Activity Reports (June, 2010 Vo.2)

Programme Report "Intercultural City and Multicultural Symbiosis"
Organized by the Japan Foundation and the Council of Europe (2)

Study Tour in Japan (November 1-5, 2009)

Photo of Study Tour in Japan 1

Kani City (Gifu Prefecture)

  • the Kani City Multicultural Festival
  • the Kani City Multicultural Center "Frevia"
  • the Kani City Hall
  • Kani City Bara Kyoshitsu Kani or the Rose Classroom, an international classroom similar to a preparatory school for children of foreign residents
  • the Kani Public Arts Center "ala"

Photo of Study Tour in Japan 2

Minokamo City (Gifu Prefecture)

  • the Community Hall of Minokamo City
  • Nakasendo Hall

Photo of Study Tour in Japan 3

Kobe City (Hyogo Prefecture)

  • the Kobe City Hall
  • the Kobe Foreigners Friendship Center
  • the Takatori Community Center
  • the Kobe Center for Overseas Migration and Cultural Interaction;

Symposium (November 6, 2009)

Photo of symposium: Living Together as Equals in Dignity

At the introduction, Ms Gabriella BATTAINI-DRAGONI from the Council of Europe explained the organization and a white paper on intercultural dialog entitled “Living Together as Equals in Dignity” that was adopted by the Council of Europe.

Her presentation was followed by Mr. Phil Wood who described the concept of “Intercultural Cities.” He stated that in the intercultural city people were encouraged to retain and celebrate their diverse cultures, and the dynamism and the energy of the intercultural city come from different entities jostling together in a constant hybridization. He also described a tool kit to formulate an intercultural city policy to put the concepts into practice.

At the beginning of the symposium moderated by Prof. Yasuyuki Kitawaki (Director of Centre for Multilingual Multicultural Education and Research, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies), Mr. Gon Mevis shared his understanding and feelings about the visits. He pointed out that as the number of migrants in Japan increased, European experiences could be used to avoid problems generated from the larger population with foreign nationalities. As an overview of what they saw during the visit, he listed good examples, some less example that had room for improvement and some advices.

Mr. Wood commented on the visit that multicultural symbiosis and intercultural cities had the dynamics in common, but Japan should give fundamental guarantees for everyone in the society if the country wanted people to really contribute to Japanese society.

In response to their comments, Mr. Yoshimi Sakai (the former Director of Multicultural Symbiosis Section of Minokamo city) introduced the Council for Cities of Non-Japanese Residents and mentioned that sustainability of a community could be enhanced by building a strong face-to-face relationship between Japanese and foreign citizens. Ms. Shizuyo YOSHITOMI, Vice President of Takatori Community Center, Kobe, commented that community businesses were the key factor to carry out various programs with foreign citizens.

Prof. Kitawaki, the moderator, picked up three key points from speeches. The first point was plan and implement strategies to consider immigrants or foreign citizens as an advantage or an opportunity; The second was that not only immigrants or foreign citizens should change, but also the entire society or people of the host society should change so that everyone could participate in building up a society of multicultural symbiosis or an intercultural city; The third point was protection of human rights. The discussion with the audience focused on these three points.

We received feedback from the audience: some responded favorably by stating that it was very interesting and meaningful occasion to know the current situation in Europe, while others remarked that there were so many issues to discuss but the time allowed for discussion was too short. These comments revealed that this was the issue of sincere concern for people and it required further discussions between Japan and Europe.

Tomoaki Shimane
Europe, Middle East and Africa Section
Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange Dept.

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