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Yohei Sasakawa
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The Nippon Foundation, DeepStar Sign MoU to Promote Decarbonization in Offshore Oil, Natural Gas Development [2021年12月24日(Fri)]

At a virtual ceremony to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between The Nippon Foundation and DeepStar on December 6, 2021. From left: the author, Mr. Mitsuyuki Unno, executive director of the foundation, and Mr. Shakir Shamshy and Mr. Pat Toomey, director and manager, respectively, of DeepStar.

The Nippon Foundation and the international offshore technology development consortium DeepStar have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a joint research and development program.

The signing took place between Mr. Mitsuyuki Unno, executive director of The Nippon Foundation, and Mr. Shakir Shamshy, director of DeepStar, in the presence of the author and Mr. Pat Toomey, manager of the consortium, at a virtual ceremony on December 6.

With a budget of up to $10 million through 2026, the two parties will jointly work to promote decarbonization in the field of offshore oil and natural gas, with a focus on renewable energy and the environment.

DeepStar is an international offshore technology development consortium comprising such “supermajors” as Chevron (U.S.) and Shell (U.K., the Netherlands) and other “upstream” oil companies around the world that are engaged in the exploration, development and production of offshore oil and natural gas around the world as well as companies, universities, research institutes and other organizations that provide products and services to these upstream companies.

The Nippon Foundation and DeepStar have been developing new technologies related to automation and efficiency in offshore oil and gas development under the joint program launched in 2018.

With the signing of the new MoU, the two parties will aim to strengthen their collaboration by consolidating industry, technology and expertise, with a focus on improving the environment, renewable energy and safety, in response to heightened global awareness of carbon neutrality and other environmental issues.

The foundation will support the activities of Japanese companies and DeepStar will provide Japanese firms with expertise and testing fields for offshore development.

The joint research and development will be carried out as per one of the following seven development themes:

  • Geothermal generation by using high temperature in preserver (renewable energy)
  • Wind power/Ocean current power generation to supply offshore oil & gas production facilities (renewable energy)
  • Cost reduction technology for flammable gas removal and reinjection at production facilities (global warming)
  • Establishment of oil spill drift forecast simulation method by using local ocean current monitoring by aerial drone (marine environment)
  • Hydrogen-related technologies (global warming)
  • Safety-related technologies including NUF (normally unattended facilities) and robotics (the safety of the working environment)
  • Water treatment-related technologies (marine environment)

At the ceremony, Mr. Toomey said this partnership will “address many of the technology needs currently being faced by offshore operators,” adding that Japanese companies will help develop new technologies and capabilities to improve offshore safety, environmental performance, reliability and efficiency.

In my remarks, I said that the global movement toward carbon neutrality and decarbonization, such as the use of renewable energy and hydrogen, has been accelerating day by day, adding: “I suggest we become leaders in the future Japanese and the global offshore development market focusing on the environment by creating new innovations with DeepStar.”

In offshore development, it is vital to develop new technologies, such as reducing environmental impact while generating marine energy power or by backfilling CO2 to the seabed, and make them ready for commercialization by 2026. With the latest MoU, we were taking our first step to achieve this objective.

Diagram showing structure of the MoU between The Nippon Foundation and DeepStar.

The text of my remarks at the signing ceremony can be seen here.


This is my last blog for 2021.
Wishing you peace, love and joy from The Nippon Foundation.
Thank you for your continued support and friendship.
We look forward to working with you in 2022 and beyond.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:23 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Honored to Talk with Nobel Laureate Dr. Yunus About Post-COVID-19 World [2021年12月21日(Tue)]
I join an online talk session with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus (right above) on December 2, 2021, to discuss our vision for the world in a post-COVID-19 era.

It was a great honor and pleasure for me to participate in an online talk session with Nobel laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus to discuss our vision for the world in a post-COVID-19 era, focusing on education.

Dr. Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist and civil society leader, was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize with Grameen Bank, a microfinance organization he founded in 1983 to provide loans to poor people who cannot access mainstream banks. This initiative has since inspired similar programs worldwide.

In the December 2 talk session, he noted that as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the world economy has “stopped functioning and collapsed” with billions of people falling below the poverty line across the world.

However, he insisted that this has given us a “great opportunity to build a new train to a new destination”, to redesign the whole capitalist system based on his vision of a new economy of “three zeros: zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero CO2 emissions.”

Even before COVID-19, Dr. Yunus said, the capitalist engine in its current form has inevitably led to rampant inequality, massive unemployment and environmental destruction. Only about 1% of the world’s population owns 99% of the global wealth, a situation that has been exacerbated by COVID-19. This is “a ticking time bomb,” he said, warning: “Before it’s too late, we should redesign the machine.”

Toward this goal, Dr. Yunus called for a global support network to help young entrepreneurs launch their start-ups. He invited young people to join his movement by becoming entrepreneurs, to be a “pilot of this new spacecraft” and start innovative social businesses designed to serve human needs rather than accumulate wealth. “We can do that. We should not give up.”

In my remarks to the session, which I joined at his invitation, I supported his philosophy of “three zeros,” noting that his comments made me believe that the world really needs him as he is one of the few people to think of the post-COVID era in a positive way. Especially, I fully agreed with him when he stated that young people should take the lead in innovating society, adding: “Your prescient presentation gives people of the world courage, hope and passion.”

In connection with the social businesses he mentioned, I stated that The Nippon Foundation has joined the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Development Bank of Japan in forming an organization to provide poor women in Asia with unsecured loans for starting up businesses. “It may be a bit different from what Dr. Yunus is doing, but the number of loans giving Asian women ways to make a living is increasing at an extraordinary pace," I said.

I also told the session that the foundation has joined “The Valuable 500” as a Global Impact Partner by providing support totaling $5 million over the next three years to the global network of CEOs of 500 companies committed to including persons with disabilities in business through access to jobs, products and services.

The Valuable 500 membership includes global companies from 36 countries, among them Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, BBC, BP, Daimler, P&G, Unilever, Sony and Softbank.

There are more than 1.2 billion persons with disabilities in the world, who have talent, passion and ability, but many of them are excluded from society because of their disabilities and not having the opportunity to work, I stated.

Referring to the disparities in wealth Dr. Yunus mentioned, I am asking the CEOs of those global companies if it is OK to leave the world’s inequality unattended. “What we are trying to do is to solve the CEOs’ poorness of mind,” I added.

I also noted that an increasing number of young Japanese have come to believe that they can make their life meaningful by using what they learn through education for the sake of those in need.

As Dr. Yunus said, it is young people who can challenge and change the world. I am ready to work with him, Valuable 500 CEOs and others to encourage and support the young across the globe to become entrepreneurs who are not just in it for themselves, but who help each other in a spirit of altruism in a post-COVID-19 era.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:54 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
【Yohei Sasakawa Around the World】 (9) Visit to “Leprosy Island” in Palau in 2010 [2021年12月16日(Thu)]
I would like to share with you a video taken during my visit to the Republic of Palau in November 2010 as chairman of The Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.

Palau is an island country surrounded by beautiful ocean and coral reef in the western Pacific, with a population of approximately 20,000 people.

I first visited the Belau National Hospital where I met with all six persons diagnosed with leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, in the country in the two preceding years, including a 17-year-old girl.

I learned that the health administration was functioning well. There were amply supplies of multidrug therapy (MDT) and all six had been started on treatment at an early stage of the disease and showed no signs of deformity.

I then took a small boat to Ngerur Island, known locally as “Raibyo-shima,” or “leprosy island” in Japanese. I searched for signs of where people might once have lived, but was not able to find any. Only later would I learn that the remains of some buildings as well as some graves were to be found on the other side of the island.

Former health minister and then foreign minister, Mr. Victor Yano, showed me a 60-page document that explained how when Palau was under Japanese rule in the 1930’s, persons affected by leprosy were isolated on the island, earning it the name “Raibyo-shima.”

I take every opportunity to visit such locations and see for myself how persons affected by leprosy were treated in the past, as I feel a duty to ensure that this history is not forgotten.

In 2019, three new cases of leprosy were detected in Palau. (No data is available for 2020.)

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 17:03 | LEPROSY | URL | comment(0)
Welcoming Japan’s Decision to Conduct Free COVID-19 PCR Tests for Those Without Symptoms [2021年12月14日(Tue)]
Just when the number of novel coronavirus cases in Japan had shown a sizeable decline, we are now starting to see cases of the new Omicron that was first reported in South Africa on November 24 and then designated a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO) two days later.

Pledging to act quickly to keep out Omicron, believed to be the most contagious variant so far, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced his decision on November 29 to ban all incoming foreign travelers to the country for one month.

On the following day, however, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) confirmed the nation’s first case of the Omicron variant when a diplomat from Namibia, a southwestern African country, in his 30s was found to be infected with the highly mutated strain. The man, who was fully vaccinated, had no symptoms when he arrived at Narita International Airport east of Tokyo on November 28, but developed a fever the next day.

As of December 13, MHLW has detected a total of 17 cases of the Omicron variant, including two passengers on the same flight as the Namibian diplomat. They all arrived in Japan between late November and early December from countries including the United States, Mozambique, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in addition to Namibia.

Other passengers on the same flights as the infected individuals are being regarded as having had close contact with them and are required to quarantine at designated facilities for 14 days following their arrival.

WHO has warned the Omicron variant, which has been confirmed in many parts of the world now, could be more transmissible than the previous strains of the virus like the Delta variant and able to evade immunity provided by vaccines.

The Japanese government has bolstered the nation’s precautions to prepare for a possible sixth wave of COVID-19 prior to the festive season. I sincerely hope that Japan will succeed in preventing the Omicron variant from spreading in the country.

In this connection, the government has finally decided to set aside some 300 billion yen (about $2,640 million) in the proposed supplementary budget now before the Diet (Parliament) for administering free COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests targeting people with no symptoms and who are medically unable to receive the vaccine.

According to the October 2 issue of the Nikkei Shimbun, the number of COVID-19 PCR tests per 1,000 people in September this year came to about 40 in Australia, 15 in the United Kingdom and 10 in Singapore compared with only 0.8 in Japan.

From February 24 to November 30, The Nippon Foundation offered free and regular PCR tests to caregivers and other essential workers at nursing homes for the elderly in Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures. This was part of our campaign to help the government combat the pandemic. Under the project, a total of 3,113,641 tests were administered. Of the total, 386 persons tested positive.

As I noted in my previous posts on September 10 and October 29, the governments of Tokyo and the three other prefectures were not enthusiastic about encouraging caregivers to receive the free tests as this might have upset those who do business from testing.

So, I commend the government’s decision to finance the free PCR tests for those without symptoms as an important step forward in our fight against the pandemic. This is expected to go a long way in identifying positive COVID-19 cases with mild or no symptoms, thus preventing them from unknowingly transmitting the coronavirus to others.

Now that we have seen “breakthrough infections” hitting those who were fully vaccinated, I cannot agree more with Mr. Shunsuke Ushigome of the Nikkei when he saluted the countries that have introduced massive free COVID-19 testing combined with booster shots as a key to winning the fight against the coronavirus.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 13:57 | ENHANCING COMMUNITIES | URL | comment(0)
Deepest Gratitude for 161.8 Million Yen Anonymous Donations [2021年12月09日(Thu)]
Wads of 10,000-yen banknotes totaling about 47.8 million yen sent to The Nippon Foundation by an anonymous donor on October 28, 2021 and a cardboard box that contained the money.

On October 28, a cardboard box was delivered to our office from an anonymous sender via a parcel delivery service. It was addressed to me with the invoice indicating the box contained books.

But when my secretary opened the box, we were stunned to discover it was full of 10,000 yen notes, which later turned out to total 47,765,000 yen (about $420,000).

A brief handwritten letter only said: “Please use the money for disadvantaged children overseas.”

When I tried to call the donor to thank him or her, the number shown on the invoice turned out to have been disconnected. I then sent a letter of thanks to an address indicated on the box, but it couldn’t be delivered and was returned to me.

Then on November 22, two cardboard boxes were delivered to me from someone with the same address and telephone number as before. This time, they contained 114,011,000 yen (about just over $1 million), bringing the total amount of anonymous donations to 161,776,000 yen (about $1.4 million).

It is truly unfortunate that I was not able to convey my gratitude to the donor and my resolve to use the money responsibly for the purpose as specified in the letter.

I hope the donor reads my blog, either in Japanese or English, and grasps how grateful I am.

The latest donations followed a similarly hefty anonymous contribution worth 124,110,000 yen (about $1.1 million) sent to me on January 6, 2020, two days before my 81st birthday.

In recent years, we have seen a substantial increase in bequest donations and contributions from large business corporations to the foundation. I take this as an indication of the growing understanding among people that The Nippon Foundation uses all the money it receives for charitable activities as requested by donors with indirect costs being borne by us. Some international organizations spend more than 20% of donations they receive on overheads.

I would like to take this opportunity to renew our determination to honor the wishes of donors without wasting a yen, while cherishing transparency and accountability, based upon years of wide-ranging social activities both at home and abroad.

The second donation, amounting to about 114 million yen presumably from the same anonymous sender, reaches the foundation on November 22, 2021.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 14:18 | ENHANCING COMMUNITIES | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation Awarded for Helping Kumamoto Prefecture Recover from Earthquakes, Floods [2021年12月07日(Tue)]
At a ceremony on November 4, 2021, I receive on behalf of The Nippon Foundation a special distinguished service award certificate from Governor Ikuo Kabashima (right) of Kumamoto Prefecture for our contribution to the prefecture’s recovery from strong earthquakes and massive floods.

I was honored to accept on behalf of The Nippon Foundation a special distinguished service award conferred on us by Kumamoto Prefecture for our contribution to the southwestern Japanese prefecture’s recovery from a series of strong earthquakes in 2016 and the massive floods and landslides caused by torrential rains last year.    

For many years, the foundation has supported disaster response and recovery operations in different parts of the country, including following the 1995 Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. But this was the first time that it has been bestowed with such a distinguished award by a prefectural government.

At a ceremony held on November 4 in the prefectural government building, I received the award certificate from Governor Ikuo Kabashima.

The governor expressed his deep appreciation for the foundation’s quick and sizable assistance. He noted it was only three days after the main shock hit the prefecture on April 16, 2016 that I announced the foundation’s support amounting to over 9.3 billion yen (about $79.3 million). “Your quick and very reassuring message greatly encouraged citizens of the prefecture to work for reconstruction of the affected areas,” he stated.

The foundation’s emergency relief included installing temporary toilets at evacuation centers, support for activities by NGOs and volunteer organizations, and payment of consolation and condolence monies to families with damaged homes or with missing or dead loved ones.

As long-term assistance, we provided the prefecture 3 billion yen (about $26.5 million) to repair the severely damaged Kumamoto Castle, a regional symbol and source of pride for Kumamoto residents. In all, the foundation’s support for Kumamoto’s recovery totaled 12.7 billion yen (about $112.4 million).

But in July last year, when the earthquake recovery efforts were on track, the prefecture was hit by another calamity−massive floods and landslides unleashed by torrential rains.

Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, volunteers were not allowed to come to Kumamoto from outside prefectures, resulting in an acute lack of rescue and recovery workers.

At the governor’s request, The Nippon Foundation dispatched a team of personnel with specialist skills and expertise, including people licensed to operate heavy equipment, to conduct cleanup and recovery operations in flood-ravaged areas. They had all undergone polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the novel coronavirus at the foundation’s expense.

In my remarks at the ceremony, I thanked the governor and officials as well as citizens of the prefecture for the special honor given to the foundation.

I told them that Kumamoto’s recovery from first earthquakes and then floods in about five years had been remarkable. Under the outstanding leadership of Governor Kabashima, Kumamoto citizens demonstrated solidarity in working toward a future-oriented prefecture, I said, adding I am confident this could be a model case for rebuilding a community hit by a major disaster.

Natural disasters should be dealt with by the central and local governments, which provide “public help” and by citizens in the form of “self-help,” I said. But if that’s not enough, it becomes important to make better use of “mutual help” offered by the private sector, including The Nippon Foundation.

After the ceremony, Governor Kabashima gave me a tour of Kumamoto Castle, briefing me on every stage of the five-year repair project.

On November 5, I went to Kumamoto City Hall to receive from Mayor Kazufumi Onishi a certificate of appreciation for The Nippon Foundation’s support for the city’s disaster response and recovery operations since 2016.

Before returning to Tokyo, I visited the Shin (New)-Aso Bridge, which was completed in March this year to replace the Great Aso Bridge that collapsed due to the main quake on April 16, 2016.

We are joined by Kumamon, a beloved mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, at the ceremony on November 4, 2021.

Responding to reporters’ questions after the ceremony.

Accompanied by Governor Ikuo Kabashima of Kumamoto Prefecture, I visit Kumamoto Castle that was restored in April 2021 or five years after it was heavily damaged by the 2016 earthquakes.

With Kumamoto Mayor Kazufumi Onishi (left) on November 5, 2021, to receive a certificate of appreciation for The Nippon Foundation’s contribution to the city’s recovery from the earthquakes and floods.

On November 5, 2021, I visit the Shin (New)-Aso Bridge which was completed in March this year in place of the Great Aso Bridge that collapsed in the main shock of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:07 | ENHANCING COMMUNITIES | URL | comment(0)
Congratulations on the 35th Anniversary of Sasakawa Africa Association [2021年12月01日(Wed)]
The Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) is celebrating its 35th anniversary by holding special ceremonies in its four focus countries−Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Uganda−in November and December.

In a video message I recorded for the first of those functions on November 1, I expressed my sincere respect for SAA’s efforts over 35 years to improve the livelihood of millions of smallholder farmers across the continent struggling to avoid the poverty trap. “No other organization has consistently provided agricultural assistance in various parts of Africa for so long as SAA.”

SAA was established in 1986 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, and my late father Ryoichi Sasakawa, the first chairman of The Nippon Foundation, in the wake of the devastating famine that ravaged the Horn of Africa in 1984-85.

Over the years, SAA has worked in 15 countries across the continent with the support of The Nippon Foundation. Currently, it has country offices in the four focus countries with a Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE) program also operating in seven additional countries to provide leadership for building human resource capacity in agricultural extension.

As a core donor, the foundation has provided over US$300 million in support of its programs−an unprecedented figure from a donor to a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) on a continuous basis, according to SAA’s 2020 annual report released in July this year.

In my message, I also welcomed a new Strategic Plan (2021-2025) SAA has drawn up to better address the changing trends in agriculture, including the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on food systems and SAA’s activities, with travel to and between African countries seriously restricted.

The limitations imposed by COVID-19 have affected most of SAA’s activities along the crop value chain, including access to extension and advisory services, input and output markets, financial services and labor availability as well as learning activities at universities and agricultural colleges under SAFE.

In developing the strategy, which was approved by the SAA board and The Nippon Foundation, consultations involving SAA staff, partners and stakeholders “identified ways in which SAA could realign its operations to solve the issues facing smallholder farmers today,” the annual report said.

The strategy calls for realizing its aspiration for a resilient and sustainable food system by, among other things, working with African smallholder farmers to increase their food, nutrition, and income security by catalyzing technological innovation in agriculture and to attain market-oriented agriculture for ensuring farming as a business.

I told the ceremony participants it is a wonderful new strategy that fully reflects SAA’s experience, wisdom, and passion, but there will always be unexpected difficulties. It was at such times, I said, that we need to show our resolve, as we have done in the past, and overcome them.

"I strongly hope that you will continue to cooperate across countries and organizations for the future of agriculture in Africa,” I said. “If we can join forces and work together, we can make the lives of people in Africa more prosperous and bring about a more hopeful Africa.”

My video message is available at The Nippon Foundation YouTube.

SAA’s annual report 2020 can be seen here.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:20 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)