December 15, 2020
Representatives of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and Youth Volunteers for Nikkei* Communities (NJV) who returned to Japan after their two years assignment in developing countries had the honor of talking informally with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan at the Akasaka Imperial Residence on Sept. 18.
Since the launch of the volunteer initiative in 1965, Their Majesties have talked informally with volunteers who have returned to Japan, and this year, as well, representatives of returned volunteers have received the opportunity to report to Their Majesties on their activities in the foreign countries where they served.
On this occasion two JOCVs and one NJV back from being dispatched to countries in Oceania, Middle East, and Latin America met with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Before this informal conversation, they met with JICA President KITAOKA Shinichi at JICA headquarters in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.
From left in the front row are Ms. Sugimoto, JICA President Kitaoka, and Ms. Matsubara
In the back row from left are Mr. Kato and Mr. KOBAYASHI, director general of JOCV
MATSUBARA Hana (category: Fisheries Development, age 29, from Kyoto Prefecture) was a member of the Community Based Resource Management (CBRM) Division, Coastal Fisheries Department, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. During her assignment, she initiated promotion of community-based fisheries resource management. This included CBRM awareness-raising activities, national CBRM database development, and educational activities, and also involved visiting fishing villages for training. She introduced “resource management training for mothers in fishing villages” to bring together women in those villages who have difficulty in participating in the decision-making process, and provided a forum for discussion on sustainable management and use of marine resources.
Resource management training for mothers in fishing villages. A forum was established for women who have difficulty in participating in decision-making sessions to discuss sustainable management and use of marine resources. Ms. Matsubara is on the right side of the screen
KATO Sota (category: Elementary School Teacher, age 36, from Aichi Prefecture) conducted visits to general public schools in Giza Governorate and the Egypt-Japan School (EJS) where he was assigned under the Egypt-Japan Education Partnership, to promote the Japanese style of education. Specifically, his activities included: (1) implementing music and other classes in elementary schools, (2) proposing and implementing a method of teaching children to be independent in their learning, (3) planning and implementing a classroom research group to improve teaching methods, (4) organizing a caravan of EJSs across the entire nation of Egypt, and (5) supporting the introduction of special activities such as roster system, cleaning, and class meetings, which were highly evaluated by the local teachers and the schools to which he was assigned.
Mr. Kato (right) gives a special activity class at a public school in Egypt, welcoming more than 50 participants to classroom activities that incorporated the Japanese style of education
SUGIMOTO Yoko (category: Elementary School Teacher, age 30, from Gifu Prefecture) taught music, physical education, and Japanese language together with the principal at a Nikkei-run elementary school in Belém, in the State of Pará, a major city in the northern Amazon region. On weekdays, she was busy accepting students in the morning and preparing for the next day's activities after classes, and on weekends, she devoted herself to introducing Japanese culture by supporting local events. At the final reporting session before her return to Japan, consular officers from the Japanese consulate and board members of several local Nikkei organizations attended. Their presence showed her contribution in the community very valuable to the Nikkei community.
Ms. Sugimoto (center) teaches calligraphy in Japanese language classes, and students actively practice difficult characters such as “love” and “gratitude
Following the informal conversation, participants left comments such as, “It was a great honor that Their Majesties listened intently to the report in a friendly atmosphere and asked us questions,” and “Their interest in my activities after I returned home was very encouraging.”