Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, was decorated with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun at the 2019 spring awards ceremony, the first to be held since the ascension of Emperor Naruhito and the commencement of the Reiwa Era on May 1. The Orders of the Rising Sun are Japan’s first award, established in 1875 to recognize politicians and members of the private sector who have made outstanding achievements to society in a variety of fields. This year, Mr. Sasakawa is among eight persons receiving the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun. The awards were conferred by the Emperor at the Imperial Palace on May 23.
The Nippon Foundation Chairman Awarded Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun in First Reiwa Era Decorations
Agricultural Assistance in Africa
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.”
The Nippon Foundation Para Athlete Scholarship Presentation Ceremony
The Nippon Foundation Para Athlete Scholarship program aims to cultivate athletes with disabilities who can be expected to compete at the Paralympic, Olympic, or similar global level, and a ceremony was held on April 16 at Nippon Sport Science University’s (NSSU) Tokyo Setagaya Campus to present scholarships to the third group of 11 recipients.
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.
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.
A Different Approach to Japanese History
An internal seminar for The Nippon Foundation staff was held at the Foundation’s headquarters in Tokyo on April 10. Dr. James L. Huffman, H. Orth Hirt Professor of History Emeritus at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, in the United States was invited to speak, and chose as his topic, “Bad Leaders, Dynamic Nation: Lessons from Japanese History.” The seminar was held in English to give Foundation staff an opportunity to use and improve their English skills in an informal setting apart from their ordinary work.
$1 Million Donation to Promote Japan – China Ties
The Nippon Foundation has received a $1 million (approximately ¥1.1 billion) donation from Channing Bi, a businessman and native of China, and on April 15 the Foundation and Mr. Bi signed a memorandum of understanding for the projects to be carried out using this gift.
Mr. Bi chose The Nippon Foundation as the recipient of this donation in recognition of its activities inside and outside Japan over many years, and the successes produced by Japan – China exchange programs through The Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund. The Foundation plans to use this donation to train young people to introduce a fusion of Eastern culture and Western science to the next generation, and for cultural exchange and other projects between Japan and China
After the signing, Mr. Bi discussed his thoughts about the projects to be carried out with the donation.
“I hope for closer ties between Japan and China. Promoting exchange will deepen mutual understanding. The Nippon Foundation has an extensive track record in Japan – China exchange, and I made this donation so that it could be used for one of these types of programs.
I have brought my family with me on this trip to Japan, and I hope that when my children get older, they will participate in exchanges between the two countries. I also want to support research that fuses Buddhism and the natural sciences. This donation is just a beginning, and I hope to continue this effort going forward.”
The Nippon Foundation will make further announcements as specific projects are finalized.
Collecting Donations for Peace Museum to Convey History of War
The Nippon Foundation is asking for documents related to the Battle of Imphal and has begun accepting donations to support the operation of the Imphal Peace Museum.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal, which was one of the fiercest battles of World War II and is also said to have later played a role in India’s independence movement. Despite the historic significance of this battle, few people living in the area today are familiar with that history and related documents have been lost. The museum seeks to pass on this history to future generations.
The Nippon Foundation is supporting the Manipur Tourism Forum’s construction of a museum in Imphal in the state of Manipur, which is scheduled to open June 22, 2019, with a theme of “Peace and Reconciliation.” The museum is asking for donations of documents and other related items so that they can be exhibited and stored there.
The 11th installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, was carried out in late February, nearly eight years after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake struck northeastern Japan in March 2011. The theme was “Disaster Response,” and the results, announced on March 5, showed that close to 80% of respondents said that the many natural disasters in recent years make them feel uneasy, and of those, roughly 70% said that this was Japan is a country that is prone to natural disasters. More than 80% of respondents felt that the national government’s disaster response measures are “insufficient,” and indicated that those measures would not be fully able to address a large number of greater-than-anticipated disasters.
Unique Partnership Generates Excitement in Young People’s District
A Bunraku oneri was held along Takeshita-dori in Harajuku, Tokyo, on March 8, creating a buzz of excitement throughout the district with this “unique partnership” bringing together the latest young people’s culture and the traditional performing art of Bunraku. An oneri is a procession by actors to announce a series of performances, and is usually associated with Kabuki theater. This oneri was held to announce the seventh set of performances of the Nippon Bunraku Project, which began on March 9 on a specially built, portable outdoor stage at the entrance to the grounds of Meiji Shrine near Harajuku Station. Kiritake Kanjuro, one of the participating puppeteers, commented, “The excitement among the young people and tourists from overseas was greater than I expected.”
The results of the ninth installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, were announced on February 14, 2019. Under the theme of the “National Debt,” the survey was carried out in late January and nearly two-thirds of respondents were not aware that Japan’s national debt is now more than ¥1,000 trillion. Roughly 30% of respondents disapproved of budgets being formulated on the assumption that debt will be incurred, and half felt that the reason for national and local government debt was that politicians did not make sufficient efforts to balance budgets. To address budget shortfalls, slightly more than one-third of respondents replied that outlays should be reduced, while almost half replied that revenue, including through taxes, should be increased. In addition, more than 70% of respondents said that the government’s finances make them feel “concerned about Japan’s future.”
The results of the seventh installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, were announced on January 7, 2019. The theme was “Coming of Age Ceremony,” and the survey found that roughly 70% of respondents want to attend their Coming of Age Ceremony while roughly 30% do not. In addition, roughly three-fourths of respondents want the age for Coming of Age Ceremony attendance to remain at 20 (despite the age of adulthood for voting, marrying without parental consent, taking out loans, etc. having been lowered to 18), with the top reason being that having the ceremony at age 18 would interfere with their college and university entrance exam preparations.
The Nippon Foundation “The Power of Sports Photography” Exhibition
The Nippon Foundation and Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward are jointly holding The Power of Sports Photography exhibition until April 25. Roughly one and a half years before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the exhibition aims to raise interest in the Games by giving a greater sense of the attractiveness of sports. The photographs being exhibited consist mainly of 74 photographs that were winners or selected from the SSF World Sports Photo Contest held by the Sasakawa Sports Foundation from 1995 to 2004, and from “GO Journal – A magazine to shake up the future with Para sports,” organized by The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center with photographer and film director Mika Ninagawa as creative director.
Joint Project by Ministry of the Environment and The Nippon Foundation
Minister of the Environment Yoshiaki Harada and The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa announced on February 18 the launch of a joint project to address the increasingly serious problem of “ocean debris,” consisting primarily of drifting plastic waste (umigomi in Japanese; umi = ocean, gomi = waste, trash). The project is intended to demonstrate Japan’s initiatives as an ocean country to the rest of the world, and will include large-scale beach cleanup activities nationwide during UMIGOMI Zero WEEK, from the informally designated “Zero Litter Day” on May 30 (Gomi Zero no Hi; a play on the Japanese pronunciation of 5-3-0) to World Oceans Day on June 8.
Nippon Bunraku – Experience Culture while Eating and Drinking
Taking a new look at Japanese culture
The Nippon Bunraku project aims to broaden the appeal of Bunraku puppet theater, a unique, traditional Japanese art, and to remind people of the value of Japanese culture. The project involves the construction of a full-sized Bunraku stage made of Japanese cypress, at a cost of roughly 100 million yen, which will be used to stage performances around Japan until the Olympic and Paralympic Games are held in Tokyo in 2020.
“Nippon Bunraku at Meiji Shrine” Announced
The Nippon Foundation held a press conference yesterday, February 6, at its headquarters in Tokyo, to announce a series of Bunraku puppet theater performances – Nippon Bunraku in Meiji Shrine – at Meiji Shrine in Harajuku, Tokyo, in March.
Bunraku is one of Japan’s representative traditional performing arts, and The Nippon Foundation launched the Nippon Bunraku project in 2014 to promote awareness of Bunraku’s value. Beginning with Roppongi Hills in Tokyo in March 2015, performances have been held in six locations to date, and are scheduled to continue until 2020. The March performances will be held in front of the Ichi-no-Torii entrance to the Meiji Shrine grounds, near Harajuku Station.
Seating for each performance will be limited to roughly 120 persons, enabling everyone in the audience to watch the performance up close. The stage was specifically built for this project from Japanese cypress at a cost of roughly ¥100 million, and can be knocked down and reassembled but is roughly the same size as a standard, permanent Bunraku stage. Audience members at Nippon Bunraku performances are encouraged to bring food and drink to enjoy the performance in a leisurely atmosphere. To allow even more people to enjoy this set of performances, there will also be a standing-room section allowing people to watch without buying a ticket, and the length of each performance has been shortened to roughly one hour.
The location is at the edge of the grounds of the tranquil forest surrounding Meiji Shrine, across the Yamanote train line from Harajuku, a center of the latest fashion and culture. Holding performances at this intersection of traditional and modern culture will breathe new life into the classic art of Bunraku.
Tokyo 2020 Official Contributor Agreement Signed
The Nippon Foundation on February 9 concluded an agreement with the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) to become a Tokyo 2020 Official Contributor.
The results of the fifth installment of the Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds, launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, were announced on December 3, 2018. The theme was “Disability,” and the survey found that half of respondents knew that companies of a certain size are legally required to have a certain percentage of their workforce represented by persons with disabilities, but more than 80% did not know that the actual percentage of these employees is only about 1.9%. In addition, fewer than half of respondents had assisted someone with a disability, with the top reason for not assisting being, “I didn’t know what to do.”
Redesign of The Nippon Foundation’s Official Website
The Nippon Foundation’s official website has undergone a complete redesign.
Smartphones are increasingly being used in place of personal computers to view websites, and the portion of users accessing The Nippon Foundation’s official website via smartphone is growing in line with this trend. In response to this development, the website has undergone a full redesign with the aim of presenting information in a format that is easier to view and understand.
Global Youth Nikkei Research Project
The Nippon Foundation will conduct research on young adult Nikkei (Japanese emigrants and their descendants) this year. This will be the first research to target young Japanese descendants across the world (to The Nippon Foundation’s knowledge).
The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa Awarded Gandhi Peace Prize
Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, was notified by the Government of India on January 18 that he had been awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize. He is the first Japanese national to receive the prize.
Iroha Nihon – Experience the Soul of Japan
The Nippon Foundation is providing a limited-scale cultural program for tourists from overseas who are interested in Japanese culture. The program includes an overnight stay at a Buddhist temple that is normally closed to the public, with activities that tourists would otherwise be unable to experience. The goal is to increase awareness of the value of Japanese culture both in Japan and overseas, and to cultivate a better understanding of Japan and an interest in cultural properties.
Myanmar Support Program
The Nippon Foundation’s activities in Myanmar began in 1976 with medical support for persons affected by leprosy, and over the years since then we have engaged in roughly 70 projects in the country. Since 2011 we have focused on peace-building initiatives in tandem with the government’s moves toward democratization.
Support for Persons with Disabilities
The Nippon Foundation, established in 1962, has been involved in activities to support disabled people in Japan and around the world for more than 50 years. In the course of working together with disabled people we have learned that removing the obstacles that prevent their equal participation paves the way for everyone – with or without a disability – to demonstrate their full potential.
Happy Yurikago Project
There are roughly 45,000 children in Japan who, for whatever reason, cannot be raised by their biological parents. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) declares that all children “should grow up in a family environment.”
HEROs Sportsmanship for the future
Athletes can demonstrate sportsmanship when they are not competing.
Sportsmanship also means proactively working to create bonds and assist society.
Nevertheless, athletes’ activities outside sporting events receive little attention, and not all athletes engage in these activities.
Elimination of Leprosy
The worldwide movement to eliminate leprosy has been enjoying considerable success since MDT was endorsed by the WHO in 1981. The Nippon Foundation has been instrumental in this success, to the point that in 2001 WHO asked Yohei Sasakawa, our chairman, to be its Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.
Special Fund for Disaster Preparedness
A special fund has been established to provide emergency relief in the event of large-scale damage from a major disaster like an earthquake striking directly below a large urban center or in the Nankai Trough off Japan’s Pacific coast
Scholarships and Fellowships
The Nippon Foundation does not conduct its own scholarship programs. We do fund a number of programs through different organizations. Read below for information on these programs and follow the links to learn about the people and research that have benefited from them.
The Nippon Foundation Ocean Innovation Consortium
Cultivating human resources for marine resource development
Amid concerns of a shortage of marine resource development engineers with the expertise and practical techniques needed by the marine resource development market, The Nippon Foundation Ocean Innovation Consortium is a program to train marine resource development engineers across Japan.
The Nippon Foundation’s Traditional Medicine Projects
On October 29, 2010, the head of the Mongolian Ministry of Health signed a memorandum of understanding outlining an action plan for the ministry to take over from The Nippon Foundation the administration of a project involving traditional medicine boxes, starting from the tentative date of January 1, 2012. This stems from an agreement reached in November 2010 between the chairman of The Nippon Foundation, Yohei Sasakawa, and the president of Mongolia, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdori, calling for the Mongolian government to take over the project.
The Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS
As part of its work to achieve an inclusive society that is rich with diverse individuality, The Nippon Foundation provides support in the area of “persons with disabilities and arts and culture.”
The Nippon Foundation Kids Support Project
Thinking, supporting, and rearing together.
These are the goals of The Nippon Foundation’s Kids Support Project.
We are working to connect people, knowledge, and activity,
to create a society in which “everyone helps to raise everyone’s children.”
Safety in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore
A Cooperative Framework for Maintaining Safety in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore
Roughly one third of the world’s crude oil and more than 80% of Japan’s oil imports pass through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Ensuring the safe passage of ships in these waters, with their many narrow and shallow spots, is a task that exceeds the capabilities of the three littoral countries bordering the Straits. Recognizing this, The Nippon Foundation has been working for more than four decades to help enhance the safety and protect the natural environment of these waters.
Support for Disaster Recovery
First, look at the big picture and understand the situation on the ground – this is The Nippon Foundation’s guiding principle when responding to disasters.
Our work starts before disasters strike, with simulations and human resource development across Japan, working together with governments, local communities, NGOs, medical institutions, and companies.
When a disaster does strike, we work quickly to understand the real situation in the affected area, and deliver the support that is needed to where it is needed.
JACAFA: A Network for Central Asia and Japan
In 1991, the dissolution of the USSR raised a new curtain on relations between the former Soviet republics and the rest of the world. At the international level, this meant a redrawing of the geopolitical map, and for Japan, a new area to which to contribute developmental energies. At the individual level, the opening of relations was perceived by many as an opportunity, enabling unprecedented numbers of people to go abroad. Many went as tourists or migrants. Many more as students.
Addressing Child Poverty
Current situation regarding Child Poverty
Japan’s rate of child poverty is above the OECD average. Overall, the rate has been rising since the 1980’s, and today one in seven children lives in poverty.
Traditional Arts Relief Fund
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.
The Nippon Foundation Dream Scholarship
The Nippon Foundation launched The Nippon Foundation Dream Scholarship program in April 2016. Scholarships are given to young people who for whatever reason have been unable to live with their biological parents and grew up in a “social child care” facility.
Nagisa-no-Koban (Seaside Patrol Stations) Project
The ocean gives so much bounty that it is referred to as “Mother Ocean,” and based on this idea, The Nippon Foundation has been supporting groups working in seaside locations to bring people closer to the ocean.