- Invitation to Welfare Officials from Asian Countries-
The evolution of globalism and civilization has diversified values among people on a global scale. In such an era, it is important that Asian people deepen their mutual understanding and solidarity for the stability and good of the region. Every country has its unique history, traditions and culture. Among Asian countries, however, even if there are many superficial differences, when we try to understand each other more deeply we always find a shared sense of “Jo (恕)” or“Heart of Compassion”. “Heart of Compassion” has long been endemic to the hear and soul of all Asian people. In short, if we respect the history, traditions and culture of other countries, and if we agree to differ when necessary with compassion, we will be able to build relationships of trust even in an era of diverse and often conflicting values.
We invite people to Japan who are working in similar situations, such as those who help the socially vulnerable, and strive to develop awareness. Through this initiative, we hope that they will develop a deeper understanding of not only the social welfare policies and systems of Japan but also their underlying history, tradition and culture. We hope to sustain and increase these efforts and eventually contribute to a greater stability and prosperity throughout the Asian region.
About the Invitational Program
Mr. Shigeo Ishizaki, the secretary general of the Foundation, explained the purpose of the program, an outline of the Foundation, and basic Japanese culture to the participants. Mr. Mikio Moriyama, a former Deputy Director for Policies on Welfare gave a brief overview of the social welfare policy in Japan.
(Photo: At the Head Office of the Foundation)
The profundity of culture cannot be put into words. Program participants learnt basic steps of flower arrangement and calligraphy from respective teachers in order to appreciate elements of Japanese culture. Such sensory experience and understanding is intergral to successful participation in the program.
(Photo: At the Head office of the Foundation)
Ambassadors and ministers from the embassies of the participating nations to Japan, heads of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and people who support our program in various ways attended the welcome reception. President Fujiwara and ambassadors representing the participating nations gave greetings that fostered international exchange, which struck the right chord.
(Photo: Sheraton Miyako Hotel Tokyo)
【2】Studying Welfare Policies of Japan
It is important to have an in-depth understanding of the origins and the background of Japan. Participants in the program learnt that parliamentary democracy and the stability of the political system in Japan are not unrelated to the existence of the Emperor.
(Photo: At Parliament)
Many practitioners involved in welfare are participants in the program. Regarding those Japanese welfare policies in which program participants are interested, a top official of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry explained how laws and regulations are formulated, what financial resources are used to support them, how specific plans are drafted for various policy measures, using illustrative laws and data as concrete examples.
(Photo: At the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)
It is local municipalities that actually implement policies in close contact with the populace. The Mayor of the City of Nara greeted the participants, the local government department, which is closer to the field than the central government, talked about the current picture and problem areas within the Japanese welfare system. Kyoto and Nara are the focal cities for international cultural tourism, they hope to show the way to a proactive international exchange.
(Photo: City of Nara)
【3】Knowing Japanese Culture
The Imperial Palace
For foreigners, the Imperial family is a world beyond imagination. Program participants paid a visit to the Imperial Palace, to see and understand how much the Emperor and the royal family are deeply loved and respected by the Japanese people.
Buddhist culture introduced from India has taken roots silently in Japanese society.
Visiting Todaiji’s “Daibutsu-den” to observe the Great Buddha of Nara (a World Heritage site), they were given a lay sermon sitting on the lotus shaped foundations and studied the tenets and principles inherent to the Asian mind.
“Hiden-in Clinic” and “Seyaku-in Clinic” of Todai-ji, built in the eighth century at the wish of Empress Komyo, were the beginning of welfare and medical facilities in Japan.
(Photo: At Todai-ji Temple)
Beginnings of the Country
Heijo-kyo (today’s Nara) was the first metropolis in Japan created under the Ritsuryo Code – the system of law developed in the seventh century combining the criminal code and the administrative and civil codes. Via the Silk Road, there was traffic between Japan and Central Asia and Persia, as well as China. In those days, an Emperor received foreign missions from far off countries at the Daigoku-den (the Council Hall of the Imperial Palace), a symbol of international exchange.
(Photo: At the site of Heijo-kyo)
【4】To the Future
The Future of Welfare
Exploration of the future of care support systems. For example, participants tried on robot suits that assist the motor functions of disabled people. At the Institute of Gerontology of the University of Tokyo, participants were told about ongoing research to support the elderly in society through city planning and the combined efforts of industry, government, and academia.
(Photo: At the Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd.)
Welfare and Society
Much research has been conducted on the welfare of the disabled, its institutional design and necessary financial and human resources via implementing policies. At the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) of the University of Tokyo, however, research continues from the perspective of people with disabilities, to themselves better promote an inclusive society.
(Photo: the Center for Advanced Science and Technology of the University of Tokyo)
To the New Era
This program also focuses on the theme common to the human race. Participants visited the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) that takes a central role in the advancement of science and technology in Japan. Program participants studied the technologies behind the smooth operation and control of various essential services and utilities such as railways and water supplies.