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[ISHES Newsletter #4]Asubito Fukushima's Challenge

2018/11/22 14:21:01

ISHES Newsletter #4
November 22, 2018

See what's new on our web site:
Copyright (c) 2018
Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society

In the November 2018 issue of the ISHES Newsletter:

- Asubito Fukushima's Challenge--Nurturing the Next
Generation to Take on Fukushima's Future

- New articles from the Research Institute for Creating
New Paradigms based on Eastern and Western Wisdom

- Recommended articles from the JFS Newsletter on
sustainability issues in Japan

Asubito Fukushima's Challenge
--Nurturing the Next Generation to Take on
Fukushima's Future

Asubito Fukushima is a non-profit group that works
for creating systems, planning and operating
programs, and building capacity of the youth who
will take on rebuilding Fukushima. The organization
is located in Minamisoma City in Fukushima
Prefecture where massive earthquakes and
a subsequent nuclear accident hit the region in
2011. Asubito is coined from "asu" (tomorrow) and
"hito" (people), meaning "the people who will
create the future."

Since 2011 when the earthquake and nuclear disaster
occurred in the Tohoku area of Japan, the mandatory
evacuation orders have been lifted in more and more
municipalities that had been designated as
evacuation zones, with some exceptions. However,
even though the orders have been lifted, some
people chose not to return to the communities
where they lived before the accident, because seven
years have passed since the disaster, and they have
been settling into new lives where they evacuated.
As a result, some areas in former evacuation zones
are facing a dramatic increase in the average age
of the population. In addition, because of
the nuclear accident, food produce from the area
has been the subject of rumors and misinformation,
which adds to the difficulty of their reconstruction

Against this backdrop, Asubito Fukushima is engaged
in building the capacity of young people in the area.
It offers concrete and age-specific programs for youth
who in the future want to help others and serve the
communities they love, because they are thankful for
the support they received at the time of disaster.

Age-specific programs for their development

The reconstruction of Fukushima will require
long-term engagement. Asubito Fukushima works to
nurture young entrepreneurs, "Fukushima-style
entrepreneurs," who will take on the future of
Fukushima from an early stage of reconstruction.
First, young people as "top runners" create
businesses and contribute to the reconstruction.
Then, the younger generations who observe their
seniors will take on their own challenges to create
businesses. In order to create a positive cycle
among younger generations, Asubito Fukushima will
provide the seeds for development according to age

For example, it provides elementary and middle
school children with hands-on workshops focusing
on renewable energy. They aim at developing the
children's own capacity to think and take action,
and to present their own ideas, while deepening
their understanding of renewable energy. We realize
that as children grow up, they can develop their
own opinions and become actively involved in energy

On the other hand, by helping with Asubito
Fukushima's workshops and programs for children,
senior high and college students can learn how to
communicate with people of different ages. Asubito
Fukushima also provides the youth with places where
they can practice what they learn by planning and
preparing their own events.

Experiencing renewable energy

At Minamisoma Solar Agripark in Minamisoma City,
Fukushima Prefecture, with a 500-kilowatt solar
power plant and two dome-shaped "plant factories"
(indoor hydroponics), Asubito Fukushima offers
a platform to support the development of primary
and middle school children by conducting hands-on
learning programs as part of the school classes.
At this facility, children can study renewable
energy by checking the photovoltaic panels and
changing their angles and directions to see how
the amount of electricity generated changes, as
well as working with a water mill to compare their
power against that of water. At the same time,
the programs are designed for participants to
develop their own hypotheses, search for, and
discover their own answers through trial and

Participants left very positive comments, like "I
learned that it is important to discuss things with
others and develop my own opinions," and "I want to
look for better ways to generate electricity with the
power of nature."

Asubito Fukushima also offers more opportunities for
participants to learn about energy by thinking and
trying things, including hands-on programs to think
about the potential of renewable energy through
experiments to generate biogas with crop waste from
the field; and weekend schools to learn through
experience by generating electricity with leg power,
moving solar panels and seeing how much electricity
can be generated and stored, and by moving
something with the stored electricity.

Discovering local charms

One idea that arose from the Asubito Fukushima
Community intergenerational entrepreneurs' camp,
a project incubator for high school and university
students and adults in August 2017, was the Manhole
Cover Art Multigenerational Exchange Event, held on
July 22, 2018. This became the Odaka Manhole Cover
Art Project, part of a concept to create art in Odaka
ward (in Minamisoma City), and to discover charms
that locals may not have noticed. It was promoted
as a university student-led way of preparing to
create future touristic resources. This project was
organized in an area that had been declared an
evacuation zone after the 2011 nuclear accident
and where evacuees were still slow to return to
even after the evacuation order was lifted. On the
day of the event it attracted about 60 persons,
mainly the local elementary school kids and high
school students who had been invited.

The first half of the event was designed for
people to experience the charms of Odaka with
a walk around town doing a Zero Gomission activity
(a play on words of "zero emissions" and "gomi,"
which means waste or litter in Japanese), which
was planned and run by local high school students.
The event was designed to make people aware of
history, culture and garbage through litter
collection. Participants were able to connect with
each other and create good memories in Minamosoma,
through a participatory physical activity with
the purpose of reviving the town environment and
atmosphere. Minamisoma high school students did
the planning and operations, with support from
Asubito Fukushima. The participants split into teams
and competed on the weight of garbage collected
and other tasks.

The second half of the event was for review and
discussion, and participants shared their
observations about the charms of Odaka that they
had noticed while walking around doing the Zero
Gomission event. Also, former city waterworks
employees, who had actually thought up the idea
of putting designs on the manhole covers to depict
the local dragon legend, spoke about the dragon
idea and the history of Odaka. To finish off, the
group painted colors on manhole covers near
the venue and made T-shirts on the same dragon

By their involvement, students were able to gain
various experiences through cooperation with the
local government staff who gave permission to paint
the manhole covers, communication with local
residents leading up to the event, and collaboration
with adults who supported the event. Overall the
event was a great opportunity for the entire region,
including elementary school kids, to reconfirm the
charms of their community of Odaka.

Another project that emerged from the incubator
camp is the "Namie Flower Project." Namie Town
was designated as an evacuation zone after the
nuclear accident, and it is close to the Odaka area.
It took six years for the evacuation orders to be
lifted, and unfortunately the local community
connections had really weakened by then. The
students wanted to create a feeling of invaluable
"connectedness" among local people in Namie, and
planned to create a place for people to get together
and communicate. In March 2018, they made flower
beds in a park of the town, planted flower seeds in
April, and held a workshop in May to make bookmarks
using the flowers.

Capacity building by positive example

The children who seldom had opportunities to learn
about energy before now have an increasing chance
to think about energy by talking with their family
and friends about what they learned after joining
the program.

Moreover, by holding intergenerational events, senior
high and university students can communicate with
people in different age groups, and learn to
appreciate the local charms. Some senior high school
students said that they had not been good at
communicating with others, but after joining Asubito
Fukushima's activity as volunteers, they had
developed more confidence in communicating with
others and wanted to take on more challenges as
leaders, such as organizing learning activities for
elementary school pupils.

Asubito Fukushima is generating positive models by
nurturing "Fukushima-style entrepreneurs" who can
think, act and create business, and developing model
leaders that we hope the younger students will try to
emulate. Asubito Fukushima thinks such "positive
models" are one key to rebuilding Fukushima in a real
sense. In an effort to keep their activities
sustainable and build the capacity of young people to
take on Fukushima's long-term reconstruction efforts,
they joined the GlobalGiving global fundraising
platform. We hope readers will check this out and
consider supporting them.

We look forward to seeing more of Asubito
Fukushima's activities to create the foundations
to recover from the disaster.

Please visit these sites for more information about
Asubito Fukushima:

GlobalGiving Asubito Fukushima:
Instagram: asubito_fukushima

Report from Fukushima: Five Years after the Great
East Japan Earthquake


New articles from the Research Institute for Creating
New Paradigms based on Eastern and Western Wisdom


In this section we introduce the latest articles
posted on the website of the Research Institute for
Creating New Paradigms based on Eastern and
Western Wisdom.

This time we provide a summary of the introduction to
a new book by Yoshifumi Taguchi, entitled "Why are
today's global business leaders studying Eastern
thought?" What is this "Eastern thought" that top
leaders are studying? We hope you enjoy reading
about this.

"Why are today's global business leaders studying
Eastern thought?"

Recommended articles from the JFS Newsletter on
sustainability issues in Japan


In this regular section in each issue of the ISHES
Newsletter, we will recommend articles from past
Japan for Sustainability newsletters. The non-profit
JFS was active from August 2002 until July 2018,
sending out information to the world with the aim
of moving society in both Japan and the world toward
being more sustainable and happy.

Here we introduce an article about the 700,000
square meter forest surrounding the Meiji Shrine,
situated among Tokyo's "forest" of skyscrapers.
It is a lush artificial forest of broadleaf
evergreens planted more than a hundred years ago,
and they also provide precious bird habitat. What
are the careful calculations behind this eternal
forest, which regenerates itself without human
intervention, and what are the underlying Japanese
concepts of nature behind it?
A 150 Year-Project: Meiji Shrine Forest in Central
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