Towards a ban on Killer Robots: Formal talks begin in 2017

Programmed robots choosing their targets on their own and killing them-in order to prevent this grim realization, AAR Japan has been working to ban Killer Robots. 

From 12 to 16 December 2016, the 5th Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) was held at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland. As a steering committee member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an international coalition of civil society, Natsuki MATSUMOTO of AAR participated.

To prevent the possible tragedy

CCW is a convention which consists of a main treaty and five additional protocols that restrict the use of inhumane weapons, such as weapons with fragments undetectable by X-rays, landmines, booby traps, incendiary weapons, blinding laser weapons, and weapons which may cause unexploded ordnance. In recent years, the possibility of restricting lethal autonomous weapons systems(LAWS) is being argued, urged by civil societies led by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. In this conference, the main focus was on whether we could reach an agreement on setting a GGE (Group of Governmental Experts) in 2017. For 3 years since 2014, there was only
a one-week long informal session per year as an opportunity for each government to collectively discuss the issue. If GGE is organized, however, it would provide opportunities for longer official discussions, which will then encourage governmental talks and initiate a great step forward for the adoption of legally binding documents that would regulate the use of LAWS.

89 countries and regions participated in the session (16th Dec 2016)


Hurricane in Haiti: Distributing Aid Supplies at a Primary school Attended by Students with Disabilities

Insufficient Aid

Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan) Emergency Assistance Team (Kazuya OMURO and Asako IKEGAMI) is delivering aid supplies to people affected by the devastating hurricane that hit Haiti. AAR Japan has already delivered aid supplies to Jérémie District in Grand'Anse Province. Then on November 11th, AAR Japan provided aid supplies to 150 families in Les Cayes District in Southern Province. 
Les Cayes District is one of the areas that have been heavily affected by the hurricane. In a previous assessment, AAR Japan found that aid supplies were insufficient for the many children with disabilities attending a primary school in this district. Thus, AAR Japan distributed aid supplies such as rice and beans, which are staples in Haiti, and personal hygiene products listed below to each family. 

Provisions: rice (10kg), water (1.5L plastic bottle x 26 bottles), salt (1kg), beans (500g), cooking oil (1L), sugar (1lb) , pasta (2 bags), sausages (1 can), fish can (1 can), tomato sauce (1can), biscuit (1 box) and coffee (1 can)
 Hygiene Products: sanitary products (3 boxes), toilet paper (3 rolls), soap (3), toothpaste (1 tube), toothbrush (4),
 Other: Plastic Sheet (1), bucket (1), zip lock bag (1 box), water purification tablets (30 bags), mosquito nets (1) and bug spray (1 bottle)
Per household

AAR Japan staff Kazuya OMURO (L) checking collected aid supplies at a warehouse in Les Cayes District. (Novermber 3rd, 2016)

Uganda: Three Temporary School Buildings at Refugee Settlment Completed

Continued Education for Refugee Children

Since July this year, South Sudanese refugees to Uganda have drastically increased. One of the refugee settlement areas, Bidibidi, opened on August 2008, shelters 150,000 refugees. Among the refugees at Bidibidi settlement, 64% were under the age of 18. When Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan) began its support in September, refugee children were going to school in either an overcrowded tent or outside in the open. There were also many refugee children that lived too far away to go to school.

Children studying in the open, under the sun. Due a large influx of refugees, the assembly of tents serving as makeshift schools was not caught up to the number of children(Uganda, September 30th, 2016)


Hurricane in Haiti: Distributing Aid Supplies

Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan) Emergency Assistance Team (Kazuya OMURO and Asako IKEGAMI) continues to conduct needs assessment and collect aid supplies for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Jérémie District in Grand'Anse Province and Les Cayes District in South Province, areas heavily affected by the hurricane.
people who line up in the row, and wait for distribution(October 29th, 2016)


Hurricane in Haiti: Delivering Food Aid to Devastated Areas

Delivering Aid Supplies From the Capital to Devastated Areas 

Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan) Emergency Response Team (Kazuya OMURO and Asako IKEGAMI) continues to deliver aid supplies to People with Disabilities (PWDs) in Jérémie district in Grand'Anse Province and Les Cayes district in South Province, areas heavily affected by the hurricane.
After collecting aid supplies such as water and food in the capital city, Port-au -Prince, AAR Japan staff takes a 4.5 hour drive to Les Cayes District for temporary storage. In addition to food and water, AAR Japan collects essential aid supplies including mosquito nets, buckets and plastic sheets.

AAR Japan staff Asako IKEGAMI(L) listening to a women with visual impairment in Chambellan sub-district, Jérémie district (October 25th, 2016)


Hurricane in Haiti: People with Disabilities Are Left Behind

Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan) Emergency Assistance Team (Kazuya OMURO and Asako IKEGAMI) is providing aid and relief to people affected by the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. The AAR Japan team is currently in Jérémie district in Grand'Anse Province and Les Cayes district in South Province, areas heavily affected by the hurricane, to conduct damage assessment and deliver aid supply. 

incomplete assistance

Jeremie District was heavily affected by the hurricane, with many roofs blown off the buildings.
Agriculture was heavily damaged as well. Many people have lost their livelihood as majority of the population outside the city make a living from their land.
Primary school in Les Cayes district. The roof was blown away and the fence was destroyed (October 19th, 2016)


Sudan:Saving More Lives

When do you wash your hands in your daily life?  While the answer may vary from person to person, in Japan we usually teach our children to wash their hands before a meal, after using the toilet and when they return home.

Wiping buttocks by hand

In the Republic of Sudan, a Muslim country in eastern Africa 10,000 kilometers away from Japan, it is common to wash hands before 5 daily prayers, after a meal and during excretion. During excretion, the left hand is used to wipe the buttocks. Except for a few houses in the capital, Khartoum, with a shower to wipe their buttocks during excretion, a watering container called “ibrig” is used instead of toilet paper. After excretion in a Japanese-style toilet, water is poured from the ibrig onto one’s left hand and it is used to wash the buttocks. Only after that are the hands washed. People who wash their buttocks in this way end up putting on their underwear while their buttocks are still wet; however, this is not a problem since Sudan is a country with high temperature and low humidity and their buttocks will be dry quickly.
Fetching water is a task assigned to the children and can take as many as two hours(Sep. 20th, 2016)


Hurricane in Haiti: Running After Trucks, Calling for Aid

Emergency assistance team enters Haiti

On October 13, the first team of Emergency Assistance Team (Kazuya OMURO and Asako IKEGAMI) from Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan) has entered Haiti to provide support to people left devastated by the extremely destructive Hurricane Matthew. According to the United Nations, 473 people lost their lives and 1.4 million people, 600,000 of them children, are in need of emergency assistance (UNOCHA, October 13th, 2016).

A building seen from highway between Jérémie and Les Cayes. The roof is damaged intensely


Zambia: Challenges in a Medical Remote Areas

Under the scorching heat, a pregnant woman is making a 5 hour journey by foot to the hospital to give birth. The woman goes into labor while she is still making her way to the hospital, and gives birth on the road without anyone to help her. This is a story from a health center officer in a sub-district only 20km away from Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. AAR Japan reports the current situation and its activities in Chisankane community. 

One health center for 10,000 people

For the 10,000 people living in Chisankane community, there is only one medical facility – the Chisankane health center. The furthest residence in the community is 75km away from the health center. Furthermore, as there is no means of transportation, the people in the community have no choice but to walk the distance. It will be difficult for any woman who wants to go to the clinic for pregnancy, child birth and child rearing, to make the journey. After conducting a hearing, AAR Japan found that 8 in 10 women experience child birth without the support of a skilled birth attendant and many women do not receive adequate prenatal care. "If possible, I would like give birth at a medical facility. However there is no transportation… and even if there is someone with a vehicle, I cannot afford to pay them" one woman in the community said.

Women congregate around the mobile clinic (April 13th, 2016)


Laos: Saving the Lives of Mothers and Children

The infant mortality rate in Phongsaly Province, a poverty-stricken province located in a mountainous region in the northern part of Laos, is at 120 deaths per 1,000 live births (of children under one year of age). The death of one in eight infants is caused by premature birth and infectious diseases. The infant mortality rate in Phongsaly is the highest in Laos. Although the data is less accurate, we found that an extremely high number of maternal deaths occur from postpartum bleeding and other related complications.

One in Four Expecting Mothers Receive Prenatal Examinations… Some Give Birth on Their Own 

There are many reasons as to why mothers do not receive appropriate examinations or do not deliver at health centers. These include: lack of, or frequent, malfunction of medical equipment; lack of, or misplacement, of medical tools such as scissors and forceps; shortage of disinfectants; and poor sanitation conditions. Furthermore, pregnant mothers do not make the time to visit hospitals for examinations because they are pre-occupied with farming, or they do not have appropriate education on pregnancy and are thus unaware of the importance of prenatal examinations. In fact, only one in four expecting mothers receive prenatal examinations and only one in five pregnant mothers choose to give birth in medical facilities. A survey of a village, whose health center is only 1 kilometer away from the residential area, found that all pregnant mothers chose to give birth at home; and of those pregnant mothers, 10% of them gave birth on their own and without the assistance of others. Since last fall AAR Japan has been actively involved in providing education on pregnancy, labor and child health in the Phongsaly Province so that women may be able to have a safer childbirth.
Local hospital employee learns how to listen to the heartbeat of an unborn child utilizing a Doppler ultrasound equipment provided by AAR Japan. Ando Noriko, AAR Japan representative (third from the left) (All pictures below are taken in the Phongsaly Province, March 15th, 2016)


Kumamoto Earthquakes: Toys for the children

 Toys to comfort children

AAR Japan visited Kumamoto City Te Wo Tsunagu Ikusei Kai, a social welfare organization and a network of guardians of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities on May 20th. According to the staff of Kumamoto City Te Wo Tsunagu Ikusei Kai, many of the homes registered with the organization have been affected by the earthquake. Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities often times have difficulty adapting to changes in the environment and, as a result, suffer from severe psychological stress. Since guardians of such children need to be more attentive to the needs of their children, they do not have sufficient time to clean their homes and collect information required to reestablish their lives. As such, guardians also suffer from increased psychological stress.
With the hopes of providing children with comfort, AAR Japan supplied toys such as puzzles and bubble toys and 50 sets of DVDs. Toys that children are familiar are most effective at reducing psychological stress. With the help of Te Wo Tsunagu Ikusei Kai, AAR Japan distributed toys that suit each child’s character to each home. “The toys not only make children happy, but also reduce the burden on their guardians,” employees of Te Wo Tsunagu Ikusei Kai said.

Te Wo Tsunagu Ikusei Kai employees, Chiaki Furukawa (AAR Japan staff, second person from the left in the back row), and Takumi Takagi (AAR Japan staff, person on the right in the front row). (May 20th, 2016)]


Kumamoto Earthquakes: Rebuilding social welfare centers

 Nowhere to go but to half-collapsed welfare centers

Since April 15th, the day after the earthquakes rocked Kumamoto prefecture, AAR Japan’s emergency response team has been delivering aid. At the moment, the emergency response team is visiting remote welfare centers to listen to the needs of survivors, distribute much-needed aid products, and support the rebuilding of facilities.
Soyokaze Welfare Center, a center for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the town of Mashiki, was severely damaged by the earthquake. The ground remains cracked open and the landlord ordered Soyokaze to clear the area, so it is required to move to new premises. Many of Soyokaze Welfare Center employees and users have been affected by the earthquake and relocated to evacuation centers. Persons with mental or psychological disabilities struggle to adapt to communal living at evacuation centers and therefore take shelter in tents pitched in gardens or half-collapsed homes. Some Soyokaze Welfare Center employees continue to take shelter in automobile vehicles. On May 4th, AAR Japan delivered 4 boxes of disinfectant spray, 4 boxes of refills for disinfectant spray, 4 boxes of disinfectant sprays for hands, and 4 boxes of refills of disinfectant sprays for hands donated by Office Dewi Sukarno; and 5 massage machines donated by CATALOGHOUSE Ltd. “Our bodies have become tense from spending many days living in our cars. These massage machines help alleviate the pain,” survivors said.

“These massage machines help alleviate the pain from spending many days living in cars,” survivors of
Soyokaze Welfare Center said. Takumi Takagi (AAR Japan staff, Right) (May 4th, 2016)


Kumamoto Earthquakes: One month passed. Listening to the voices of those unheard

Standing by each of the survivors

Since April 15, the day after the earthquakes rocked Kumamoto prefecture, AAR Japan’s emergency response team collaborated with The Peace Project (an NPO represented by AAR Japan’s board member Ben Kato) to operate soup kitchens. As of May 8, the organizations conducted 34 soup kitchens and distributed 17,730 meals with plenty of vegetables such as pot-au-feu and tonjiru (pork and vegetable soup). As of May 8, AAR Japan delivered aid to 5 evacuation centers (in Kumamoto City, Aso City, town of Mashiki, and village of Nishi Hara) and 11 welfare centers (in Kumamoto City, village of Nishi Hara, village of South Aso, town of Ōzu, town of Mifune, town of Mashiki, and town of Kashima).
Survivors continue to live as evacuees even after one month since the earthquake. The survivors’ needs change daily.

AAR Japan draws upon 2 lessons from its past experiences with emergency response in Japan and in foreign countries: “Anticipated response” and “Listen to the voices of those unheard.” Examples of the former include providing adult diapers while other organizations focus on distributing baby diapers and providing sanitary products to evacuation centers where evacuees walk around in facilities with their shoes on. Examples of the latter include providing appropriate aid to the elderly and persons with disabilities (PWDs) who are less accessible. Many elderly and PWDs take shelter at facilities that they are accustomed to visiting because evacuation centers for the general public do not accommodate their needs. Among elderly/PWD welfare facilities, there are some that only provide day services and are therefore not built to host persons overnight. AAR Japan visits these facilities to conduct needs assessment and deliver necessary food items, sanitary products, and household goods.

Although emergency aid is no longer required, some welfare facilities still struggle to identify its needs, so there is a need to actively conduct detailed needs assessment at each of those facilities. An 83-year-old lady at the Ikoi no Sato welfare center (currently being utilized as an evacuation center) of the town of Mashiki said, “My house did not collapse, but was significantly damaged. I cannot clear the house by myself. I have not been able to get proper sleep because I fear the continuing aftershocks. My hip is weak and the mattress at evacuation center is worsening my lower-back pain.”

Since AAR Japan has been working closely with other support organizations, we were able to immediately communicate the needs to IMC (International Medical Corps), a professional medical association. IMC dispatched 4 nurses to Ikoi no Sato. Until AAR Japan’s visit, one government official had been managing Ikoi no Sato by himself, so he was appreciative when AAR Japan conducted a detailed needs assessment and coordinated with organizations with the proper expertise.

AAR Japan remains committed to conducting needs assessment by to listening closely to the voices of each evacuee.

In addition to many thanks for all the support, our relief activities of Kumamoto earthquake during April were supported by the donation from Mercy Relief.

Chiaki Furukawa (AAR Japan staff, right) listens to the 83-year-old lady’s needs
at the Ikoi no Sato welfare center. (May 8th, 2016)

For the latest updates, also see our Twitter account.
Account: @aarjapan  http://twitter.com/aarjapan
Please contact Natori (Ms.) and Yamada (Ms.) for further inquiry.
TEL: +81-3-5423-4511
FAX: +81-3-5423-4450


Kenya: Opening up a career with education

South Sudan has been mired in civil war since December 2013. Despite moves toward peace, some 640,000 refugees have escaped to surrounding countries, with a fresh wave of 50,000 fleeing to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in the neighboring country of Kenya. It has been two years and six months since armed conflict started in South Sudan. In addition to food, water, medicine and other life-supporting supplies, the situation now calls for assistance with a view to both the medium- and long-term future of refugees who have no prospect of returning to their home country. AAR Japan, which has been active in the Kakuma Refugee Camp since 2014 in assisting its water supplies, constructing a pediatric ward and other areas, is now helping to provide secondary education inside the Camp.

Vision Secondary School constructed by AAR Japan
 (All photographs shown here were taken at Kakuma Refugee Camp on April 5th, 2016)


Kumamoto Earthquakes: Delivering aid to elderly nursing homes.

Unrestored water supply – Struggles from days without water for hydration or bathing

On April 26, AAR Japan’s emergency response team distributed aid to 4 welfare centers and collaborated with The Peace Project (non-profit organization) to operate soup kitchens.

Midori Center, an elderly nursing home in the town of Nishi-Hara in Aso county, continues to struggle without water. AAR Japan’s emergency response team delivered 50 packets of oral rehydration powder so that elderly survivors could hydrate.

The team also delivered aid to Yuyu Kashima, an elderly nursing home in the town of Kashima of Kamishiki county. Aid includes 60 bottles of sports drinks for hydration, 10 packets of body wipes because the occupants cannot bathe, and 36 packets of wet tissue.

The Oasis elderly nursing home in the town of Mifune of Mashiki county, which currently accommodates 50 occupants and 2 survivors in need of care, also continues to struggle without water. The emergency response team delivered 6 bottles of alcohol-based disinfectant hand-spray, and 500 yōkan (adzuki-bean jelly) donated to AAR Japan by Toraya Confectionery Co., Ltd. “We will serve yōkan to occupants as snack. We are appreciative of the donation,” commented employees of the nursing home.

The team also delivered 48 cup noodles, 18 bottles of water, 12 bottles of cold beverages, and 24 packets disinfectant tissue to Ayumi, an assisted living center in Kumamoto City. Although Ayumi is an assisted living center visited by the elderly only during the day, the elderly users live in fear of further aftershocks and have requested for shelter at the center. However, Ayumi employees have also been affected by the earthquake and there are not enough persons that can work overnight at the center. Ayumi lacks the capacity to accommodate the elderly users and it has been turning down the elderly users’ requests.

Further, the team delivered 200 pairs of compression leggings for prevention of deep-vein thrombosis (products donated by CATALOGHOUSE Ltd.) to the Disaster Control headquarters of the Kumamoto Prefectural Office. Since proper use of compression leggings requires guidance by specialists such as health nurses, these compression leggings will be distributed to evacuation centers in the town of Mashiki, town of Ozu, Aso City, and Kumamoto City with the assistance of Kayako Chishima, an investigator with the Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT).

AAR remains committed to supporting those affected by the Kumamoto earthquake.

Delivered aid to Oasis, an elderly nursing home.
(Kazuya Omuro (right), April 26th, 2016)

Delivered aid to Yuyu Kashima, an elderly care center in the town of Kashima of Kamishiki county.
(Kazuya Omuroi (right), April 26th, 2016)

Foundation of the Yuyu Kashima building sank after the earthquake.
(April 26th, 2016)

For the latest updates, also see our Twitter account.
Account: @aarjapan  http://twitter.com/aarjapan
Please contact Natori (Ms.) and Yamada (Ms.) for further inquiry.
TEL: +81-3-5423-4511
FAX: +81-3-5423-4450


Kumamoto Earthquakes: Survivors still in need of aid.

AAR Japan continues to deliver much-needed sanitary products

In response to the earthquakes that rocked Kumamoto prefecture on April 14, Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan) dispatched the emergency response team, which consisted of 6 members as of April 20: Ben Kato (a board member), Go Igarashi, Kazuya Omuro, Shinichiro Ohara, Masaru Miki, and Yuta Funakoshi. The emergency response team is delivering aid, operating soup kitchens, and conducting needs assessment. 

On April 20, the team delivered much-needed relief aid, consisting primarily of sanitary products, to the West Aso Primary School evacuation center in Aso City. Specifically, the team delivered approximately 720 feminine hygiene and sanitary products, 480 pairs of cotton work gloves, approximately 120 adult diapers, approximately 330 baby and infant diapers, 1,000 plastic bags (used to take away food items distributed at soup kitchens), 360 cup noodles, 50 toothbrush kits (each kit is comprised of a toothbrush and a bottle of toothpaste), 36 rolls of toilet paper, 14 cans of baby formula, and 2 packages of disinfectant wipes. AAR Japan has been procuring sanitary products from Fukuoka City and Kurume City of Fukuoka Prefecture because these products are scarce in Kumamoto Prefecture.
Much-needed sanitary products were delivered to the West Aso Primary School evacuation center. (Go Igarashi (left), April 20th, 2016)

Soup kitchens in the town of Mashiki and Aso city
On April 20, the team collaborated with The Peace Project, an NPO, to operate soup kitchens at 2 locations, the Aso City Primary School and the Ino Primary School. AAR Japan learned that the Aso City Primary School evacuation center was in need of food and the emergency response team served sautéed vegetables to 300 people there. Once again, local survivors actively participated in helping with the soup kitchen. “Warm foods have been unavailable since the quake,” said survivors, expressing delight of the food distributed by AAR Japan’s soup kitchen.
At the Ino Primary School in the town of Mashiki, the team served yakisoba rolls (bread sandwiching stir-fried noodles with meats and vegetables) to 210 people for lunch and tomato-based meat stew to 800 people for dinner. “Tasty,” commented people at the evacuation center who taste tested the soup kitchen foods. “Despite the continuing effects of the quake and aftershocks, we will try to stay positive,” said municipal government employees who provided assistance with food preparation for the soup kitchens. Middle school student evacuees also approached the emergency response team, saying “Is there anything we can help with?”
Aftershocks and heavy rainfall continue to worsen conditions in the affected areas. AAR remains committed to supporting those affected by the Kumamoto earthquakes. 
Please donate and help us continue to the support the people of Kumamoto.
“Tasty,” said survivors residing at the Ino Primary School who ate the tomato-based meat stew. (Masaru Miki (right), April 20th, 2016)
Ben Kato (a board member) preparing sautéed vegetables at the Aso Primary School. (April 20th, 2016)

Please donate
Click here for online donation through Paypal (credit card payment available)
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Account Number: 00100-9-600
Account Name: Nanmin wo Tasukerukai (難民を助ける会)
Please write down “Kumamoto” and specify if you need a receipt.

For the latest updates, also see our Twitter account.
Account: @aarjapan http://twitter.com/aarjapan
Please contact Natori (Ms.) and Yamada (Ms.) for further inquiry.
TEL: +81-3-5423-4511
FAX: +81-3-5423-4450