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
2017.03.05
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How much do you know about the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster? Ashoka Youth Venturers volunteering in Fukushima after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake discovered that they knew very little about what had actually happened, or what is happening now, and neither did almost anyone else. They realised the area would only really recover if people knew the broken nuclear plant was successfully being decommissioned, so they set up the 'Ripulabo' action group - motto: 'learn, feel, think and communicate' - to get the word out. Support ANA BLUE WING and help Ashoka Japan's young people launch more projects for social change. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2017.03.03
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A vision of old and young living together again? Year 11 high-school student Sho Yamamoto's dream is to build a house-sharing and co-operative living system for both old and young people. A kindly older lady helped him when he was at elementary school, but there was no-one to help when his grandfather choked on some mochi rice: his grandparents lived by themselves. Sho thinks the old and the young can complement each other's ability or experience, and as an added bonus, house-sharing makes the rent a lot lower! Wanting to renew relationships between old and young, the 16-year-old Ashoka Venturer is currently visiting old people at their homes to develop ideas. Make his dream come true with ANA BLUE WING. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2017.02.22
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[Wrapping Up the First Workshop in Japan] The lecturer, Tony Asaro shared some of his thoughts about the event. “For this Japan debut, we are running 4 workshops aimed at instructors and 2 aimed at parents. In the future, I would love to run one aimed at student athletes as well. The response from participants has been surprisingly far more positive than I had expected. It has also been very vocal and I have really felt the strength of their leadership in their comments. I hope all the participants will go out and share what they have learned with other coaches!”. ANA BLUE WING supports the work of the Positive Coaching Alliance to instill richness of spirit through sports. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2017.02.21
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“Positive Coaching Alliance” (PCA) is a coaching style pursuing the double goal of winning and personal development in sports. The founder is Jim Thompson, who was elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2004. On 10th February, the first ever PCA workshop was held in Japan, with flight support from ANA. The event brought together sports coaches and trainers from all over the country who listened intently to a lecture by lecturer Tony Asaro. Going forward, the “Sports Coaching Initiative(NPO) http://sports-coach.jp/” (founder: Kobayashi Tadahiro) plans to leverage PCA to qualitatively further improve the effectiveness of education and leadership skills across the country. ANA BLUE WING supports their work. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2016.08.15
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Most blindness is a result of cataracts. Previously, the cataract was removed and thick 'cataract glasses' provided to the patient, but 50% of patients broke or lost their glasses, rendering them practically blind again. The solution is better, affordable implanted lenses, so Ashoka Fellow David Green founded Aurolab to develop and manufacture them, and make them available at affordable prices. Support ANA Blue Wing and help David permanently restore sight to those blinded by cataracts. http://bit.ly/1sbO0OB #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING

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