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Yohei Sasakawa
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【Photo Diary】TICAD7 – 1 [2019年08月30日(Fri)]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my participation at The Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), from August 28 to 30, 2019.

[August 28, 2019: Yokohama, JAPAN]

At the signing ceremony of a partnership agreement for agricultural extension with Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) 
With Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka, President of JICA, Mr. Hiroshi Kato, Senior Vice President of JICA, Professor Ruth K. Oniang’o, Chairperson of SAA (from left).

Speaking at a TICAD7 Official Side Event, “Sasakawa in Africa – Building on the past, looking to the future” organized by SAA.
My speech at the event is available HERE

More than 200 people attended.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came and addressed our event.

With the keynote speaker of the event, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB)

With the board members of SAA

Speaking at the TICAD7 Plenary Session "Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement."
My speech at the TICAD7 Plenary Session is available HERE

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:30 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
Let’s Make a New Anglo-Japanese Alliance a Pillar of Tokyo’s Diplomacy [2019年08月28日(Wed)]


The Imphal Peace Museum was completed at the foot of “Red Hill” where many Japanese soldiers succumbed.

I attended an opening ceremony of the Imphal Peace Museum in northeast India, marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal between the Japanese and Allied Forces, led by the Britons. I took the occasion to shed a fresh light on a new Anglo-Japanese alliance as the two nations have undergone some important developments in their defense and national security policies during the recent years.

Japan and the United Kingdom are both ocean states, situated at the ends of the Eurasian continent, and the important allies of the United States in Asia and Europe, respectively.

Given the relative decline of the United States and the more assertive China and Russia, it would not only promote the tripartite alliance among Japan, the U.K. and the United States, but also contribute to the stability in Asia if Tokyo and London would upgrade the bilateral partnership.

The opening ceremony of the Imphal Peace Museum was held in the capital of Manipur state in northeast India on June 22 in the presence of representatives of both Japan and Britain as well as the local communities. They all confirmed the invaluable peace that we share today is the legacy of the ultimate suffering of those who have fought and have fallen in war

The Battle of Imphal lasted for about four months from March to July 1944. Out of the 90,000 Japanese troops massed for the operation, more than 30,000 were killed, and an additional 40,000 were wounded. The United Kingdom lost colonies, such as India and Burma (now Myanmar), as a result of the rising local call for independence from the Britons. British Historian Arnold Toynbee said: “Japan put an end to West's colonialism in Asia once and for all.”

The Anglo-Japanese Alliance (1902–23) bound Japan and Britain to assist one another in safeguarding their respective interests in China and Korea as well as to confront Russian expansionism in the Far East.  It was a cornerstone of Japanese and British policies in Asia until after World War I. Japan’s international status was considered to be elevated to an equal allay of the country which dominated the world seven seas.

In March 1917 during World War I, the former Japanese Navy dispatched a cruiser and eight destroyers to Malta, a maritime strategic stronghold in the Mediterranean, at the request of the United Kingdom under the alliance. The Japanese vessels protected the Allied convoy from the German submarine U-boat attacks. They were known as the deities of the Mediterranean Sea by rescuing 3,000 crewmembers of British transport ships attacked by U-boat torpedoes.

During those day, the Japanese Navy destroyer Sakaki was severely damaged by the U-boat and 59 of its crewmen, including the captain, were killed in the combat operations. In the corner of the Commonwealth Army Cemetery in the capital of Valletta, there are monuments for Japanese, including 12 who died in the war. The nearby Maritime Museum also has a corner of Japanese Imperial Navy in Malta, and the city square is decorated with photos of Japanese sailors. During his visit to Malta in May 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with Dr. Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, and prayed for the souls of the war dead of the Japanese Imperial Navy.

In 1968, Britain announced its withdrawal from the East of Suez as it let the United Stated gain a world hegemony,  But since its decision to leave the European Community (EC) in 2016, it has switched to a policy of being engaged actively in maintaining the stability of the Indo-Pacific region.  In August 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May visited Japan and issued the Japan-U.K. Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation with Prime Minister Abe, committing themselves to elevating their global strategic partnership and cooperation to the next level, that is an alliance. Since then, the two countries actively promoted their concrete defense cooperation, including the first-ever joint exercises between the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and the Royal Army on Japanese soil in Oyama, Shizuoka prefecture--something that Japan has never done with any country but the United States.

The history of the world has often been marked by the struggle between the sea powers, such as the United States, Japan and Britain and the land powers, such as Russia and China. Although full-scale analysis should be left to experts, it was the United Kingdom which was the cornerstone of Japanese diplomacy from Meiji to Taisho eras (1868-1925). Strengthening the relationship between the two countries, which can be called a new Anglo-Japanese alliance, will increase their options for responding to the rapidly changing international situation and thereby benefit both Japan and the United Kingdom.


Among the exhibits on display are many items donated by bereaved family members of Japanese soldiers who fell in the Battle of Imphal.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Team Wins International Competition for Deep-Sea Exploration Technology [2019年08月23日(Fri)]

GEBCO-NF20Alumni20Team.jpgThe winning GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team

The GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team, comprising mostly graduates of an international scholarship program operated by The Nippon Foundation, has won an international competition in deep-sea exploration technology.

I was particularly proud of the award, the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, as a major important step to achieving the ambitious global goal of mapping one hundred percent of the ocean floor by the year 2030.

The final round of the competition was held among nine finalists in Kalamata, Greece. The award, which includes a prize of US$4 million, was presented at a ceremony at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco earlier this year.

In 2016 at the same museum in Monaco, The Nippon Foundation announced the project to completing the map of the world’s seabed by 2030.

The GEBCO-NF Team received first prize for their unmanned, high-resolution measurements of a 278.9 square kilometer area at a depth of 4,000 meters and successful production of a map of the measured area, all within 24 hours.

The Nippon Foundation has been partnering with GEBCO, the General Bathymetric Charter of the Oceans, since 2004 to nurture oceanography and bathymetry researchers at the University of New Hampshire. This program has produced 90 fellows from 39 countries, and 16 of these fellows, representing 13 countries, were part of the GEBCO-NF Team which won this prestigious award.

Understanding the bathymetry of the global ocean is imperative for improving maritime navigation, and also for enhancing our ability to predict climate change and monitor marine biodiversity and resources.  A comprehensive map of the seafloor will assist global efforts to combat pollution, aid marine conservation, forecast tsunami, and better understand tides, wave action and sediment transport.

The Nippon Foundation, together with GEBCO, will use all of our collaborative efforts to reveal 100% of the ocean floor by 2030, of which we currently only know about 15%.

At the same time, we need the support of the international ocean community, including coastal states, international organizations and industries.  It is my sincere hope that we will all work together to bring this monumental goal of completing the map of the world’s seabed by 2030.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Nurturing Experts to Cope with Increasingly Serious Ocean Issues [2019年08月21日(Wed)]

Our oceans are now facing increasingly serious challenges, attracting the international attention--the climate change, the ocean pollution, overexploitation of fish stocks, the dramatic decrease in phytoplankton due to the ocean acidification and the marine litter. Especially plastic waste has a considerable risk of disintegrating into nanoparticles through the food chain and thus ultimately can affect animals and humans. This is all the more difficult as it is hard to prove them scientifically. The issue is as diverse as exploitation of the seabed resources and development of technology to collect them.

Although our oceans are already “crying out for help” ahead of an era of the 10-billion world population, no specific actions have been taken as if we were still working on the assumption that as Hugo Grotius (1583–1645) defined in the 17th century “Mare liberum,” as calling for limitless freedom of the seas.

I am firmly convinced that to envisage the human life in 1000 to 2000 years ahead, it is critical to realize safe conservation of oceans. That being said, The Nippon Foundation that confronts the ocean, which accounts for 70% of the Earth, may be, as the Japanese old saying goes, just "a mantis ax,” meaning courageous, but doomed to be powerless.

During the past 30 years, The Nippon Foundation has provided young marine experts with Sasakawa scholarships, which now total some 1,300 from 141 countries of the world. Recently, we welcomed 30 recipients of the fellowships studying at the World Maritime University (WMU) of Sweden to come to Japan for training programs. They were a wide variety of experts from 28 countries−Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Columbia, Egypt, Georgia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Malvides, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Vanuatu and Vietnam. The Nippon Foundation has probably one of the world's leading network of marine human resources, including the top-notch oceanographers.

Japan, as an ocean state, should demonstrate its leadership in solving the world's maritime problems. The Nippon Foundation is making every effort day by day to play a part in this endeavor.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
I Joined World Cosplayers to Promote Ocean Debris Cleanup Event [2019年08月16日(Fri)]


Yohei Sasakawa, as the character Luffy from the manga “One Piece,”

rallying the cosplayers to eliminate ocean debris.

“I am Luffy, and I’m searching for the pirate king. Lately, however, I see much trash when I sail the ocean. Trash from cities on land flows into the ocean.”

Dressed as Monkey D. Luffy from the manga series “One Piece” and imitating the character’s voice, this was how I exhorted some 430 cosplayers from around the world, including Italy, Mexico and Taiwan, who participated in the “Nationwide Cleanup Campaign” by domestic and foreign cosplayers at Tokyo Tower in central Tokyo recently as part of The Nippon Foundation’s Change for the Blue program.

For the day, we collected roughly 90 bags (2,700 liters) of trash in the area around Tokyo Tower. This was a one small but important step to clean up the oceans as one of the main themes of the event was to emphasize that roughly 80% of ocean debris flows into the ocean from cities and towns, meaning that reducing litter on land is essential to preventing ocean debris from accumulating.

It was also noted that globally, roughly 8 million tons of plastic debris flows into the ocean every year, and that if this trend continues, by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

“Today, with cosplayers from around the world, let’s start working to eliminate ocean debris,” I declared, speaking as Monkey D. Luffy.


Sasakawa (standing, fourth from right) with cosplayers of various nationalities.

5.jpgWith cosplayers

3.jpgWith cosplayers

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Please Don’t Block the TV Appearances of 3 ex-SMAP Members [2019年08月14日(Wed)]

I don’t watch television so often, so it might be a shame that I did not know much about the boy band SMAP. However, I came to realize how influential they are as an iconic idol group through their engagement in the activities to promote Tokyo Paralympic games in 2020.

In May 2015, The Nippon Foundation opened The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center (the “Support Center”), which provides 10 billion yen through 2021 to support para sports leagues and help para-athletes prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The SMAP members were earnestly supporting the Support Center’s activities. When the Support Center organized the Para-Ekiden relay race in November 2015 at Komazawa Olympic Park in Tokyo, each of the five SMAP members participated enthusiastically for the demonstration of wheelchair basketball and blind soccer, which stimulated the excitement and passion for Paralympics. During these several days, the event went so well that more than ten thousand of admission tickets were sold out.

At the end of 2016, however, SMAP was disbanded. Three of its five members--Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Shingo Katori−left the talent agency giant Johnny & Associates Inc. in September 2017. Nevertheless, the trio continued to be the special supporters for the Support Center as active as they used to be as SMAP members. That is the reason why they were appointed as the special ambassadors by International Paralympic Committee in July 2018. Thanks to their hard work, the Support Center and The Nippon Foundation received many encouraging letters from their fans. Without their contribution, the Paralympics would not have reached such a high level of recognition.

But something incomprehensible, something that I could not understand happened. These three members, who should be proud of their huge national popularity, have disappeared from the television programs.

After their contract with the Johnny & Associates finished in September 2017, their regular television appearances have been cut back to almost zero except for commercials. This has aroused the suspicions that the powerful Johnny and Associates pressured or even threatened Japanese commercial broadcasters not to have the trio appeared on their television programs, or else other artists will not appear on their shows.

Television stations usually advocates a golden rule of “freedom of press”. But I am disappointed with their intentions that they only care about how the dominant talent agency feels rather than the importance of a national event like Tokyo Paralympics. According to a press report, Japan Fair Trade Commission has warned Johnny & Associates that their practices could lead to violation of the Anti-monopoly Law regarding television appearances by three former SMAP members.

Mr. Koji Kato, the MC of Nippon TV’s morning show “Sukkiri,” dared to make a comment in the program on July 18. He said, “Not just Johnny & Associates, it is well known in the Japanese entertainment business. The audience might have noticed that some artists who became independent from major agencies have not appeared on television shows for several years.” He continued, “It seems natural in the entertainment world and the television history, but some people might think that this sounds ridiculous in the modern times. Hope this will trigger some changes.” (extracted from Sankei Shimbun issued on July 19)

Television stations will do whatever possible to raise their viewership ratings even for 1%. It is abnormal that they do not invite the ultra-popular SMAP members on their shows for as long as two years. If Japan Fair Trade Commission confirms that there could be violation of the Anti-monopoly Law by the powerful agency, the television stations should humbly admit this fact. For the success of Tokyo Paralympic Games, I hope that television stations will let the three ex-SMAP members return and appear on their shows again.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 11:47 | ENRICHING CULTURE | URL | comment(0)