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

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    The latest True Colors music video is being released worldwide today, bringing together a cast of 13 artists from nine countries for a new take on the R&B classic “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree.

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    Ms. Masako Okuhira (left) of The Nippon Foundation Working Group and Mr. Tetsuya Takeuchi (right) of NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)
  • With constitutional revision an issue that continues to be discussed in Japan, the 37th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out from April 15 to 19 on the subject of the “Preamble to the Constitution.” The Constitution of Japan was promulgated on November 3, 1946, and came into effect on May 3, 1947.
    The survey found that 40% of respondents have either read or have a recollection of having read the Preamble, while the remainder replied either that they had no recollection or did not remember having read the Preamble. Of those who remembered reading the Preamble, more than half said that they read it when they were in junior high school.
    In response to a question to all respondents as to whether the Preamble was easy to understand, less than 20% replied that it was, while more than 80% replied that it was difficult to understand or that there were points that they could not understand. In open-ended responses as to why it was difficult to understand, the top replies were that the wording was difficult to follow and that the sentences were too long. In addition, roughly 30% of respondents felt that the Preamble should clearly mention Japanese values like history, traditions, and culture, while roughly the same percentage felt this was not necessary and roughly 40% did not know.

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    Back row left to right: Ms. Yanagiya, Mr. Momota, Mr. Edagawa of Sumitomo Life, Mr. Yamada, and Ms. Okuhira (front) from The Nippon Foundation Working Group
  • Eiji Uchida is president of Uchida Plastic, a manufacturer of plastic products in Sabae City, Fukui Prefecture. Sabae is known throughout Japan as a manufacturing center for eyeglasses, and Uchida Plastic won The Nippon Foundation Award in the Innovation category of the UMIGOMI Zero Award 2020 for sunglass frames it has developed that are made from recycled plastic bottles. The UMIGOMI Zero Award is jointly operated by The Nippon Foundation and the Ministry of the Environment to address the issue of ocean debris (umigomi is a combination of the Japanese words for ocean (umi) and waste or trash (gomi)).

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    Staff of freee, a venture company that has continued to grow rapidly since its founding in 2012
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    Ms. Murata (front right), Ms. Kimura (rear left) and Mr. Kojima (rear right) of the ANA Group, and (left to right) Mr. Ishikawa, Dr. Izutsu and Ms. Okuhira of the Nippon Foundation Working Group
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    Back row left to right: Mr. Tanabe and Ms. Ikeda, whose work is to promote employment of persons with disabilities in the NTT Group. Front row left to right: Ms. Okuhira and Mr. Yamada from the Working Group, who gathered information for this article, a robot in the middle that is remotely controlled by employees with disabilities from their homes.
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    SoftBank staff and members of the Nippon Foundation Working Group
  • The 36th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out from March 19 to 22 on the subject of “Juvenile Law Revisions.”
    The Cabinet has approved a bill that creates a separate designation for 18- and 19-year-olds, who were previously treated the same as younger juveniles in criminal matters. While continuing to be covered under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Act and related legislation, the proposed revisions expand the scope of crimes for which these “designated juveniles” can be tried as adults in criminal courts, and allow the media to disclose their names once they are indicted of these crimes. Currently, 18- and 19-year-olds can only be tried as adults for crimes committed with intent, and that lead to a victim’s death. The proposed revisions would add to this crimes that are punishable by imprisonment of at least one year, including robbery, rape, and arson.
    These proposed changes follow laws passed in 2015 that lowered Japan’s voting age to 18 from 20, and revisions to the Civil Code made in 2018 to lower the age of adulthood to 18 for things like marriage without parental consent and taking out loans and credit cards (the legal age for smoking, drinking alcohol, and legal gambling is set to remain at 20). Both the Civil Code revisions and the proposed juvenile law revisions would take effect from April 2022. The Nippon Foundation launched the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds in October 2018, with the Civil Code revisions lowering the age of adulthood as the subject of the first installment.
    The 36th installment found that 60% of respondents were either very familiar or vaguely aware of the juvenile law revisions, and 58% agreed with the expanded scope of crimes for which 18- and 19-year-olds can be tried as adults, while only 4% disagreed. In addition, more than 40% approved of news media being able to disclose the actual names and other information that would lead to the identity of 18- and 19-year-olds indicted for these crimes.

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    (Left to right) Mr. Tsutomu Ando, leader of human rights awareness activities at Dentsu Inc., Ms. Masako Okuhira of The Nippon Foundation’s Working Group, and Mr. Kosuke Takahashi, the inventor of the “body-sharing robot NIN_NIN” and Braille Neue, a form of braille that is readable to both people with and without sight
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    (From left) Ms. Chieko Ohuchi, Executive Officer, Dentsu Inc.; Ms. Masako Okuhira of The Nippon Foundation’s Working Group; Mr. Takahiro Hayashi and Ms. Erina Hanzawa of the Dentsu Diversity Lab
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    Working Group at the Nippon Foundation comprised of members of diverse backgrounds, which promotes the social participation of people with disabilities
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    Members of the Working Group promoting disability inclusion. The group is comprised of people with various disabilities and The Nippon Foundation staff.

    Reporting: The Nippon Foundation Journal Editing Department

  • The Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS The 4th International Art Exhibition Call for Entries Application period: From July 1 (Thu.) to July 15 (Thu.), 2021

    “The Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS” is calling for entries for its 4th annual international art exhibition, an open-call exhibition for artists with disabilities inaugurated in 2018. Entry is open to artworks produced by people with disabilities who have not previously won awards.
    This open exhibition aims to leverage the power of art to encourage interactions among all people, with or without disabilities, in which they share excitement and joy, as well as to provide people with disabilities opportunities to engage in artistic activities through which they can discover potential in themselves. We look forward to having many talents once again take aim at this prize and send their creations so that we can unearth artistic talent, support the activities of artists with disabilities, and continue to convey to society the significance and value of diversity.

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    An English lesson for junior high school students at a community center in Miyagi Prefecture

    Yoshimi Tsushima is the Senior Executive Manager for Tohoku of Kidsdoor, an NGO working to support children and to achieve a society where all children can have hopes and dreams. She moved from Tokyo to the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan in April 2011, immediately after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that caused major damage across the region, and in June 2011 she established a temporary office in Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture.  

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    Exterior of Children’s 3rd Place Minuma

    The Nippon Foundation launched its Children’s 3rd Place program in 2016, to build and support places where children can spend their after-school time with peace of mind and develop personally. Children’s 3rd Place Minuma, the 38th location nationwide and the fourth in Saitama Prefecture, opened on March 30, 2021.

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    The first female Olympians – the golf competition at the 2nd Olympiad (Paris, 1900) ⒸPHOTO KISHIMOTO

    On February 18, 2021, lawmaker and Olympic speed skater and track cyclist Seiko Hashimoto was named president of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, replacing Yoshiro Mori, who had stepped down after making sexist remarks that created a media uproar in Japan and overseas. Japan is considered to lag much of the rest of the world in terms of women’s social participation, ranking 121 of 153 countries covered by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020, and her appointment was seen as a step forward in this area. Looking back through history, until recently the Olympics have not been accommodating toward women.

  • The 35th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out from February 12 to 16 on the subject of “Coronavirus and Stress.” When asked about an increased sense of confinement caused by the coronavirus, 59% replied that they sensed that people around them felt confined, and 50% felt so themselves. With regard to things experienced over the previous month, 37% cited a “continued sense of uneasiness and irritation” and 34% noted “continued fatigue.” The survey was conducted soon after the government’s state of emergency was extended in 10 of the originally covered 11 prefectures and clearly shows a strong feeling of stress among young people, with almost half of respondents saying they could not spend their leisure time as they wished, and of those 91% reporting a feeling of stress.
    Additionally, 23% replied that the pandemic has had a negative effect on their pursuit of higher education or employment, and 18% reported a negative effect on family and personal incomes, showing that the coronavirus is negatively affecting young people’s lives in concrete ways.

  • Share the pain. Share the hope. Share the future.

    Our mission is social innovation.

    Through this innovation we aim to achieve a society where all people support one another, reducing the burdens and challenges they face together.

  • The 34th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out from January 12 to 17 on the subject of “Decarbonization.” When asked about the cause of global warming, two-thirds of respondents cited greenhouse gas emissions associated with human social activity as the main cause, and more than three-fourths were aware of the risks posed by global warming. With regard to the government’s pledge to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and make Japan carbon neutral by 2050, although 60% of respondents approved of the objective, only 14% believed it was achievable. One of the main reasons for approving of the objective was that it will raise awareness of reducing emissions. In addition, 63% of respondents had positive expectations for renewable energy, with the most promising sources seen as solar (69%), hydroelectric (40%), and biomass (35%)

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    Photographer Nobuko Ota (left) with Israeli violinist Ivry Gitlis (center)

    This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, causing a massive tsunami that caused major damage and loss of life across a wide area. One of the iconic images from the aftermath of the disaster was the “miracle pine,” a single surviving pine tree from what was previously a forest of 70,000 trees along the coast of Rikuzentakata City in Miyagi Prefecture. Although the tree has since died from exposure to salt water, it has been preserved as a permanent memorial.

  • In January, The Nippon Foundation carried out an awareness survey of women in eight countries on the subject of “declining birthrates.” The world’s population surpassed 7.7 billion people in 2020, and the United Nations expects this number to reach 10.0 billion later this century. Against this backdrop, many developed countries are experiencing declining birthrates, while the populations of developing countries, especially in Africa, continue to grow, with inequality and migration becoming major issues for international society.

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    Jigoro Kano teaching female judoka at the Kodokan

    Japan’s Olympic movement began in 1909, when Jigoro Kano, principal of Tokyo Higher Normal School (the present University of Tsukuba), became the first person from Asia to serve on the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

  • Back to Blue Logo

    Back to Blue is a new initiative from the Economist Group and The Nippon Foundation that is being launched today at the Economist Group’s eighth annual World Ocean Summit. With an initial focus on ocean pollution, the three-year collaboration seeks 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 specific program is currently being developed based on the findings of a Back to Blue global survey (see below), which identified plastic pollution (59.6% of respondents) and chemical pollution (39.1%) as the top two concerns, followed by climate change (31.1%).

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    Jack Sim (center) takes a humorous approach to improving public toilets

    Jack Sim, also known as “Mr. Toilet,” is a social entrepreneur from Singapore who is working to create a “toilet culture” around the world. According to a 2019 report jointly issued by UNICEF and the WHO, of the world’s 7.8 billion people, roughly 2.0 billion do not have toilets and an additional roughly 4.2 billion do not have access to toilets that are safely managed. As a result, 297,000 children under the age of five die every year (more than 800 a day) from diarrhea caused by contaminated water and unsanitary conditions.

  • The 33rd installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out from December 1 to 4, 2020, on the subject of “Gaps in Education.” More than 40% of the survey’s respondents replied that they felt there were gaps in their own educational environment compared with those of others, with the main reason given as “my home did not have an environment where I could concentrate and study.” In addition, more than half of respondents felt that the new coronavirus pandemic is causing gaps in learning environments to widen, and roughly 30% see the pandemic having an effect on their future educational or career choices.

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    Caroline Casey, founder of The Valuable 500

    The Valuable 500 is a global network launched in January 2019 at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, created as a call to the CEOs of 500 global companies to promote reforms that will enable persons with disabilities to demonstrate their potential social, business, and economic value. The Nippon Foundation has agreed to cooperate with The Valuable 500 as a Global Impact Partner and to provide support totaling US$5 million (approximately 520 million yen) over the three years from 2021 to 2023 to promote inclusion in business for persons with disabilities – specifically, access to hiring, products, and services without disadvantage.

  • Composite photo of persons who contributed video messages: Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination; Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary; Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General; Lucrecia Vásquez Acevedo, Legal Representative of Felehansen, Colombia; Kefyalew Bekele, President, Ethiopian National Association of Persons Affected by Leprosy (ENAPAL), Ethiopia; Vagavathali Narsappa, President, Association of People Affected by Leprosy (APAL), India; Francisco Faustino Pinto, Vice Coordinator, Movement for the Integration of People Affected by Hansen’s Disease (MORHAN), Brazil; Alice Cruz, UN Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members
    Persons who contributed video messages (clockwise from top left): Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination; Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary; Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General; Lucrecia Vásquez Acevedo, Legal Representative of Felehansen, Colombia; Kefyalew Bekele, President, Ethiopian National Association of Persons Affected by Leprosy (ENAPAL), Ethiopia; Vagavathali Narsappa, President, Association of People Affected by Leprosy (APAL), India; Francisco Faustino Pinto, Vice Coordinator, Movement for the Integration of People Affected by Hansen’s Disease (MORHAN), Brazil; Alice Cruz, UN Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members

    Organized by the Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative, this year’s appeal was endorsed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and focuses on the right to work.

  • Photo of flooding in Kuma Village, Kumamoto Prefecture, in July 2020 (photo: OPEN JAPAN)

    The Nippon Foundation responded to the flooding that occurred in Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures on the island of Kyushu in July 2020 in a number of ways.

  • The Nippon Foundation launched the Manga Edutainment Project to Open New Worlds in 2015, to identify manga (Japanese comic books) that are published as general works but can also open new worlds and lead to learning. To date, a total of 200 manga had been selected, and a selection committee recently met to choose 50 new titles to be added to the list. English versions are available for eight of the titles, including one that is the Japanese translation of a graphic novel originally published in English.

  • Noting that participation by women in politics in Japan is said to lag that of other countries, The Nippon Foundation conducted its 2nd Awareness Survey of 10,000 Women on the topic of “Women and Politics.” The survey found that more than 60% of respondents consider the percentage of female legislators in the national Diet and prefectural assemblies in Japan – the lowest among developed countries – to be “too low” and “needs to be increased.” Regarding the fact that only two of the 19 members of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s cabinet are women, again more than 60% of respondents called the number “too low,” with more than 90% of those respondents saying that the ideal percentage of female cabinet members would be between “roughly one-third” and “roughly half.”

  • With the new coronavirus crisis accelerating the use of digital technologies, the 32nd installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out from November 13 to 17 on the subject of “Digitalization.” Opinions regarding Japan’s pace of digitalization were divided, with roughly 38% calling it “lagging” and roughly 31% saying that it was not. The top areas in which respondents wanted to see digitalization progress were “online learning” (36%) and “making it easier to receive new coronavirus-related subsidies” (25%). More than 60% of respondents considered government efforts to promote digitalization as “necessary,” while less than 6% felt they were “not necessary.” Of those favoring these government efforts, more than half gave “maintaining national strength” and “facilitating government services” as their reasons.
    Of respondents who felt Japan’s digitalization is lagging, the top reasons given were “firmly rooted customs including paper documents and face-to-face meetings” (34%) and “a sense of difficulty” (32%). Roughly 39% of respondents expect results from the digital agency the government plans to establish in the fall of 2021, which was almost twice the percentage of those who do not. When asked what is needed to promote digitalization, the top responses were “teaching of information and communications technologies in schools” and for the “national government to take the initiative.” In addition, fewer than one in five respondents felt they possessed the knowledge needed for digitalization.

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    Santa Claus handing out presents at the ceremony

    Support for seriously ill children is one of the elements of The Nippon Foundation Kids Support Project, and since 2019 this has included a project to select and distribute toys to these children. Recently, toys were distributed to roughly 100 hospitals and other facilities nationwide, and on December 17 a ceremony was held at the Tokyo Toy Museum with some of the recipients.

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    Haruki Takamura discusses ways to get more people, especially younger people, to vote

    University Music Festa was originally launched by Haruki Takamura during his first year of university, as a group of students who shared a love of music. The group organized festivals featuring music played by DJs in clubs and other venues, eventually attracting up to 800 people. Initially, the events were entirely about enjoying music, with no connection to social issues. Over time, however, local governments and junior chambers of commerce from around Japan began asking the group to organize events in their areas, and increasingly they were asked to organize events to raise awareness of social issues. Through this experience, Mr. Takamura saw that outside metropolitan areas, initiatives to get young people to vote or raise awareness of things like the Sustainable Development Goals were struggling. This gave him the idea of using music festivals, which bring together fans of different types of music across generations, to harness this energy to bring about social change. Recently, UMF organized a festival in Osaka to coincide with the local referendum on a proposed restructuring of Osaka City’s administrative structure.

  • The 31st installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out from October 9 to 14 on the subject of “New Foods.” The survey showed that roughly 60% of respondents consider Japan’s low food self-sufficiency rate to be a problem. At the same time, less than half of respondents see possibilities for technological innovation in food, but of those who do, the areas of reduction of food waste, creation of better-tasting meals, and development of more environmentally friendly industries were seen as the most promising. With regard to alternative sources of protein, close to one-third of respondents see meat substitutes and insect-based food products as future food sources, with fewer than half being interested in trying meat substitutes and only 16% in trying insect-based food products.
    On the effect of the new coronavirus pandemic, three-fourths of respondents replied that their diet and eating habits have not changed, while of those who noted changes, roughly 85% replied that they are eating out less often and roughly 60% are cooking more often.

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    Social entrepreneur Fumitaka Kitajima

    Older residents of rural areas in Japan are facing increasing difficulty with regard to transportation and mobility. On the one hand, many of these areas are losing population and public transportation services are being curtailed as a result, while at the same time driving one’s own vehicle ceases to be an option as drivers become older and functional decline makes operating their own vehicle dangerous to themselves and others.

  • True Colors Film Festival 2020

    The True Colors Film Festival will be held online from December 3 to 12, 2020, featuring 28 award-winning full-length and short films, documentaries, and dialogues from 15 countries.All of the films can be streamed online for free (although certain geographic restrictions apply).

  • Flow chart of the recycling cycle: Seven-Eleven Japan installs collection machines at its convenience stores and operates equipment to sort and compress bottles; Local government advertises the program and promotes awareness of separation and collection; The Nippon Foundation provides 50% of the cost of the collection machines; Private-sector transport companies collect bottles from stores for transport and temporary storage; Private-sector recyclers load the bottles onto pallets and process into raw material PET; Soft drink manufacturers produce recycled PET bottles and sell beverages in them via convenience stores.
    Flow chart of the recycling cycle

    The Nippon Foundation and Seven-Eleven Japan Co. Ltd., together with the cities of Yokohama and Fujisawa in Kanagawa Prefecture, have launched a project to recycle plastic bottles (made of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, the type commonly used for soft drinks) with the aim of making effective use of limited resources, promoting recycling, and reducing ocean debris. The project began with 7-Eleven convenience stores in 15 locations in Fujisawa in late August, and is being expanded to stores in Yokohama from October 30, with installations at 120 stores planned. This project will carry out “bottle-to-bottle” recycling that recycles discarded PET bottles into new PET bottles, and the collection machines will have a capacity of approximately 280 bottles (500ml bottle equivalent basis).