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Yohei Sasakawa
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Creating Favorable Workplace Environment for Women Is Key to Reversing Falling Birthrates: 8-Nation Survey [2021年03月30日(Tue)]
What are your views on the current declining birthrate in your country?

The world’s population stood at 7.8 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach 10 billion by 2056, according to the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD). Many developed countries, most notably Japan, have experienced declining birthrates, while developing nations, especially in Africa, continue to see their population grow, making inequality and migration major issues for the international community.

Against this background, The Nippon Foundation has conducted an awareness survey of women aged between 18 and 69 in Japan and seven other countries on the subject of “declining birthrates.”

The online poll was conducted between January 21 and February 3, 2021, covering 500 women each in eight countries: Sweden and Denmark, which have expansive social welfare systems; France, where common-law arrangements and other new forms of marital relationships are increasing; Japan, Italy and South Korea, where declines in birthrates are accelerating; the United States, where the population is expected to continue to grow as a result of immigration; and China, which had a “one-child” policy from 1979 to 2015.

When the survey asked respondents about the declining birthrate in their country, a large majority of women in Japan (79.6%), China (56.4%), South Korea (80.6%) and Italy (73.6%) said they see it as a problem. But it was considered to be a problem by only a small portion of those in the United States (21.8%), Sweden (27.2%), Denmark (37.0%) and France (37.4%).

Chosen as reasons for considering the falling birthrate to be a problem (multiple answers accepted), more than eight in 10 women in Japan (84.4%) said that “the burden on the younger generation, which supports the older generation, will become excessive,” as did 74.1% in China, 73.9% in South Korea and 65.2% in Italy.

Other causes cited by more than half of Japanese women were that “it will put a strain on the finances of public health services and the social security system” (57.5%) and that “it will lead to a smaller population and economic contraction” (56.0%).

Asked whether they think it is easy to have and raise children in their country, women in countries with declining birthrates responded negatively, with 83.0% in South Korea, 71.8% in Italy and 70.2% in Japan saying “no”. On the other hand, a large majority of women in nations where falling birthrates are not seen as a problem answered “yes,” with Denmark leading the way at 81.2%, followed by Sweden (78.4%), France (62.2%) and the United States (54.0%).

Queried how they would rate on a scale of 1-5 (the highest) their own country’s measures in response to the declining birthrate, Japan was rated lowest at an average of 2.2, with South Kore (2.3) and Italy (2.4) also ranked poorly.

Regarding what measures they would like to see their governments take in response to the falling birthrate (multiple answers accepted), the most cited measure by women in seven out of the eight countries (except for China) was “provision of an environment to make it easy to work,” with 75.6% of women in Japan, 71.2% in Italy and 61.6% in South Korea selecting that response.

On how many children they think it is desirable for a couple to have, a majority of women in all eight countries were unanimous in answering “two.”

But they were starkly divided when asked about their views of having babies out of wedlock. A majority of women in the Asian countries−China (68.2%), Japan (66.6%) and South Korea (56.2%)−said they consider marriage to be a prerequisite for having children, whereas almost eight in 10 of their counterparts in the European nations−Sweden (84.8%), France (82.4%), Denmark (82.0%) and Italy (76.8%)−believe it is not a prerequisite.

Prime Minster Yoshihide Suga has said that the declining birthrate has been “Japan's most pressing issue for many years.” To make the matter worse, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a preexisting downward trend in the nation’s birthrate.

I hope that the government and business community will listen attentively to the voices of people who wish to marry and start a family, and take whatever steps necessary to reverse the declining birthrate. As the survey results indicate, this should include improving the environment for working women, such as by providing more childcare support. In addition, their spouses need to be there for their partners and take on their fair share of childrearing and other duties, and I hope this is something that their employers will facilitate through their policies.

On a scale of 1-5 (the highest), how would you rate your own country’s measures in response to the declining birthrate?

Details of the findings of the survey can be seen here.
【Yohei Sasakawa Around the World】 (7) Visit to the Former Leprosy Hospital in the U.S. in 2009 [2021年03月25日(Thu)]

I would like to share with you a video taken during my visit to Carville, Louisiana, the United States, in October 2009 to tour the National Hansen’s Disease Museum as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.

For over a century, from 1894 to 1999, Carville was the location of the only in-patient hospital in the continental U.S. for treating leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. Some of the most important leprosy research of the 20th century was carried out there, and it formed an extraordinary community of men and women forced into exile in their own country because they had leprosy.

Although the leprosarium has since closed, various buildings remain, and the history of those years is told in the impressive National Hansen’s Disease Museum. It relates patients’ stories, developments in the disease’s treatment, and contains many cultural and medical artifacts from the more than 100-year history of the leprosarium.

During the visit, I talked with a few long-term Carville residents who chose to remain after the leprosarium closed.

Leprosy is now quite rare in the United States, but cases continue to be reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are around 150 to 250 cases of leprosy each year, with most occurring in people who have lived countries where the disease is still endemic.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:07 | AROUND THE WORLD | URL | comment(0)
Japanese Youths Support the Goal of “Carbon Neutrality” by 2050, But Doubt Whether It’s Achievable [2021年03月22日(Mon)]
What do you consider to be the main cause of global warming?

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has declared that Japan is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero on a net basis to make it a carbon-neutral society by 2050. This has brought the country into line with a global movement initiated by the European Union (EU) and more than 120 nations.

To figure out how young people in Japan look at the issue, The Nippon Foundation conducted a nationwide online survey on the subject of “decarbonization” between January 12 and 17, 2021, covering 1,000 Japanese aged between 17 and 19.

When asked about increasing natural disasters such as abnormally high temperatures, high tides, rising ocean temperatures, and severe storms that are said to be caused by global warming, almost four in five respondents (77.4%) said they are aware of the risks posed by global warming. This represented an increase of more than 10 percentage points over 67.0% in a similar poll about climate change carried out in December 2019.

The survey also showed that two in three young Japanese (66.7%) consider the main cause of global warming to be greenhouse gas emissions associated with human social activity.

Queried about the fact that Japan is the world’s fifth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, more than seven in ten (73.0%) said Japan should reduce CO2 emissions while 15.7% said it is for social activity and therefore cannot be helped.

As for measures to reduce Japan’s CO2 emissions (multiple answers accepted), about two in three (66.0%) cited promotion of renewable energy development, followed by stepped-up development of electric vehicles and storage batteries (36.4%), and energy conservation efforts by households and business corporations (33.7%).

The poll found that over six in ten respondents (60.4%) said they approve of the Suga government’s goal of making Japan carbon neutral by 2050 while only one in ten (10.3%) do not.

But only one in seven (14.4%) said they consider the goal to be achievable while almost three in ten (29.3%) said they do not and about half (50.2%) said they do not know. As reasons, young Japanese expressed a variety of opinions, ranging from the positive−“It’s up to behavior of individuals” and “We have as long as 30 years” to the negative−“We might not be able to find alternative energy sources in time” and “CO2 emissions are unavoidable in industrial development.”

In announcing the goal of a carbon-neutral Japan by 2050 in his major policy speech in the Diet (Parliament) on January 18, Prime Minister Suga said measures to attain the target “are no longer constraints on economic growth,” adding: “Instead, they are the keys to transforming the industrial structure and producing robust growth by dramatically changing our economy and society, promoting investments, and enhancing productivity.”

Specifically, the government has worked out a long-term strategy to intensify research and development of renewable energy such as offshore wind power as well as carbon recycling technology featuring capturing and recycling carbon dioxide.

It is hard to imagine what the global environment will be like 30 years from now. Analyzing the findings of the survey, I reaffirmed the fact that it is crucially important for all of us, regardless of age, to make maximum efforts to pass on a healthy Earth to future generations.

An increase in unanticipated natural disasters including abnormally high temperatures, rising ocean temperatures, high tides, and severe storms is said to be caused by global warming. Are you aware of these risks posed by global warming?

Japan is the world’s fifth-largest emitter of CO2. What do you think about this?

Do you approve of the government’s pledge for Japan to become carbon neutral by 2050?

Do you consider the government’s pledge for Japan to become carbon neutral by 2050 to be achievable?
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 14:11 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation Para Arena to be Reopened to Paralympians in April [2021年03月18日(Thu)]
The Nippon Foundation Para Arena, seen on the left, was closed about a year ago to house 100 private rooms for COVID-19 patients, and will be reopened to para athletes on April 1 prior to the Paralympic games due to open on August 24. Seen on the right are14 prefabricated houses with 150 beds as well as a large air-conditioned tent for doctors and nurses.

The Nippon Foundation will reopen The Nippon Foundation Para Arena in Tokyo to para athletes on April 1 almost a year after the dedicated para sports gymnasium was converted into a makeshift facility for novel coronavirus patients with mild or no symptoms.

With about six months to go before the Tokyo Paralympic games slated to open on August 24, I also announced at a press conference on February 25 that the foundation will set up a facility in the same compound to conduct free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for para athletes. If officials and staff of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games wish to be tested for COVID-19, we are ready to offer them free PCR testing as well.

In June 2018, we opened the one-story, steel structure gymnasium in Odaiba on Tokyo Bay with 2,989 square meters of floor space designed specifically for boccia, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and goalball. This was one of the few training facilities tailormade for para sports in Japan.

But amid the deepening novel coronavirus pandemic in April 2020, the foundation closed the para arena and built 100 10-square-meter private rooms there to help ease the strain on hospitals overcrowded with COVID-19 patients.

This was part of The Nippon Foundation Disaster Emergency Support Center, which also includes 14 prefabricated buildings with a total of 140 20-square-meter private rooms for patients who are asymptomatic or display only mild symptoms as well as a large air-conditioned tent where doctors and nurses stand by. These were built in the parking lot of the Museum of Maritime Science, operated by our partner organization. Except for the para arena, these facilities will continue to be used by the Tokyo metropolitan government for the capital’s anti-COVID-19 campaign.

I was delighted that our decision to reopen the para arena was welcomed by Paralympians and others, among them Ms. Eri Yamamoto, a para-powerlifter, and Mr. Shinichi Shimakawa, a member of Japan’s wheelchair rugby team.

Ms. Yamamoto said: “I spent half my career training in the para arena since it was built. So I am truly grateful for its reopening. I am determined to train there in preparation for taking part in the Paralympic as the first Japanese female para-powerlifter.”

Mr. Shimakawa said: “Before the para arena was closed last year, we trained there almost every week as there was no other gymnasium available to wheelchair rugby teams. But since it was closed, I had no option but to practice at home. I am full of gratitude for its reopening.”

At the press conference, I also announced that the foundation will operate The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center permanently, dropping our earlier plan to close it after the Beijing Winter Paralympic Games in March 2022.

We opened the support center in 2015 with the aim of promoting the Paralympic movement and helping Japanese para athletes prepare for and compete in the Tokyo Paralympic games.

The office of the Support Center occupies the entire 4th floor of The Nippon Foundation Building (approximately 1,300 square meters), including shared office space now used by 29 para sports leagues free of charge, many of which do not have offices or full-time staff. The support center provides these leagues with organizational and operational support in areas such as accounting and translation / interpretation.

We will make every effort to support the para athletes as an important part of our mission to achieve an inclusive society free from discrimination.

Speaking at a press conference on February 25, 2021, to announce the reopening of The Nippon Foundation Para Arena to para athletes on April 1 after it was closed about a year ago to build makeshift facilities for novel coronavirus patients.

The press conference was held in The Nippon Foundation Para Arena in Odaiba, Tokyo.
The Nippon Foundation, The Economist Group Launch New Initiative to Promote Ocean Health, Create Global Dialogue [2021年03月15日(Mon)]

The Nippon Foundation and The Economist Group, a world-renowned multinational media company headquartered in London, have launched a new three-year initiative to accelerate momentum for improving ocean health and creating global dialogue.

With an initial focus on ocean pollution, the collaboration will seek to address the escalating challenges posed by pollution from plastic debris and, less visibly, pollution from nutrients and chemical contaminants that are damaging ocean life and ecosystems, and in turn human health.

The program will create original research, stimulate dialogue and explore new solutions to the problems posed by pollution in the ocean.

“The Back to Blue initiative brings together two organizations that share a common understanding of the need for evidence-based approaches and solutions to the pressing issues faced by the ocean,” the groups said in announcing the initiative, adding: “The goal is to build on their individual efforts to create a platform from which to accelerate momentum for improving ocean health.”

Speaking at a virtual ceremony to sign a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations at the Economist Group’s eighth annual World Ocean Summit on March 3, I noted that while we are aware of the land-based problems that occur around us, “when it comes to understanding the multifaceted problems of the ocean that covers 70% of the earth surface, I believe that our understanding is still very poor. This is already a threat to human security for every individual on this planet.”

“I am, and have been very concerned whether, if left unattended, mankind would be able to survive for the next 500 to 1000 years into the future,” I said. “For 30 years, I have undertaken various initiatives, with the belief that there will be no survival for mankind without sustainable environmental conservation of the ocean.”  

These initiatives have included nurturing 1,500 ocean professionals from 150 countries, building probably the world’s largest network of ocean research institutes and scientists, engaging in research and taking action with governments to better manage marine litter and marine resources, and collaborating with international organizations and governments towards securing stable order of the oceans, subject to compliance with the law of the sea.

Echoing these sentiments, Mr. Paul Deighton, chairman of the Economist Group, said: “We have also developed our own passion for the ocean. We are more committed than ever to our vision of an ocean in robust health and with a vital economy. The ocean is too big to fail.”

The specific program to be undertaken under the new initiative is currently being developed based on the findings of a Back to Blue global survey, which identified plastic pollution (59.6% of respondents) and chemical pollution (39.1%) as the top two concerns, followed by climate change (31.1%).

The two groups sponsored a collaborative webinar series “The Blue Recovery” in July 2020. It was then that I felt the immense potential that the two organizations can have in creating real positive change toward a sustainable ocean.

I sincerely hope that we will collaborate in thought and in action to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing our ocean and help restore it to health for the next 1,000 years.

The text of my remarks to the virtual signing ceremony on March 3, 2021, follows:

Lord Deighton, and participants of the World Ocean Summit Virtual Week.

The Mother Ocean that covers 70 % of the earth’s surface is silently crying out. I am able to understand how profound this outcry is. I wonder if you, the participants of this event, can hear it too.

We are very much aware of the land-based problems that occur around us.

Great efforts are being made towards their solutions, aided by large amounts of available information. 

However, when it comes to understanding the multifaceted problems of the ocean that, I repeat, covers 70% of the earth surface, I believe that our understanding is still very poor.

This is already a threat to the human security for every individual on this planet.

I am, and have been very concerned whether, if left unattended, mankind would be able to survive for the next 500 to 1000 years into the future.

For 30 years, I have undertaken various initiatives, with the belief that there will be no survival for mankind without sustainable environmental conservation of the ocean. The diverse initiatives include such areas as nurturing 1500 ocean professionals from 150 countries, building probably the world’s largest network of ocean research institutes and scientists, engaging in research and taking action with governments to better manage marine litter and marine resources, and collaborating with international organizations and governments towards securing stable order of the oceans, subject to compliance with the law of the sea.

I am delighted to announce that we, The Nippon Foundation, a long-time contributor toward a sustainable ocean, and The Economist, a trusted media company with a vast global network, unique perspectives, and analytical expertise are launching the “Back to Blue Initiative.”

The Economist and The Nippon Foundation sponsored a collaborative webinar series “The Blue Recovery” last July. It was then, that I felt the immense potential that two organizations can have in creating real positive change towards a sustainable ocean.

Now is the time. Let us collaborate in thought and in action, to tackle the multifaceted ocean issues for our future.

And now is the time. Let us bring the blue ocean back to pass it on to the next 1000 years.

Thank you.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:29 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Why Is Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout So Slow? [2021年03月11日(Thu)]
Why is Japan falling far behind other countries in vaccinating its people against the novel coronavirus? With the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games due to start on July 23 and August 24, respectively, we have every reason to speed up the COVID-19 vaccination process.

Japan only started inoculating its population of 126 million people with Pfizer-BioNTech shots on February 17, months after the vaccine rolled out in other major countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

According to data collected by a team of Oxford University students and staff as of March 8 (see table below), Japan administered only 70,796 vaccine doses, compared with 92.09 million for the United States, 52.52 million for China and 23.52 million for the United Kingdom. Japan even falls far behind such Asian developing countries as Indonesia (4.02 million) and Bangladesh (3.68 million).

The delay was largely because the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare took two months more than many other countries to approve its use as regulators were “deliberately cautious” in giving the green light to the vaccine. 

On February 22, U.S. President Joe Biden honored the more than 500,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in the United States−more deaths than those in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined. But on March 2, he said the United States would have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses for every adult American by the end of May, dramatically accelerating the administration's previous goal of the end of July.

Japan has had much smaller numbers of COVID-19 cases and fatalities than the United States and some other countries. But since late last year, its health system has been almost overwhelmed by the worst wave of infections since the pandemic started about a year ago, with hundreds of new cases still being reported each day.

For now, Japan’s vaccination campaign calls for giving shots to about 4.7 million front-line medical personnel, a process that is anticipated to take several weeks. They will be followed by approximately 36 million people aged 65 or older who will be administered shots, starting on April 12. But no decision has been made as to when to start inoculating about 8.2 million people with underlying health conditions, some 2 million care workers at nursing facilities and the remaining adult population.

Japan’s slow vaccine rollout came amid concern over supply shortages created by the European Union's new controls on vaccine exports and production delays at Pfizer's factory in Belgium.

In his major policy speech before the Diet (Parliament) on January 18, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said “vaccines will be the decisive factor” in our fight against the coronavirus.

I agree. I sincerely hope Japan will do everything possible to accelerate the vaccination process, not only to save as many lives as possible, but also to stage the Olympic and Paralympic games this summer and bring the Japanese economy back on track.

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, as of March 8, 2021

Total number of vaccination doses administered as compiled by “Our World in Data,” a team of Oxford University students and staff. This is counted as a single dose, and may not equal the total number of people vaccinated, depending on the specific dose regime (e.g. people receive multiple doses).

United States 92.09 million
China 52.52 million (Feb 28, 2021)
European Union 42.13 million
United Kingdom 23.52 million (Mar 7, 2021)
India 23.01 million

Brazil 10.95 million
Turkey 10 million
Israel 8.85 million
Germany 7.9 million
Russia 6.67 million

United Arab Emirates 6.29 million
France 5.81 million (Mar 7, 2021)
Italy 5.59 million
Chile 4.95 million
Spain 4.71 million (Mar 7, 2021)

Morocco 4.61 million
Indonesia 4.02 million (Mar 7, 2021)
Poland 4 million
Bangladesh 3.68 million (Mar 7, 2021)
Canada 2.47 million

Japan 70,796

World 312.25 million

Source: Official data collated by Our World in Data – Last updated 9 March, 15:10 (London time), 2021
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 14:18 | OTHERS | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation Starts Free, Regular PCR Tests for Nursing Home Care Workers in Tokyo Metropolitan Area [2021年03月08日(Mon)]
Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on February 25, 2021, to announce the start of free and regular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for caregivers and other essential workers at nursing homes in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

The Nippon Foundation has launched a project to conduct free and regular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the novel coronavirus for caregivers and other essential workers at about 9, 950 nursing homes in Tokyo and three nearby prefectures.

To be covered by the initiative are some 560,000 care workers and other nursing home staff who wish to get tested. The tests will be performed on a regular basis, up to once a week for each person. About 750 nursing homes in the capital will be excluded from the program as the metropolitan government plans to administer PCR tests on their staff.

The foundation started to accept applications on February 24 from nursing facilities in Tokyo for conducting PCR tests on some 5,000 workers per day with the daily total expected to increase to up to 20,000 by the end of March. We will also take applications from care facilities in three neighboring prefectures−Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba.

The new initiative is intended to focus on containing infection clusters, many of which have been reported at long-term nursing homes in Japan. The foundation’s PCR testing program aims at identifying positive COVID-19 cases with mild or no symptoms among nursing home staff and thus preventing them from unknowingly transmitting the coronavirus to the elderly in their care.

Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill or dying if they become infected with the coronavirus, and the congregate nature of long-term care facilities can increase the risk of transmission. For many care workers, the services they provide cannot be suspended without compromising the health and well-being of those they tend.

However, many caregivers were said to be reluctant to undertake PCR tests due mainly to the cost, prompting the foundation to offer them free and regular testing.      

When we receive applications from nursing homes, saliva test kits will be handed over to their representatives and the samples will be analyzed after they are returned to laboratories run by Kinoshita Group, which has conducted PCR tests since December last year. We have dropped our initial plan to set up a testing center on our own for this initiative and decided to rely for the time being on Kinoshita Group for reasons of cost and efficiency.

Anyone who tests positive will be informed and their details reported to their local health center. Family members and others who have been in close contact with them will be tested as well. If our tests identify clusters of COVID-19 infections at nursing homes, the foundation will provide them with financial support for recruiting care workers to replace the affected staff.

For now, the foundation plans to continue the PCR testing through the end of August when Japan is expected to have made considerable progress in vaccinating the population. After ascertaining the situation concerning new COVID-19 cases in Japan and the progress of vaccinations as of July and August, we will decide what to do in September and after.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 18:03 | ENRICHING CULTURE | URL | comment(0)
COVID-19 Pandemic Widens Educational Inequality in Japan: The Nippon Foundation Poll [2021年03月03日(Wed)]
Do you feel there are gaps in your own educational environment compared with those of others?

After most elementary and junior high schools across Japan closed between March 2 and May 31, 2020, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, it was pointed out that educational inequality between high- and low- income households, and between urban and rural districts had been made worse by COVID-19.

To look into how young Japanese perceive this gap, The Nippon Foundation conducted a nationwide online survey on the subject of “educational inequality” for four days from December 1, 2020, covering 1,000 Japanese aged between 17 and 19.

The poll found that over 40% of the respondents (43.4%) said they felt gaps between their own educational environment and those of others, noting they had no place at home where they could concentrate on study (32.0%), their family couldn’t afford to send them to cram schools or allow them to take private lessons (22.6%); and they had no access to online classes (15.0%).

Asked whether they felt inequality in the educational environment had widened as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, there was not a large difference between those who said yes (52.9%) and no (47.1%). But of those who replied yes to the previous question (whether they felt inequality in their own educational environment), more than two thirds (68.0%) said the gap widened due to the pandemic, indicating the impact of COVID-19 was harder on those who were unable to concentrate on study at home or go to cram schools due to economic reasons.

Of those who felt the gaps in the educational environment have widened because of the pandemic, almost half (45.0%) said COVID-19 has affected their future course of action, including 6.3% who said they have given up going to college due to economic difficulties caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

About six in 10 (60.9%) said there was no change in their motivation to study amid the pandemic, while almost one in three (29.8%) said their motivation faltered and less than 10% (9.3%) said it had increased.

The poll also showed that almost half of the respondents (48.9%) said they felt gaps in access to education, pointing out differences in families’ economic support and schools’ ability to teach, and regional differences in educational environment as well as the disparity between home and school regarding the availability of digital equipment.

More than half of Japanese youths said they expect educational inequality to widen further in the future (51.2%), and that this inequality needs to be addressed (54.6%).

Lots of opinions were expressed by the young Japanese surveyed on this issue. Some pointed to the fact there were households with no internet or tablet computers, making it difficult for students to take online classes when schools were closed. Other said there was a clear difference in school education between urban and rural districts, and called for making higher education free of charge and beefing up online classes.

Regarding the fiscal 2020 initial budget that earmarked 5.5 trillion yen for educational and scientific expenses, or 5.4% of the total, more than six in 10 (62.4%) said it was too small.

According to the latest figures compiled by the Finance Ministry earlier in February, Japan’s national debt (the central and local governments’ combined) totaled 1,200 trillion yen (about US$11.2 trillion), with the COVID-19 pandemic seen likely to further deteriorate public finances.

The latest poll seemed to show clearly just how the pandemic affects every aspect of society, including education.

Do you feel that gaps exist in access to education?

Do you feel that gaps in access to education need to be corrected?
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 17:44 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)