October 1, 2018
Four JICA experts who returned to Japan after working in various countries were granted an audience with Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino, Princess Mako and Princess Kako on Sept. 3 at Akishino Residence in Moto-Akasaka, Tokyo, during which the experts reported on their activities abroad.
Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino have granted audiences with returned JICA experts in groups of four to five since March 2004. On this 17th such occasion, Their Highnesses granted an audience to four experts who worked in Asia, Africa and South America.
The four experts who were granted an audience are, from left, Takashi Soma, Hisami Ohashi. Motoko Seko and Hirotaka Nakamura.
JICA expert Takashi Soma, center, with Bangladeshi stakeholders, introduces a TV drama in a workshop.
Takashi Soma (of Padeco Co., Ltd.) oversaw a project aiming to improve math-and-science education at primary schools in Bangladesh from 2010 to 2017.
The project revised textbooks, trained teachers and improved teaching methods. Taking hints from Japanese TV dramas set in schools, the project also created a drama that was broadcasted nationally with the aim of raising awareness of the need for educational reform. This utilization of a TV drama was just one of the innovative PR activities Mr. Soma undertook.
Hirotaka Nakamura, center-left, is surrounded by a popular actor, project members and cooperating farmers after the filming of the technical education DVD.
Hirotaka Nakamura (of JICA Senior Advisor) worked to improve rice productivity in Madagascar, the top rice-producing country in Africa, from 2009 to 2017.
The project developed rice-growing techniques that incorporate the opinions of farmers and are easy for them to practice. When Mr. Nakamura, who was in charge of developing educational materials, created a drama-style technical education DVD featuring a famous movie star, it gained quite a reputation; 500,000 of the discs were distributed or sold.
Vaccinating children in a mountainous area of Pakistan
From 2016 to June 2018, Motoko Seko was the chief adviser of a project to increase the vaccination coverage of children in northwest Pakistan, where people have difficulty accessing health care services because of the harsh natural environment, conservative culture and security challenges.
The project conducted vaccination training for the "lady health workers" responsible for basic health services at the community level to bring vaccination within reach. Also, the project supported the piloting of mobile vaccination services in hard-to-reach areas such as mountain districts. Provincial and federal health authorities recognized this outreach model and incorporated it into vaccination policies and guidelines.
Expert Hisami Ohashi, third from left, checks on the results of her project.
Hisami Ohashi (of the Kyoto Prefectural Police, and of the National Police Agency at the time she went abroad), worked on a project to spread koban-focused Japanese-style community policing throughout Brazil from 2016 to January 2018. Koban are small neighborhood police stations, sometimes referred to as "police boxes."
Ms. Ohashi worked on a project to formulate a policy for spreading the koban system and construct a training system at the national level, improve the leadership of a model state that pioneered the system ahead of other states and is responsible for disseminating it, and raise the standard of police work in target states. In addition to, as chief adviser, cooperating with the person in charge of the project on the national level, she worked to make community policing better understood by giving talks to police officers and residents.
The four told us about their impressions of the meeting: "At first I was nervous, but my anxiety disappeared in the calm, homelike ambiance and I was able to talk to them." "They talked about their own experiences in the countries they'd visited and asked questions enthusiastically." "I was impressed that they showed interest in the results of my work, including the pamphlet I took with me."