The Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship (2017)

This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the establishment of the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship in 1985. In its 33 year history, 103 organizations have been awarded. The Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship is intended to support organizations located throughout Japan that endeavor to strengthen networks among citizens both Japan and abroad, and to share knowledge, ideas, and expertise through intercultural exchange.

The Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship was established under the name of the Prizes for the Promotion of Community-Based Cultural Exchange, and renamed as the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship in 2005.

In 2017, of the 149 organizations that applied or were nominated for the prizes, the following three organizations were selected as awardees. The recipient organizations were presented with the main prize (a certificate) and prize money of 2 million yen per organization.

Awardees (in geographical order)

Shibazono Danchi Neighborhood Association

(Kawaguchi City, Saitama)

Representative
Katsuji Nirasawa
Year of Establishment
1981
Social Media
https://www.facebook.com/pg/shibazonokakehashiproject
Image picture of

Activity Outline

Since its establishment in 1981, the Shibazono Danchi Neighborhood Association has worked to improve resident welfare and develop the living environment.
As of December 1, 2017, approximately 2,500 of the total 4,800 residents are foreign residents, and of those, more than 90% are Chinese residents. The housing complex also represents “an epitome of what Japan may look like in the future,” with Japanese residents aged 60 and over, and foreign residents in their late 20s and 30s.

In order to bridge the gap in support for the residents due to their different living habits, the association has created opportunities for the foreign residents to get actively involved in the community, such as having foreign residents take officer roles in the association, and opening a Chinese Language class run by Chinese residents in cooperation with the “Shibazono Kakehashi (bridge) Project,” a student organization from outside the community. Furthermore, the association’s pamphlet distributed to residents is prepared through the cooperation of residents. Efforts are also made to promote community development based on multicultural coexistence from the standpoint of both mediating problems and promoting exchange, including by disseminating information via the Chinese language WeChat social network, similar to LINE in Japan.

Reasons for the Prize

A leading example of promoting multicultural coexistence in response to community issues
The number of Chinese residents at the Shibazono Danchi apartment complex in Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture, began to increase in the late 1990s, reaching approximately 40% by 2009. Accordingly, mutual dissatisfaction among residents peaked in 2011.

However, as the result of numerous activities by the resident’s association, such as the hosting of exchange events, distributing information using Chinese language social networks, and assigning association officer positions to Chinese residents, the apartment complex has become an invigorated environment in which an awareness of coexistence has taken root. The association is operated today in an open manner that includes the participation of Chinese residents in leadership roles and cooperation with the “Shibazono Kakehashi Project” student organization. It is not uncommon for local international exchange to take a form in which events are organized by Japanese residents and foreign residents are considered guests, however, the example of the Shibazono Danchi apartment complex can be said to be one of multicultural coexistence in which both groups participate on an equal footing.

The initiatives of this association, in which Japanese and foreign residents have worked continuously through trial and error, have significance because that can serve as a new model for responding to the issues that communities throughout Japan may face in the future.

Comments from the Awardee

We hope receiving this award will serve as an opportunity to deepen our cooperation with the “Shibazono Kakehashi Project” and strengthen our ties with other organizations both inside and outside the community to further expand our win-win activities for the local residents, students, and each organization.

Further, as the working-age population declines, an age in which everyone’s neighbors are likely to be foreign residents is approaching. When that happens, we would be pleased if our experiences in community development through multicultural coexistence would serve as an example that contributes to the formation of local communities that are comfortable to live in for everyone irrespective of nationality.

Nagomi Visit

(Minato City, Tokyo)

Representative
Megumi Kusunoki
Year of Establishment
2011
Website
https://nagomivisit.jp
Social Media
https://www.facebook.com/nagomivisit/
Image picture of

Activity Outline

This organization runs an international exchange program in which visiting foreign tourists are invited to Japanese homes to interact and eat home cooked meals for two to three hours.

Services in which foreign travelers are able to interact with local residents have been increasing in number throughout the world in recent years. However, rather than simply interacting with foreign tourists as “customers” for one day, the organizers of Nagomi Visit believe that the key to expanding each participant’s outlook is an exchange in which both parties can interact, converse, and eat together as friends. “Eating from the same bowl” is one way to quickly overcome the psychological hurdles present when meeting for the first time. The goal of the initiative is to try to reduce the bigotry and apathy that occurs throughout the world, particularly because of a lack of mutual understanding, by increasing the number of participants who take away “pleasant memories from this simple interaction,” including both hosts and guests.

Reasons for the Prize

“This is something we can do!” International exchange starts in the dining room.
Nagomi Visit has worked to match visiting tourists with Japanese families so that the tourists can experience “home visits” in those families. The international exchange takes place over two to three hours in which the visitors sit with the host and eat home cooked meals. The initiative has grown steadily since it was founded in 2011, with the number of participating guests rising from 177 in the first year to 1,509 by 2016, and a total of 900 registered host families in 42 prefectures.

The advantage of this initiative is that it is something that is within the capabilities of the typical Japanese family, allowing them to easily engage in international exchange. Another interesting aspect is the reach of the initiative, with guests participating from all over the world, and host families located throughout Japan. While the initiative is operated with the minimum of personnel and financial resources, it is highly sustainable without reliance on donations or grants, and should be praised as a leading example of an international exchange activity that leverages the Internet.

Comments from the Awardee

We are honored that our grassroots initiative to provide “home visits and home cooked meals for foreign travelers” has been awarded the Japan Foundation Prize for Global Citizenship. Our participating families have met countless guests through the Nagomi Visit initiative. Many of them say that their lives have been changed, or that they see the world in a new way, and many have been able to reconnect with their guests later as friends, both in Japan and overseas. We will continue to be grateful to the many hosts who share our goals, the participating guests, and our many supporters as we carry out this initiative with the utmost care and attention.

Koganecho Area Management Center

(Yokohama City, Kanagawa)

arepresentative
Kazuo Takeuchi
Year of Establishment
2009
Website
http://www.koganecho.net/
Social Medi
https://www.facebook.com/koganechobazaar/
Image picture of

Activity Outline

The Koganecho Area Management Center is a nonprofit organization whose main activity area covers so-called “Hatsuko/Hinode district” in Naka-ku, Yokohama.

The organization was established in 2009 with the aim of revitalizing the local community through art, based on the results of the Koganecho Bazaar art festival held in 2008.

As the area is a former red-light district, the organization has developed the area with creative taste through art along with the cooperation of local community, local government, police, universities and artists.

Reasons for the Prize

Developing a safe and secure community through the power of art that builds community and brings people together
The number of establishments engaged in illegal entertainment businesses in the Hatsuko and Hinode-cho area of Yokohama, such as prostitution, began to rise quickly in the early 2000s. As a result of complaints from local residents, these businesses were closed down in a concentrated campaign, and a community development project leveraging art using spaces under local underpasses was begun in 2008. The Koganecho Area Management Center was established in 2009 to work to recover safety and security and generate more vigor in daily community life through the close cooperation of stakeholders involved.

The organization runs the Koganecho Bazar, an art festival that involves the entire community as its venue, to communicate the community’s appeals both inside and outside the community. The organization also puts great effort into an artist-in-residence exchange program with a focus on artists from Asian countries, enabling the artists to serve as a bridge between people in this community where many residents have roots and connections with foreign countries.

The organization tackled the problem directly by searching for potential in the community on a daily basis and steadily and sincerely continuing cultural exchange.

Comments from the Awardee

We would like to express our deepest gratitude for the high praise our activities have received in this form. Above all, our young staff members feel strongly that their countless and ongoing struggles are finally rewarded. Our job is made possible through the cooperation of numerous individuals. We hope to share this occasion with many people of the community, local government, the police, companies, and universities, as well as the artists of Koganecho and the domestic and foreign artists who have worked with us, and with many former staff members who have graduated from our organization. Thanks to all of you. 

[Contact Us]

The Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship Secretariat

The Japan Foundation Communication Center
Tel: +81-(0)3-5369-6075 FAX: +81-(0)3-5369-6044
chikyushimin@jpf.go.jp
(When sending an e-mail, please replace the full-width "@" character with a half-width "@" character.)

Page Top