Lunchtime Webinars for the Supporting Youths of Diverse Roots and an Inclusive Society Initiative

February 24 & March 2, 2021

As part of the partnership between JCIE’s Supporting Youths of Diverse Roots and an Inclusive Society (SYRDIS) project and Sumitomo’s 100SEED program, JCIE conducted a series of lunchtime webinars to deepen cooperation, as well as increase understanding of the issues facing youth of foreign roots living in Japan. The two lunch webinars, on February 24 and March 2, drew over 100 participants and focused on the themes of educational support and professional support.

February 24

1st Lunch Webinar: Educational Support for Young People of Diverse Roots

The first webinar featured Rie Yazaki, coordinator of educational support for Support21 (a social welfare organization), and Yuka Aoki, president of Alece Takaoka, who were invited to speak on the educational challenges youth of foreign roots are facing and the need for education as community members.

Ms. Yazaki pointed out that “going to school” does not mean “receiving an education,” and emphasized the need for support activities that provide “a safe and secure place to learn” so that educational opportunities in Japan can be ensured. Ms. Aoki explained the need for citizenship education to brighten the future of local communities, explaining that the sustainability of local cities is at risk due to Japan’s declining birth rate, aging population, and urban outflow of young people, while the number of children and their families with roots abroad is only increasing.

In the second half of the conference, a panel of representatives from Sumitomo Corporation’s Support Team joined Ms. Yazaki and Ms. Aoki to speak about their motivations for participating in support activities, specific support activities, and key points they noticed through these activities, with JCIE’s managing director and chief program officer Toshihiro Menju acting as moderator. A representative of the support team noted, “There is an image that participation in pro bono activities requires special skills, but the skills acquired in daily work such as task organization and management have helped support the group’s activities.” He also shared his impression that, through his experience participating in support activities and working with leaders in the field of social change, he has gained a deeper understanding of the social challenges in Japan and hopes to foster an understanding of the challenges of youth of foreign roots to those around him as well.

March 2

2nd Lunch Webinar: Professional Support for Young People of Diverse Roots

At the second webinar, Michie Afuso, president of ABC Japan, Yumiko Watanabe, coordinator of ABC Japan, and Chiho Shibayama, CEO of Glolab, were invited to speak about the lack of support for youth of foreign roots once they have completed compulsory education, and about vocational education.

Ms. Shibayama pointed out the high number of high school dropouts and the high rate of irregular employment even after high school graduation among young people of foreign roots. She discussed the need to create backup mechanisms to continue encouraging self-study among young people of foreign roots, such as developing communities that offer professional support by providing education on future prospects, higher education, finding a job, etc. Ms. Watanabe added that, as immigrants continue settling in Japan, the second and third generations of immigrants have extremely limited career and occupational choices. She stressed the importance of supporting vocational independence by providing opportunities to learn Japanese to acquire qualifications and gain employment.  

Following the format of the first webinar, representatives from each organization then shared their thoughts. When asked what new things were gained from program activities, one representative shared his impression that: “In support activities, I felt that my brain was stimulated differently from my usual work, and it was a fulfilling time even though I was busy. I also gained a sense of accomplishment that I was involved in supporting young people of diverse roots.” Other representatives added, “The support of the Sumitomo Corporation’s pro bono team provided an opportunity to clarify the organization’s business goals and understanding of issues that tend to be ambiguous.” and “From now on, I have a positive incentive to run my business.”

This webinar provided Sumitomo Corporation employees with the opportunity to learn about the challenges of youth of foreign roots in Japan, and in their feedback, participants requested that similar seminars be held in the future.

Connecting businesses and public interest activities

The challenges young people of foreign roots are facing require the collective impact of diverse sectors bringing their strengths and know-how together to generate social change.

JCIE’s partnership with the Sumitomo Corporation’s 100 SEED and the SYDRIS initiative is an effort to connect companies’ and citizens’ public interest activities in order to address the challenges faced by youth of foreign roots living in Japan. 

In addition to creating a backbone support system that generates collective impact, JCIE will provide funds to SYDRIS grantees and will create a common agenda for connecting sectors, an assessment system for improving information channels between organizations, and a communication system for strengthening activities.

To learn more about this project, please click here