BLUE WING -WINGS FOR CHANGE- 「Finding future social entrepreneurs from within Japan. Actively recruiting and cultivating next generation Changemakers.」

Ashoka Japan

In 2011 Ashoka opened its doors in Japan. Nana Watanabe, an author specializing in social entrepreneurship, was the guiding force. Working with five Changemakers locally, Ashoka Japan is unlocking the potential of youth innovation to gradually transform Japanese society.

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STORY OF CHANGEMAKING

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Ashoka's system-changing approach yields results in Japan

imageI first became acquainted with Ashoka around the turn of the millennium. Social problem solving had existed in Japan but the effects tended to be short-lived because of a focus on symptoms, rather than root causes. Ashoka's method of diagnosing social problems at the source and executing system-wide reform has demonstrated impact that is thousands -- even tens of thousands -- of times more effective. Japan was facing many issues. I decided we needed Ashoka.

I contacted their headquarters in Washington, D.C., but the initial response was skepticism. I realized then that I needed to provide solid data on the social ills peculiar to our mature society, like youth apathy and the phenomenon of extreme social withdrawal. Ashoka representatives were astonished to learn that reality on the ground was quite different from the image of a prosperous, pre-recession Japan. An Ashoka Country Office in Japan was set up here in 2011, putting us at the starting line at last.

Four Ashoka Fellows lead the way creating Changemakers of the future

imageAfter four-and-a-half years in operation, our impact so far has been modest, to be honest. But thanks to our five fellows, the seeds for transformation have been planted and have started to bear fruit.

Our Ashoka Youth Venture Initiative is on track, empowering the next generation with the spirit of entrepreneurship. The initiative is an incubation lab for youths aged 12 to 20. They are aware of the contradictions within the society in which they live, and have concrete ideas about solutions. They possess empathy. They are introspective, have the courage to take risks, and are resilient in the face of failure. In order to cultivate these traits in young people, we give them total flexibility.

From our Japan launch in 2012 through May of 2016, 69 teams have been formed, with three to five youths each; and we are on track to reach 100 teams by 2017. Some of our alumni have translated their projects into startup companies after graduating from college. By nurturing young Changemakers, the groundwork is being paved for social transformation.

We want to dispel the myth that. “ordinary people can't change society”

To maximize the impact of these seeds of change, structural change within corporations is crucial. Collaboration between Ashoka globally and Boehringer Ingelheim, the 4th largest pharma company in Germany, is undergoing a process . Starting in July, we will launch a corporate outreach program, educating the private sector about Changemaking, and arranging meetings between corporate sponsors and Changemakers.

This outreach is vital. Entrepreneurial, systemic change is not thoroughly understood in Japan. That's because it takes time for results to become apparent, and there is a bias against the idea that ordinary people can effect change.

Cultivating people who can become Changemakers requires starting when they are young. To foster traits like the ability to innovate and empathize, Changemaker schools must be set up at all grade levels. Over 100 Ashoka Changemaker Schools in 28 countries have been certified around the world. We are anxious to get these schools up and running right away in Japan.

Japanese tend to view "small and humble" as a virtue, but I would like us to think beyond our borders. Unless we start focusing on how we ourselves can change the world, broad social transformation will elude us.

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PROFILE

Portrait of Ashoka Japan

Ashoka Japan

Opened in 2011 as Ashoka's first East Asia Country Office. Over four years, five superlative Changemakers have been elected Ashoka Fellows. We support them as a community to magnify the impact of their activities. We are also identifying and cultivating young Changemakers via our Youth Venture Initiative. The idea of "Everyone a Changemaker" guides our daily activities. (Interview with founder and chairperson Nana Watanabe.)

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ANA BLUE WING
2017.12.03
ANA BLUE WINGさんの写真
Changing Young Minds to Change the Future Ashoka Youth Venture Initiative creates an environment for youth aged between 12 to 20, who have the inner fire to change the contradictions in our society to experiment. This initiative started in 2000 in the US and until now the number of teams in the youth venture network has grown to over 5000. This initiative was launched in Japan in 2012. Up until now (November 2017), 85 teams (which accounts for approximately 350 youth) have been born. In Ashoka, we believe that ‘Changemaking Skills’ are what is needed to thrive in this era of rapid change. The Youth Venture Initiative provides a place for youth to practice their ‘Changemaking Skills’. Through ANA BLUE WING you can be part of the change to have more youth equipped to shine in the 21st century. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2017.11.12
ANA BLUE WINGさんの写真
In a world where the deaf can play a more active role. While it’s gratifying for ShuR to be in the spotlight, what we really desire is to create a world where our remote sign language interpretation services blend in. One where you don’t even bat an eyelid when there is a person sat next to you with their tablet or PC open having a conversation in sign language; it becomes as mundane as putting on or taking off glasses. Ultimately, we hope that our work is a step towards a world where the hard of hearing and deaf people can play a more active role in it. And that wraps up this interview with Ohki Junto. Stay tuned as ANA puts more Next Changemakers in the spotlight. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2017.11.11
ANA BLUE WINGさんの写真
Signing Lessons at ANA The year before last, we started a program of regular sign language lessons for ANA’s cabin attendants at Haneda, Itami and Fukuoka airports. The lessons focus on the sort of vocabulary they would actually have to use like “red & white wine”, “beer”, “emergency landing”, and “turning the plane around”. The teacher is a deaf employee dispatched from the company who instructs through signing and written words. While only short, the lessons provide a valuable opportunity to learn the customs of deaf and or hard of hearing people and is beneficial for both teacher and student. It is very encouraging to hear some students say they want to be able to accommodate sign users during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. As an aside, the deaf teachers we dispatch feedback that until their experience they did not know that pilots make inflight introductions or weather reports. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2017.11.10
ANA BLUE WINGさんの写真
Remote-interpretation service and online dictionary for sign language One of the two services offered by ShuR is video phone-based sign language interpretation. Users of the service are connected to a call center in the head office, open 9-5, 365 days a year. As one of our early achievements, an old man was able to order sushi out for the first time. “It’s arrived!”, came the call from a very happy customer, his screen full of sushi. It was a delight to see and really brought home the importance of what we were doing. Our other service, “Slinto”, is a user-interactive online dictionary that can be operated via a sign-language keyboard. While dictionaries already existed, they didn’t allow for reverse searches from Sign Language to Japanese. Sign language vocabulary is made up of a mix of hand signs, positions, directions and movements, so we devised a sort of database-like system that would allow for multi-dimensional input of these different elements. And because many proper nouns are still without sign-language equivalents and it can take time to make them, we hoped that this might make that easier too as well as solving other problems. We hope to give users and companies naming rights as new-registration increases. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2017.11.09
ANA BLUE WINGさんの写真
A business solution for a stable service. It was in my junior high school days that, inspired my programs on TV, I took up sign language. In university, when the sign language club I had joined ceased activities, I decided to make my own with the help of a friend who had expressed a mutual interest. One day, seeing one of our club leaflets, a girl from the choir club came to us. She explained that a student in the year above was looking for someone to sign at the end of year show, so we obliged. Our actions were so talked about it in the sign language world, it made me wonder if they were short on news. Part recreational activity, I decided to start a fun video series on the net. Through my interactions, I was shocked to learn that deaf people are unable to dial for emergency services; a problem that I felt really needed a solution. While searching for it, I remembered the video phone service that I had used to keep in touch with family during my high school year abroad in America, Skype. Realizing that it would be difficult to maintain quality, stability and sustainability with just volunteers, I started a business. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING

CHANGEMAKER