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    From left: Evacuees from Ukraine Olesandra Godenko and Yuliia Boiarchuk, and The Nippon Foundation Executive Director Jumpei Sasakawa

    Ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, The Nippon Foundation held a media briefing at its head office in Tokyo on February 21 to provide an update on its support for Ukrainians who have evacuated to Japan.

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    The February 2 event at The Nippon Zaidan Building in Tokyo. Incarcerated individuals could visit company booths and representatives could present their companies in the metaverse.

    The Nippon Foundation is engaged in an employment project to support the reintegration into society of prisoners and juvenile offenders. The project aims to prevent recidivism while maintaining a society that is safe from crime.
    As part of this project, the Foundation and the Japanese Ministry of Justice held a joint briefing on February 2 to support employment for people being released from correctional facilities. This was the first time the metaverse was used for a briefing of this kind in Japan, with 13 companies from the restaurant and construction sectors participating from two locations – The Nippon Foundation head office in Tokyo and a location in Osaka. Incarcerated individuals asked questions like, “Will I be able to get a job if I have tattoos or body piercings?” and “What qualifications or accreditations do I need?” One participant said that they liked cleanliness and were attracted to the building cleaning and maintenance industry. The fact that the event was conducted in the metaverse also made it easier for incarcerated individuals to ask questions like salary and whether there was a company dormitory, which are difficult to ask in face-to-face interviews.
    Participating companies were also able to ask about individuals’ work experience and skills. After the session concluded, companies expressed their satisfaction and hopes that the program would be expanded going forward, noting that it was efficient to be able to meet with many individuals at once, and because the meetings were not face-to-face, the individuals were able to ask questions without hesitation.

  • Photo of Yohei Sasakawa holding a “Don’t Forget Leprosy” banner on Mt. Kilimanjaro
    Yohei Sasakawa at Mt. Kilimanjaro’s 5,685 meter mark at 5:30 a.m. on February 12 (local time)

    World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination Yohei Sasakawa (Chairman, The Nippon Foundation) climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain (5,895 meters), on February 12 and unfurled a banner reading “Don’t Forget Leprosy.”
    This followed Mr. Sasakawa’s and World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s issuing of a joint statement on January 31 from WHO headquarters calling for an end to prejudice and discrimination against people affected by leprosy. From Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mr. Sasakawa also offered a prayer for victims of the earthquake that struck Japan’s Noto Peninsula on January 1.

  • The 60th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out on December 1-4, 2023, to gauge young people’s views on Japan’s GDP, “new NISA” (Nippon Individual Savings Account; a revamped tax-free retirement savings program), and mobility.

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    Trucks carrying supplies and the RORO ferry preparing to leave Kanazawa Port (roughly 11 a.m.)

    The Nippon Foundation would like to extend its deepest condolences to all who have been affected by the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that struck Japan’s Noto Peninsula and nearby areas on January 1, 2024, and their families.

  • Photo of cardboard beds installed in a gymnasium
    Cardboard beds installed in a gymnasium in Suzu City, Ishikawa Prefecture

    The Nippon Foundation would like to extend its deepest condolences to all who have been affected by the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that struck Japan’s Noto Peninsula and nearby areas on January 1, 2024, and their families.

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    Momotaro preparing to conquer ocean debris

    Momotaro (usually translated as “Peach Boy” – momo is the Japanese word for peach and Taro is a common boy’s name) is one of Japan’s most well-known folk stories. In the story, an old woman is washing clothes in a river when a large peach floats by, which she takes home to eat with her husband. When they cut open the peach, they find a baby boy inside whom they raise as their son. The boy grows quickly, and after a few years he sets out to conquer the ogres who live on a far-away island and have been terrorizing the people. Along the way, he comes across a pheasant, a monkey, and a dog, each of which asks him to share his dumplings because they are hungry. He agrees, on the condition that they join him on his quest, and the four of them set off for the ogres’ island, where they force the ogres to surrender and return home victorious.

  • The Nippon Foundation would like to extend its deepest condolences to all who have been affected by the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that struck Japan’s Noto Peninsula and nearby areas on January 1, 2024, and their families.

  • Photo of a poster for Minecraft Cup 2023
    A poster for Minecraft Cup 2023 (Photograph provided by Minecraft Cup organizing committee)

    The digital world has become an inseparable part of the modern world, including in the field of education. Schools are providing students with laptop computers and tablet devices, and holding classes online, as they move from “paper and pencil” to an educational style that uses digital technologies. Nevertheless, disparities are emerging in that digital education, with differences in where students live and their families’ economic circumstances meaning that some children do not have opportunities to interact with digital technologies. The Nippon Foundation is addressing this by working to create an environment in which as many children as possible can have access to digital tools and learn in a fun and effective way. One of those activities is support for the Minecraft Cup, which was created in 2019.

  • Group photo of 21 national champion teams, hosts, ambassadors, and other related individuals

    With planning, oversight, and support from The Nippon Foundation, SPOGOMI World Cup 2023, the first world championship for SPOGOMI, a sport that originated in Japan based on collecting trash (gomi is the Japanese word for trash), was held in Shibuya, Tokyo, on November 22, 2023. Representative teams from 21 countries, selected through preliminary competitions, competed, with the team from Britain declared the winner and the team from Japan placing second.

  • The 59th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out on October 30 and 31 to gauge young people’s views on the Osaka Expo to be held in 2025 and Japan’s release of treated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and also asked about their personal experiences with illegal drugs and other activities, a subject that has recently been highlighted with the arrest of a university student on drug-related charges.

  • Photo of children playing “taiko” drums at a festival

    The Tohoku region of northeastern Japan is a treasure trove of traditional performing arts like kagura Shinto music and dance, tora-mai tiger dances, and shishi-odori deer dances. These arts and festivals suffered major damage when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck the region on March 11, 2011. Along the Pacific coast in particular, there were many cases in which masks and costumes, musical instruments, portable shrines, and floats were lost, and some Shinto shrines were completely washed away, by the large tsunami that followed.

  • Photo of a workshop session
    The first day’s workshops provided students with an opportunity to think about their future

    The Nippon Foundation is providing scholarships to Ukrainians who have evacuated to Japan to attend Japanese language schools, to enable them to acquire the Japanese language skills required to find employment that suits their individual aspirations. The Foundation recently held an overnight study and exchange event at its head office in Tokyo, with 81 scholarship recipients from across Japan attending.

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    Group photo of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (front row, center) with representatives of The Nippon Foundation, the Japan Coast Guard, and other organizations

    The Nippon Foundation and the Japan Coast Guard held the 3rd Coast Guard Global Summit (CGGS) in Tokyo on October 31 and November 1, 2023. The summit is one of the world’s largest platforms for effective coordination and discussion among the world’s coast guard organizations regarding a variety of critical marine issues including the depletion of marine resources and the increasing occurrence of disasters caused by climate change. This was the third time for The Nippon Foundation and the Japan Coast Guard to hold the CGGS, following the initial summit – the world’s first – in 2017 and the second, in 2019.

  • The 58th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out from October 13 to 15 on the subject of the “Public Pension System,” focusing on their views on how the public pension system should be structured and its future prospects, and differences across generations.

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    DeepStar's director Shakir Shamshy giving the keynote presentation

    The Nippon Foundation’s International Seminar on Offshore Development was held at the Foundation’s head office in Tokyo on September 28. The seminar used a hybrid in-person and online format and roughly 170 people participated, with presentations by speakers followed by a lively question and answer session.

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    The Nippon Foundation President Takeju Ogata and MESH Support Executive Director Hiroki Tsukamoto standing in front of the donated airplane

    A ceremony was held at Naha Airport (Okinawa Prefecture) on September 28 to deliver a small airplane to MESH Support, an NGO that uses aircraft to support medical services. The airplane was purchased with a 166 million yen grant provided by The Nippon Foundation, and will go into use from October 1.

  • Group photo of participating cosplayers
    Group photo of participating cosplayers

    September 16 to 24 was designated UMIGOMI Zero Week 2023 (umigomi is a combination of the Japanese words for ocean (umi) and waste or trash (gomi)) as part of a project being carried out by The Nippon Foundation and Japan’s Ministry of the Environment to address the growing problem of ocean debris, and Cosplay de UMIGOMI Zero Challenge 2023 was held as a kickoff event in Yokohama on September 16.

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    Photograph of participants: (left to right, excluding mascot characters) The Nippon Foundation Ocean Affairs Dept. Senior Program Director Tatsuki Nakajima, Masaru Hamaguchi, 2008 Beijing Olympic volleyball team member Takahiro Yamamoto, and Director of the Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum Junji Kawaguchi)

    The Nippon Foundation held an event at the Ito-Yokado store in Kiba, Tokyo, on September 30 and October 1 for young people and families with children to convey the appeal of the ocean and raise awareness of issues related to the ocean environment that are becoming increasingly serious at a global level.

  • Photo: Cover of “A Report on Asia Pacific Projects: Deaf education, sign language linguistics and teaching projects supported by The Nippon Foundation

    The Nippon Foundation has released “A Report on Asia Pacific Projects: Deaf education, sign language linguistics and teaching projects supported by The Nippon Foundation.”

  • A child learning the san-mai oroshi technique to fillet aji
    A child learning the san-mai oroshi technique to fillet aji

    The Nippon Foundation’s Umi-to-Nippon Project (The Ocean and Japan Project) conducts events throughout the year to raise awareness across Japan of ocean-related issues and encourage people to feel closer to the ocean. Two of the events being held in October 2023 are a fish preparation workshop for parents and children in Yamanashi Prefecture, and a buri (yellowtail or Japanese amberjack) promotional campaign being held in Hokkaido.

  • The SignTown Handbook logo

    Coinciding with the International Day of Sign Languages*1 on September 23, The Nippon Foundation released the SignTown Handbook sign language learning app on September 10. The app is a simple dictionary that makes it easy to search for and learn signs. SignTown Handbook was released as the second stage of The Nippon Foundation’s Project Shuwa,*2 which in September 2021 released the SignTown sign language learning game, jointly developed with the Chinese University of Hong Kong and in collaboration with Google and Kwansei Gakuin University.
    The SignTown Handbook also ties in with the theme for International Day of Sign Languages 2023, “A World Where Deaf People Everywhere Can Sign Anywhere!” It can be used as a tool to enable many people to learn sign language and for people to have simple conversations in sign language. The project aims to increase the number of people engaged in sign language interpretation and to support the active participation of deaf people in a wide range of activities in the future.

  • Photo of participants collecting and sorting ocean debris mixed in with fish
    Collecting and sorting ocean debris mixed in with fish caught while trawling

    The Nippon Foundation held a study tour on September 9 to raise awareness of ocean debris among athletes as part of the Setouchi Oceans X project, which is being jointly carried out by four of the prefectures bordering the Seto Inland Sea and The Nippon Foundation. The event was held on Kitagi-shima, an island in the Okayama Prefecture section of the Seto Inland Sea.

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    Group photo from a camp event held by D-SHiPS32 for children with disabilities and children without disabilities (Photo provided by D-SHiPS32)

    D-SHiPS32 is an NGO working to create new frameworks to promote a donation culture in Japan. The group is led by Daisuke Uehara, who was a member of Japan’s para ice hockey team at the Winter Paralympics in 2006, 2010, and 2018. The group is using the proceeds from the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs)*1 to create an interactive metaverse*2 for children with disabilities. 

  • The 57th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out from August 19 to 20 on the subject of “Generative AI.” The survey found that, of 1,000 young people aged 17 to 19, close to 90% “Knew of” generative artificial intelligence and close to 40% had used it, primarily to create text, while roughly 60% of those who had not used it “Would like to try” using generative AI.

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    At the Anma-no-Ie opening ceremony: (left to right) The Nippon Foundation Executive Director Kazuhiro Yoshikura, NGO Home Hospice Yuitaba Director Hatsue Yamashita, Metlife Japan Executive Officer and Head of Corporate Affairs Paul Miles

    MetLife Foundation Home Hospice Anma-no-Ie

    MetLife Insurance K.K. (“MetLife Japan”) and The Nippon Foundation held a ceremony on July 26 to mark the opening of MetLife Foundation Home Hospice Anma-no-Ie in Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture. This is the second home hospice to open as part of the “MetLife Foundation and The Nippon Foundation: ‘Better Life Better Place’ for the Elderly and Children” program.*1 Amid the accelerated aging of Japanese society, there is a need for places where people can feel at ease at the end of their lives.*2 This program offers people a final home where they can live out their days securely in a familiar, home-like atmosphere.

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    The Hiyase waterfront in Okayama Prefecture

    The Nippon Foundation Ocean Acidification Adaptation Project was launched in April 2020 to identify the situation regarding the increasing acidification of the ocean in Japan’s coastal areas and its effect on the fishing industry. A survey conducted by the project showed, as of March 2022, multiple instances of acidification levels in oyster farms that could affect the Pacific oyster (Magallana gigas, also known as the Japanese oyster or Miyagi oyster). At the same time, there was no confirmation of direct damage including abnormal development or death of floating larvae, and it was determined that acidification had not reached a level that will damage the fishing industry at that time.

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    Panel discussion on Expectations and Challenges for the Commercialization of Fully Autonomous Ships (left to right: Takeshi Natsuno, Yuki Saji, Haruka Nishimura, Tatsunori Kaneko, Manabu Tanabe, and Luis Benito)

    A seminar to provide the latest information related to fully autonomous shipping was held at The Nippon Foundation’s head office in Tokyo on July 20. The seminar included a keynote address by an expert in autonomous shipping, a panel discussion on the potential for its implementation, and the announcement of the second stage of the MEGURI2040 Fully Autonomous Ship Program being carried out by The Nippon Foundation. Participants included representatives of companies and research institutions who are developing automation technologies for autonomous ships and shipping, and university students who intend to enter maritime fields. They expressed their high hopes for the implementation of fully autonomous shipping, noting that the diverse panel gave updates on the latest trends and that the seminar generated new interest.

  • Photo of members of the Ogi-Taku Dental Association
    Members of the Ogi-Taku Dental Association

    The Tooth Fairy project is being carried out jointly by the Japan Dental Association and The Nippon Foundation, using discarded gold and silver used in dental procedures and collected by dentists across Japan, and converting it into cash that is used for various activities that contribute to society. The project was launched in 2009, and as of April 27, 2023, it had close to 7,000 participating dental clinics and had raised more than 2.2 billion yen.

  • The Nippon Foundation launched the Working Group on Remote Work by Persons with Disabilities in June 2020. The Working Group includes members with a variety of disabilities including visual, hearing, mental, and locomotor dysfunction, and met online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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    A ceremony was held on June 23 at the Shibuya City Hall to hand over the public toilets renovated by The Nippon Foundation’s THE TOKYO TOILET project to the Shibuya City government. With the aim of realizing a society that embraces diversity, the project renovated public toilets at 17 locations in Shibuya, so that they can be used by anyone regardless of gender, age, or disability. The project was carried out with the participation of 16 creators who endorsed this goal and used the power of design and creativity to offer proposals for a new society. The project was launched in 2018 and will conclude at the end of fiscal 2023, with Shibuya City taking over the toilets’ maintenance and upkeep.
    At the ceremony, The Nippon Foundation Executive Director Jumpei Sasakawa, Shibuya Mayor Ken Hasebe, and Koji Yanai, Director of retailer Fast Retailing, which provided funding for the project, spoke about the project’s objectives and issues related to the maintenance and upkeep of public toilets.
    To ensure a smooth handover of operations, The Nippon Foundation will continue to participate in the project’s management committee and provide funding support until the end of fiscal 2023 (ending March 31, 2024). The Foundation will also summarize and make use of the survey data and expertise gained through the project as reference for other local governments.

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    As part of its efforts to reduce plastic ocean debris, The Nippon Foundation, in cooperation with Utazu Town, Marugame City, and Sakide City in Kagawa Prefecture, carried out a verification project on June 4 for the efficient collection of debris from the riverbanks along a section of the Daisoku River that is difficult for people to access to collect trash.
    Uneven terrain and fences make the riverbanks difficult to access, and large amounts of debris accumulate in areas that are overgrown with weeds. This large cleanup activity was held prior to the start of rainy season, when rain washes large amounts of debris into the ocean. After lowering the water level by diverting the river’s upstream water to agricultural channels and letting the remainder flow directly into the ocean, volunteers entered the riverbed and collected roughly two tons of plastic debris that had been scattered along roughly two kilometers of the river. This verification project demonstrated that debris that had been scattered by a river could be collected efficiently, even in an area that is difficult to access.
    Roughly 350 people participated in the event, including members of local fishery cooperatives, people involved in agricultural channel management, members of local fire brigades and local governments, motorboat racers, and students, who were joined by Kagawa Governor Toyohito Ikeda and The Nippon Foundation Executive Director Mitsuyuki Unno. The Nippon Foundation will use the knowledge gained from the event to continue to build models for efficient trash collection activities in areas like rivers and remote islands that are difficult to access.

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    During the preparatory meeting

    The Nippon Foundation launched the “Project to Study Possibilities for Collaboration with the Next Generation of Nikkei” in April 2023. The project aims to use the Foundation’s experience and networks from its support of Nikkei communities to date, to provide a platform for discussion among next-generation Nikkei* leaders who face similar challenges without being constrained by position, affiliation, or interests.

  • Photo of Japan China Medical Association President Hideoki Ogawa, The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, Sasakawa Peace Foundation President Atsushi Sunami
    (Left to right) Japan China Medical Association President Hideoki Ogawa, The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, Sasakawa Peace Foundation President Atsushi Sunami

    A press conference was held at The Nippon Foundation’s head office in Tokyo on May 30 to announce the resumption of two private-sector exchange programs between Japan and China. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China, and in July the Japan–China Field Officer Exchange program for officers of the Japan Self Defense Forces and the People’s Liberation Army, which had been suspended for four years because of the coronavirus pandemic, is scheduled to resume.

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    The Nippon Foundation is carrying out the following support measures while closely following the situation with regard to infections.

  • With the declining birthrate having become a major issue for Japan, in March 2023 The Nippon Foundation conducted its 4th Awareness Survey of 10,000 Women, on the topic of “Declining Birthrate and Raising Children,” to gauge Japanese women’s attitudes toward raising children against a backdrop of a declining birthrate.

  • Photo of facility dog Annie with a hospitalized child, her mother, and Annie’s handler
    Facility dog Annie enjoys the attention of a hospitalized child and her mother

    Providing emotional support to children with serious illnesses

    Facility dogs are service dogs specifically trained to be close to children hospitalized with serious illnesses. They are part of the hospital staff and provide emotional support to children and their families. The dogs accompany children when doing things like going to the operating room or when having blood samples taken, and their presence helps to relieve the children’s stress, approach their treatment with a positive attitude, and promote a healthy appetite and rehabilitation.

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    Miles Pennington standing in front of the Hatagaya public toilet

    The Nippon Foundation’s THE TOKYO TOILET project is recreating public toilets in 17 locations in Shibuya, Tokyo, to make them accessible to everyone. The 15th facility, in Hatagaya (3-37-8 Hatagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; UTokyo DLX Design Lab / Miles Pennington, creator) opened to the public on February 22; the 16th facility, in Sasazuka Greenway (1-29 Sasazuka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; Junko Kobayashi / Gondola Architects, creator), opened on March 10; and the 17th facility, in Nishisando (3-27-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; Sou Fujimoto, creator), opened on March 24.

  • logo:The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census

    The Nippon Foundation – Nekton Ocean Census is a global initiative to discover unknown marine life, jointly launched by The Nippon Foundation and Nekton Foundation as an open network based on cooperation among the scientific world, the media, academia, business, and the private sector.

  • Nekton Chair Rupert Grey (left) and The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa (right) announcing the project launch at the Royal Institution of Great Britain
    The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa (left) and Nekton Chair Rupert Grey (right) announcing the project launch at the Royal Institution of Great Britain

    On April 27 (London time), The Nippon Foundation and Nekton Foundation of Britain announced the launch of The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census, an international project to explore unknown marine life.