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    Following the initial confirmation of cases in China in December 2019, the new coronavirus has spread around the world.
    With the number of infected persons in Japan increasing and concerns of a crisis that could cause the medical system to collapse, the Japanese government declared a state of emergency on April 7.

  • 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.

  • 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 chose 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.

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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).

  • The 30th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out from September 29 to October 5 on the subject of “Reading and Writing.” The survey showed that roughly 60% of respondents “enjoy” reading books, while slightly more than 10% do not. Asked how many books they read per month, the largest group, at 45%, read one or two books per month, which was more than the 33% who don’t read any books at all. The most popular genres were “novels” (liked by 63% of respondents), followed by “manga” (Japanese comic books; 50%) and a type of Japanese young adult novels called “light novels” (26%). In addition, one in four respondents replied that they have been reading more during the new coronavirus pandemic. The percentage who read newspapers was roughly 33%, which marked a 15 percentage-point decline from the 48% who replied that they read a newspaper in the 2nd installment of the survey, carried out in September 2018. With regard to the time spent reading newspapers, the largest group, at 44%, replied “at least 5 minutes but less than 10,” which was followed by 33% who replied “less than 5 minutes.”

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    Nagasaki Prefecture is home to ‘Haenkaze,’ Japan’s first floating wind turbine

    The Nippon Foundation, together with the Nagasaki Marine Industry Cluster Promotion Association, Nagasaki Prefecture, Nagasaki University, and the Nagasaki Institute of Applied Science, have established the Nagasaki Ocean Academy as Asia’s first human resource training institute focusing on offshore wind power generation and other areas of ocean energy development. Classes began on October 1, 2020, and the academy aims to train 1,600 professionals over the next five years.

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    Naomi Osaka wearing a black mask with the name of George Floyd, a Black man killed by white police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May.

    Tennis player Naomi Osaka posted this statement on Twitter on August 26 after reaching the semi-final stage of the Western & Southern Open, considered a warm-up tournament for the US Open, a Grand Slam tennis tournament. This protest was in response to the shooting three days prior of a Black man by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the United States. Indicating the anguish she felt, she added, “And as a Black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.”

  • The 29th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out in early August on the theme of “Regional Revitalization.” The survey showed that roughly 56% of respondents want to live in an urban area in the future, compared with roughly 43% who want to live in a rural area. By comparison, in the 10th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, carried out on the same theme in January 2019, roughly 61% of respondents wanted to live in an urban area in the future, while roughly 39% wanted to live in a rural area. Of those respondents in this year’s survey who want to live in an urban area, the top reasons given were “daily life agrees with me” and “amusement, entertainment, recreation, etc.,” while those who want to live in a rural area cited “abundant natural environment” and “daily life agrees with me.” In making their choice, roughly 44% said that they took the risk of infection of the new coronavirus into consideration.

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    Masashi Fujiki explains the importance of creating opportunities for young people to interact with society

    In the fall of 2019, The Nippon Foundation conducted an “Awareness Survey of Society and Country,” covering 17- to 19-year-olds in nine countries: China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam. The survey showed that in a number of areas, young people in Japan ranked last compared with their peers in other countries in terms of considering themselves to be adults, having dreams for the future, and believing that they can change society or their country.

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    Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park (Design: Shigeru Ban)

    Japan is known as one of the cleanest countries in the world. However, the use of public toilets in Japan is limited because of stereotypes that they are dark, dirty, smelly, and scary. The Nippon Foundation and the Shibuya City government have launched THE TOKYO TOILET project to build public toilets that can be used comfortably by anyone regardless of gender, age, or disability, in 17 locations in Shibuya by the summer of 2021. Seven of the toilets have been completed, and the remainder are scheduled for completion by the summer of 2021.

  • The 28th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out in late June on the theme of “Social Media.” The survey showed that more than 90% of respondents use social media, and of those respondents, roughly 60% used social media at least two hours every day. Of social media users, 75% described social media as “indispensable” and 44% said they “relied” on social media, while roughly 1 in 20 replied that they had posted unsubstantiated criticism or insults.

  • The Nippon Foundation, in collaboration with the Japanese American National Museum of Los Angeles, has conducted a global research project (awareness survey) of Nikkei (Japanese emigrants and their descendants) young adults. To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive awareness survey targeting young Japanese emigrants and descendants around the world. For this survey, Nikkei is defined as “Japanese emigrants and their descendants throughout the world.” The survey targeted young adults between the ages of 18 and 35.

  • The 27th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out in mid-June on the theme of the “Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.” This was the second survey carried out on this topic, the previous being in July 2019, prior to the new coronavirus pandemic. The survey showed that more than half of respondents were looking forward to the Olympics, Paralympics, or both, although the figure of 55.5% was less than the 68.5% recorded in the previous survey. In addition, slightly less than half of respondents felt the Games should be held in some form in 2021 as currently scheduled, while roughly one-third thought they should be delayed further, and almost 20% thought they should be canceled altogether.

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    Mitsuyuki Unno, Executive Director of The Nippon Foundation, at the awards ceremony

    The Cosplay de UMIGOMI Zero Award 2020 ceremony was held jointly by The Nippon Foundation and the World Cosplay Summit Executive Committee (WCS) on August 2 at World Cosplay Summit 2020 Online, to recognize unique activities using cosplay to address the issue of ocean debris (umigomi is a combination of the Japanese words for ocean (umi) and waste or trash (gomi)). Cosplayers often have to pick up trash in locations they use for photography when they assume their characters, and many are very interested in environmental issues.

  • The 26th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out in late May on the theme of the “School Education and Starting the School Year in September.” The survey showed that main inconveniences respondents felt in response to school closings from early March to stop the spread of the new coronavirus were keeping up with their studies, missing friends and communication, and preparing for entrance exams and pursuing higher education or employment.

  • Graphic: Conceptual image of unmanned navigation

    The Nippon Foundation has assembled and made a decision to fund five consortia to conduct verification testing for unmanned ship navigation. Each consortium is to begin verification testing by the end of fiscal 2021 (March 2022), with a target of implementing autonomous shipping by 2025.

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    Smallholder farmers in a CDP in the Bole Hora Woreda in Ethiopia

    The Nippon Foundation’s agricultural assistance in Africa began in response to the severe famine in Ethiopia in 1984. To counter the worst stage of the famine, emergency supplies were being airlifted from London, but this only provided temporary relief. Searching for a fundamental way of resolving Africa’s food problems, Ryoichi Sasakawa, the chairman of The Nippon Foundation at the time, firmly believed that more than “giving a fish,” the important thing is “to teach how to fish.”

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    Map of the ocean floor in the vicinity of the Ryder Glacier in northern Greenland when Seabed 2030 was launched in August 2017

    On the occasion of World Hydrography Day, The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, which aims to map the entire global ocean floor by 2030, has announced the inclusion of 14.5 million square kilometers of new bathymetric data in the latest GEBCO Grid. Nearly one-fifth of the world’s ocean floor has now been mapped, with the new data equating to an area twice the size of Australia.

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    The Stoke Mandeville Stadium Guttmann Centre, the birthplace of the Paralympics

    The Paralympic Games are the legacy of Ludwig Guttmann, who was born in Germany in 1899. While volunteering in an emergency ward after World War I, he assisted with the diagnosis and treatment of patients who were paralyzed from the waist down as a result of spinal cord injuries, and this led to his becoming a neurologist specializing in paraplegia.

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    Group photo of participants at the Tokyo Albinism Conference

    In December 2014, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming June 13 as International Albinism Awareness Day, with the aim of promoting a correct understanding of albinism and to eliminate discrimination and stigma against persons with albinism.

  • Photo showing wheelchair athletes at the Paralympic Games.

    The Paralympic Games

    Held every four years since 1960, the Paralympic Games are a major international sporting event for athletes with impairments. Approximately 4,200 athletes from 164 countries and regions, including Japan, participated in the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the 14th time the event was held.

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    An Uber Eats delivery partner

    Meals are indispensable for a child’s growth. In Japan, it is estimated that one in seven children lives in relative poverty,* meaning that many children rely on school meals for sufficient nutrition. With schools closed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, these meals are not being provided, however, and these children are losing the chance to eat nutritious meals.

  • The 25th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out in mid-April on the theme of the “New Coronavirus.” The survey showed that a large majority of respondents were complying with the government’s request to refrain from going out, 91% said that school closings and cancellations and the scaling down of school entrance and graduation ceremonies were unavoidable, and 58% felt that going forward, everyone should be more aware of taking precautions to protect themselves. Furthermore, 67% of respondents expected Japan to change after the crisis is brought under control, with government, medical care, and the economy as the top areas where change is needed.

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    The Olympic logo designed by Pierre de Coubertin

    The Games of the VII Olympiad were held exactly 100 years ago, in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium. The world at that time, including Japan, looked quite similar to the world today. The 1918 flu pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu, was rampant. In March of this year, the World Health Organization declared the spread of the new coronavirus to be a pandemic, but the Spanish flu is generally considered the worst pandemic in modern human history.

  • The Nippon Foundation has released a music video in which 46 artists with disabilities from 15 countries and regions perform an updated rendition of “Stand By Me,” the classic Ben E. King hit. The video may well be the first to feature such an international line-up of artists with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • MetLife Insurance K.K. (MetLife Japan) and The Nippon Foundation today announced a partnership between MetLife Foundation and The Nippon Foundation to support hospices and home-care nursing centers across Japan in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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    Yashuhiro Yamauchi discusses the qualities of manga

    Some people might say you are too old to still be reading manga

    There has long been a genre of “educational manga” that are written as aids to help students with their school studies, but general manga (Japanese comic books) are mostly read as entertainment. Among general manga, however, there are many works that are full of wisdom and knowledge, and that can spur further study into a wide range of fields.

  • The 24th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out in mid-March on the theme of “Children and Family.” The survey found that roughly 90% of respondents felt that there was somewhere, either their home or somewhere else, where they felt “at home,” while close to 10% did not. Close to two-thirds did not approve of corporal punishment as a form of discipline, with the main reasons being that pain and suffering do not resolve anything, and that no form of violence is acceptable. In addition, 80% of respondents were aware of the growing issue of child abuse across Japan, while only one in four were aware of legal revisions aiming to reduce child abuse set to take effect from April, and only one in six of all respondents felt the legal changes would reduce child abuse.

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    Opening ceremony of the 1st Olympic Games at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, Greece, in 1896. The 2020 Games are the first ever to be postponed.

    With no signs of the spread of new coronavirus infections being brought under control, the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic. The entire world is currently fighting an “unseen enemy.” In Japan, the welcoming of spring has instead seen the declaration of a state of emergency. With people staying indoors and maintaining social distancing when they do go outside, companies implementing telework, and schools closed, daily lives have completely changed.

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    Daisuke Hakamada has a unique background that includes drinking beer from various countries while traveling around the world

    With a fruity hop aroma, sharp bitterness like coffee, and a crisp, fresh flavor, craft beer offers a world of distinctive styles that are guided by the individual brewer.

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    A scene of flooding caused by Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture

    Typhoon Hagibis, the season’s 19th typhoon, struck Japan on October 12-13 and caused major damage in the Tokai, Kanto, Koshinetsu, and Tohoku regions. The Nippon Foundation is dispatching NGOs and volunteer organizations to the affected areas, and is collecting donations to support their recovery activities.

  • Having received a large number of inquiries regarding cooperation with our activities in response to the spread of the new coronavirus, The Nippon Foundation has begun accepting donations to support its response. 

    The entire amount of donations received will be used to support the activities of doctors, nurses, and volunteers in response to the new coronavirus at a facility being established by The Nippon Foundation at the Museum of Maritime Science in Odaiba, Tokyo, and other locations.

    We ask for your cooperation as we work to overcome this difficult situation. 

  • The 23rd installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out in late February on the theme of “Inequality.” The survey found that more than half of respondents felt a sense of economic inequality in their daily lives, while less than one-fourth believed this inequality could be rectified. In response to the fact that the world’s billionaires possess more wealth than 60% of the global population, roughly one-third considered this unavoidable while slightly more than one-fourth considered this to be a problem.

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    Caroline Casey participated in a public seminar in Tokyo in February 2020

    There is an elephant in the room

    In the many business situations involving competition among companies, be they large are small, there are often at least one or two “elephants in the room” – issues that everyone realizes are present but no one will discuss. One particularly significant issue is the employment of persons with disabilities. A public seminar titled “Disability and Business” was held in Tokyo in February 2020 to show how inclusiveness can increase corporate value and to consider possibilities for persons with disabilities and businesses. The keynote presentation was given by social entrepreneur Caroline Casey, who is working to shed light on the importance of hiring persons with disabilities for the creation of an inclusive society, and calling on CEOs of major companies around the world to play a role. We asked her about the hidden potential for companies and society when persons with disabilities are able to participate actively.