Showing posts from 2006

PSC strategy session for 2007

I was worried about what might happen at our annual planning meeting. last year this time we had a big meeting with lots of ideas but little came of it. This year I feel envigorated by the PSC planning committee meeting which took place on Dec 10. It was great to get other people ideas and to sus out what other people thought they could do and what they wanted to do. Now we just need to build our volunteer teams to get everything under way.

I believe we can do two different types of activities 1. activist skills training and 2. network development if we had a few more people with time to work on the programs.

We will hold meetings in January to help us better develop the plan.
January 15 (Mon) 7:30-9:00 pm
January 21 (Sun) 6:00-7:30 pm
January 27 (Sat) 10:30-12:00 noon
We would like people to attend any one that fits their schedule - so we can assess interest, time commitment and skills levels and then make a comprehensive 2007 plan. If interested, please contact, .

Nonprofit arts notes

On to a different angle today ...

I sometimes forget the important role of arts related nonprofit nongovernmental organizations. being from the US, where many if not most arts groups are indipendent from the government, it is easy to forget that in many countries governments value culture and arts programs and see it as part of the national interest.

in an interesting switch it seems many countries - such as England and Japan - are forcing arts institutions to become more independent. as the tax base decreases and as the enpenses forbring shows increases it seems that the gap between financial needs and fund availability can only widen. but they do not have staff or outside professionals with the skills or experience to suddenly do independent fundraising and manage the organizations in a non-bureaucratic manner. time will tell.

some see trouble - i see a new opportunity for professional development in the nonprofit sector here in Japan.

Ogata talk on Dec 1, 2006

I was lucky to get invited by Lucy from Metropolis to join a talk at the FCCJ given by Sadako Ogata.

She was very charming - even in the not so exciting talk about the creation of a new JICA, which would be a merger of JICA and JBIC. This is going to allow for longer-term planning and more integrated program development. I do believe that she aims to work towards more people centered community development projects. Given the size and history of both government agencies it is hard to think that she is not facing resistance and frustration in changing the bureaucracy.

all the ideas sounds great - implementation however may take longer than anyone expects.

Guidestar talk on Nov 30

JACO hosted 3 speakers from Guidestar International and it was an interesting introduction of their work and the expansion of their work beyond the US and the UK.

They have developed a common platform and have a common server so that new local Guidestars can be developed at much lower costs than what it would take to start from scratch. They are working with South Korean, South African and German partners to start up local Guidestars. It would be great if we could get this going in Japan! Right now there are multiple online databases of Japanese organizations but since the data is so limited the usefulness is also not comprehensive.

I love the idea that open records promote more giving which in turn promotes more accountability.

Annual NPO Forum

On Nov 23 and 24, I joined the annual NPO forum coordinated by the Japan NPO forum. The three key themes were:
民間 focused on inclusion of the public
変革 looking at social change
連携 addressing organizational collaboration

Tajima from the PSC also joined on Friday and we met up for lunch.

On Thursday, I joined the intro session and part one was a good napping time, so no need to report anything. The Second part was an introduction to the three key themes around which on Friday there were 3 separate 9:30- 4:30 workshops.

Katsuji Imata, Co-Director of CSO Network and former director of the white band campaign in Japan, coordinated the 連携 workshop and gave a good intro. He talked about how we often overwhelm people who want to come in with some interest in volunteering. We give them too much info and ask more than they can give – in effect killing off their interest. Kat also addresses the White band Campaign and the bashing they experienced. I liked his point about the white being a small way an…

World AIDS Day 2006

It is upon us again - World AIDS Day.

So much going on - what are you joining? where can you get the info on events?

Glad you asked!

YDP has a good page with info on all types of events going on.

AIDS Prevention Information Network - AIP-Net also has a decent listing of events:

also visit the site of the PLACE Tokyo about the AIDS Gakkai - They will have some interesting topics and speakers on Dec 1 and 2

Hope to see you there!

Lots to be thankful for

The US thanksgiving is tomorrow and often around this time I start to reflect on how lucky most of us here in Japan are. our lives are soft and around many people there is little profound debate on world affairs and what we need to do.

I read something recently that the reason why people are so active socially in the US is because there are so many problems but since japan has not had any serious trouble - people do not need to get involved. 『Oh come on - give me a break』 is the response I print for all to read. might it have something to do with seeing how lucky we are and not thinking of those who are less fortunate as just weak. I better not get started.

Back to the issue at hand - we can all do a wee bit to make things better by giving just a small bit of our time.

Get out there and get involved - you can make a difference.
choose an issue you are interested in. do some research. get in touch with and visit a bunch of groups and then commit your time. If you need help on getting s…

Recent events ... refugees, trafficking and the run for the cure.

Some of the events i recently joined moved me to think a lot about a number of different problems we face and how important strategy is for dealing with complex issues. At first glance, all are quite different - breast cancer, trafficking in persons and refugee support. But they all showed the need for nonprofit NGO work and for collaboration with other actors as well as the need for the creation of a professionlised civil society sector in Japan.

1. Information dissemination to the public is necessary for the development of support and social mobilization

2. Self-help oriented programs are necessary - providing hand outs alone is not effective.

3. Professional advocacy work needs to happen from local to international levels

4. The people affected need to organize themselves to have an impact and alter the relations of power.

IRC event in Tokyo: systems and support for refugees and asylees

On Sat Oct 21 I joined an excellent event coordinated by JAR (Japan Association of Refugees) supported by CGP and other refugee support organizations in Japan

There were two speakers from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) who introduced the refugee and asylee system in the US and then outlined the types of services the and other groups provided for people new to the US. I thought the IRC speakers had to cover too many issues in too short a time - if they had been the only speakers (with Q & A) for 3 hours they would have had just about enough time to go over the key issues.

It can not be assumed that audience members even understand what the terms refugee and asylum mean. This came out in one of the questions from the audience. someone asked about the skill criteria for the determination of refugee or asylum status. hmm. i thought. that means the person would not understand the difference between immigrants, migrants, and refugees. the fact that refuge is given on humanit…

Citizens academy - series on trafficking

There are so many events these days being run under the general theme of trafficking in persons. (TIP). on Oct 20 I attended the second in a series of 3 talks at the Citizens Academy in Azabu.

The topic was to be on the lack of security faced by people in Japan who are trafficked. The first hour deal with very basic issues like what it TIP, what international regular exist and an intro to related Japanese laws. some of the interesting points of the talk included the rights that people have - regardless of citizenship. i guess i was surprised that some people did not realise this - but it seems these days this question has come in many places.

i would have like to know deeper and more specific issues facing different people. it was a bit too general and did not really address the different issues different people face.

maybe it was just supposed to be a review focusing on women from the Philippines?
it was mostly a review - maybe more like and intensive Japanese lesson.

i often get sto…

Kansai discrimination case ruling

I do not know too much about this case i was surprised to find out how few people knew that this was even going on. Below is an intro to the case but i suggest you check out the links for more details.

It seemed like a straight forward case. An African-American resident of Kyoto, Steve McGowan was refused entry into an eyeglass shop in 2004. This happened in Daito City, Osaka Prefecture and Steve sued the shop, G. style, for refusing him entry based on the color of his skin. This past week he won only a partial victory when the Osaka High Court ruled that the defendant's action was illegal. However the court ruled that it was not racially biased. This despite owners admitted bigotry. Things are not as clear as they seem - I hope to get in touch with him this week for some comments and ideas for people aroudn the country who face similar circumstances.

Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006 Plaintiff gets redress but not for racial bias High court tells shopkeeper with avowed hatred of blacks to…

"Introducing Your Culture Day"

I do like to list events here generally but i thought this was worth listing.

-- EVENT: "Introducing Your Culture Day" - An international festival
-- DATE & TIME: Sunday, October 28 from 13:00 - 16:00
-- PARTICIPATING EMBASSIES: India, Kenya, Mongolia, Nepal,
Philippines, Sweden and the U.S.

"Introducing Your Culture Day" is organzied for the children of Nonohana-no-ie -
The "Wildflower House" - a home for 40 Japanese and non-Japanese children aged 2-18, who are victims of child abuse and neglect.

Volunteers are encouraged to come up with their own preferred ways to
help out this event. Some are performing music, others are preparing food or will play
games with the children with their own cultural themes. There will be an outside stage for
performers. Mongolian dancers will perform the traditional dance this year.

They are looking for help with the US booth and also still looking for other groups to do thier own c…

Sayama international solidarity campaign

IMADR has just lauched a new site to draw attention to the Sayama case. It has not only information about the case and the story from Kazuo Ishikawa himself but it also has an interactive section where you can follow his movements and supposed events of the day.

An introduction to the case:
On May 1, 1963, in Sayama City, north of Tokyo, a female high school student disappeared on her way home from school. That evening, a ransom note was delivered to her home. she was later foudn dead. On May 23, 1963, Kazuo Ishikawa, a man of Buraku origin from the town of Sayama, north of Tokyo, was convicted and sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. The sentence was later commuted to life and has been in prison since 1963.

For many people an interesting part about his story might be the fact that he did not even know he was Buraku - that he thought the problems and harrasment his family faced were due to being poor. His story is a must read.

The links and info on what you can do are also go…

Recent events ... CSR and Global Festa

CSR : What does this mean?
When i go to nonprofit events it seems to be quite different (focus on the responsibility to community problems and issues) from what I hear people from companies talking about. (compliance with the law and being nice to customers)

This is more than structural and more than the for-profit not-for-profit stance isn't it? isn't the basic mission oriented nature of one sector vs. the lack of mission on the other?

Global Festa was fun and i did get to meet a bunch of people as well as run to familiar faces.
I ran into people from ACE, PWJ, EAJ, IMADR, artists without borders, JSRPD and JEN.
and met people from IVC, Shaplaneer, ICA, IOM and Oxfam.

The one thing i did forget was to eat before going. The food choice was again the same fried anything or curry chicken. Would be nice to have an organic and/or vegetarian food stall.

Trafficking in persons forum

I have attended so many interesting event recently - the one I would like to write about today is the Asia Foudnations sympoisum on Trafficking which was held at UNU.

It was very informative and I think it also meade clear what the weak point of the movement are here. for thsoe of us that attend many events on this topic it was good to hear more than just how "kowai so" victims are and and the support needed for them. the IMADR events so far have been the only ones i have seen which look at the rights of the people involved not just the support services and their sad stories.

It was welcome to finally hear questions and discussion on going after traffickers and the necessity of tough prosecution of the brokers in both the countries that send and receive the people who are trafficked.

Another area brought up by the people from the UK was the need for both societal awareness and mobilization of the public. Without the public knowing more about the issue and mobilizing them, what …

NGO 301 at TUJ

I am excited to have a big class at Temple this semester.
I was bummed that my NGO 201 class was cancelled - not enough students but I have 18 for the Role and Function of NGOs.

Very excited to create new materials and activities for a large group. I am revising most of the materials but the key topics are
Roles and responsibilities: overviewnonprofit NGOs in different contextsIEC/ public education Providing services Transnational collaborationSelf help and trainingGrassroots organizingAdvocacy Really looking forward to this course.

I am thinking of taking the TUJ advocacy course - even if it is on Sat at 9am - guarantees a serious group of people!

I am thinking also of how I can work with IMADR on the Anti-discrimination NGO Network. this class might help me be effective for this group.

The NGO Matsuri in Ueno on Sept 10 was really energizing!

I must have talked to 150 people - I got a sore throat - but it was good for me to rehearse my schitck in Japanese that many times. It also just exciting to see so many people interested in the work og NGOs.

More than 30 people joined our workshops - Pania and Dawn did a great job. I think we will develop this area more - support for NGO people in not only language but how to present and talk about issues with diverse audiences.

We now share space with Human Rights Now! a new HR NGO. They had interesting speakers Burma but other that that I did not get a chance to hear any of the other events. Hope they will work with us on Forum 8 which will focus on HR issues. I have big expectations for that one - but need to finish prep for Forum 7...


I have met so many people recently that want my advice on working with nonprofits and NGOs in Japan.

This is a job - not a hobby - it is so hard to explain that yes i need to get paid. Sure i can introduce someone but i can not spend 2 days working for nothing. Nonprofit NGO work is work.

On a related note -
I am divided within myself whether or not I would really like to develop the PSC more and make it a real group. i mean with a board, staff (volunteer or not) membership etc.
We need 2 more key people to do funding/finances, outreach and PR besides the project mgt and overall cooridination.

Pluses and minuses to being a volunteer group or standardised group.

Why give?

I have been trying to think of more creative and lucrative ways to link nonprofit NGOs to the corproate sector but i have been stuck on the familiar
sponsoring events or days
fundraising parties
gifts in time - staff time donations

but the key issue - is what is the appeal for people in the for profit sector?
why donate time and money?
I have not seen much evidence that the appeal is well understood by anyone.

At this event on CSR i recently attended i was a bit disappointed by tha lack of depth and simple way in which it was defined.

Starting with the idea of legal compliance always bothers me - not breaking the law is not CSR. it is a responsibility we all have ... this is not a social benefit or contribution.
the other part that bothers me is talking about how treating people well is CSR - no that is a mgt issue.

CSR has got to include some concrete contribution to society - that is determined legally or included as basic mgt. practice.

I know it is more than giving fudns and time but i think…

Run for the Cure

I have been thinking a lot these days about breast cancer - might be age or just that over the past year or so, I have heard from so many people who have discovered they have it. A friend in NYC was keeping a blog through her trials and tribulations ... intense. If she lets me share her blog i will later on. At least she has a lot of support over there, she has great health coverage, good friends and family ...

Then i come to my concern about this here in tokyo. i tried to get a test for my 40th as part of the annual health check up but a mammogram was not included in the coverage. i paid for it myself but was really surprised by that. This year, i found out it will be covered. well, finally.

The #1 issue to address in japan is how little people know and how few people get tested.
I forget - is it 3 or 6 % of women test for breast cancer? either way a way too small number.

You can make a difference by supporting the Tokyo-based Run for the Cure Foundation which funds education and awaren…

History in the making.

Many people might not know it but there has been a movement against discrimination and racism going on for a long time in Japan. I have been fortunate to see what I felt was historical work being done.

On July 28 I attended two meetings coordinated by IMADR. I sat in on the prepratory and debriefing sessions that preceeded and followed the public meeting with MoFA on anti-discrimination legislation.

I would have joined the meeting had I sent in my form early enough of MoFA

There were people from all over Japan, representing different populations - Zainichi, Ni-kei, non-Japanese wives and children, foreign labourers etc. - but all related to discrimination issues. There was such a buzz of energy and I was pleasantly surprised at how well everyone worked to gether.

I think this was mostly due to Morihara's (IMADR's Secretary-General) effective facilitation, and coordination of the group. Discussion could have easily gone in 1001 different directions but I think his leadership is wha…

talking to people about RESPECTing themselves.

so much has been happening - i have been having a hard time keeping up.

Recently, I had dinner with a woman working with a groupcalled RESPECT - they are trying to develop sexual health education/awareness among Japanese youth. It seems to be more difficult that thought.

I really thought it would not be so tough to do outreach and talk to young people in Japan about sexual health issues but i guess taboos are taboos - no matter how free people seem on the outside. There have been several articles about increasing rates of STIs among young people in Japan. I wonder if it is really increasing or if we just just never had stats before.

RESPECT is doing really important work andI hope we can include them in some of our work this fall.

Advocacy and coalition development

I feel like everyone I talk to these days talks about advocacy. Half the time I am not sure what they actually mean by advocacy and/or i have to remind myself that there is no consesnus on what it really is in Japanese.

The common questions that come to me:
* Why do NGOs need to do advocacy work?
* Why don't more NGOs in Japan do advocacy work?
* Isn't advocacy work dangerous and/or too political?
* How do you do it?

Another area of discussion I have a lot is about why coalitions do not work in Japan - I am still looking for the answers to this. Some of the ones I have been given:
* NGOs are too philososphical and can not compromise thier mission
* Lack of organizational capacity
* Charismatic leadership issues
* Lack of staff interest
* Desire or pressure for consensus
* Lack in understanding of the need and or purpose of coalitions.
* Lack of NGO interest or understanding of the citizen role in the democratic process.
* Lack of trust between specific group leaders
I am not sure if these r…

The Asia Foundation Tanabata BBQ

I helped with the coordination of a Tanabata BBQ introducing the new Japan Director of The Asia Foundation, Arseny (aka Chuk) Besher, to the nonprofit-NGO and CSR communities.

It was a good start for the development of a network of diverse groups interested in collaboration for a better future in Asia.

The weather on July was cooperative after all so we were really lucky.

The first photo features Tomoko Shiroki from ACE, Dawn Tattersall from the PSC and Namjoon Kim from Deutsche Bank (and a friend from SIPA days) with Chuk.

It was a good chance for people involved in different types of work to meet up, share ideas and find possibilities for future collaboration.
People joined from such diverse organziations as IMADR, National women's Education Center, JOICFP, the PEPY Ride, Japan Society, Misai Center, TELL, Shinsei Bank and Boeing.

The party was filled with so many interesting people - enjoying both serious and not-so-serious discussion.

I spent most of the night introducing people - bu…

Forum 6

Skills Build Forum 6 turned out to be not only fun but energizing.

I went into the event with mixed feelings - i really have not had the time to devote to the last 3 forums - I have been busy working. But we had a great group of people helping out with PR and the panel speakers were excellent.

The workshops worked because everyone was not only into developing their plans but also because this group was experienced.

I learn so much each time I do these workshops - looking forward to the next one.

So much work to do.

I have been trying to help the Womens Union of boston on find a partner organization in Japan to work on a international fellowship program together. This has proven much more difficult than i expected.

I was also recently contacted to help find an group to help with research on sex workers and traffikcing in japan. this also is proving to be quite hard.

The first hurdle is finding a group for which such program fall within their mission/mandate.
The main issue - however - is capacity.

This is not a matter of japanese nonprofits and NGOs being "behind" anyone but that there is still a long way to go in the org development process for most groups.
lots of work ot be done...

Door to door donations

Sunday I was at home when the neighborhood assoc. head stopped by. She asked about our 500yen monthly payment for the Red Cross of Japan.

I said I preferred to support groups I knew because I worked with NGOs and Nonprofits. To this I was told that everyone has been giving 500 yen per month for the past 40+ years.

When I asked why they did not ask for money for Japanese NGOs she such as JEN and PWJ - the reply was initally silence but was then told she did not know those groups.

After asking why she supported the RCJ, I was asked to have my husband call her.

My husband smirked when I told this story - he knows how i feel about the RCJ and large orgs in general. I dislike how some groups seem to have some special status even though many people know little to nothing about what they give money to.

He also knows that people also do not question what they have been doing for the past 40 or 50 years and that to ask questions must make them just perplexed. I guess pushing the issue is what makes…

Niigata Trip Jun 2-4, JEN and Morgan Stanley

Last weeks trip to Niigata with Morgan Stanley staff was quite a learning experience.
Besides the actualy farm work itself - which was exhausting !

It was very good for me to see how a project likethis works on the ground - even in Japan the negotations between the various partners can be quite tough. Not a matter of language but of the business and nonprofit "cultures" - in order to better understand each other we need more projects like this.

The public here still does not know much about the work nonprofits and NGOs so often i feel that I am translating ideas into language that the coutner part can understand. we take so much for granted. Assumptions are different of course but the fact that the work of NGOs and nonprofits is not understood here in Japan makes the role of negotation quite different.

The best part of our trip was not the planting or the early mornings but the pary with the locals where we got to meet and chat and drink with the local people - all 15 of them. w…

Nonprofit and NGO Support

Current projects:
Nonprofit and NGO event and program cooridination
Linking nonprofits with coporationsTrainings and workshops on various skill areas
Corporate volunteer program coordinationNonprofit internship placementJapan-US NGO partnership developmentSkills build forums Consultation:
Linking people who want to volunteer to organzationsProviding information on Tokyo area events in EnglishAdvice on working in the Japanese nonprofit and NGO sector