12 January 2015
Tokyo, Japan

Social Enterprise English Language School, or ‘SEELS,’ one of our investees, was featured in a recent article in the Japan Times. The story profiles their microfranchising model that “helps Filipinas set up and run international kindergartens and eikaiwa” – English conversation – schools, and the project that Kathryn Doria Goto and Cesar V. Santoyo, founder and president of SEELS, teamed up to work on for making a film titled “Accept Us Maybe.” The Toyota Foundation provides funding for its film development and production.

The article also explained the backdrop of the Filipino community in Japan and how the public’s perception of them has been changed. Santoyo admits that it “has been gradually improving.” He is concerned, however, that “…some middle-aged women are married to older Japanese men who are working class. They are already retired. Living off their pension alone is not enough.” He stressed, “So, for these reasons, a number of women could use assistance. The government should permit them to apply for welfare benefits if they are needed. The release of this film is timely, because this is something we want to advocate for. This is what we mean by social acceptance.”

The full article can be found below.

SEELS was founded by Santoyo in May 2011, shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake hit northeast Japan. Since then, the social enterprise has been supported by Akira Foundation, financially and non-financially. SEELS creates job opportunities for more than 6,000 Filipino living in Tohoku, the northeastern part of Japan, by educating and training them to become English teachers. It provides English and international early childhood education services at an affordable price, which may fit well in the severe financial hardship condition of the families who fall under the middle income bracket, as well as in need of global-minded human resources.
26 November 2014
Tokyo, Japan

The American and Japanese participants of the 2014 TOMODACHI US-Japan Youth Exchange Program gathered in Tokyo to present their experiences on the program. The American students from Washington, DC were at the end of their two-week program in Japan, and had recently returned from the disaster-affected areas of Tohoku, where they had learned from local non-profits. Participants shared their stories in front of U.S. Embassy Tokyo Deputy Chief of Mission Jason Hyland and U.S.-Japan Council President Irene Hirano Inouye.

American students were deeply moved by the stories of those who survived the earthquake and tsunami as well as the various work being done by people to help the economic recovery in the region. They announced a plan for an exhibit in March 2015, in Washington, DC to talk about their visit to Japan and to reflect on their visit to Tohoku.

The program concluded with remarks given by Hirofumi Yokoi, Chief Executive Officer of the Akira Foundation, the organization responsible for coordinating the program in Japan. “We hope you have achieved the goals set for yourself two weeks ago. We understand how a TOMODACHI program can change lives, especially for the youth participants.”

*Source: TOMODACHI HP (http://usjapantomodachi.org/2014/11/13981/)
For more information, please click here.

18 March 2014
Washington D.C., U.S.A.

Six TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program students gathered at the Sumner School in Washington D.C. to present what they learned and experienced through their participation in the program, particularly their visit to Tohoku region while they were in Japan.

The presentation took place on March 11th, 2014, to mark the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake by sharing their experiences with the audiences.

For more information, please click here.

The photo shown here was taken in front of the disaster prevention center in Minami-Sanriku cho.
12 December 2013
London, England

Hirofumi & Atsufumi Yokoi, Co-Founders & Co-Presidents of Akira Foundation, have been named among over 30 innovators changing society in the world by Kogan Page, a leading independent global publisher headquartered in London.

The Kogan Page Team carefully reviewed the 100 people Kim Chandler McDonald interviewed in writing and publishing her new book, “Innovation: How Innovators Think, Act and Change Our World.” [1] They featured 30+ innovators across various sectors and fields that cover healthcare, government to social inequality, education, conservation and more.

30+ key innovators also included Kiva’s Co-Founder and CEO Matt Flannery, former Finland’s Minister of Communication Suvi Linden, and a UNEP Climate Hero Roz Savage, along with other distinguished politicians, social entrepreneurs, engineers, educators, activists, adventurers, young doers and dreamers, and the like.

[1] http://www.koganpage.com/editions/innovation/9780749469665

The full report can be found below

10 Dec 2013
Cape Town, South Africa

Dr. Gary Kendall argues the urgent necessity for mankind to wean from the addiction to fossil fuels in “Guardian,” one of the most credible British newspapers.

In the article, Dr. Kendall discusses how the way of producing and consuming energy by mankind changed before and after the era of fossil fuels resulting from the invention by Thomas Newcomen, and how much energy human beings waste in keeping our present life style with what cost.

Dr. Kendall notes that we, human beings, are facing an important choice about whether willingly choosing our future or being forced by the nature.

Source: “Guardian Sustainable Business blog”
For the complete article, please click here.

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