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Mrs. Abe May Have Been Instrumental in Facilitating Prime Minister’s Iran Visit [2019年06月28日(Fri)]

Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), a partner organization of The Nippon Foundation, has been stepping up private-sector exchanges with Iran to promote mutual understanding between the two counties.  Since 2010, it has also organized a series of unofficial round-table conferences and workshops with the Iranian Foreign Ministry.


In May 2016, SPF organized a symposium on "Women, Peace and Sustainable Development" in Tehran and invited Japan’s First Lady, Mrs. Akie Abe, to give the keynote speech.  While in the Iranian capital, she also held meetings with two female Iranian leaders, Mrs. Shahindokht Molaverdi, the then Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, and Mrs. Masoumeh Ebtekar, the then Vice President and Head of the Department of Environment, exchanging views on women’s empowerment and other issues.


Mrs. Abe was also the guest of honor at a women-only luncheon meeting hosted by First Vice President, Ms. Eshaq Jahangiri, at the Sadabaad Palace.  She had lively conversations with other participants, including Vice President Molaverdi and the wives of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javal Zarif, Iranian Ambassador to Japan Reza Nazar Ahari and Japanese Ambassador Hiroyasu Kobayashi, according to Ms. Junko Chano, SPF Executive Director.


Mrs. Abe then spoke at a press conference, stressing the importance of the symposium and the historical relations between Japan and Iran. “I believe that someday, the time will come when my husband will be able to visit Iran,” she said, drawing a round of applause from reporters covering the event.


In February 2017, Mrs. Abe gave the keynote speech at another symposium between Japan and Iran, which the SPF hosted in Tokyo, titled “Women and Education as Economic Empowerment.” She again held talks with Ms. Shahindokht Molaverdi, Iranian Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, who attended the symposium, further deepening their friendship.  


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iran in mid-June 2019 amid the rising tension between the United States and Iran.  It was the first visit to Iran by a Japanese leader in 41 years.Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Mr. Abe that Iran has no intention to make, hold or use nuclear weapons, the Japanese leader said.


I assume that Mrs. Abe’s friendly relations with the Iranians, especially the female leaders she met, helped gain their confidence in Japan and may have laid at least part of the groundwork for her husband’s historic Iran visit.


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Mrs. Akie Abe addressing the symposium titled “Women, Peace and Sustainable Development” held in Tehran on May 9, 2016.


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Participants in the symposium were overwhelmingly women.


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(From left) Mrs. Akie Abe, two female Iranian vice presidents and Yohei Sasakawa at the symposium.


Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:16 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】Visit to China - 4 [2019年06月24日(Mon)]

I would like to share with you some more photographs taken during my visit to China from June 9 to 13 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) at two Chinese universities.


[June 12, 2019, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region]



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The view from my hotel: the city of Hohhot has witnessed impressive development with countless tall buildings to be seen.



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With Mr. Zhu Bingwen (right), Party Secretary of Inner Mongolia University.



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At Inner Mongolia University, we were joined by alumni of the Japan-China Sasakawa Medical Fellowship program.



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Addressing the event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) program at Inner Mongolia University.



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The future of bilateral relations between Japan and China will depend on all of you gathered here today.”



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I also exchanged notes with Party Secretary Zhu to present to Inner Mongolia University about 6,600 books donated by the Japan Science Society, The Nippon Foundation’s partner organization.



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We were welcomed to the commemorative event by Mongolian ladies clad in traditional costumes.

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A group photo with Sylff fellows and faculty members at Inner Mongolia University.




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Speaking at the luncheon reception to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sylff program, held at a hotel near Inner Mongolia University.



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Ms. Wu Ren Ta Na (left), a Sylff alumna, now works for a local television and radio station in Hohhot. She put on a traditional local dress after I was interviewed by her and three other journalists.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
Congratulations to Two Chinese Universities on 25th Anniversary of Sylff [2019年06月21日(Fri)]

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A group photo with Sylff fellows and faculty members at Inner Mongolia University
(June 12, 2019, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region)


I was genuinely delighted to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) programs at two universities in China during my recent visit to that country.


I first visited Xinjiang University in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on June 10 and then went on to Inner Mongolia University in Hohhot, the capital of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, on June 12 to attend events commemorating the anniversary.


Twenty-five years ago, The Nippon Foundation chose to endow these two universities, based in remote, ethnic minority regions, with funding to establish a Sylff program. We believed that just as leading universities in such big cities as Beijing had done, they too could also identify and nurture young leaders who would contribute greatly to the development of their regions and their country.


Witnessing the remarkable development of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, especially their capital cities, I told the Sylff fellows and faculty members gathered at their respective universities for the celebrations just how proud I was of our decision 25 years ago, and how grateful too for their continued dedication to the successful management of the Sylff program.

Sylff was initially established at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the United States in 1987, to cultivate human resources capable of transcending differences in nationality, language, ethnicity, religion and political systems to take on global challenges. In the 32 years since, 16,000 fellows at 69 universities in 44 countries around the world have received scholarships from the fund.

Xinjiang University and Inner Mongolia University are among the ten Sylff-affiliated universities in China, which also accounts for roughly half of the fellows, at 8,000. Xinjiang University has 620 Sylff fellows and Inner Mongolia University 605 fellows.

The fund is donated by The Nippon Foundation, and the program is administered by our partner organization, the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research.

Pointing out that 8 million Chinese people visited Japan last year, I told the two gatherings that Japan and China are the only two countries in the world whose peoples have maintained relatively friendly relations over the past two thousand years, despite a few unhappy political conflicts in history.


Quoting my motto, “We are one world, one family,”−I stressed that it is important for the ordinary citizens of the two countries to know each other well regardless of the state of political relations at any given time, and seek new future-oriented relations between the two nations, looking back on the history of the bilateral relations over the two thousand years. “It will depend on all of you gathered here today,” I said.


One thing that makes Sylff unique among global fellowship programs is the support offered to fellows throughout their careers−even after the scholarships end.


The Sylff Association, which comprises all current and graduated fellows, the 69 Sylff institutions, The Nippon Foundation and the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research, offers continuing support to promote the fellows’ academic advancement and development as leaders, as well as encouraging networking among the fellows.


It is my hope that the Sylff fellows who studied at these and other Chinese universities will make the best use of their networking to promote mutual understanding between Japan and China.


Finally, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Party Committee Secretary Xu Xianyi of Xinjiang University and Party Secretary Zhu Bingwen of Inner Mongolia University for hosting such successful celebratory meetings and the warm hospitality they extended to us during our stay in their cities.




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The event to mark the 25th anniversary of the Sylff (Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund) program at Xinjiang University
(June 10, 2019, Urumqi)
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】Visit to China - 3 [2019年06月19日(Wed)]

I would like to share with you some more photographs taken during my visit to China from June 9 to 13 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) at two Chinese universities.


[June 11, 2019, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region]



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Flying over desert on a flight from Urumqi to Hohhot.



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Dazhao Temple is the oldest Lamaist Buddhist temple in Inner Mongolia.




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Exchanging toasts with Mr. Zhu Bingwen, Party Secretary of Inner Mongolia University, at a dinner he hosted for our delegation at a hotel in Hohhot.



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We enjoyed a pleasant dinner and our host’s warm hospitality.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 14:14 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】Visit to China - 2 [2019年06月17日(Mon)]

I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to China from June 9 to 13.



[June 10, 2019, Urumqi]



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The Tian Shan mountains can be seen in the distance. The Southern Route of the Silk Road runs along the near side of the mountain range and the Northern Route along the far side.



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Receiving a gift from Mr. Xu Xianyi, Secretary of the Party Committee of Xinjiang University.



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The event to mark the 25th anniversary of the Sylff (Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund) program at Xinjiang University.



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The future will be shaped by young men and women like you,” I stressed in my remarks at the event.



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A group photo with the faculty members and Sylff fellows at Xinjiang University.


6.jpg I was interviewed by local media in Urumqi.



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I proposed a toast to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sylff program at the luncheon reception.



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We were joined by Mr. Yao Qiang (right), Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of Xinjiang University and its Vice President, at the reception.



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Talking with Sylff fellows at Xinjiang University who are majoring in various fields.



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Walking around the Xinjiang International Bazaar.



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Such a rich variety of dried fruits and nuts!



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The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is characterized by a mix of ethnic groups.



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A traditional medicine seller.



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I was fascinated by the musical instruments on sale here.



Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】Visit to China - 1 [2019年06月14日(Fri)]

I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to China from June 9 to 13.


[June 9, 2019, Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region]



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An aerial view of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. One fourth of the entire region is covered by desert.


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Arriving in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, we were greeted at the airport by Dr. Li Nanfang (third from left), a 1989 recipient of the Japan-China Sasakawa Medical Fellowship, and her fellow doctors.


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This was my first visit to Urumqi in 19 years. I was amazed to see how much the city had developed, with tall buildings everywhere.


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With Dr. Li Nanfang (left). Remembering the moment of our first meeting 30 years ago, it seemed like only yesterday.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:41 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
My New Books on Leprosy Launched in London [2019年06月10日(Mon)]
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No Matter Where the Journey Takes Me: One Man's Quest for a Leprosy-free World

I was extremely happy and grateful to participate in an event in London on May 30 to mark the launch of two English-language books of mine on my pursuit of a world without leprosy. About 80 people attended the event, which was jointly hosted by the Japanese Embassy in London and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.


The first book, 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 stigma and social discrimination it causes.

 

In this volume, I described in detail for the first time what has driven me for more than 40 years on this mission, starting with how I accepted the pursuit of the elimination of leprosy as my “destiny”−just as it had been for my father. In more recent years, I have been working for this goal in my capacity as Chairman of The Nippon Foundation and World Health Organization (WHO) Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.


Through this book, I hope 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.


I told the audience at the launch event held at the Japanese Embassy that, as described in the book, I have visited more than 90 countries over the years to meet directly with more than 380 presidents and prime ministers. In these meetings I stress the importance of staying focused on leprosy and upholding the human rights of people affected by the disease.


At the same time, the book goes on, I always make a point of taking as much time as possible to visit local hospitals and communities of people affected by leprosy to meet directly with patients and residents and offer words of support. Just as my father did, I too have always sought to encourage persons with leprosy by taking their hands in mine or putting my arm around them, no matter how serious their condition might be.


I also noted that I was pleasantly surprised last March when I saw that No Matter Where the Journey Takes Me had been reviewed in Nature, one of the world’s most authoritative science journals.

(If you are interested, you can read the book review HERE).


The second book, 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 contributed to the news and opinion website Huffpost in 2017.

(If you are interested, you can read the Huffpost articles HERE). 



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 was honored by remarks by Japanese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Koji Tsuruoka who introduced me at the launch event as a man whose “strong motto is never give up,” willing to travel to every corner of the world no matter how far it might be, to shake hands with, hug and encourage those affected by leprosy.


I responded by saying that I am determined to keep traveling across the world “as an 80-year-old young man” to fulfill my destiny and mission.


Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to Ambassador Tsuruoka and his staff at the Embassy and my friends and colleagues at the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for their generosity in jointly organizing this event.


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Speaking to the audience at an event at the Japanese Embassy in London to launch two books of mine on the fight against leprosy.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:00 | LEPROSY | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】Visit to the United Kingdom – 2 [2019年06月07日(Fri)]

I would like to share with you some more photos taken during my visit to London from May 28 to June 1.


[May 30, 2019, London]


 

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Visiting “The Citi exhibition Manga” at the British Museum in London, the biggest-ever manga exhibition outside Japan.



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With fellows who studied at the World Maritime University (WMU) and the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) under The Nippon Foundation’s scholarship programs.


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Paying a courtesy call on Mr. Kitack Lim (right), Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), at its headquarters in London.



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Speaking to the audience at an event at the Japanese Embassy in London to launch two books of mine on the fight against leprosy.



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About 80 people attended the event, which was jointly hosted by the Japanese Embassy in London and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.



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One of the two books is titled No Matter Where the Journey Takes Me: One Man’s Quest for a Leprosy-Free World.




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I was happy to see Dr. David Heymann (left), Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, after many years.



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(From left) The Earl of St. Andrews, Chairman of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation; Mr. Tim Hughes, Deputy Executive Director of the International Bar Association; the author; Baroness Helena Kennedy, Co-chair of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute; Japanese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Koji Tsuruoka; and Mr. Michael Dwyer, Publisher at Hurst Publishers, which put out my book: No Matter Where the Journey Takes Me.


Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:00 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
How about a New Anglo-Japanese Alliance to Confront Global Challenges? [2019年06月05日(Wed)]

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The final report of the UK-Japan Global Seminar series.

The UK and Japan: Forging a Global and Proactive Partnership (PDF)


As I took part in an event in London on May 29 to release the final report on the UK-Japan Global Seminar series, it occurred to me that there is a possibility for a new Anglo-Japanese alliance, this time, to work together to confront global and regional challenges.


The report, titled “The UK and Japan: Forging a Global and Proactive Partnership,” is the culmination of a five-year project that The Nippon Foundation embarked on in 2013 in partnership with the Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation to explore how the two countries can work together more effectively to address a number of critical challenges that the world is facing.


To this end, the project convened a series of high-profile annual conferences, held alternately in London and Tokyo, as well as numerous workshops and discussion seminars from 2013 to 2017.


In the early 1900s, Japan and the United Kingdom were tightly bound by the Anglo-Japanese Alliance to assist one another in safeguarding their respective interests.


And today, in an era of great uncertainty, the report has led me to think that we might even explore the possibility of a new Anglo-Japanese Alliance, this time to expand and deepen cooperation to confront challenges facing the entire globe. I do hope the two countries will consider reestablishing a new, strong and future-oriented bilateral relationship on the basis of our five years of discussions.


I think we can be optimistic as the report stressed how, rhetorically at least, via Britain’s commitment to a “Global Britain” and Japan’s “proactive pursuit of peace”, both countries have demonstrated their willingness to remain fully engaged in international affairs, at a time when the United States appears to be withdrawing from its traditional role as a guarantor of international stability.


I agree with the authors of the report that possible areas of closer bilateral cooperation should focus on sustaining the rules-based international order and enhancing security in the Asia-Pacific region, especially by addressing the nuclear threat from North Korea, minimizing security risks in the East China Sea and South China Sea, and fostering greater joint defense cooperation as well as bolstering economic cooperation.


On the defense front, I might note that Japan-UK security cooperation has made significant progress since 2017 in the framework of the regular two-plus-two meetings of the foreign and defense ministers of both countries, and Tokyo’s free and open Indo-Pacific strategy.


Over the five-year period of the Global Seminar series, a total of about 100 experts and analysts from not only Japan and the United Kingdom, but also other countries participated.


I would like to express my deep appreciation to all of them for their cutting-edge research on pressing global issues. They have built a prominent international community of intellectual leaders.


It is my hope that the final report will contribute to a deeper interest and understanding of these global challenges among policymakers, researchers, the media and the general public, and serve as a basis for further dialogue in the future.


In closing, let me extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone at Chatham House - especially Director Robin Niblett - and to my friends and colleagues at the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for their hard work to make this Global Seminar series such a success.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 14:42 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】Visit to the United Kingdom – 1 [2019年06月03日(Mon)]

I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to London from May 28 to June 1.


[May 28, 2019, London]



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Prior to the dinner hosted by Japanese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Koji Tsuruoka (center) at his residence.



[May 29, 2019, London]



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With Mr. Brendan Griggs (right), Chief Executive of the Great Britain

Sasakawa Foundation.



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With Mr. Oliver Urquhart Irvine (right), Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Library, who guided us on a tour of the Burma Campaign Memorial Library at the SOAS. 



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The Burma Campaign Memorial Library collection includes books on Myanmar donated by The Nippon Foundation.



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Talking with recipients of Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentships in Japanese studies at SOAS.



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Addressing a meeting at Chatham House to release the final report on the UK-Japan Global Seminars Series.



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Chatham House is the home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which jointly undertook the five-year project with The Nippon Foundation and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.



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At dinner with those who participated in the project, looking back over five years of fruitful activities between 2013 and 2017.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:28 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)