Showing posts from November, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

We have lots to be thankful for and it seems that we forget this.

Our lives in Tokyo are so busy, people rushing here and there and people around us in Japan always focus on the things we cannot do rather than what we can.

The nonprofit NGO world here too has much to be thankful for ... we will have the international media spotlight.
2008 will be a good year we have the TICAD and G8 – lots of attention will come to Japan. How we use that lime light is up to us.

Peace Winds Japan

On Nov 17, Marc Saito from Peace Winds Japan was a guest speaker at my TUJ course on the Japanese nonprofit NGO sector .

After introducing the organization and the background info - he foucsed on two areas he has been involved in - Water and education support in Afghanistan and Liberian refugee support in Sierra Leone.

Everyone learned so much about what goes into developing an emergency relief project. We understand the difficulties people in the field face but the real face of it is hard to imagine. His sharing of his own experiences has invaluable.

Support from governments and the public in places where security is an issue is something many of us had not thought deeply about before this talk.

In the talk about refugee camps it also became clear to us all that one of the most difficult parts is resettlement. there is little funding or government support for this long process which is integral to the establishment of stable communities.

There also seems to be a misconception that peopl…

Darwin's Nightmare

This movie was very intense and seeing it a second time was very good for understanding more details. But I still feel a bit lost. I am not sure what we can do. Unlike Invisible Children, which seems far away but a more concrete problem. but the problems are so huge - where is the iriguchi to making a change?

We talked about contacting heads of airlines and requesting they start an inquiry in to where the fish they use comes from. It might take time and lots of voices before there is any response but I think there is some way to push the envelop on this. just like they do with sports clothing companies.

Most poignant comments to me were about developed countries allowing conflict to go on and that this helps business. But this was not just in reference to arms or fish but also to the humanitarian aids business becoming such a big business. These emergencies allow UN jobs to flourish … hmmm what do you think? Makes sense to some degree.

Find out more at
Other site…

Brad Adams from HRW - PC in Tokyo

Brad Adams, the Asia Director from Human Rights Watch was recently in Tokyo meeting with various NGO, government and press people. This was mostly an adovcacy trip and his main focus at the press conference was on Japan's diplomatic role and the importance of Japan's role.

He focused his talks on Myanmar, China, and Pakistan, and based his talk on the concept that Japan's role and prominence in the region could make a real difference.

Get more info from HRW's Burma report here :

He also talked about the fact that no one from the Japanese government would meet the Dalai Lama during his nine-day visit here. Not surprising but after the visits to the US and Germany, we know that the China bark is worse than the bite. it is interesting than much of the press that followed this PC lead with this issue and not the meaty ones - Burma or Pakistan or even the local HR issues.

But several reporters were in terested in more local…

JSRPD training for leaders with disabilities

I just finished another training with JSRPD for the JICA’s leadership training program. This program aims to equipe people with disabilities with some basic skills to make a change in their communities. (Maybe this is more of my agenda - also the aim is to how how wonderful things are in Japan.)

This year we had another great group of people. On Nov 2 we focused all day on how to write an action plan. Then on Nov 8 we reviewed plans and I went over areas of concern. In the afternoon we focused on how to present the action plan. Then on Nov. 13 - I reviewed everyone’s narrative draft while they practiced the presentations.

Some excellent ideas and plans for action were generated. These included developing employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Chile, Zimbabwe, and Nepal, with the aim of financial independence. Sports programs for youth with disabilities in Honduras and Yemen aim for both social integration and health – mental and physical promotion. Other action plans f…

International Career Fair

I have been planning for years to attend the annual international career fair SEE FLIER organized by IDJ (international development journal)

I was surprised at how few people there were and how basic the seminars were. I did an intro to TUJ NGO mgt course but really most of those people would not know what ngo really was.

Next year I can do a workshop. I already have a plan to give to my boss at Temple University Japan Campus continuing education program. We have a good program on NGOs but I am sure there will also be people interested in the business certificate. (

* Kaori and Nadine introducing the NGO mgt program to a prospective student.


Dave Mori recently spoke at my NGO mgt course about entrepreneurship and networking. I knew he would be the right choice Dave is such a good speaker and so warm and concrete – hE was spot on and inspiring for the class.

Dave is involved in a number of interesting orgs besides running a company called English ok!

He ALSO runs the Entrepreneur Assoc of Tokyo which features interesting speaker – all of whom are entrepreneurs in very different fields. People learn skills, share mistakes and good practices so that everyone benefits.

The timeline was really right too they are just starting on their class projects – outlining an NGO structure, vision mission, project etc

Some of the other groups Dave is involved in: Net Tokyo, Gourmet Night
Check them out!

NGO Forum meeting

I joined the Nov 6 meeting as an interpreter for the staff from Oxfam UK. It was very interesting. There are so many things I forgot the importance of – Japanese “group setting”, the intro period taking more time with a group of people who do not know each other … everyone has to understand where we all stand in the pecking order before we can define what we say and how to say it.

Having to explain this however is not easy if you do not understand Japanese social structure and communication style.

We did a group exercise that could have easily taken 1 hour but we only had 10 or 15 min. our groups was to talk about whether or not it was Japanese NGOs should have an organized campaign for the G8. A problem quickly came up – some people were talking about slogans and messaging without even considering the Q at hand and/or what the goals and objectives of a campaign would be.

Part of this might be simple- understanding what a campaign is and the basics of project campaign and strategic plan …

Nov 3rd - part 2 PEACE KIDS SOCCER

The Nov 3 Juan Cole talk was also a good chance to support a local groups with some small funding. Through an open selection process we chose Peace Kids Soccer (PKS), which has programs, focused on developing trust and dialogue through sports for Israeli and Palestinian youth. Mari Maruhashi save a really great intro to their work – I hope they will find more supporters to support their work!

Find out more by visiting their website or contact them directly:

info from their proposal:



Nov 3 Juan Cole talk

Professor Juan Cole’s talk was enlightening. His demeanor and humor helped make a talk that could have easily been dry and depressing, very engaging.

The US just uses up too much petroleum products. Really – no mystery there but the historical background and his introduction to the connections between people in the current US government and oil businesses and related interests was very easy to understand and put the light on many things that were previously vague.

His research into napoleons incursion into Egypt is hauntingly familiar to the US approach to Iraq. It is clear that we humans do not learn form past mistakes but this made it even more clear how we can already see it repeating itself in front of our eyes.

Professor Juan Cole is a noted expert on the modern Middle East, and has spent the last 30 years putting the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His award-winning blog Informed Comment is a daily must-see for an in-depth and alternative view o…