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July 20, 2017

ASEAN journalists visit Japan, report on initiatives to solve urban problems

photoReporting at a mock subway station at a Tokyo Metro training facility

As ASEAN prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary Aug. 8, ten newspaper reporters from as many ASEAN countries visited Japan from June 18 to July 1.

They reported on Japan's technologies and experience that could be used to solve urban issues and other problems facing the ASEAN region, the theme JICA chose for their visit.

JICA has been inviting overseas media to Japan annually since 1995. The purpose of the program is to deepen public understanding of Japan and of JICA's projects.

Great interest in urban problems and disaster risk reduction

photoTraining in urgent problem response

Many countries face urban problems in ASEAN, which is experiencing marked growth. In this year's program, to report on initiatives that may give hints on solving problems, participants visited facilities where Japanese technology is being used such, as water supply facilities and waste incineration plants, and reported from Higashimatsushima, Miyagi prefecture, on the state of recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Traffic congestion, one problem that comes with urbanization, is a headache shared by all ASEAN countries. On June 20, the journalists visited Tokyo Metro Comprehensive Learning and Training Center in Tokyo to learn about urban transport management. Tokyo Metro, which is responsible for the operation of 9 of the 13 subway lines in Tokyo, opened the facility in April 2016 to educate its staff and improve its abilities.

After listening to an overview of Tokyo Metro's business and an explanation of the center's role, they visited training facilities and observed actual training on urgently responding when trouble occurs. They gathered information on how the trains are made to run on time in a safe and secure manner.

photoThere was a question about renovating station facilities ahead of the Tokyo Olympics

In ASEAN, some countries, like Singapore and Thailand, already operate subways, and others, like Vietnam, are currently receiving assistance in building a subway. So, the journalists were quite interested, and asked a wide range of questions on such topics as the frequency and levels of training and possibilities for expanding into ventures other than rail.

Writing articles about relationships with Japan and JICA

photoJournalists visit a waste incineration plant and listen to an explanation of waste processing, management and recycling

Journalist Tin Aung Kyaw of the newspaper The Voice in Myanmar pointed out that waste management-processing and flooding during torrential rains are problems in Yangon and elsewhere, and said that based on his reporting in Japan, he wants to write articles that might be put to use by the government in the future.

"Japan is one of the countries that has continued providing assistance to Myanmar regardless of changes in political system and other factors. I feel technical support will continue to be necessary and it will be quite meaningful for the people of Myanmar for assistance to be provided continually and in stages under the cooperation of the two countries' governments," he said.

Journalist Charissa Yong of the newspaper The Straits Times, of Singapore, said Singapore has developed to the point that it stopped receiving assistance in 1998, and she hopes it can settle on a program to collaborate with Japan to support the development of other countries in ASEAN.

After seeing for themselves Japanese initiatives in various sectors, the journalists wrote articles about Japanese technologies and experiences, both during the program and after returning to their countries. It is hoped that those articles will lead to progress in solving the issues faced by each country.

photoWhile visiting Higashimatsushima, the journalists were interviewed by local media



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