2024/07/24 00:18


Osaka launched the 'ASIAN GATEWAY' project



Osaka launched the 'ASIAN GATEWAY' project

People are the main resource for the development of tourism in Osaka.

Osakans' openness to other cultures allows them to cooperate with other Asian people, making Osaka a vibrant cityexpand button.


Megumi Koriyama, a senior student at Kwansei Gakuin University, interviewed Mr. Kano, a former Hong Kong Tourism Board official. With his extensive knowledge and experiences in a tourism industry, he launched tourism promotion campaign in April.

Q: You have a goal of 6.5 million foreign visitors in Osaka by 2020. How are you going to meet this goal?

A: It doesn't happen overnight. We should analyze previous data to estimate tourism revenues and set business targets. Unlike Tokyo and Kyoto, Osaka may not be a city full of tourist attractions but its people are enthusiastic, humorous and unique. Foreign visitors often appreciate Osakans' cheerfulness and openness.


'The years I spent abroad allowed me to see my country from a totally different perspective. Before starting the campaign, I needed to find out what this city can offer. Given that Osaka used to be a city that introduced Japan to the other Asian cultures, I thought that this city would be a destination for those who want to learn about our culture and start their own business. With this in mind, we launched the advertising campaign: 'ASIAN GATEWAY OSAKA' and 'VENTURING to Asia? Start in OSAKA'. As Karaoke and Kaiten Sushi were spread from Osaka to the world, this city is an ideal place for entrepreneurs to launch their business.

Q: Do you think international students can patricipate in this promotional campaign?

A: We began surveying foreign visitors in April regarding their stay in Osaka before they leave Kansai International Airport. We appreciate support by international students since this survey requires speakers of different languages. The collected data will be analyzed by the bureau afterwards. We expect students to act as professionals so we offer them training and uniforms. Educational institutions consider this project meaningful to students as they can gain first-hand experience.

Q: Are there any upcoming events that you are working on?

A: Yes. On June 1st, Red Bull X-Fighters Osaka, the first motocross World Championship in Asia, will be held in Osaka castle. We will host top-class Hip-Hop dancers from all over the world for the final competition of "DANCE DELIGHT" on 1st of September. We are happy to celebrate its 20th anniversary of this event that started here in Osaka. We also aim to be the host city of the internationally renowned event, 'INTERNATIONAL JAZZ DAY,' sponsored by UNESCO and the UN. We support the International Red-White Singing Contest as well.

Mr Kano profile

Kunio Kano was born in Gunma prefecture in 1944. After graduating from Takasaki Senior High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in Marketing at Brigham Young University and an MBA at San Francisco State University. He started his career at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. in 1972. In 1982, he assumed the position of Managing Director and Chief Representative of Manufacturers Hanover Limited, UK/Japan. In 1987, he became Managing Director and Deputy Branch Manager of Manufacturers Hanover Securities Company. In 1991, he joined Royal Doulton Dodwell KK, Japan, as President and Representative Director. In 1995, he held the position of Regional Director of North Asia at the Hong Kong Tourism Board. He witnessed first-hand the Hong Kong Handover in 1997, the September 11 attacks in 2001, the SARS outbread in 2003, Hong Kong - Japan Tourism Exchange Year in 2009, and the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. He became the head of Osaka's tourism bureau in April 2013.



国際紅白歌合戦 IN OSAKA 実行委員会委員長


Brewing Energy from Potato Biofuel to Save Japan!!



Brewing Energy from Potato Biofuel to Save Japan!!

We interviewed Professor Takahiro Suzuki regarding his advocacy of the multi-level potato cultivation, which serves three purposes:

1. Improve production process

2. Revitalize the agriculture sector

3. Solve issues such as the greenhouse effect and energy conservation.

The rapid industrialization and economic growth in China and India lead to an increase in carbon dioxide emission. In Japan, the government reviewed the national energy strategy and decided to set off a target of reducing CO2 emissions by 25%. However, energy prices are on the rise due to a sharp increase in fossil fuel imports. The perilous decline of Japanese agriculture is another important issue to face. In fact, less young people engage in farming business due to the unstable income in this industry. Mr. Jae Heon Kim , a biotechnology student from Tokyo Institute of Technology, interviewed Professor Suzuki from Kinki University, regarding his "Multi-level potato cultivation for biofuel production” to solve issues we are facing, such as increase in carbon dioxide and energy prices, and collapse of agriculture.


Profile of Dr Takahiro Suzuki

Professor at Kinki University, Faculty of Biology-Oriented Science and Technology

Prof. Suzuki was born into a farming family in Mikawa, Aichi prefecture in 1959. He was awarded scholarships at Nagoya University where he received a Masters degree in Agriculture. He is the first person from Nagoya University who received a graduate research fellowship from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. After working as a postgraduate researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he became a senior researcher at Mechanical Engineering Laboratory, Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, Ministry of International Trade and Industry in 1989. Also, as a researcher at the Science and Technology Agency, he was sent to Princess Royal University Hospital in London where he served as a leader of Japan-US and Japan-UK joint research projects. After returning to Japan, he became an associate professor at Tokyo University of Science in 1996. Four years later, he withdrew from the position to work in the industry. He learnt business know-how from private companies and eventually became the most searched cosmetic researcher online. In 2010, he was appointed a professor at Kinki University. He started the "Furusato Ebisu Project" to create a safe, stress-free society with the support of the government and companies. His interest in entrepreneurship began when he was in the United States, where he met many local graduate students with an ambition to start their own business. He was greatly inspired by these young entrepreneurs, and decided to teach students at Tokyo University of Science. However, that was considered too radical in Japan and was not accepted. He believes that working for private companies are important for his identity.


Shrines are the Roots of Japanese Culture.



Shrines are the Roots of Japanese Culture.

A truly international person is one who understands what Japan and the Japanese are and can relay this overseas.
Profile of Hidetoshi Tojo, webmaster of ‘Jinjyajin’ website
Tojo, the CEO of Culcharge Co. Ltd., was born in 1972 in Saitama as the great-grandson of Hideki Tojo, the 40th Prime Minister of Japan during World War II. Investigating the model of Japanese nonprofit sector, he focused on the presence of shrines and Shinto.  He promotes cultural tourism through shrines, in order to revitalize local communities and their cultures. On May 24th his book, The Proof of the Japanese, was published. Following this, he began lecturing extensively across the nation.

As an internationalized society, we will further communicate with people from other countries. However, there will always be more to understand about ‘Japan’ and ‘Japanese.’ In this edition, Ms. Yu Chihama interviewed Mr. Hidetoshi Tojo, who published The Proof of the Japanese on May 24th. Ms. Chihama is in her third year at Tsuda College, and she is a volunteer interpreting guide for Meiji Jingu.

Q1: What inspired you to create the shrine database? What do you think is the most attractive aspect of Shinto? 
A1: It all started when I thought of making a web portal focusing on Japanese culture. As I was doing the research on Shinto, which is closely related to Japanese culture, I found that there are more than 80,000 shrines in Japan. However, there were no databases on shrines, so I decided to make one. I started visiting shrines, taking photos, and studying their histories.

I was not familiar with shrines before, but through visiting a number of them, I came to understand that each shrine has its own unique identity and history that connects its community with its pasts. Visiting more than 900 shrines over three years, I gradually became aware of the relationships between one shrine and another, and this in turn led to other discoveries.

I would not know such things if I had not experienced it first hand. I think it would be easier to understand Shinto not as a religion but a ‘collection of thoughts.’ For example, those who made a living from fishing have enshrined ‘God of the Sea’ to pray for safety at sea. Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine in Osaka is one of the shrines where people go to pray to the ‘God of the Sea.’ When visiting many shrines, we can understand people’s thoughts back then, and this is the only place where we can feel the connection with the people of the past.
The objects of worship are not only Japanese. In fact, there are shrines dedicated to people from foreign countries. The openness of Shinto allow the Japanese to accept beliefs and ideas from overseas like Buddhism. Furthermore, Shinto has no doctrine or commandments such as those in Christianity or Buddhism.

A mirror normally sits on the altar in a shrine. It is said that one can find “Kami” (God) in the reflection of oneself. In Shinto’s belief, one has to find the answer in oneself. It is different from other religions that teach people to follow the doctrine to be an ideal self. That is why in Japanese it means ‘the road of God(s)’ rather than ‘teachings of God(s).’ The path to one’s ideal self is through appreciation of others, meaning having gratitude for everything.

This simple form of worship in nature is considered as new lifestyle that coexists with nature. Although this is one of the oldest concepts, it would be great if we can expand this as a new concept from Japan.

Q2: Would you tell me the relationship between the emperor and Japan? What do you think is the idea of ‘protecting Japan’?
A2: My activities started from understanding ‘National Foundation Day.’ Japan has been ‘the oldest country’ that has been governed by an emperor for 2,672 years, and recognized by countries that have a monarchy. However, this is not taught in compulsory education and thus not recognized by the public. If the imperial system is lost, Japan will lose itself as a country. It is based on that which emphasizes the importance of keeping the imperial system.

‘Protecting Japan’ means to protect the essence of Japan and the Japanese. Ancestors have passed on tradition and beauty of Japan to the next generations. The world witnessed people from the Tohoku area helping each other without disorder after the earthquake on March 11th. When there was a devastating catastrophe in Turkey, the public learned from Japan’s orderly conduct.

On the other hand, as the result of pursuing a rational economy, Japan is a country that wastes more than 1 trillion yen worth of food. Most Japanese used to be farmers and appreciated what nature has given us. We need to remember ‘the Japanese aesthetic’ from the farmers’ perspective of cherishing ‘objects’ and ‘mateship.’
Q3: What attitude is important for young people to have in Japan? How should they deal with globalization?

A3: With a challenging spirit. When I was a businessman, I requested to transfer to Hong Kong and spent four years there. This experience made me who I am today. Life is long, therefore I hope that people can step out of their safety zone and accept new challenges while they are young.

Don’t be afraid of failures and mistakes, and go abroad to meet with those who have different ideas. Then you’ll find your identity, realize what Japan and Japanese are, and become a real international person.

(After the interview with Mr. Tojo ,Yu Chihama, Third year student of Tsuda College)
I was most impressed by the importance to understand the different views and thoughts of others. From this, we can understand ourselves as Japanese, and discover the identity of Japan and the differences between others. Through this process, we can establish our Japanese identity, create uniqueness, and become an international society. As a young generation, we are heading towards globalization without understanding what Japan and the Japanese are. We should once again learn Japanese culture and traditions and find our own identity. There are many things we can learn from Mr. Tojo’s shrine database, and I will consider how to learn those things in my own way.

《Translated by Kaori Asakami (Monash Univ.)》

Unlock infinite potential of students




Unlock infinite potential of students

Over 1,300,000 teenagers worldwide
already took part in the legendary “Rock Challenge”event


“Rock Challenge” – In 1988 this event took place for the first time to get the “positive attitude” out of the teenagers. Nowadays this event is also recognized by the UNESCO and the WHO and just yet the performance of Koshien was broadcasted nationwide. Furthermore, beside Australia, “Rock Challenge” events are performed in over 120 different places, like in New Zealand, England, Germany, Japan, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and a few more. Many educational establishments consider Rock Challenge as ”the best  educational  program  in the world to cultivate sound spirits among students" and also enjoy the reputation as " educational institution" that motivates normal  teenagers to the level of creating a whole event on their own,

The German exchange student Andreas is working for Global Community as an intern since March 2012. He met with “Rock Challenge” producer Michael J. Di Stasio and talked with him about this project.


Q1:Andreas: “Rock Challenge” exists now for a very long time. Have you ever thought in the past, that this project would have such a big success?

A1:Di Stasio: “Rock Challenge” gives the chance for the students to work  and overcome the difficulties as a team and to have fun by creating everything on their own. Although they get some help for the music, the dances and the production by some professionals the main actors are students. Educators tend to underestimate the potential of the students. I think education means to unlock infinite potential of students That's why we focus on giving them a platform and assure them to tap their full potential on stage. I hope that they can also taste the joy of acting on stage like a professional.

Q2:Andreas: What was the intention to start this project in other countries, such as Japan? Furthermore, what are the future perspectives for this event?

A2:Di Stasio: Drinking, smoking, doing drugs and promiscuous behavior of teenagers are the biggest problems in countries like Australia, America and some European countries. For instance, in South Africa the biggest problem is  that 15 percent of all high school students are infected with HIV. High school students are looking for a way to dissipate their energy. However  the problems of the Japanese high school students are different. Their biggest worry is, that they often don't know how to behave themselves  in society. This problem arises from the fact that the way to measure to the abilities of a student are quite limited in Japanese society. They have to be free to create their own ideas and thoughts.

Also we wanted to create an antithesis to the strong commercialized Japanese pop and show business. In my opinion it is a much bigger threat, that young children are  sexually abused for CD sales than the threat of radioactivity.

Since 2006 we went on stage 5 times and the main  participants have been  international schools, but every year there are more local Japanese shcools participating and in future we want to implement more traditional Japanese music.  Through this matter we can introduce Japanese music and art more in foreign countries. I think the traditional Japanese performance gains dignity even of western arts producers when they watch it. Until now the Japanese students mainly perform HIPHOP songs and the American culture has a big influence on the students, but  hopefully the spirit of the Japanese performance may touch their souls. My dream is that Japanese students discover fun in expressing themselves on stage freely at the “Rock Challenge” events, just like students do in Australia.

As Mr Di Stasio is married with a Japanese women and living here for many years, he is concerned with the needs of Japanese students. Kindly he accept our offer to  cooperates with our  2nd International Singing Festival in October. We hope that there will be more schools participating in “Rock Challenge” in the future.


Comments from interviewer  Andreas Steiner



I never heard about Rock Challenge before and so I read some articles about it before the interview took place. But right in the interview I realized what the real intention of Rock Challenge is. I have to admit, that I was really amazed after the interview with Mr. Di Stasio.  There should be more people like him that put so much effort into a non-profit project. He exactly figured out, what the problems of today's youth are and he tries to avoid that they start drinking too much alcohol, doing drugs or even committing suicide. With his project he wants to show them that they can be strong and self-confident without any addictive substances. He gives them a chance to find their own way and build their own mind and he even has enough courage to oppose the modern pop industry. They can be stars without sexually attracting older man, like most of the Japanese pop bands with young girls in it do. Furthermore I like the fact that he brought the idea of “Rock Challenge” to many other countries with different backgrounds. I hope that this project will gain more success and I also hope that Mr. Di Stasio keeps on working on this unique and outstanding project.
Translated by Andreas Steiner (exchange student in Dokkyo Univ.)

ROCK CHALLENGE OFFICIAL SITE http://www.globalrockchallenge.com/

The Original Social Business!




The Original Social Business!

Never give up on Fukushima!!

After the March 11 earthquake, many people reaffirmed the importance of “people-to-people bonds.” In this interview, Shi In Ketsu (right, China) and Lee San Jun (left, South Korea) speak with Masao Ogino, a native of Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture, who is involved in support activities for the earthquake reconstruction, and is also the president of ICHII Corporation Ltd., a social business enterprise that provides housing support for foreigners.

Masao Ogino: President of ICHII Corporation Ltd. and chairman of the International Exchange Committee of the Japan Property Management Association. Returning home after living in several U.S. and European countries during his university years, Mr. Ogino decided to move into the property industry, providing housing for foreigners. With the industry expanding, Mr. Ogino has become a pioneer by holding seminars related to housing support for foreigners, as well as running a foreign student internship program. After the March 11 earthquake, he quickly returned to his hometown Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture, where he launched the “Fukushima International Media Village,” and is steadily continuing his activities with the aim of giving courage to the Iwaki locals.

Q: (Mr. Shi) What gave you an interest in housing problems for foreigners?

A: (Mr. Ogino)When I was a student I travelled to the US and England, where I rented and lived in various places. It was here I saw many different types of housing. In the guesthouses I stayed at there were people of various countries hanging out in the living room and enjoying their conversations with one another – regardless of age, sex, or nationality. It was very stimulating. When I first came back to Japan, I searched for accommodation where foreigners could live. Apart from places where embassy workers and executives from foreign companies would live – where the rent was $10000 a month – at the time there were no other places.  One day, while searching for a house with a [foreign] university professor, we went to several real estate agents, but were turned away from most of them just because the professor was a foreigner. I realized then how hard it was for foreigners to look for housing, even if they were trustworthy people. Since then, I began to work in earnest in order to get rid of this kind of housing discrimination. After that, as foreigners in Japan increased my business began to grow, and I was able to build large corporate-style accommodation capable of housing over 100 people, just like the guesthouses I saw overseas. Now, guesthouses are becoming known in society, and are even reported on frequently in various media.

Q: (Mr. Lee) As chairman of the International Exchange Committee of the Japan Property Management Association, you must be making all kinds of new proposals to the industry.

A: (Mr. Ogino) That’s right. It’s part of my pride as a real estate agent! My parents were landlords, so when I was a child I lived in tenement housing with other residents where we got along well. Back in the day, part of a landlord’s job was looking after residents by, for example, helping them search for jobs and introducing them to prospective marriage partners. This was in return for receiving rent continuously from residents. This was the original role of real estate agents (i.e. landlords). Here we see the concept of “social business”, where the idea of valuing the community is an essential part of business. At the International Exchange Committee, therefore, we do things like hold seminars for people in the business, make multilingual DVD housing guides, as well as run an internship program for foreign students, in order to create an easier rental environment for foreigners.

Q: (Both interviewers) We’re very grateful for your kindness during our internships. Is that kind of sentiment also the basis for your support in your hometown of Iwaki, where we also helped out?

A: (Mr. Ogino) That’s right. It’s part of my pride as a real estate agent! My parents were landlords, so when I was a child I lived in tenement housing with other residents where we got along well. Back in the day, part of a landlord’s job was looking after residents by, for example, helping them search for jobs and introducing them to prospective marriage partners. This was in return for receiving rent continuously from residents. This was the original role of real estate agents (i.e. landlords). Here we see the concept of “social business”, where the idea of valuing the community is an essential part of business. At the International Exchange Committee, therefore, we do things like hold seminars for people in the business, make multilingual DVD housing guides, as well as run an internship program for foreign students, in order to create an easier rental environment for foreigners.

Q: (Both interviewers) Finally, what do you hope from today’s young people, and what kind of person would you like to work with?

A: In any case, I think it’s important for young people to go overseas while they’re young. Also, please mix with as many different people as possible and make friends all around the world. In terms of people I want to work with, they should have a sense of curiosity and enjoy challenges. Also, although work in real estate will change with the needs of the time, regardless of the age considerate communication will always be fundamental. If you’re someone who sympathizes with idea of making people happy through housing, then I would definitely want to work with you.

It is said that when foreign students come to Japan the first people they come into contact with are their Japanese language school teacher and a real estate agent. President Ogino, as a pioneer in the real estate world, has step-by-step single-handedly realized the oath he made over thirty years ago. It is precisely this social business manager who, thinking of his friends, is also involved in the Fukushima nuclear problem.


Build the “Int'l Red and White Song contest” into an int'l event




Let’s build the “International Red and White Song contest” into an international event!

The “Red and White Song contest” (Kōhaku Uta Gassen) is, of course, the national event held every New Year’s Eve on NHK. Japanese around the country share hit songs and golden oldies, as well as reflect on that year’s events. They also affirm their connection and solidarity with one another in preparation for the new year. The songs performed are also a reflection of the times.

While the “International Red and White Song Battle” is based on this event, its essence is slightly different. Rather than the “red and white” (denoting the colors of the teams that compete against one another), the focus is on the “international”. In this way, we can bring together those foreigners around us to create a “multicultural song battle”.

However, one cannot describe this song battle without mentioning the Great East Japan Earthquake. On March 3, Japan was hit by an unprecedented major earthquake and tsunami, followed by a nuclear accident. Relief teams came from around the world, along with donations and calls of “ganbare Nippon!” (“Don’t give up, Japan!). Foreigners living in Japan also rushed to volunteer in the affected areas. For these people, the disaster wasn’t someone else’s problem. “Giving hope to those in the disaster zone” – this was the theme of the International Red and White Song Battle right from the planning stages.

Having ethnic and multicultural media enter their names as group sponsors was also a bold approach. While they are vastly inferior to the mass media in terms of audience reach, we were able to transcend national borders through their use of technology to transmit information in their native languages. They thus demonstrated their power in a different dimension to the Japanese-language mass media. We also trialled a live broadcast through Ustream. It is through these approaches that the meaning of “international” in the “International Red and White Song Battle” is found.


However, even more worthy of note is the fact that foreigners of many nationalities as well as Japanese were able to come together through song. There are over two million foreigners living in Japan, but if their nationalities are different they don’t have many chances to interact with one another, and thus tend to mingle with people of their own nationality. This is only natural if they are unable to speak the same language.


If NHK’s Red and White Song Battle is a Japanese national event, then the International Red and White Song Battle can be said to be an event for a multicultural society. Actually, just confining it to a regional event is not enough – I want it to be turned into an international event that garners attention the world over.

(Author) Susumu Ishihara , editor-in-chief at the multicultural info magazine “Immigrants” (he contributed this article representative of the planning committee for the event).



 グローバルコミュニティーでは、今回、多文化共生に詳しい元毎日新聞論説副委員長の石原進氏に国際紅白歌合戦の総括の記事を書いていただきました。石原氏は、記者当時から日本における外国人問題に深い関心をもち、「多文化共生社会・日本」 の実現をはかるべく多文化情報誌『イミグランツ』を創刊されています。第一線のジャーナリストとして活躍された深い見識と、毎日新聞政治部副部長時代に培った豊富な人脈を活用し、海外有識者ネットワーク日本事務局長を努めながら、『日本社会の内なる国際化』の啓蒙活動を『イミグランツ』を通して地道に続けておられます。


多文化情報誌『イミグランツ』 NO.4




I just want to help the people I love




“I just want to help the people I love”

A desire to help, and the miracle it led to

Several months after the 3.11 Great Earthquake, there were problems with relief supplies sent to government offices not being efficiently delivered to those in need. It was in this situation that “Fumbarou East Japan” (“Project Fumbaro Eastern Japan”) representative, Takeo Saijo, came up with a simple system of directly sending supplies to these people. Mr. Saijo, then spread the word of this method to tens of thousands of people over Twitter, starting a revolution in the delivery of relief supplies. Eitarou Konno (Lakeland University, Japan Campus) and Yiru Guo(Sophia University) spoke with one of the most relied-upon people in the disaster area.


(Konno) My hometown is Ishinomaki City, and I volunteered there for a month and a half, clearing up rubble. However, because the local leader was absent, we had a difficult time. What was your strongest feeling during your work in the disaster zone?

(Saijo) This disaster is of a magnitude no-one has ever experienced before. I don’t want to simply say “you can’t understand unless you go,” but the damage was far worse than I imagined – I was lost for words. I also lost an uncle I loved very much, and my relatives and friends that remained have suffered a lot. Even if you go and help out in the disaster zone, it’s very hard to tell the people there to “give it their all.” Everyone is already giving it their best suppressing their unhappiness. Despite the heat, there are people even now in the evacuation sites without fans. There’s still so much more we need to do.

(Konno)  What is the reason Ganbarou Higashi Nippon’s work reached so many people in such a short time?

(Saijo)  I think it’s because it is based on my research in “Structural Constructivism,” where you grasp the situation on the ground, and try to conduct support activities in as simple a way as possible. There were already a matching website for sending support material, but the people in the disaster area who can access the internet and obtain information are in the minority. We went directly to the evacuees, asked them what they needed, and then put that list up on our website.
Luckily courier services were already running, and through the website we were able to connect people receiving and sending supplies. Before long we went from simply “sending supplies,” to a feeling of “helping specific individuals to receive supplies,” and I think senders motivation to support them became stronger. Twitter was really helpful in relaying the situation from the ground. The will to help those in the disaster zone spread with the dissemination of this vivid information, and friends of “Ganbarou” increased in no time. Also, even if some things went bad and were criticised, if this remained at only around five percent of everything we were doing, we turned a blind eye to it and proceeded with our plans. I think it was good that we stuck to our idea of “only for the disaster people.”

(Guo) How do you think students should respond to the earthquake?

(Saijo) In any event, myself and the students around me want other students to go the disaster zone and see it for themselves. I think it would be difficult for some young people, who are blessed with the environment they have, to empathise with people’s pain and deep sadness. However, for those who go and see the disaster zone, their feelings towards giving support changes in a definite way. As they volunteer, I think the feeling that they want to help others becomes aroused from the bottom of their hearts. I don’t think of the activities that I do as volunteering. I simply act with the thought that in any event I want to help those in the disaster zone – it’s as natural as eating. I think a lot of my fellow workers are the same.

It’s already been four months since the earthquake, but the disaster zone is still far from recovery – everyone’s continued support is needed. Emergency groups such as “Geiger Counter Project” and “Kaden (home applicance) Project”, as well as new groups like Entertainment Squad and Student Squad have started their activities. I think studying for job-hunting is important, but through Ganbarou East Japan’s activities I want everyone to have encounters and experiences that they can’t learn at school – one’s they won’t forget for the rest of their lives.

Takeo Saijo profile:
Waseda University Graduate School (MBA) full-time lecturer. Specialises in Psychology and (Scientific) Philosophy. Systemized the meta-theory “Structural Constructivism”. Originally from Sendai, he started Ganbarou East Japan in order to do what he could for those who lost their lives.

twitterID:@saijotakeo (follower:17,532)


Eitarou Konno’s impressions

I was very impressed by Mr Saijo’s words, “I’ve never thought of what I am doing as volunteering.”  Having had these feelings myself, people often tell me to “give it my best” or that I’m very “admirable,” but helping your friends and relatives when they are suffering is a natural reaction. Rather, when I think of my friends who lost their lives, I truly feel sorry for not being able to do anything for them - I recognized this again during the interview.

(please see the full article at yokosojapan.net)
translated by Lance Truong (Monash Univ.)

「ふんばろう東日本支援プロジェクト」 http://fumbaro.org/

The Rebirth of Japan from Tokyo



The Rebirth of Japan from Tokyo


From CEO to challenger of the political world: interview with Miki Watanabe

One out of ten high school  students studying overseas
From seven million to fourteen million tourists

After succeeding in the restaurant business at a young age, Miki Watanabe then expanded into other fields like nursing, agriculture, medicine, and education, reforming their harsh business environments through his own individual style. During this period he ran into the “political wall” of regulation; he therefore decided that using his managerial skill he would revive Japan by standing in the Tokyo gubernatorial election. He has won the hearts and minds of mainly young people with his messages of “No apathy” and “A Tokyo overflowing with dreams and thank-yous”; words rarely heard from your usual politician. Zhang Xin , a junior from Watanabe’s alma mater Meiji University, spoke with him.

Q1: What was the main reason you decided to run in the election?
A1: Using a trillion yen budget, I wanted to “manage Tokyo” and bring joy to its 13 million citizens. I’ve started businesses in fields like restaurants, nursing, agriculture, medicine, and education, and in 27 years have managed to achieve rising sales and profits. Utilising an entrepreneur’s perspective, by making operations more thorough and efficient, and cutting waste, I think Tokyo can be run more efficiently.

Q2: I am in total agreement with your idea of having one in every ten Tokyo high school students study overseas, but what should be done in order to make students want to go overseas and expand their potential?
A2: In the current situation it may sound like a dream, but as long you create a system that supports students, I think it would be more than possible to have one in every ten students study overseas. I believe that impressionable high school students who see the world will be able to expand their limitless potential. Japan is the only advanced country where the number of students studying overseas is decreasing. It is really important for Japan’s future to change this situation.


Q3: Tokyoites don’t really recognise Tokyo as a “tourism city”. What do you think is the most important thing in order to increase Tokyo’s appeal as a city for tourists?

A3: I want to make Tokyo into a brand. When people hear the word “Tokyo”, I want them to recognise it for “that thing”, whatever it may be. People from all over the world identify Tokyo for its many attractions, like fashion, anime, and gourmet. If I’m elected as governor, I want to double the number of tourists from the current seven million to fourteen million. I want to make Tokyo into a town where Tokyoites recognise its appeal and warmly welcome foreign tourists.

Q4: How should one motivate themselves when they’re having trouble achieving their dream?

A4: It is important to have a dream and never give up pursuing it. I’ve written it in my book as well, but I believe that by “putting a date” to your dream and then imagining what it would be like if it was achieved, you can increase your motivation.

Q5: I would like you to create places in Tokyo where overseas students can become more actively involved. How do you view, however, a Tokyo with increasing numbers of foreigners and overseas students?
A5: That’s a very important point. I would like to, for example, turn the city-run Tokyo Metropolitan University into one that people all over the world want to attend, by opening its doors and inviting large numbers of talented professors and overseas students.

Q6: Please give a message to both Japanese university students and foreign students studying in Japan.
A5: When I was student, I travelled around Asia, Europe, and America. One time, I was in a live music club in New York, and saw people from many different countries mixing with one another. This experience motivated me to start a dining business. These days we live in an age where national borders are less recognised. Whether you’re Japanese or not, as people of the earth I think it is important to think of our friends across the world the same as we would our own countrymen. If we encounter one another with a determination to understand each other, I think the world will become a wonderful place.

At the age of ten Watanabe lost his mother, and his father liquidated his business. Raised by his grandmother in difficult circumstances, he decided in grade five to become a company president.  “Putting a date” on this dream he overcame the difficulties that came his way, and has achieved enormous success in many business fields. During the interview, I felt that Watanabe truly believes in the idea that “as long you stick to the belief that everything you do is for the customer, you can succeed in any business”. There are many young people who are distrustful towards those involved in politics and administration. However, in the upcoming unified local elections, let’s judge candidates not by their political and administrative experience, but rather in terms of who will seriously consider the needs of the local people and work to break through the current situation. Let’s take responsibility for our future, get out there, and vote!

Zhang Xin’s (Meiji University second year) impressions:


It was real honour to meet directly with and talk to Watanabe-san, a “big senior” from my own Meiji University. I think his ideas, such as sending high school students overseas to study, and turning Tokyo into one brand and transmitting it to the world, are really great. Someday I want to become a person like Watanabe-san – someone who can change the world. Watanabe-san, please win in this election and make Tokyo a more open and spirited place. (Last year, Zhang-san completed a one-month long-term internship in the property industry, and with other graduates of the program is currently studying for the “Real Estate Transaction Specialist” exam)


Running Tokyo
Author: Miki Watanabe   Publisher: Sunmark Publishing Inc.

From a “management pro” with experience in a wide range of fields including restaurants, nursing, agriculture, education, and medicine, comes an outstanding work offering his opinions on the administration of Tokyo. How can we break down the wall of ‘politics’ that he experienced as an entrepreneur? The author argues that what is most important is a “management perspective”. How can we rid ourselves of our shackles and fundamentally remake Tokyo? Awash with ideas from the author’s original perspective, he presents the fruit of his efforts – the “Tokyo Reconstruction Theory”.


Miki Watanabe – Profile: Born 5 October 1959. After graduating from Meiji University’s School of Commerce, he worked for half a year in an accounting firm in order to learn about the financing and accounting required in order to run a company. After this he worked for one year in a transport company and saved three million yen in capital. In 1984 he founded Watami, and under a doctrine of “becoming the business group that gathers the most thank-yous in the world”, constructed an original business model in areas such as dining, nursing, agriculture, environment, education, medicine and welfare. He has worked as director of the Ibunkan incorporated school, the Kishiwada-Eishinkai Hospital, the NPO “Everyone’s Dream”, and Nippon Keidanren; he was a member of the government’s “Education Rebirth Council” (2006), Kanagawa Prefecture’s board of education (2006-2009), the Japan Sumo Association’s “Independent Committee for the Improvement of Governance” (2010); and an advisor to the Japan Tourism Agency (2010). At the same time, as representative director of the public service corporation “School Aid Japan”, he is also involved in the construction of schools in Cambodia.

Miki Watanabe’s official websites: