Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan Met with Returned Senior Volunteers (SV) and Senior Volunteers for Nikkei Communities (NSV)


On April 19, representatives of the Senior Volunteers (SV) and Senior Volunteers for Nikkei Communities (NSV) who returned to Japan had the honor of talking informally with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan at the Imperial Palace to report on their activities in the foreign countries where they had served. Informal conversations between returning volunteers and Their Majesties have been held since the launch of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) program in 1965, continuing to the present day.

The SV and NSV who returned this time had been affected by the global spread of COVID-19, either having to return to Japan temporarily or remain at home. However, they were able to overcome the obstacles presented by the pandemic and complete their duties upon return to their dispatch countries.

On this occasion, four SV and one NSV returning from postings in Asia, Oceania, Africa, and Latin America met with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Before the informal conversation, they met with JICA President Tanaka Akihiko at JICA Headquarters in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.


From left in the front row are Ms. Kontani; JICA President Tanaka; Ms. Nishida; Ms. Aoki.
In the back row from left are Mr. Otsuka, Chief Secretary of the Office of the President; Mr. Fujimoto; Mr. Ogawara; and Mr. Tachibana, Director General of JOCV.

Contributing to the Health of Mothers and Children by Safeguarding the Well-being of Pregnant Women and Children

Kontani Shiho (dispatched to Laos, category: midwife, from Yamaguchi Prefecture) was assigned to a Mother and Child Health Center under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health in the capital, Vientiane, and provided support for improving maternal and child healthcare. In order to improve the skills of national staff and strengthen maternal and child health services, she traveled within Laos with colleagues and World Health Organization (WHO) staff, primarily conducting training sessions to help pregnant women, newborns, and infants. She also visited maternity wards and neonatal intensive care units (NICU) at the hospitals she visited, where she worked on providing kangaroo mother care support and offered guidance on midwifery and postpartum care.


Providing support for kangaroo mother care at a local hospital

Working alongside Local Staff to Improve Health Insurance Services

Nishida Chie (dispatched to Micronesia, category: pharmacist, from Kyoto Prefecture) was assigned to the only general hospital in Kosrae State, where she provided guidance to local staff on the proper management of pharmaceuticals and other related matters. Upon arrival, she first worked to normalize pharmacy operations, as there were some issues with inventory control and pharmacy operations by staff without pharmaceutical education, owing to the absence of a pharmacist. Later, she worked on improving the knowledge of doctors and pharmacy staff and managing inpatient medications, providing training opportunities for pharmacy staff.


Discussing pharmaceuticals with the Chief Doctor at her assigned hospital.

Providing Opportunities for Students and Children to Experience Classical Music

Aoki Yuko (dispatched to Jamaica, category: music, from Iwate Prefecture) was assigned to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in the capital city of Kingston, where she primarily engaged in teaching piano performance in the music department. She provided piano instruction to students, organized recitals and events that mobilized faculty members to improve the educational environment, and fostered collaboration among faculty members. Furthermore, to provide children with opportunities to experience classical music and musical instruments, she discussed with local colleagues to set up a partnership with a nearby high school. She provided instruction to students interested in piano performance and organized recitals attended by families and school officials.


Her piano students gathering together on stage after a recital to showcase their achievements.

Utilizing Teaching Experience in Japan to Foster the Healthy Youth Development

Fujimoto Yoshiaki (dispatched to Cameroon, category: elementary school education, from Osaka Prefecture) was assigned to the Divisional Delegation of Education of Mfoundi, which has jurisdiction over elementary schools in the capital city of Yaounde, where he worked with local teachers to conduct physical education, music, arts and crafts, mathematics, and other classes at elementary schools in the city. Among other tasks, he provided guidance on office administration and the preparation of programs and curricula, compiled educational statistics, and conducted teacher training. In particular, he strove to promote understanding and establish the importance of emotional development for the healthy upbringing of young people in elementary education through proposals for teaching aids and other tools to enhance the effectiveness of classes, and by planning class workshops, training sessions, and other events.


Conducting an origami class for faculty members at his assigned elementary school.

Aiming for the Spread and Development of Kendo in Argentina

Ogawara Masaru (dispatched to Argentina, category: kendo, from Tokyo Prefecture) was assigned to the Kendo club of Buenos Aires Nichia Gakuin, located in the capital city of Buenos Aires, where he was responsible for improving the skills of kendo practitioners both within and outside of his assigned school, supporting the growth and promotion of the kendo community and serving as an examiner for promotion tests. He not only helped with skill improvement, but dedicated practitioners who received his ongoing support passed promotion tests in large numbers, thereby also contributing to the spread of kendo. He was also involved in the planning and execution of the “CONFRATERNIDAD DEPORTIVA INTERNACIONAL NIKKEI” held in February 2023, and contributed to the event’s success.


A kendo practice seminar for both young practitioners and instructors.

After the informal conversation, one participant remarked that “The way Their Majesties listened intently to our reports and allowed us discuss our activities was a source of great encouragement,” while another said, “We were deeply impressed and inspired by Their Majesties’ many questions and sincere interest in the activities of returning JOCV.”

Related Links

Sns share!

  • X (Twitter)
  • linkedIn
To the list page