Global Fund for Education Assistance hosted Japan Future Leaders Summit 2016 as part of comprehensive educational program “BEYOND Tomorrow” which aims to foster the next generation of global citizenship with a strong sense of compassion for others in need. The program invited students from all around Japan who, despite facing various challenges such as having lost or separated from their parents and being in foster care etc., they still managed to have aspirations on working actively both domestic and international platforms for a better future. During the program, with the support from leaders with wide variety of expertise, the students developed proposals on how to make society where young people can fulfill their dreams and play active role to make a better society. At the closing plenary, they made presentations in front of leaders from politics, government, business, media and civil society.
- To develop proposals for a society where young people can fulfill their dreams The students developed proposals for the future of Japan based on their personal experiences and presenting the proposals at the closing plenary on the last day of the program.
- To create a platform for future leaders The Summit served as a platform for students to meet friends with aspirations to turn their adversity into abilities to serve others and create everlasting friendships.
- To draw a blueprint for their future Through the dialogue with leaders and friends coming from different parts of Japan, the students were given opportunities to reflect on what role in society they would like to fulfill in the future.
- Dialogue with oneself The students engaged in dialogue with themselves to reflect on their situations in the past and also looking forward into the future.
Dates and Location
October 8 – 10, 2016 Tokyo
High school students
There were 46 high school students from all over Japan that went through competitive selection process participated in the program. Students with different backgrounds such as those who are losing their parents and living in single-parented family or in foster care, gathered with high aspiration to think about how to make Japan a better place in the future.
13 university students who are enrolled in a year-long program – BEYOND Tomorrow Japan Future Fellows Program 2016 joined the program and shared their vision for a better society.
9 alumni members who had joined in BEYOND Tomorrow scholarship programs were attending the event and supported each team’s discussions. As many of them had already started their professional career, they facilitated the discussions based on their professional experiences in different fields.
14 professionals from a variety of fields joined each team and supported the students’ discussion to develop proposals. They also shared their career plan and future vision.
- Terumi Ishii
- Mariko Uyama
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- Shigeyoshi Ezaki
- Anderson Mori & Tomotsune
- Koji Kagoshima
- DENTSU Inc.
- Mayako Kawai
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- Masanori Kawana
- FanForward Inc.
- Yuta Kambe
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- Ayumi Sugawara
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- Nobuko Tabata
- McKinsey & Company
- Hiroyuki Hanaoka
- Seigo Hara
- MICIN, Inc.
- Kensuke Manaka
- Cabinet Secretariat
- Ken Yagi
- Roche Diagnostics K. K.
- Shinichi Wada
- Ministry of Finance
On the occasion of the orientation held on the first day, the students received a special letter from Shinjiro Koizumi, a member of House of Representatives.
Your generation will be the one to create the future of Japan and the world. I strongly hope that, when you go back to your hometown after the Summit, you will never limit yourself and play active role in society together with your friends.
First of all, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations for the event of “Japan Future Leaders Summit 2016”. I met the students of BEYOND Tomorrow last spring. Ever since that time, I felt highly impressed and encouraged to see them. Because, despite the many kind of hardships faced by them, they decide to move forward in order to achieve specific goals. Unfortunately, I could not join the summit, however, I do believe there are plenty of future leaders from all around Japan who are taking their strong will and heart to join this occasion. During the 3-days program, I got to learn that all of you, the participants, will discuss about ideas in order to create a brighter future and will be developing them into proposals. One of the biggest issue have been challenging Japan nowadays is the decline of the population. If the decline of the population is continuing, we might don’t have a future?. I don’t think so. I believe that a country with 60 million people with firm confidence and optimism is stronger than a country with 120 million people that feeling gloomy about their future. You might see it as an extreme example, somehow, I do believe so on what I said. It is going to be an awesome point of view if we are changing the issue of population decline becoming an advantage for our future. I do hope you are all joining me in this kind of thinking. Your generation will be the one to create the future of Japan and the world. I strongly hope that when you go back to your hometown after the Summit, you will never limit yourself and you will always play active role in the society together with your friends. Shinjiro Koizumi Member of House of Representatives
During the program, students shared their personal experiences and stories that had been kept unspoken to the others, with friends who met for the first time.
When I was in senior year in high school I gave up my dream of pursuing higher education and preparing for job hunting. Then, I joined BEYOND Tomorrow for the first time, and something changed in me. I changed my mind and decided to go to college since I thought that I could do something. I believe I could make a change if I step forward. BEYOND Tomorrow is a place where a new me was born.
Hiromi Aizawa (graduated from Soma High School, Fukushima prefecture)
I had long felt indebted to live in foster home until I joined BEYOND Tomorrow. When I shared my personal story, fellow members of BEYOND Tomorrow accepted me as I am, rather than pitied me. That made me realize that friends of BEYOND Tomorrow understand me and I don’t need to worry about anything, and I gained confidence. It made me feel that I also have to do my best to give back as there are a lot of people who accepting me as who I am.
Minako Arakawa (Ueda High School, Nagano prefecture)
Theme for proposals
On the second day, theme for the presentations were presented for the teams. Each team engaged intensively in discussion and developed their way of issue solving into proposals.
Create a society where young people can fulfill their active roles What life do young people hope to live? Based on personal experiences, students will identify the issues that prevent young people from fulfilling active roles in society, and develop action plans to solve those issues.
Dialogue with leaders
Special guests visited students to give words of encouragements.
Yoshiharu Habu Professional Shogi Player
A sense of fearlessness is probably the important factor to pursue my career as professional shogi player. Fear is also very important. But you have to take one step forward to go beyond the fear and challenge the unknown. That is the privilege only young people could enjoy.
Professor Emeritus, Keio University BEYOND Tomorrow Adviser Naoyuki Agawa
In your life, whichever path you will take, whatever unreasonable situations you will encounter, how many challenges you will face, the path you take will surely guide you to a good point.
Final Presentation of proposals
10 teams presented the proposals based on intensive discussions reflecting their own experiences. One winning team was selected based on number of votes that the guests casted after hearing all the presentations. A lot of guests came to the closing plenary including Heizo Takenaka, professor emeritus, Keio Univresity and BEYOND Tomorrow advisor. 2 students representing all the participants delivered speeches.
One of the keywords that best describe me is “poor”. I could not afford reference materials to be used in classroom, was sometimes late to pay the lunch money, was unable to pay for school trip, while the gas and electricity often being cut in my house and experienced on being starving. Those are the poor situations that I have lived in and been through for so many years. Masumi Koiwa (Course of Liberal Arts for Modern Society, Fukushima University)
My name is Masumi Koiwa. I’m from Kamaishi city, Iwate Prefecture and now sophomore in evening course, Fukushima University. I grew up in a poor single-parented family as my parents divorced when I was in 1st year in elementary school. My mother is a Filipina. Even before the divorce, my parents rarely stayed at home and I remembered my 4 year elder brother often beat me up. When I was in junior high school, I had a problem of relationship with my friends and I was only able to go to school only for half a year. Thus, my academic competence has never go beyond that point. I also dropped out from high school once and later I graduated from a correspondence high school while working full-time to earn the tuition fee. One of the keywords that best describe me is “poor”. I could not afford reference materials to be used in classroom, was sometimes late to pay the lunch money, was unable to pay for school trip, while the gas and electricity often being cut in my house and experienced on being starving. Those are the poor situations that I have lived in and been through for so many years. After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the economic situation of my family further worsened. I was 3rd year in junior high school and was accepted to a high school but it was unsure if I could really go to a high school. Because of the disaster, I was able to meet with my mother for the first time after so many years. And I visited the Philippines, my mother’s home country. I landed in an underdeveloped country in the south, after four and half an hour flight from Japan,. There are skinny children aged less than 10 years old with tattered clothes and no shoes on their feet that carried on trade with drivers in the street. I was speechless to see the miserable situation. And I realized that how small my worries were and how much did I have an easy life of it. When I returned to Japan from the Philippines, I dropped out from high school and transferred to a correspondence high school. I started to work full-time, 6 days a week and prepare for higher education. I made my own choice to utmost I could do within giving circumstances. From the shocking experiences in the Philippines, I got interested into education in underdeveloped countries and I wanted to study laws related to education in university. When I was consulting with my teacher in high school about my financial struggle that I didn’t have enough savings to go on to higher education, my teacher introduced me to the program of BEYOND Tomorrow. Reading profiles of students that have been supported by BEYOND Tomorrow and have studied at prestigious universities, I originally thought the program was not for me. I applied anyway as I had nothing to lose, I was luckily accepted and received scholarship from BEYOND Tomorrow. That was the time where I could finally pave the way to university. I am currently studying at the university majoring adult education and life-long education. While researching on the role of evening junior high school and community center, I developed my dream to work to create a platform for informal education for youths. And I am very much interested into the issue of street children in underdeveloped countries. I have never forgotten about the children that I saw in the Philippines, a second home of mine. I hope I will be able to support the development of the society where children of any background could have dream for better life and future, such as becoming nurse or cabin attendance. As I joined the summit this time, I predetermined to be dead serious to myself. During the program that I have been trying to do at my fullest, I was able to share my personal experiences with my fellow participants. And it enabled us to develop a relationship that I could sincerely feel a strong sense of compassion with. Through the 3-days summit, we discussed and developed proposals for a society where young people can fulfill their dreams. The proposals are based on personal experiences that each one of us had underwent. I humbly hope that people would understand the different realities that we face and challenges every day.
I had been sharing with my family only a pack of vegetables sold at 10 Japanese yen at a market. When we could not afford to buy even a single pack of vegetables, I tried to satisfy my hunger with sugar and water. I had never imagined that it was such painful that I could not eat for 3 days. Takaharu Fukuzawa (Tokyo Metropolitan Aoyama High School)
My name is Takaharu Fukuzawa. I am a student of Tokyo Metropolitan Aoyama High School. When you wake up every morning and eat breakfast, have you ever thought about how deeply do you thank for the food ?. I was able to cherish each morning to have breakfast and go to school very recently. My father is very unique. He weighted 100kg at a height of 187cm. He took very good care of me. We often went on trip and I really enjoyed watching beautiful stars at night. As my mother had been missing, my father played a role of both father and mother, and I trusted him very much. My father had been running a business and we were a well-off family. However, his business started to downturn by the time of Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. When I turned in 3rd year in junior high school, my father told me that we had to escape to abroad. I thought it was a joke. I assumed it was a trip and took a flight to Thailand with my father and my grandmother who was in her 70s. It was in May and I was in 3rd year in junior high school. I had not return to Japan for almost 2 years afterwards. I thought we would stay for about 2 weeks in Thailand, and I gradually realized that I would never able to go back to Japan. I stayed there with a tourist visa and was not able to enroll in school. I brought a few textbooks and workbooks with me as I simply presumed that we would not stay that long. I studied the same books again and again. I did the same workbook 8 times. Our economical struggle continued even in Thailand and we shared a pack of vegetables sold at 10 Japanese yen at a market. One day we finally could not afford to buy it, I tried to satisfy my hunger with sugar and water. I had never imagined how painful it was not to eat food for 3 days. However, most difficult thing for me was not feeling hunger nor getting bored with doing nothing, but feeling that I would be left behind and forgotten by everyone. I left Japan without knowing that I would never able to return home, and I long to set foot on Japan’s soil at least once at any cost. I sometimes made phone calls with my friends, but as they become high school students and start a new life, it seemed that they were uneasy to talk with me who had suddenly disappeared from Japan a year ago. I was frightened to feel that my existence would be forgotten by them. I desired to go back to Japan but I knew my father would suffer if I tell him so. So I just spent time feeling lonely. After approximately 2 years after we arrived in Thailand, I made up my mind to go back to Japan. Many countries in Southeast Asia struggle with poverty but people live their own life to the fullest. Children who are a lot younger than my age learned English from tourists, learned basic mathematics from small trade, and live their life by maximizing every single opportunities. By looking at them, I got ashamed of myself idling my time away and I finally made up my mind to go back to Japan on my own. I had never run away from home. The destination is 5000km away. The preparation took for 3 months. I booked a ticket to Japan at a travel agency in Bangkok and I didn’t tell anything to my father. I researched what to do and where to contact after I go back to Japan, and packed my things secretly. I could never forget that day – March 17, 2014. In the midnight after my father and my grandmother fell asleep, I left the house with luggage and some money stolen from my father. I run for my life. My father immediately called up my cellphone. I thought he would take me back and I run away from the house at full speed. When I finally got a hotel that I booked, I noticed that my shirt was dyed with blood. I was such focused to run away that I didn’t notice that I had nosebleed. When morning dawns, I paid the ticket with money stolen from my father and head to the airport. As I presumed if I got boarding gate, my father could never run after me, and I changed to tourist-like outfit, rushed into checked-in and passed through immigration control. I spent 10 hours at Starbucks until boarding time. I felt 60% happy to finally be able to go back to Japan and 40% worried about a new life after I got there. I went to the ward office immediately after I returned to Japan and they allocated me in a foster home. Being away from home for 2 years, I had not used to talk with people other than my family and people of my age. I had no idea about the topic that I could share with people of my age. As I was 2 years behind the school system, I was not able to enroll in full-time junior high school. I studied at evening school and prepared myself for high school entrance exam. A year after, I got into a high school, I was indeed delighted to become an ordinary high school student. As I had been hankered after an ordinary life while I spent 2 years in vain, I did my utmost to club activities and part-time job. I find joy and fulfillment when I spent time unhurriedly by having ramen with my friend after school. I hope to be an astronomer in the future. One day, I wish I could work for countries in Southeast Asia in the field of education, a place where I had spent some time of my life. I would like to contribute myself to make a world where every child can enjoy various opportunities for the future regardless of their nationality or origin. Last year, when I got used to the life in high school, I got to know about BEYOND Tomorrow. I applied for the program as I was interested into scholarship program for higher education. It was beyond my expectation that students gathered at the program were all active and I already felt missing them even though I met them for the first time. I don’t know any other place but BEYOND Tomorrow where it is so natural for us to have an intensive discussions and speak very frankly with each other. A college student once told me that “You cannot compare the magnitude of your hardship” and the word is still remain firmly in my heart. I applied again for the summit because this time I wanted to give back and support somebody else in need. However, throughout 3 days, I found that I have supported by many people, more than I do for somebody else. And I realized how firm the senior students of BEYOND Tomorrow are. We had a breakfast at a Tabelog 3-stars restaurant this morning. I sincerely thank for the food when I say “Itadakimasu”.
Visit to Prime Minister’s Official Residence and Shinjiro Koizumi, a member of House of Representatives
The winning team paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister’s Official Residence on the other day and delivered their proposal to Akie Abe, the First Lady and ambassador of BEYOND Tomorrow. Also the team visited Shinjiro Koizumi, a member of House of Representatives and exchanged views on various social issues in Japan.
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology