It is important for us to be flexible, using not only infrastructures from the heavy industry but also information technology to create new industries.Member of the House of Representatives
Director of JPFP Hon. Asahiko Mihara https://www.mihara.gr.jp/
In my many years’ involvement in issues related to Africa, I have come to think that the most essential things are eradication of poverty, availability of nutritious meals and sanitary water, and education.
Among Japan’s various activities for international cooperation, JICA’s Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) is one of the projects that provide assistance in a more tangible way. The JOCV volunteers work with the local people to address issues faced by developing countries. I support their activities, including by actually visiting the sites of JOCV activities. These activities may seem like a drop in the bucket, but the local people truly appreciate our assistance in rural development, maternal and child health, and other grass-root technical assistance.
For example, agricultural technical transfer from Japan has enabled them to grow a set of crops in the dry season and a different set of crops in the rainy season. The use of furrows in the field has increased yield, resulting in improvement in their living standards. In Ghana, the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) was established with the support of the Government of Japan. Researchers at NMIMR, who studied in Japan, are fully utilizing the expertise and facilities accumulated to fight COVID-19.
Some have voiced skepticism about international cooperation at a time when Japan faces its own problems. But when we see the local people in much worse situation, we, as people born under the same sun, need to lend a helping hand to try to make everyone more prosperous. This kind of “compassion” and “sincerity” is important. Whether we are recipient or provider of aid, we need to be able to place ourselves in the other people’s shoes. I think this kind of basic principle is embedded in Japan’s international cooperation.
My hometown of Kitakyushu City is facing a population decline. The city used to support Japan’s industrial development as a part of the four major industrial regions in Japan. With the contraction of the industry, the population of 1.05 million has decreased to 950,000 today, and is expected to decline further. We are working with the government in promoting an offshore wind power project, which is expected to lead to employment creation. I think it is important for us to be flexible, using not only infrastructures from the heavy industry but also information technology to create new industries.
Interviewed in September 2020
※The titles shown are those held at the time of interview.