions across the globe. We have also provided scholarships to 1,600 students with disabilities from some 40 countries to help them study in the United States, Hong Kong and Southeast Asian nations. Under the Japan-China Sasakawa Medical Fellowship program launched in 1986, more than 2,300 Chinese medical professionals have come to Japanto attend Japanese medical universities and learn the latest in medical technology with many of them now serving in key positions in Chinese medical circles.
Having supported all these students and fellows from around the world, it gives me a great pleasure when I travel overseas and unexpectedly run into
alumni who are now working actively in their respective countries.
For example, in my capacity as the Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar, I work with the government of Myanmar and ethnic armed organizations (EAO) to build confidence in the peace process.
During my recent visit to the region, I met with representatives of an influential citizens’ group to discuss providing humanitarian assistance to internally displayed persons (IDP) in conflict-affected communities, seizing the opportunity of a unilateral ceasefire declared by the Myanmar military.
All of a sudden, a young lady who was accompanying the delegation came forward and said: “Mr. Sasakawa, I have met you before. I took the master’s course at Ateneo de Manila University in Manila with The Nippon Foundation scholarship.”
What a pleasant surprise! The recipient of an APS fellowship, she wasfrom an ethnic minority in one of Myanmar’s conflict-affected areas. Thanks to her presence, our talks went so well that we agreed to provide the first batch of IDP assistance worth 30 million yen.
Though EAO representatives are usually very skeptical, she made them trust The Nippon Foundation unconditionally.
*For more information on the APS prgram, please click HERE.
Visit to London for release of Japan-UK project report, my books on leprosy [2019年05月28日（Tue）]
I am going to visit London this week for the release of the final report on a five-year project exploring how Japan and the United Kingdom are adapting to a changing world and for the launch of two books of mine on the fight against leprosy.
On May 29, I will participate in an event to release the final report on the UK-Japan Global Seminar Series that The Nippon Foundation launched together with the Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation in 2013. The series explored ways in which the two countries can deepen and expand their cooperation to address a number of pressing regional and global challenges.
The focus of this partnership has been a series of high-profile annual conferences, alternating between London and Tokyo, as well as numerous smaller workshops and discussion seminars. The final report represents the culmination of all these activities from 2013 to 2017.
I will then attend an event on May 30 jointly organized by the Japanese Embassy in London and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation to mark the publication and launch of two English-language books on my battle to eliminate leprosy.
No Matter Where the Journey Takes Me: One Man's Quest for a Leprosy-free World published by Hurst Publishers, depicts my mission in life to eliminate leprosy from the world and end the social discrimination it causes as Chairman of The Nippon Foundation and World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.
In this volume, I described in detail for the first time what has driven me in pursuit of a leprosy-free world for more than 40 years, starting with how I came to devote myself, as my father did, to humanitarian activities−especially leprosy work.
Through this book, my hope is that readers will come to understand the path that I and The Nippon Foundation have taken in our quest for a world free of leprosy and the discrimination it causes.
My Struggle against Leprosy, published by Festina Lente, is a compilation of my introductory messages from more than 90 issues of the WHO Goodwill Ambassador’s Newsletter for the Elimination of Leprosy issued since 2003 and 20 articles on anti-leprosy themes that I issued through the news and opinion website Huffpost in 2017.
The Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Health Foundation’s Office of Joint Program on Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) have provided context for these pieces with a background summary.
I am looking forward to attending these events in London and exchanging views with many friends and partners on stepped-up Japan-UK cooperation and on the global battle against leprosy.
You can read a review of No Matter Where the Journey Takes Me: One Man's Quest for a Leprosy-free World in the March 4 issue of Nature HERE.
Honored to Be Awarded Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun [2019年05月24日（Fri）]
It was the greatest honor for me to be decorated with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun at the 2019 spring awards ceremony, the first since the ascension of Emperor Naruhito and the commencement of the Reiwa Era on May 1.
The award was conferred on me by the Emperor at the Imperial Palace ceremony on May 23 in the presence of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Established in 1875, the Order of the Rising Sun is the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese government and recognizes politicians and members of the private sector who have made outstanding contributions to society in a variety of fields.
This year, I was among eight persons receiving the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.
I learned that I received this honor for my contribution to ocean-related activities and international cooperation.
I believe this award was given not in recognition of me personally, but rather of the entire The Nippon Foundation and its partner organizations.
Reporting on the award recipients, NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, said that The Nippon Foundation is supporting social welfare, education, international cooperation and other activities.
It also noted that as the World Health Organization’s Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, I have devoted myself to the battle against leprosy for more than 40 years.
In an interview with NHK, I said that “we have to tackle both the disease of leprosy and the social discrimination associated with it at the same time. There is no other disease like leprosy. Sixteen million leprosy patients have been cured (since the introduction of multidrug therapy). Our next target is zero leprosy.”
I was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun
(May 23, 2019, Tokyo)
at 16:38 | URL
【Photo Diary】Visit to Moreh on India-Myanmar Border [2019年05月23日（Thu）]
I would like to share with you some of the photos taken when we went from Imphal, the capital of Manipur State, in northeast India to the town of Moreh on the border with Myanmar on May 10.
The mountains seen on our way from Imphal to Moreh during the 3.5-hour, 110-kilometer drive.
Protected by Indian soldiers, we traveled through a conflict zone to reach the India-Myanmar border.
We passed through seven or eight checkpoints en route.
This is where the Japanese Army struggled to advance on a muddy road during the Battle of Imphal in World War II. The road is now paved.
This bridge was built soon after the war over a river that the Japanese Army crossed in their efforts to advance from Myanmar to India during the Battle of Imphal.
The Nippon Foundation to Help Marshall Islands Achieve “Zero Leprosy” [2019年05月16日（Thu）]
With President Hilda C. Heine (April 24, 2019, Majuro)
The World Health Organization (WHO), The Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Health Foundation (SHF) have agreed to fully cooperate with the government of the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) to help the Pacific island nation achieve its goal of “zero leprosy”.
“I am very impressed by President Hilda Heine’s determination to achieve zero leprosy in RMI. We are proud of being part of this ambitious campaign,” I told a joint press conference with RMI Health and Human Services Minister Kalani Kaneko in the capital Majuro on April 24 that was recorded for broadcast on national radio.
During my first visit to RMI, I held a series of meetings with President Heine, Health Minister Kaneko, Foreign and Trade Minister John Silk and other senior government officials to discuss leprosy, national security, climate change and other issues.
On leprosy, President Heine acknowledged that RMI had yet to achieve the goal of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem, with elimination defined by WHO as a reduction in prevalence to less than 1 case per 10,000 population.
But she also said that my visit to RMI as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination gave a strong boost to the zero leprosy campaign, and promised to do whatever is needed to attain this goal.
Minister Kaneko said that for the past three years, the Health Ministry has conducted a mass leprosy and TB (tuberculosis) screening project together with WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, resulting in the detection of dozens of new leprosy cases.
He said that the screening project has so far covered 80 percent of RMI’s population of some 53,000, with remote atolls and islands still to be covered.
I asked the minister to provide us with the data on the screening campaign so that we candraw up plans, including allocation of budgetary and human resources, to achieve the zero leprosy target, working together with WHO, SHF as well as CDC, which will also be directly involved.
I told the president and Minister Kaneko thatno other country in the world has a greater potential to achieve zero leprosy than RMI, and I recommended that the government as part of its ambitious campaign encourage all households in the country to conduct skin check-ups for leprosy.
During my two-day stay in Majuro, I also met with a few persons affected by leprosy, including a lady named Monica who was recently diagnosed with the disease in the course of the mass screeningfor leprosy and TB and was now undergoing treatment. She had very early symptoms of the disease on her left leg and I assured her that if she continued to take her medication, she would becompletely cured.
At the Majuro leprosy clinic, I met a young man who suspected he might have contracted leprosy because he had symptoms similar to his mother, who once had the disease.
I noted that neither the young man nor Monica were hesitant to talk to me about leprosy. Minister Kaneko explained that traditionally, the Marshallese people greatly value family and community unity, making them more inclined to respect and help each other. This might be one of the reasons why the country sees less discrimination and stigma against those affected by leprosy, he added. If that’s the case, I thought, then diagnosing and treating leprosy in RMI becomes a little easier than in some other countries.President Heine said she plans to visit Japan in October to attend a ceremony to publicly proclaim the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito. I told her that I look forward to seeing her in Tokyo and receiving a progress report on the zero leprosy campaign.
A joint press conference with Health Minister Kalani Kaneko (April 24, 2019, Majuro)
【Photo Diary】Visit to Imphal, Manipur State, India [2019年05月14日（Tue）]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to Imphal, the capital of Manipur State, in northeast India on May 9.
There was a serene atmosphere in the city of Imphal.
I visited the India Peace Memorial directly from Imphal Airport.
Laying a wreath of flowers at the India Peace Memorial, built by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare in 1994
Praying at the monument to fallen Japanese soldiers who fought in the Battle of Imphal, located next to the Imphal Peace Memorial
Visiting the Imphal Peace Museum before its opening scheduled for June 22
The splendid museum is almost completed.
The Imphal War Cemetery, which contains some 1,600 Commonwealth burials from World War II.
Meeting with members of the Manipur Tourism Forum, which will operate the Imphal Peace Museum
With Dr. Thangjam Dhabali Singh (left), president of the Manipur Tourism Forum
【Photo Diary】 Visit to Kalaupapa on Molokai, Hawaii [2019年05月07日（Tue）]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai, Hawaii, in the United States on April 25.
The Kalaupapa leprosy settlement is located in Kalaupapa National Historical Park.
Wild deer and pigs live in the park.
Leprosy patients were brought by boat to the beach under the steep cliff behind me.
Ms. Ka`ohulani McGuire, an anthropologist with the Kalaupapa National Historical Park Service, guided us to the leprosy settlement where 10 people who once had the disease still live
In front of the tomb of Father Damien (1840-1889). Now known as St. Damien of Molokai, he devoted himself to caring for patients.
We visited an office where artworks by past residents are stored.
A wheelchair said to have been used by Father Damien.
Many Japanese immigrants who were diagnosed with leprosy were sent to the Kalaupapa settlement.
An aerial view of Kalaupapa National Historical Park. It’s only a 4-minute flight aboard a Cessna between Molokai and Kalaupapa airports.
The Kalaupapa Peninsula is flanked by towering sea cliffs.
Taking a nap while stretching my back at Molokai Airport.
【Photo Diary】Visit to the Marshall Islands - 2 [2019年05月01日（Wed）]
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 24, 2019: Majuro, The Marshall Islands]
Kids in Majuro, how lovely they are!
With Foreign and Trade Minister John M. Silk, discussing leprosy, national security, climate change and other issues
President Hilda C. Heine told me she aims at achieving a “zero-leprosy country” by redoubling efforts to discover new cases.
Ms. Monica (center) is under MDT treatment overseen by a nurse
Speaking at a lunch hosted by Japanese Ambassador Norio Saito
With the Ministers who joined the lunch
Meeting with Health and Human Services Minister Kalani Kaneko
This man visited a clinic for treatment of the side-effects of leprosy medication.
Attending a press conference with Health and Human Services Minister Kalani Kaneko
I stressed the need for early discovery and early treatment of leprosy, calling for all the people of the Marshall Islands to have skin checks at home