The Nippon Foundation Social Innovation Forum 2017Keynote addresses from prominent politicians, presentations from 7 social innovators, and 23 workshops held over three days

The Nippon Foundation Social Innovation Forum 2017 was held on November 17–19 at Tokyo International Forum. This was the Forum’s second year, and the three days of events included keynote addresses from Shinjiro Koizumi, a member of the Japanese House of Representatives, and Ken Hasebe, mayor of Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, as well as booths and presentations from seven social innovators selected from across Japan, and 23 workshops on a variety of topics. The workshops were organized around four themes – Vision, Issues, Collaboration, and Resources – and were led by experts in these fields.

At the opening ceremony on November 17, The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa welcomed the attendees, noting that roughly 57% of the attendees were under the age of 30, and of those, 35% were company employees and 20% were students. He encouraged these young people to use this opportunity to expose themselves to new ideas, and to engage in earnest discussions about Japan’s future. He added, “I want this event to be like a magnet. With magnets, opposite poles attract, but magnetic poles also have the power to repel. I hope this forum will generate the same kind of energy.”

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The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa

Next, Mayor Ken Hasebe of Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward explained Shibuya’s new “Basic Concept,” a vision for the next 20 years under the title “A city that turns difference into strength.” He expressed his desire to make Shibuya an established, international city that thoroughly incorporates the concepts of diversity and inclusiveness, and to use Yoyogi Park, located in Shibuya and one of Tokyo’s largest public parks, to promote health and sports. He also showed diagrams to explain the planned redevelopment of the area around Shibuya Station, noting that adding movie theaters, auditoriums, and galleries could make the area a major driving force.

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Ken Hasebe, mayor of Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward

The next speaker was Shinjiro Koizumi, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives and chief deputy secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party. He discussed recent efforts by the government to address social issues including the number of children on waiting lists for preschool and after-school childcare. While noting that a plan involving contributions from both the government and major companies is now in place to address this problem, he added that the process for resolving this type of issue needs improvement, and that the general public needs to be involved. He also expressed his hopes for the selected social innovators, and pointed out that it will be important to look 10 years beyond the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, to 2030, and connect to the next generation.

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Shinjiro Koizumi, member of the House of Representatives

The ceremony concluded with the introduction of the seven social innovators who had been selected from across Japan. Each had set up a booth for participants to visit and would be giving presentations on their respective projects on November 19. For more information about these social innovators and their activities, please refer to the news release at the link below.

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