BEYOND Tomorrow Tohoku Future Leaders Summit 2012
SummaryBEYOND Tomorrow hosted the Tohoku Future Leaders Summit 2012, the second time this leadership program has been held. This summit targets young people who, despite facing great adversity, maintain a global outlook and have aspirations to actively work on both domestic and international platforms. Together with 60 high school students who were selected on an application basis, 15 university students were also selected to attend, based on their active contribution to society and other BEYOND Tomorrow programs after having experienced the disaster first-hand in Iwate, Miyagi, or Fukushima prefectures. The students divided into groups, and as a group created proposals under the guidance of established leaders in various fields. We believe that precisely because they have experienced the tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami, these students are able to become empathetic activists and serve a larger society. At this summit the students, as survivors of the disaster, reflected on what roles in society they must fulfill and how to convert these ideas into action.
- To create Proposals to the Future of Tohoku Based on personal experiences as well as the opinions of locals, students will discuss how Tohoku should work towards recovery, create a proposal, and present it
- Each student to define a specific vision for him/ her future upon interacting with leaders active in different fields Upon speaking with various leaders, students will reflect on what role in society they would like to fulfill, in particular as someone who has first-hand experience of the earthquake and tsunami
- To build strong bonds among the students through discussion of their shared ambitions and exchange of opinions The students will establish a sense of camaraderie among themselves as they jointly embark on a journey towards realizing their dreams
Dates and locationOctober 12-14, 2012 National Olympic Memorial Youth Center(Shibuya, Tokyo)
60 High school students from the disaster-affected regions, selected on an application basis60 High school students from the disaster-affected regions, selected on an application basis – Must have been living in Iwate, Miyagi, or Fukushima prefectures during the time of the earthquake and tsunami – Must have a global perspective and exhibit strong aspirations of become a leader in both domestic and international platforms, overcoming the adversity of the disaster
University students from the disaster-affected regions15 University students from the disaster-affected regions – Must have been living in Iwate, Miyagi, or Fukushima prefectures during the time of the earthquake and tsunami – Must have participated in at least one previous BEYOND Tomorrow program – Must have displayed active contribution to society after the disaster, working towards a brighter future
AdvisorsAn advisor was assigned to each student group, and the advisor offered support for the students in their discussions. Each student also received guidance when thinking about his or her future path in the context of Tohoku’s recovery.
- Yutaka Arai
- Senior managing director, Great East Japan Earthquake Recovery Initiatives Foundation
- Daisuke Iwase
- Co-Founder and Representative Director Lifenet Insurance Company Japan
- Etsuko May Okajima
- President & CEO, ProNova Inc.
- Koji Kagoshima
- Planner/Copywriter, Social Innovation & Solutions Division, Dentsu Inc.
- Takashi Tachibana
- President, SHIEN,co.,Ltd.; Representative Director, Sweet Treat 311; Director,Eat, and Energize the East; Founder, OH! GUTS!; Executive Director, Cultural and Sports Support Organization for the Great East Japan Earthquake Orphans
- Tomoko Teruya
- CEO, NGO Yuimar
- Seigo Hara
- McKinsey & Company
- Kumi Fujisawa
- Vice President, SophiaBank; Vice President, Japan Social Entrepreneur Forum
- Hanako Fujita
- Faculty of Medicine, Gunma University
- Chikara Funabashi
- Will Seed Co.,Ltd. Founder & Chairman, Kawaijuku Educational Institution, Advisor
- Mayo Hotta
- CSE’s Office, Recovery Initiatives Group, SOFTBANK CORP.
- Nami Matsuko
- Head of Corporate Citizenship Department, Managing Director Nomura Holdings, Attorney at Law (New York)
- Hideki Matsunaga
- Chief Representative, Egypt & Yemen JICA Ofice
SpecialistsWhen discussing Tohoku’s recovery, students received input from a specialist from each field. There were three fields represented: (1) entrepreneurship; (2) tourism and local revitalisation; (3) disaster prevention and city planning.
GuestsStudents heard presentations from guest speakers who represented a diverse array of backgrounds. They spoke about their career paths and how to most effectively contribute to society. Engaging in dialogue with these guest speakers was an eye-opening experience for the students, and served as an important first step in their own path to becoming future leaders.
Sharing disaster experiencesWhat happened on March 11, 2011? What was lost during the disaster, and what was gained? How did I change during the year after the earthquake? Students spoke on these topics in their own words and listened closely to their peers’ stories. Building friendships after the disaster — through sharing their personal experiences, the students formed a strong bond with each other.
March 11, 2011. Amidst the persistent, biting cold weather, I lost everything.Minoro Endo Ishinomaki Sensyu University, School of Business administration(Ishinomaki Kita High School graduate)
My name is Minori Endo, and I am from Ishinomaki city. March 11, 2011. Amidst the persistent, biting cold weather, I lost everything. My beloved hometown. My house that I grew up in. My father whom I adored. In just one moment the tsunami swept away everything. Before the tsunami, I called my father, and miraculously the call went through. My father told me that he was on his way home, and I heard the car engine start on the other side of the phone. This was to be my last conversation with him.
I am still here, that I am still living, is that I want to contribute something to my hometown and its recovery — for my mother and my grandmother’s sake, for my family’s sake. Masahide Chiba Utsunomiya University, Faculty of Engineering(Ofunato High School graduate)
It is strange to think back on the day before the earthquake disaster and tsunami. Even though it was only 4pm, the sky above the school courtyard turned a deep crimson, and a large flock of birds flew overhead. If only I knew at that point that something was different. I still think of that moment often.March 11, 2011, 2:46:18pm. When the earthquake hit, I was playing club sports at school. The students were getting agitated because we had never felt the ground shake so much before. We were even smiling a bit — secretly, we were excited that something out of the ordinary was happening. Little did we know then how much grief was actually awaiting us.
Discussion topicThe discussion topic, to be worked on over two days, was presented to each team on the morning of the second day.
- Tohoku recovery through entrepreneurship
- Disaster prevention and safety-based city planning that is of global caliber
- Tohoku recovery through tourism
- Create a name for your political party
- Decide the members and positions for your cabinet if elected
- Establish a catchphrase that encompasses the ethos of your party’s manifesto
Understanding the needs of the affected regionAs a first step of creating the manifesto, student participants researched the current needs of the affected region. Based on the needs, what is the most appropriate policy for this region? Students gathered information from their own experiences, as well as from opinions of locals.
Shared needs of the region
“The issue at hand is that people have not returned to the region. The financial aspect may be one of the most difficult obstacles: even if they come back, there is no work, and as such it is not possible to sustain a living. Also, as the public transportation has not fully recovered, it is difficult to modify work spaces and schools.” “The recovery of commerce is what is needed. These days, there are many terms thrown around with the word ‘recovery’ in it, such as ‘recovery of business areas.’ It would be great to see progress in these areas without having to label the efforts as ‘recovery.’”
“My house was damaged by the tsunami, and just like my house, there are many others that have yet to be repaired because the workers are too busy. In fact, they are finally starting construction on my cousin’s house next month. Demand is far exceeding supply at this point, and even if one were to get his house repaired, people are asking for a lot more money for the job compared to before the disaster.”
Interviews with specialists
There are people who say that the government and its policymakers are moving too slowly. But even if things on the policy end were to move faster and money were distributed appropriately, if people don’t have a reason to live, there is no point. People become revitalised when they have a reason to live. You, as high school students, have the potential to create a miracle.
What is necessary for safe city planning? There are many people who say ‘You have to do this’ or ‘You have to do that.’ The problem is in determining who the decision-maker is, how we are creating a vision for the future, and how we convince the locals of this new vision. What everyone is facing is this reality.
In a place where everything was lost, we have no other option but to take this opportunity to create something new. There is no such thing as failures from things that we shouldn’t have tried. But there are many failures from things that were good ideas.
Dialogue with leaders
I want to reassure the Tohoku region that its future is in good hands because of young people like you. The future of Tohoku depends on you.
One thing I would like to implore upon you is that you will all be making critical decisions at different crossroads in your career. At that point, be sure that you take a step back to get a good perspective and think about what significance your decision has in the world — and choose the direction that is more challenging and difficult. You may fail, but there will always be other chances. Keeping this in mind, please pursue a challenging, difficult career.
Final presentation of proposalsThe 75 participants created their manifestos for Tohoku’s future over the course of three days, during which they collaborated and challenged each other’s opinions. The manifestos displayed an earnestness that could have only stemmed from students who truly understand the region’s needs, and the presentations were filled with hope for the future.
Tohoku’s recovery that targets students. After listening to and reflecting on the presented manifestos, each member of the audience placed a vote for the one that was most compelling for a bright future for Tohoku.
The winning team
“Recovery through Tourism and revitalisation”
(Please click on the Picture)
Student speechesWe would like to share with you the experiences of the representative students who spoke at the closing ceremony. (Please click on the photograph to read the speech.)
There were days that I cannot even begin to count the number of times I cried thinking about my family.Sayaka Sugawara
My destiny is to communicate to the world my experiences and disaster prevention measures in Japan.Rin Yamane
the Self-Defence Forces were going through the wreckage on land, and the Coast Guard was relentlessly searching the sea. When I realized what they were doing, I knew I wanted to be like them — I wanted to join the Coast Guard. Keisuke Kisara
I have come to strongly believe this. Just as many people have given me opportunities to thrive, I want to be someone who gives others such opportunities.Ayaka Ogawa
News Papers(Japanese only)
- Tokaishimpo (August 31, 2012)
- Kahokushimpo(August 31, 2012)
- Sanrikushimpo(September 7, 2012)
- Iwatenippo(September 8, 2012)
- Fukushimamimpo(September 8, 2012)
- Tokaishimpo(September 12, 2012)
- Iwatenippo(October 16, 2012)
- Yomiurishimbun(October 27, 2012)
Culture, Sports, Science and Technology