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
2018.07.15
ANA BLUE WINGさんの写真
Ashoka Japan: Taking on the Challenge to Discover and Nurture the Next Generation of Changemakers. In 2011, Ms. Nana Watanabe launched Ashoka in Japan. Ms. Watanabe saw many people striving to make new social changes, and by opening this new door she expanded possibilities for five systemic changemakers and young people. Society is now changing little by little. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2018.01.27
ANA BLUE WINGさんの写真
Healing through storytelling Nanami Miura presented her activity progress at the 9th We are the Change, an event where young changemakers gather. Nanami experienced the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture. Now she is a storyteller sharing her experiences of the disaster. Story telling helps to heal her own scars as well as to ensure that the tragedy is not forgotten. Her stories have touched not only tsunami survivors but a great number of people. After graduating from high school, Nanami plans to go on a 1 year and a half year working holiday in Canada. She is determined to polish her English storytelling skills so that the world can share in her stories. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2017.12.15
ANA BLUE WINGさんの写真
Inspiration leads to Innovation On a visit to the USA last October, Kenji Hayashi met a company in Huntington, West Virginia which is revitalising its economically declining hometown. Having the same idea but from a different country with a different culture and issues, Kenji soaked up the experience and is pouring his ideas into his Japanese projects. Inspiration leads to innovation. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2017.12.14
ANA BLUE WINGさんの写真
Back to the future Ashoka Fellow Kenji Hayashi was a 19 year old university student when he was attracted to the rural town of Aizu-Wakamatsu in Fukushima prefecture. This small town has a rich history with an abundance of natural beauty, but as with many rural communities in Japan, depopulation and the lack of jobs are driving young people away to urban areas. Studies suggest that by 2040 up to 50% of rural Japanese towns and villages might become abandoned, but Kenji had spotted a change in the young educated elite, who are increasingly rejecting the traditional path of so-called good university and good job in a big city. Through FoundingBase they now see depopulating rural towns as resources for innovation. Share this post and help Ashoka and Kenji's revitalisation efforts. http://foundingbase.jp/ https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING
ANA BLUE WING
2017.12.14
ANA BLUE WINGさんの写真
The sixth Japanese Ashoka Fellow In 2014, Kenji Hayashi co-created “FoundingBase”, a project to revitalise Japanese rural communities in Japan. Ashoka confirmed Kenji’s potential as a social innovator to create systemic changes in Japan and beyond. He is the sixth Ashoka Fellow from Japan. https://www.ana-bluewing.com/en/changemakers/ashoka_japan/ #ashokajapan #ANABLUEWING

CHANGEMAKER