Love Pocket Fund to Donate 30 Million Yen to Help Displaced Ukrainians Come to Japan [2022年04月28日（Thu）]
Love Pocket Fund, established by The Nippon Foundation and three former members of the iconic boy band SMAP−Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Shingo Katori−has decided to donate 30 million yen (about $234,000) to help some 100 displaced Ukrainians come to Japan.
This is part of the 5.08 billion yen (about $39.7 million) in humanitarian assistance that the foundation has pledged to help Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of their homeland.
Under the plan announced on April 21, Love Pocket Fund will provide those who have already arrived in Japan or booked air tickets with up to 300,000 yen (about $2,340) each to cover their travel expenses.
Those who have yet to book their flights will be given e-tickets and money to cover their travel costs in Japan. If necessary, the foundation will make arrangements for domestic flights and Shinkansen (bullet train) tickets.
On April 20, The Nippon Foundation Humanitarian Assistance Team for People Displaced from Ukraine started to accept applications for support with the tentative deadline set at March 31, 2023. A Ukrainian resident of Japan who now works for the foundation will handle inquiries via email and telephone in Ukrainian.
There are almost 1,900 Ukrainian residents of Japan and nearly 1,000 of their family members, friends and acquaintances are said to be seeking to join them.
Mr. Goro Inagaki commented: “Looking at tragic scenes in Ukraine every day, we would like to begin now by doing what we can for them together with you.” Mr. Tsuyoshi Kusanagi said: “I would be delighted if our warm feelings would help those in difficult situations. I pray for peace,” while Mr. Shingo Katori said: “We are sending your love and support to heartbroken people displaced from Ukraine.”
Love Pocket Fund was established in April 2020 by The Nippon Foundation and the trio with an initial aim of supporting doctors, nurses, healthcare staff and volunteers working on the front lines battling the novel coronavirus.
Out of the total donations of 490,410,785 yen (about $3.8 million) the fund has collected as of March 28, 2022, it has supported 43 organizations and hospitals across the nation mainly in their fight against the coronavirus. It stopped accepting applications for COVID-19 support at the end of March 2022.
Teaming Up with Sazae-san, Main Character in World’s Longest-running Cartoon Show, to Promote the Ocean and Japan Project [2022年04月25日（Mon）]
Appointing Sazae-san (right), the main character in the world’s longest-running cartoon show, as a special partner to promote the Ocean and Japan Project of The Nippon Foundation at a press conference on March 22, 2022.
The Nippon Foundation and Fuji Television Network Inc. have agreed to collaborate to feature Sazae-san, the main character in the world’s longest-running cartoon show, in promoting the foundation’s Umi-to-Nippon Project (The Ocean and Japan Project).
The project, launched in 2017, aims to renew the bonds between Japanese people, especially children and young people, with the ocean, and to pass on clean and beautiful oceans to the next generation.
Aired every Sunday by Fuji TV since 1969, the “Sazae-san” show features the everyday ups and downs of suburban Japanese housewife Ms. Sazae Isono and her extended family, and was acknowledged by Guinness World Records in 2013 as the longest-running animated series. Sazae-san is a household name among Japanese of all ages.
The joint undertaking with Sazae-san announced at a press conference on March 22 consists of the following three pillars.
1) For six months starting on April 3, the opening animation of the weekly Sazae-san show features sea resorts and scenic spots all over Japan.
2) Fuji TV’s 27-station national network will broadcast a special program possibly in mid-September in which Sazae-san and her family will help viewers unravel questions regarding the ocean.
3) Sazae-san will join a series of events to be held all over Japan under the Ocean and Japan Project to give participants, especially children, easy-to-understand lectures on ocean-related issues. Under the project, the foundation sponsors more than 3,500 events, centering on beach cleanup campaigns, in all the 47 prefectures across Japan every year with about 2.5 million people attending.
The collaboration with Sazae-san under the Ocean and Japan Project was first proposed by Mr. Junji Kawaguchi, director of the Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum, which displays art collected by Ms. Machiko Hasegawa, the late author of the Sazae-san manga series.
“I was truly honored and privileged by the offer from Japan’s most recognized fictional character to work with us for raising awareness of ocean issues,” I told the press conference, adding one poll indicated that 97% of Japanese people recognize Sazae-san, probably a much higher figure than those who know the name of our prime minister.
Most of the characters appearing in the Sazae-san series are named after something related to the sea, like Sazae (turban shell), her father Namihei (wave), mother Fune (boat), husband Masuo (trout), brother Katsuo (bonito), and sister Wakame (a brown seaweed native to the coast of Japan).
I went on to say that the “mother ocean”, which covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, is silently crying out, facing serious multi-faceted problems such as rising sea levels due to climate change, acidification, contamination by chemicals, unregulated overfishing and ocean plastic debris.
For 30 years, I have undertaken various initiatives with the belief that there will be no survival for humankind without sustainable environmental conservation of the ocean.
Unfortunately, a survey carried out by the foundation showed that about 40% of children in Japan don’t feel familiar with the ocean and that some 40% of teenagers have never been to the beach.
I sincerely hope that the joint initiative with Sazae-san will help make Japanese, especially children and young people, like the sea and think about what they can do to help address the issues that the ocean faces.
At a press conference on March 22, 2022, to appoint Sazae-san to promote the Ocean and Japan Project. From left, Ms. Nagisa Watanabe, emcee; the author; Mr. Junji Kawaguchi, director of the Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum; Sazae-san; Mr. Ryunosuke Endo, vice chairman of Fuji TV, and Yuichi Kawano, president of Television Nishinippon Corp.
Sazae-san, the main character in the world’s longest-running cartoon show, introduces herself as a special partner to promote the Ocean and Japan Project of The Nippon Foundation.
Sazae-san (far left) and her family.
at 21:35 | OCEAN
Addressing Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in Nordic Countries [2022年04月22日（Fri）]
Participating in the Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in the Nordic Countries, “Japan and Japanese Studies in the 21st Century,” hosted by Copenhagen Business School of Denmark on March 24, 2022.
In step with China’s rapid economic growth, Chinese studies have spread fast in many countries, thanks largely to Confucius Institutes, the Chinese language and culture centers partially financed by the Beijing government. Some of these have since been closed amid growing concern that they may be what some critics have called a “propaganda tool” of China. Be that as it may, there is no denying they have helped to promote Chinese language studies.
In comparison, Japanese studies have lagged behind, despite the interest in Japan among young people created by its pop culture and the worldwide popularity of manga and anime.
To help promote Japanese studies, The Nippon Foundation and its partner organization, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, have been providing support to 13 prestigious universities in the United Kingdom since 2009.
For Nordic countries, The Nippon Foundation and the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation launched a new grant program in April 2018, designed to support the development of contemporary Japanese Studies in five Nordic countries−Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
Japanese studies programs at institutions of higher learning in the Scandinavian countries have been assuming an important role in cultivating experts on various aspects of Japan. They have also been playing key roles in advancing the understanding of Japanese culture and society in these countries.
However, budget constraints have meant that departments and institutes offering Japanese studies have not been able to expand into new areas of teaching and research on Japan, as desired. The grant program offers the possibility of strengthening and enhancing the provision of contemporary Japanese studies in the Nordic countries.
The grant program operates for a period of five years from April 2019. It consists of two parts: 1) the establishment of lectureships in contemporary Japanese studies, and 2) the provision of research grants for PhD candidates in contemporary Japanese studies.
On March 24, Copenhagen Business School hosted an online Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in the Nordic Countries “Japan and Japanese Studies in the 21st Century.”
The event, which I had the privilege of addressing, was attended by Dr. Elisabeth Nilsson, Chairperson of the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation, Professor Soren Hvidkjrar, Dean of Copenhagen Business School, and Japanese Ambassador to Denmark Manabu Miyagawa as well as Japanese studies lecturers and fellows in the Nordic countries.
“It is my great pleasure to offer support to you who have a strong desire to engage in research on Japan,” I told the participants, adding that The Nippon Foundation’s scholarship as well as our human resource development programs are not limited to funding research and studies but provide opportunities for life-long exchange.
“For this, we already have a network linking more than 30,000 (Sasakawa) fellows all over the world. I hope you too will make good use of this network.”
I sincerely hope that the researchers enjoy their studies, find much of interest in Japan’s culture and traditions, and serve as a bridge in further strengthening ties between the Nordic countries and Japan.
The Nordic universities we support under the program follow:
Copenhagen Business School
University of Copenhagen
University of Helsinki
University of Turku
University of Iceland
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
University of Bergen
European Institute of Japanese Studies, Stockholm School of Economics
The text of my online message to the Conference on Contemporary Japanese Studies in the Nordic Countries “Japan and Japanese Studies in the 21st Century” on March 24 can be seen here.
Participating in Cleanup Rally with Okayama Governor, Local Residents [2022年04月19日（Tue）]
The author (left) and Okayama Governor Ryuta Ibaragi collecting trash on March 23, 2022, as part of the “Setouchi Oceans X” project launched by The Nippon Foundation and four prefectures that encircle the Seto Inland Sea in western Japan aimed at achieving “zero marine waste.”
I have lived by the conviction that my “battlefield” is where the problems lie as that is where solutions can be found. I can never solve a problem by sitting in a comfortable air-conditioned office reading reports from my staff.
With that in mind, I took a 6 a.m. Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo Station on March 23, arriving in Okayama in western Japan after a 3-hour-and-9-minute journey. I then joined Governor Ryuta Ibaragi of Okayama Prefecture and about 100 local volunteers and residents, including some eye-catching cosplayers committed to cleaning the oceans, for a rally to collect trash on a small island near the Sasagase River estuary.
I was shocked by the large amount of plastic and other waste washed up on the riverbank in an area that is hard for local residents to access.
The event was part of “Setouchi Oceans X,” a five-year project launched in December 2020 by The Nippon Foundation together with Okayama and three other prefectures that encircle the Seto Inland Sea aimed at achieving “zero marine waste.”
Governor Ibaragi told the participants: “No resident in the prefecture wants to see this awful pile of garbage. Let’s make it a rule not to dump trash and collect it if we find it.”
I followed up with an appeal of my own: “If each one of us stops dumping trash, we can make the Seto Inland Sea a model for ocean cleanup campaigns in the rest of the world. Dreaming of that day, let’s do everything we can.”
At the event, the participants cleaned up some 1,500 square meters of riverbank and collected about 10 tons of trash.
According to the foundation’s estimate, 4,500 tons of waste end up in the semi-enclosed Seto Inland Sea annually, of which only 1,400 tons are currently being collected. The waste accumulated on the seabed is threatening the health of crustaceans, fish, seabirds, and many other ocean species.
The Setouchi Oceans X project aims to slash the amount of marine debris in the sea to “infinitely close to zero” by reducing trash inflow by some 70% and increasing trash collection by a little over 10% over the next five years.
Inland seas such as the Seto Inland Sea typically have a relatively small inflow of marine litter from outside oceans. If we go all out in trying to reduce marine litter to almost zero in the Inland Sea, we will be able to see what we want to achieve−“zero marine waste.” The foundation will cover the cost of the project, totaling 1.5 billion yen (about $11.9 million).
It is estimated that most of the marine plastic waste comes from land-based sources and that almost all of it is carried to the ocean by rivers.
We will keep appealing to people not to dump garbage, while analyzing the results of the day’s cleanup drive to explore ways to effectively collect garbage washed up on shore to reduce trash inflows into the ocean.
Speaking at the start of the rally to collect trash on a small island near the Sasagase River estuary in Okayama on March 23, 2022.
The rally is joined by Governor Ryuta Ibaragi of Okayama Prefecture and about 100 local volunteers and residents, including some cosplayers.
I tell the participants: “If each one of us stops dumping garbage, we can make the Seto Inland Sea a model for cleanup campaigns in the rest of the world.”
A large quantity of plastic bottles and other waste seen washed up on the shore of a small island near the mouth of the Sasagase River in Okayama.
Participants collect about 10 tons of trash during the rally.
The author (far right) with Okayama Governor Ryuta Ibaragi speaking to the media.
at 09:55 | OCEAN
Japanese Youths Found Least Optimistic About Future of Their Country: 6-Nation Survey [2022年04月15日（Fri）]
Percentage of respondents replying that their country’s future would “get better.”
The Nippon Foundation conducted an “Awareness Survey of Society and Country” from January 26 to February 8, 2022, covering 1,000 people aged between 17 and 19 in each of six countries: China, India, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The online poll followed a similar survey the foundation conducted in nine countries in late 2019. As in the previous survey, the latest poll showed that in virtually all areas, young people in Japan ranked last behind their peers in the five other countries in terms of their expectations for the future of their country.
Asked whether they believe their country will “get better” in the future, only a little more than one in 10 in Japan (13.9%) responded “yes,” falling way behind those in China (95.7%), India (83.1%), the United Kingdom (39.1%), the United States (36.1%) and South Korea (33.8%).
Regarding whether they think the competitiveness of their country will be stronger in 10 years, a mere 10.9% answered in the affirmative, compared with those in China (89.7%), India (65.6%), South Korea (37.7%), the United Kingdom (34.3%) and the United States (27.4%).
The survey also asked the respondents whether they expect their country will be able to exert leadership in international society. Only one in five in Japan (22.8%) responded “yes,” again lagging far behind China (86.0%), India (79.7%), the United States (61.5%), the United Kingdom (56.2%) and South Korea (53.3%).
The poll was conducted about two months before Japan lowered the legal age of adulthood from 20 to 18, effective on April 1. It had been set at 20 for more than 140 years.
On the question of whether they considered themselves to be adults, about one in four in Japan (27.3%) said “yes,” as compared to those in the United Kingdom (85.9%), the United States (85.7%), India (83.7%), China (71.0%) and South Korea (46.7%).
Queried whether they thought themselves to be responsible members of society, about half of Japanese (48.4%) said they did, still well below young people in India (82.8%), the United Kingdom (79.9%), China (77.1%), the United States (77.1%) and South Korea (65.7%).
About whether they believed their actions could change their country and society, roughly one fourth of Japanese (26.9%) responded affirmatively, compared with India (78.9%), China (70.9%), South Korea (61.5%), the United States (58.5%) and the United Kingdom (50.6%).
Concerning changes in attitude toward social participation since the novel coronavirus pandemic, the results indicated a greater desire to play a role in society compared with pre-pandemic days. Roughly one in five Japanese respondents (18.7%) said they wanted to do something useful for their country and society, although this was far less than the one in two Chinese (53.9%) and one in two Indians (51.1%), with the figures for the other countries somewhere in between−32.2% for the United States, 28.2% for South Korea and 24.2% for the United Kingdom.
Overall, the latest survey found again that young people in Japan expressed more anxiety and a sense of helplessness about the future to a degree not seen in their counterparts in the other countries.
I sincerely hope that the results of the poll will encourage the government and schools in Japan to press ahead with political, social and educational reforms with a view to helping young adults and people approaching adulthood find ways to foster optimism about the future.
Percentage of respondents replying “yes” to statements related to awareness of social participation.
Percentage of respondents replying “yes” to statements regarding their awareness of political participation.
Supported by The Nippon Foundation, Multinational Team to Survey Seabed Around Tonga Volcano After January Eruption [2022年04月11日（Mon）]
Participating in an online press conference on April 1, 2022, to announce The Nippon Foundation’s decision to partner with New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) to survey the seabed around the undersea volcano in Tonga after the devastating eruption in January.
The Nippon Foundation and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) have decided to survey the seabed around the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha'apai volcano in the South Pacific island kingdom of Tonga after the devastating eruption in January.
The Nippon Foundation-NIWA Tonga Eruption Seabed Mapping Project (TESMaP) is also supported by The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, which aims to map the entirety of the world’s ocean floor by 2030.
The eruption of the underwater Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano on January 15 is thought to be the biggest volcanic activity recorded since Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991.
The tsunami generated by the eruption destroyed over 600 structures, including at least 300 residential houses, displacing 1,525 persons and causing four deaths, according to the Tonga government. It also severed the fiber optic undersea cables connecting Tonga to the world. The direct economic impact of the eruption is estimated by the World Bank to be over $90 million.
Mr. Rob Murdoch, General Manager - Science/Deputy Chief Executive of NIWA, said at an online media conference on April 1 that the aim of the project was to map the undersea changes to the shape of the volcano, the spread of sediment, and determine the impact on sea life.
Welcoming the formation of the multinational survey team, I noted this research is vital to help protect people from similar natural disasters in the future.
“We hope that this work will help researchers and governments understand and mitigate the risk of future eruptions, which will be of particular benefit to countries that lie within proximity of these threatening natural wonders, like Japan and New Zealand.”
The TESMaP project, the first survey of the seabed around the volcano since the catastrophic eruption, will take place in two parts and cover about 8,000 square kilometers of the seafloor and collect video images of the eruption’s impact.
In mid-April, NIWA is beginning a month-long investigation around the volcano using its research vessel Tangaroa and deploying a multitude of instruments to measure water properties and to retrieve samples from the seafloor.
In the second part, the 12-meter-long USV (uncrewed surface vessel) Maxlimer developed by SEA-KIT International of Essex, England, will spend an additional month directly on top of Hunga-Tonga's submerged opening, or caldera, in coordination with Seabed 2030, for mapping its current shape.
It will also lower cameras and instruments to measure environmental conditions, such as the oxygen content and cloudiness of the seawater, that have an impact marine life.
Both Tangaroa and Maxlimer will deploy echosounders to trace the depth and shape of the seafloor at high resolution. The volcano has an elevation of some 1,800 meters from the ocean bed. By the time the two vessels have surveyed the seamount, they could acquire data across at least 8,000 square kilometers.
Between New Zealand and Tonga, there are 76 undersea volcanoes, of which about 80 percent are known to be active.
We plan to announce the results of the survey around July.
Research vessel Tangaroa, owned by New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), will conduct a month-long investigation around the undersea Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai that erupted on January 15, 2022.
The 12-meter-long USV (uncrewed surface vessel) Maxlimer to be sent by SEA-KIT International of Essex, England, for the survey.
at 14:23 | OCEAN
The Nippon Foundation to Provide 5 Billion Yen Humanitarian Assistance to Displaced Ukrainians Coming to Japan [2022年04月05日（Tue）]
Announcing The Nippon Foundation’s decision to provide 5.08 billion yen in humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians fleeing to Japan during a news conference in Tokyo on March 28, 2022.
The Nippon Foundation has decided to provide humanitarian assistance totaling 5.08 billion yen (about $41.4 million) to Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of their homeland.
In announcing the decision at a press conference in Tokyo on March 28, I noted there are almost 1,900 Ukrainian residents of Japan and an estimated 900 of their family members and acquaintances are said to be seeking to join them.
The Japanese government has decided to promote accepting Ukrainian evacuees, including family members and acquaintances of those residing in Japan. As of March 24, a month after Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, 150 evacuees−or about half those who have been issued visas−had arrived.
At present, it is hard to predict exactly how many Ukrainians will ultimately come to Japan, but for now we are working on the basis of around 1,000 people.
Of the total sum we are offering in assistance, 3.55 billion yen (about $29 million) will be earmarked for travel and living expenses. Each displaced person will be eligible to receive 300,000 yen (about $2,446) to cover travel expenses to Japan and 1 million yen (about $8,153) annually for living expenses for three years (3 million yen, or about $24,460, in the case of households).
The foundation will also give 1.53 billion yen (about $12.5 million) to NGOs and other nonprofit organizations working to support the daily lives of displaced people from Ukraine, including providing them with Japanese language courses and helping them find employment. The Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto prefectural governments have offered to provide accommodations.
I started the press conference by talking about the Great Tokyo Air Raid on March 9 and 10, 1945, during World War II, when I was six years old, which killed some 108,000 people, injured hundreds of thousands and destroyed my school and countless other buildings in downtown Tokyo. “I am one of those who survived this living hell, so I cannot overlook Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” I said.
After the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986, The Nippon Foundation, at the request of Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev, general-secretary of the Communist Party of the then Soviet Union, conducted health surveys which focused on screening about 200,000 children in the area for thyroid cancer in cooperation with Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus over a period of 10 years. We invited 230 health and radiation specialists from these countries for training in Japan.
We later put that knowledge to use following the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in northeastern Japan in March 2011, including holding the International Expert Symposium in Fukushima on Radiation and Health by inviting those specialists to attend.
These and other experiences led to our decision to provide this humanitarian assistance for Ukrainian displaced people. We are planning to provide support for a period of three years, and will consider expanding the program if the situation changes.
The Nippon Foundation has already dispatched a staff member to Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine, to set things up. We are closely working with the Ukrainian Embassy in Tokyo and I am calling on Ukrainians living in Japan to convey information on our assistance to family members, friends, and acquaintances who wish to come to Japan, so that we can get in touch with them.
On March 28, we established The Nippon Foundation Humanitarian Assistance Team for People Displaced from Ukraine as a contact point for those evacuating from Ukraine and for Ukrainian residents of Japan. Please do not hesitate to get in touch via the URL or QR code below. Note that we are receiving a large number of inquiries, to which we are responding in order, and apologize for any delay in getting back to you.