“Building Connections through Sports!” – Working Towards Refugees and Local Residents Living Side-by-Side

Since 2017, AAR Japan has been active in Kalobeyei, which borders South Sudan in the Turkana District in northwest Kenya, working towards a peaceful coexistence between the local residents and the refugees.
Rei GOTO from the AAR Kakuma Office in Kenya reports on the Sporting Event that was held in April.
Women’s basketball participants with Rei GOTO (front row, right end) and Saki KOMAHASHI (front row, second from the left) of AAR Japan (April 6th, 2019)


Propositions from Japan and Myanmar at International Conferences on Disabilities

AAR Japan’s staff members participated in two regional conferences, namely the
Rehabilitation International Asia & Pacific Regional Conference, held from June
26th to 28th, 2019, in Macau; and also the Asia & Pacific Regional Conference on
Community-Based Inclusive Development (CBID), which took place from July 2nd to 4th, 2019, held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  Sayako NOGIWA, from Tokyo
Headquarters, reports here on the accomplishments and lessons learnt from the
two conferences.

 After the presentation, Sayako NOGIWA from Tokyo Headquarters (third from the left, in the second line), together with the participants from overseas, including Brazil and Gambia. Ms. Etsuko UENO (second from the left, in the second line) generously acted as the moderator. (June 27th, 2019, Macau)


Typhoon Hagibis update : New concern of infectious diseases

The sludge all over the kindergarten facility

“Can you help us...?” We received a phone call from a kindergarten in Fukushima.
This kindergarten is located in Soma city, which is one of the worst-hit places by Typhoon Hagibis. AAR Japan had worked with this kindergarten before , when 3.11 / Great East Japan Earthquake happened, to assist their recovery. This kindergarten has 140 children, from age 0 to 6.

 They were affected by Typhoon Hagibis because the nearby river got flooded. They told us the water went above floor and the sludge was all over the place. Although they cleaned up and reopened two weeks after the typhoon, they were unable to get sanitation items from the local government nor purchase them anywhere near them. With no way of ensuring the hygienic standard for their children, they gave us a call asking for our help.

 We went to see the situation right after the call and first gave them disinfecting spray, anti-norovirus antiseptic and medicated gargle/mouthwash. There was strong smell still lingering so we gave them disinfectant deodorants.

The children opened the box and showed us big smile.(23 Oct./Soma city, Fukushima)


Laos: Mushroom Cultivation Is the First Step towards Financial Independence

It is said that approximately 160,000 people in Laos (2.8% of the population) are PWDs, and 75% of them are between 15 and 64, which means that they should be part of the workforce in the country. However, they only have a few employment opportunities because commuting to work is rather challenging and a persistent stereotype prevails that “we cannot expect PWDs to be productive.” Our correspondent, Haruhiko Mori, reports on AAR Japan’s support in promoting entrepreneurship on a small scale for the purpose of improving the status quo. In addition, Yuki Sakurai from our Tokyo Office introduces the facility that provides job opportunities to those in disaster-stricken areas in Japan.


The Western Japan Flood: One Year On Relief operations for those left behind

 It has been almost one year since the Western Japan Flood caused serious destruction and extensive damage across the whole of Japan; stretching from Hokkaido to Okinawa. According to an official report issued by the Cabinet Office on 9 January 2019, the flooding resulted in a total of 245 dead and missing, and the partial or complete destruction of as many as 18,100 houses and buildings.

Locals unloading a container truck which was swept away by the torrential rain. (Kurashiki City in Okayama Prefecture)


One week after Typhoon Hagibis

The damage situation

Super Typhoon Hagibis, the strongest storm in decades made quite heavy landfall on Japan last Saturday, 12 Oct. It has caused tremendous damage from central to northeast of Japan. The damage is especially significant in Nagano, Tochigi, Saitama, Fukushima, and Miyagi Prefectures.

•    Death toll hits 79, with 8 missing and more than 40k houses flooded according to NHK, Japan Broadcasting Corporation, 19 Oct.
•    More than 100 embankments broke nationwide according to Asahi newspaper, 17 Oct.
•    More than 435,600 homes went without power at its peak according to TEPCO, Tokyo Electric Power Company, and 95,705 homes remain without water nationwide according to NHK, 18 Oct.

Many houses got completely destroyed and washed away. (Miyagi pref. /18 Oct.)

It would take a long time for the recovery, and it's crucial to keep supporting the victims of this typhoon so that they can rebuild their lives.


Please Donate Towards Emergency Relief for Victims of Typhoon Hagibis

We would like to express our deepest condolences for those who have lost their loved ones from Typhoon Hagibis.

AAR has deployed emergency relief teams to give assistance for those affected by Typhoon Hagibis. The typhoon caused severe damages throughout Japan and we have been researching the scope and extent of the damage in the prefectures such as Nagano, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Fukushima and Miyagi.


Emergency assistance: East of Tokyo struck by typhoon Faxai

Typhoon Faxai, a record-setting typhoon made landfall east of Tokyo (Chiba prefecture) on Sept. 9 ,2019 has killed 1 person and injured about 150 people according to FDMA, Fire and Disaster Management Agency. More than 930,000 homes across the region went without power at its peak. The power outage continued for more than 2 weeks in approximately 2,800 homes and there are homes still remain without power after a month passed, according to the Tepco, Tokyo Electric Power Company.


International Conference and Symposium for a “World without Killer Robots”

 Adoption of the Tokyo Statement

AAR Japan and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots co-sponsored the “Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS),” a two-day event held from February 19, 2019 (Tue) to 20 (Wed) at Rikkyo University in Toshima ward, Tokyo. LAWS, also known as killer robots, are artificial intelligence (AI) weapons systems that engage to destroy a target or kill without human intervention and/or control.
From abroad, 10 countries from the Asia Pacific region, 11 representatives of civil organizations, 2 experts from the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), and 2 US members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, participated in the campaign. From Japan, members from organizations including AAR Japan who also serve on the steering committee of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots participated in this campaign.


Zambia: Ending our activities at the Lusaka Office. We appreciate your support throughout all these years.

As of March 2019, we ended two activities (measures against HIV/AIDS, and maternal and child health care) which had been conducted at the Lusaka Office. Masaru MIKI, the last AAR Japan staff stationed at the Lusaka Office reports.
Clinic staff members, local volunteers, AAR Lusaka Office staff and Masaru MIKI (center, front) (March 11, 2019)


Emergency Relief : Flood disaster in southwest Japan

The severe downpours that continued from 27th of August in South West Japan caused landslide and flooding. The number of evacuees in Saga Prefecture reached 2,200 people at the peak and it is down to 160 people (76 households) on the morning of 5th of September according to Saga Prefecture Disaster Response Headquarters. Although some roads in the region remain closed, the water stoppage that affected 2,500 households has been recovered. The severe rain flooded over 3,000 houses in Saga and the welfare facility in the region are unable to operate due to inundation.

Namatame, AAR staff handing out sports drink to people at “Hagakure Gakuen” in Saga city, Saga (31st of August.)


8/27 Event "Removing Barriers to Growth: How Landmines Affect African Development" - TICAD 7 Official Side Event

A panel of speakers will discuss the importance of landmine removal in creating a safe environment for development and investment across Africa

On behalf of the Landmine Free 2025 Campaign, The HALO Trust (HALO), Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan and Mines Advisory Group (MAG) will be holding a side event during the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). 

A deminer clears land under a destroyed bridge across the Zambezi near Cazombo, Angola, Following clearance, this bridge has now been fully reconstructed.©Sean Sutton/MAG


8/27 Talk Event "Refugees and Sports -from the field of Refugee camps in Africa" - TICAD 7 Official Side Event

―Finding Hope, Creating Peace―

Special guest :  Rose Nathike Lokonyen the Refugee Olympic Team Rio 2016 member
simultaneous interpritation (English-Japanese) provided

The event will explore the role that sports can play in providing hope, helping physical and psychosocial growth, and nurturing sense of peace among the youth in refugee camps. It will introduce the activities of NGO and private company assisting refugee youths in Kenya and Uganda, and will feature an athlete from Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya who competed as Refugee Olympics Team member in Rio Olympics.


Commemorating the 20th year since the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) took effect. Mine action 3

On March 1, 1999, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) came into force, prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines; also calling for the destruction of all existing stockpiles, together with the clearance of all mined areas. Since 2019 marks the 20th year since it took effect, Seiji KONNO, a program officer at our Tokyo office, provides in this article some general information on mine action. We are going to focus on mine clearance in this issue.

Click here for Mineaction (1)(2) 

Commemoratingthe 20th year since the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) tookeffect  “Mine action (2) “


Commemorating the 20th year since the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) took effect Mine action 2

On 1 March 1999, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) entered into force, prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and calling for the destruction of all stockpiles, the clearance of all mined areas. Since this marks the 20th year since it took effect, Seiji KONNO, programme coordinator, who is in charge of mine action at Tokyo office, provides general information on mine action and mine clearance in this issue.

Click here for Mine action 1


Flooding in west Japan: Reviving the Community Where People Can Live in Peace

Half a year has passed since Japan experienced significant rainfall particularly in western Japan in early July. Still now, 40,466 houses are totally or partially destroyed, and restoration work is unfinished (as of November 6th, 2018.  Reported by Fire and Disaster Management Agency Disaster Countermeasures Headquarters). AAR Japan has been giving support to social welfare facilities left without aid in Okayama Prefecture, Ehime Prefecture and Hiroshima Prefecture.

Disasters in Japan: Relief Assistance for the PWDs, the Elderly and Children

AAR Japan has been providing continuous relief assistance to the victims of the following disasters: torrential rains in the western Japan in July 2018, Hokkaido earthquake in September 2018, torrential rains in the northern part of Kyushu in July 2017, and the Kumam0to earthquake in April 2016. Immediately after these disasters, we started to provide victims with hot meals and distribute daily necessities and, while doing so, made sure that no People with Disabilities (PWDs), elderly residents or children were left behind. We are very appreciative of your generous support. The following is a report on how things stand in these areas.


Myanmar: Facilitating Employment of Persons with Disabilities: A further step forward

According to the National Census in 2014, there are 2.31 million persons with disabilities (4.6% of the total population) in Myanmar with an unemployment rate cited as being as high as 85%*.
For persons with disabilities to participate in the labour force, in addition to technical and vocational competence with which persons with disabilities should be equipped, one of key factors is employers’ understanding of disabilities generally.  Since 2017, AAR Japan has been making efforts to promote employers’ understanding of persons with disabilities in cooperation with other supporting organizations for persons with disabilities.  Our efforts to establish relationships with employers through firm visits and to support persons with disabilities to find jobs has borne fruit and, in 2018, as many as 26 firms and businesses employed persons with disabilities for the first time.
AAR Japan, in cooperation with the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), a local organization engaged in, among others, the promotion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Myanmar, published a handbook titled “Employing Persons with Disabilities” to be used by employers in Myanmar. This was the first publication of this kind in the country. The handbook was highly appreciated by the government of Myanmar and was officially distributed in various occasions and ceremonies.  The handbook can be downloaded free of charge through the homepage of International Labour Organisation (ILO) .


Afghanistan: Mine Action in Afghanistan – Looking for Hope

20 Years Supporting Landmine Victims

Over 20 years have passed since AAR Japan first began our mine clearance activities in Afghanistan, using the net proceeds from the Anti-Personnel Landmine Removal Campaign picture book “Not Mines, But Flowers”, (illustration by Shomei YOU, story by Fusako YANASE, 610,000 copies published by Jiyukokuminsha). It has been 18 years since we established an office in the capital city of Kabul, in January of 2002. During this time, of the many humanitarian aid needs in Afghanistan, AAR Japan has continued its mine clearance, victim assistance, and mine risk education activities. The reason for this is simple: so long as there are land mines, people will not be able to live their lives in peace.
Mine action taken by the international community, including AAR Japan, have played a large role in reducing the number the victims of landmines or unexploded ordinance (UXO). When one looks back at the “Landmine Monitor”, an annual report published by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), of which AAR Japan is a member, the number of casualties steadily decreases up to a certain point in time.


Commemorating the 20th year since the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) took effect Mine action 1

On March 1, 1999, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) entered into force, prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and calling for the destruction of all stockpiles, the clearance of all mined areas. This Convention is also called “Ottawa Convention” after the name of the city where it was signed. Since this marks the 20th year since it took effect, Seiji KONNO, Program Coordinator, who has been in charge of Mine Action at our Tokyo office, gives you general information on mine action.

What is mine action?

Anti-personnel landmines are inhumane weapons in that, once planted, they remain active for decades and indiscriminately kill or injure civilians.

Landmines are inhumane weapons in that, once planted, they remain active for decades and indiscriminately kill or injure civilians. They pose such a threat to the safety of civilians even after conflicts that they not only inhibited the repatriation of refugees but also deprived the residents of the land that could be put to productive use, such as agriculture. Thus, landmines have obstructed restoration and the economic development of the affected area.

According to United Nations Mine Action Service (UNIMAS), mine action consists of the following five objectives:
    1. Total abolition of landmines
    2. Destruction of all stockpiles
    3. Support for the victims
    4. Clearance of mines
    5. Education on how to avert landmines

1. Total ban of landmines

With the sales of “Not Mines, But Flowers” series, we have successfully cleared 26,520,000 square kilometers of landmine fields since its publication in 1996.
     So far, only military experts have been discussing international issues of weapons, such as personnel mines. However, citizens have started to voice their opinions on serious issues concerning landmines. For instance, they pointed out that landmines could kill or injure even civilians who are not involved in conflicts. Not only that, landmines remain active for a long time, once planted. International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), a global network of non-governmental organizations addressing the landmine issues as a representative of global community, finally succeeded in trying to involve several nations and getting these nations to sign the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (Ottawa Convention). In recognition of their efforts, ICBL, of which AAR Japan is an active member, shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize with Jody Williams, the Coordinator.

     20 years have passed since the Ottawa Convention entered into force, and as of February 26th, 2019, as many as 164 countries have signed it. However, 32 countries, including influential countries such as the US, China and Russia have not sign it yet.

     One of the most important things in mine clearance action is to involve as many people as possible in this action and raise awareness among the public. In addition to giving lectures and providing the general public with a learning opportunity by their visit, AAR published a picture book “Not Mines, But Flowers”, which sold as many as 610,000 copies. (Published by JIYUKOKUMIN-SHA , Story by YANASE Fusako, Illustrations
by YOH Shomei) As you can see, AAR Japan has been trying to get more and more people to become interested in landmine issues and to start action where possible.

2.  Destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel mines

Cleared landmines are either exploded on the spot or exploded with other mines
    after they are defused.
Article 4 of the Ottawa Convention dictates that “each State Party undertakes to destroy or ensure the destruction of all stockpiled anti-personnel mines it owns or possesses, or that are under its jurisdiction or control, as soon as possible but not later than four years after the entry into force of this Convention for that State Party.” On February 8th, 2003, Japan completed the destruction of anti-personnel landmines that it had owned, and
then-Prime Minister Junichiro KOIZUMI attended the ceremony.

Unfortunately, not all the nations destroy all the stockpiled mines as Japan did. Among the several countries I have visited, there were countries where the government did not keep track on where anti-personnel mines were still planted especially because it was right after the conflict. This is very risky. Destruction of mines is a crucial action that should be taken, because the number of mines is sure to decrease if the ones planted are destroyed and no more mines are made.

3. Giving assistance to victims

AAR has been giving assistance to landmine victims. This is a picture of a man (on the left) having an artificial leg installed. He had to have his lower leg amputated because he had stepped on a landmine.
 Of all the concerted international efforts to ban landmines, supporting the victims is an area that should be paid more attention to. In doing so, it doesn’t matter whether someone is a victim of landmines/UXO or whether someone is a person with disabilities.
We must bear in mind that helping victims means helping people with disabilities. AAR has been committed to giving assistance to people with disabilities regardless of cause.

Our assistance is composed of the following:
   ・Assistance in terms of urgent and continuous medical service, such as a surgery after the injury
  ・Physical rehabilitation, such as the kind of rehabilitation wearing prosthetics
  ・Psychological/Psychiatric support、such as counselling and treatment for patients with traumatic experiences, which is necessary for those with acute stress disorder after falling victim to landmines.
  ・Economic inclusion, for instance, vocational training so that victims can get income
  ・Gathering of information, which is crucial in getting appropriate and necessary support
  ・Acting on legal systems and institutions
     There are countries where people with disabilities are not guaranteed their rights
     as much as they should.

AAR became aware of the existence of landmine victims while supporting Indochina refugees, and started to give assistance to people with disabilities. We are now supporting them across the globe.  Click here for details:

     Victim Assistance

I will write about 4. Clearance and 5. Mine risk education in the next issue “Mine
Action 2”.

Click here for AAR’s mine action.
     Mine action

Seiji KONNO, Tokyo Office

For ten months, starting in April 2000, he was on assignment with the mine clearance NGO “HALO Trust”, engaged in UXO/mine clearance work. Afterwards, he oversaw mine action, public awareness training, and emergency aid at AAR Japan until March of 2008. After leaving AAR Japan, became a certified Social Worker and certified Psychiatric Social Worker. After working at an international NGO overseas focused on support for those with disabilities, domestic social welfare, and support for children, he returned to AAR Japan in February 2018. He is from Ibaraki Prefecture.
 (Profile as of the date of the article.)


AAR operates Child Friendly Space in camp

In Cox’s Bazar district, southeastern Bangladesh, over one million Muslim minority who were forcibly displaced from Rakhine State of Myanmar, are now staying. AAR Japan [Association for Aid and Relief, Japan] has been operating “Child Friendly Space” (CFS) where children can play and learn in peace, also “Woman Friendly Space” (WFS) for women in two camps.

Refugee kids are gathering at Child Friendly Space (CFS) in Jadimura camp
(November 27st,2018)