November 24, 2017
Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCVs) and a Youth Volunteer for Nikkei Communities (NJV) who have finished their two years of activity overseas and returned to Japan had the honor of talking informally with their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan at the Imperial Palace on Sept. 14.
Seven JOCVs and one NJV back from assignments in countries in Asia, Oceania, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America met Their Majesties. Before the informal meeting, they met with JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka at JICA headquarters in Tokyo.
In the front row from left are Aki Takahashi, Shinobu Kotani, JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka, Moeri Mizutani and Hiromi Okamoto. In the back row, from left, are Shota Hamamoto, Yuichiro Okita, Takeshi Onimaru, Yoshihiro Kawasaki and Mika Yamamoto, director general of Secretariat of JOCV
Shinobu Kotani, center, at the home of a local producer for One Village One Product
• Using handicrafts to contribute to new product development and improved quality
Shinobu Kotani was assigned to the local One Village One Product*1 association of agricultural villages around Issyk-Kul lake, a famous tourist destination in Kyrgyzstan. While using her handicraft designs and skills to cooperate on product design and the development of new products using woolen felt and other materials, she helped control and improve product quality.
*1 An experiment originating in Oita prefecture, Japan, that aims to stimulate the local economy by using regional specialty items to create products.
Breast massage instruction for local mothers
• Thoroughly following up on the health of undernourished children
Aki Takahashi was assigned to the health department of Aileu District, East Timor, where she worked with local doctors and nurses on a mobile medical-care service for villages in the mountain district. They created a map of undernourished children and raised the detection rate. They also used examination cards to follow up with them. Ms. Takahashi taught more than 1,000 women how to do breast milk production exercises and breast massage.
Yuichiro Okita teaches math to students. He clearly explained the aims of the class
• Interacting with Japanese schools while working in Tanzania
Taking advantage of the Working Teacher Special Participation System*2, Yuichiro Okita taught math at a secondary school in the Pwani Region of eastern Tanzania. He published the biweekly "Tanzania Tsushin" and held joint classes with Japanese schools. He also repaired blackboards at three classrooms to which he was assigned.
Shota Hamamoto teaches co-workers how to use software at the institute where he was assigned
• Technical instruction with a trick or two for making researchers want to learn
Shota Hamamoto taught IT equipment maintenance and repair at a national agricultural research institute in Lichinga, 1,500 kilometers north of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. He built good relationships and improved the IT abilities of researchers at the institute with his assistance. His instructional technique stressed researchers taking an active interest and undertaking tasks on their own initiative. He also configured an internal network at the institute.
Instructing women in a farmers' group in rice cultivation
• Contributing to a major earnings increase for farmers and exhibiting photos back in Japan
Yoshihiro Kawasaki worked at an international agricultural development NGO in eastern Kampala, the capital of Uganda. He trained a group of farmers with his frequent mobile instruction. While contributing to increasing rice yields, he also got good results helping women increase their incomes by processing food and selling the resulting products. After returning to Japan, he held photo exhibitions in various places, giving back to society in return for the experiences he had working as a JOCV.
Working with local teachers to provide employment support to people with intellectual disabilities
• Providing physical therapy assistance and showing concern for Syrian refugees
Takeshi Onimaru performed physical therapy at a combined rehabilitation-training center and special-support school in Mafraq, northern Jordan. In addition to providing rehabilitation therapy to children with disabilities, he cooperated with local special education teachers to help intellectually disabled graduates find employment. He also helped build a partnership with a nearby hospital so Syrian refugees could receive physical therapy services.
An awards ceremony for an arithmetic achievement test given in the school. Moeri Mizutani is in back at right
• Using unique lessons to improve academic ability in elementary mathematics
Moeri Mizutani taught lessons at a public elementary school in Koror, Palao. At the same time, with other volunteers, she worked to improve basic academic skills in elementary mathematics in Palao as a whole. She aimed to increase the comprehension of students using lessons that combined fun with learning. These included a parody song that teaches the multiplication tables and a rock, scissors, paper game that teaches the four rules of arithmetic.
Hiromi Okamoto talks to medical examinees about preventing dementia
• For Nikkei immigrants, mobile medical examinations that account for local characteristics
Hiromi Okamoto was assigned to Beneficência Nipo-Brasileira de São Paulo, in São Paulo, Brazil, as an NJV. Going along for mobile medical examinations at Nikkei settlements, she addressed local needs through a variety of activities, including holding dementia prevention classes at senior citizens' facilities and providing Japanese language assistance to tenants.
After the informal conversation, participants gave a briefing at JICA headquarters. Participants' comments included the following: "Their Majesties are knowledgeable in a wide range of fields and listened to my report enthusiastically." "They had kind words about my activities abroad and gave me enouragment on my efforts in Japan."