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  • Emperor and Empress of Japan Talk Informally With Returned “Senior Volunteers” and “Senior Volunteer for Japanese Communities Overseas”


April 13, 2018

Emperor and Empress of Japan Talk Informally With Returned “Senior Volunteers” and “Senior Volunteer for Japanese Communities Overseas”

Representatives of “Senior Volunteers” and “Senior Volunteers for Japanese Communities Overseas” who had finished their two years of service in another country and returned to Japan were granted an audience to converse informally with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan on March 9.

Their Majesties have been interested in the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers since the launch of the volunteer initiative in 1965. Since 1995, both volunteers about to be sent abroad and representatives of volunteers who have returned to Japan have been meeting with the Emperor and Empress. Since 1996, representatives of return volunteers have received the opportunity to report on their activities in the foreign countries where they served.

This time five Senior Volunteers and one Senior Volunteer for Japanese Communities Overseas met with Their Majesties. The volunteers had been serving in Asia, Oceania, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Before this informal conversation, they met with JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka at JICA headquarters in Tokyo.

photoFrom front left are Yuichi Fujii, Noriko Ishisaki , JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka, Keiko Yamashita and Naoko Iwasa and from back left are Hiroshi Shimizu, Tadashi Hirano and Mika Yamamoto, director general of Secretariat of JOCV

Contributing to lowering the defect and failure rates in cast iron products

photoIn the laboratory to which he was assigned, Tadashi Hirano gives advice on adopting the green sand testing method. (Mr. Hirano is on the left.)

At PT Barata Indonesia (Persero), a machine tool manufacturer in Gresik city, East Java Province, Indonesia, Tadashi Hirano (metalworking, age 68, from Niigata prefecture) gave advice aimed at reducing the cast iron product defect rate and costs, which contributed to lowering the defect rate. He introduced examples of Japanese initiatives related to safety, the environment and occupational health, and on a daily basis, he greeted the plant workers and reported on potential improvements in Indonesian, making them known to all. This led to the inside of the factory becoming better organized, among other workplace improvements.

Controlling lifestyle diseases using recipes that include local ingredients

photoMaking instructional materials with co-workers. (Noriko Ishisaki is the one standing.)

Noriko Ishisaki (nutritionist, age 69, from Toyama prefecture) worked in the state health department on Weno Island, Chuuk state, Micronesia. Ms. Ishizaki came up with recipes that make use of local ingredients to improve residents' nutrition and taught cooking at a health center as measures to prevent lifestyle diseases and obesity. As a result, state health department employees began thinking up on their own cooking methods that match the local style, the educational materials Ms. Ishizaki had made were translated into the local language and department employees took charge of them.

Training high-quality technicians by introducing Japanese technology

photoA mechanical engineering lecture at Technological Institute of San Juan del Rio. (Hiroshi Shimizu is on the left.)

Hiroshi Shimizu (mechanical engineering, age 71, from Ishikawa prefecture) introduced automated manufacturing system machinery and gave instruction in its use at a public technical school in San Juan del Rio, Mexico, building the foundation for turning out high-quality technicians. Also, he got the cooperation of the Japan Foundation, and acting as one of the teachers, he conducted high-quality Japanese education. In so doing, he also helped make it possible to turn out Japanese-speaking workers. In addition, to configure a JETRO database, he visited Mexican companies and did diagnostic evaluations of them using factory work experience, then helped improve their environments so Japanese companies would be able to work well with them.

Making number blocks and models of 3-D figures to help students understand math

photo A class that uses the segments of a regular hexagon to explain fractions, equality and size comparisons. (Yuichi Fujii is the one standing.)

Yuichi Fujii (math education, age 69, from Yamaguchi prefecture) was dispatched for a second time following his first assignment to Vanuatu from 2011 to 2013. On assignment to the regional education office in the South African capital of Pretoria, he went around to five neighborhood elementary schools and worked to improve arithmetic education. In addition to making number blocks and models of 3-D figures to help students understand math, he taught a new method of calculating on paper to replace a calculation method that resulted in a lot of mistakes, helping students improve their grades. He also held meetings with local teachers after school to teach them techniques, for which he earned praise.

Suggestions related to kidney beans lead to city residents and farmers taking initiative

photoConsulting with village heads and producers about the mark to be attached to application papers for production certification. Naoko Iwasa is on the left.)

At Provincial Food Agricultural and Livestock Bureau in Giresun Province, Naoko Iwasa (agricultural product processing, age 53, from Osaka prefecture) created pamphlets for work, an illustration for use as a production authentication logo, and a procedure manual for surveys of kidney bean harvest sizes. Proactively partnering with employees of other departments, he made PR videos about his work and engaged in various other activities. As a result, farmers, the mayor and others took the initiative to hold a tasting event at a festival and do other PR work for kidney beans. Several agricultural newspapers and magazines also published articles about the results of their work.

Aiding understanding and promotion of the social welfare of elderly Nikkei

photoKeiko Yamashita holds a health course that teaches about health, longevity, preventing dementia and how to use chopsticks. (Ms. Yamashita is on the right.)

Keiko Yamashita (social worker, age 61, from Tochigi prefecture) was assigned to a federation of organizations for Nikkei that do work involving the social welfare of elderly Nikkei and Japanese culture. The federation is in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. She taught classes in social welfare for Nikkei organizations, Japanese schools and the like, mainly in the suburbs of the capital, based out of the federation to which she was assigned. The work involved a lot of travel and required stamina and communication ability, but she proactively went around visiting the Nikkei organizations, winning praise from both the organizations and the federation.

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