JCIE co-hosted a third SYDRIS-100 SEED Lunch Webinar on multicultural coexistence as part of a partnership project between the Supporting Youths of Diverse Roots and an Inclusive Society (SYDRIS) Initiative and the Sumitomo Corporation‘s employee social contribution program, the “100SEED” campaign. [i]
In the first half of the webinar, Iki Tanaka, head of the Foreign Support Division of YSC, one of the nonprofit organizations being supported under SYDRIS, was invited to talk about the current situation and challenges faced by teenagers in Japan with diverse roots. Ms. Tanaka pointed out that the language barriers foreign-born teenagers face—not understanding Japanese and at the same time not being able to develop their native language skills either—may eventually lead to serious challenges such as loneliness and isolation, high dropout/unemployment rates, and struggles with self-esteem. She added that local governments, volunteers, and NPOs, which should be responsible for supporting youth of diverse roots, have only been able to offer limited support due to lack of budget and personnel, and she mentioned the lack of functioning safety nets for non-Japanese children and adolescents as well as the fact that the systems for welcoming them differ greatly among the various local and regional governments. Finally, Ms. Tanaka emphasized the need to spread positive messages throughout society about how the presence of foreign-born people in Japan offers the potential to create a richer society overall.
In the second half of the webinar, JCIE Japan Program Associate Soo-In Lee moderated a panel discussion featuring two representatives from the Sumitomo Corporation team that supported YSC, along with Ms. Tanaka and Lisa Fukuoka of YSC, who coordinated the activities with the Sumitomo team. The panelists looked back on the roughly five months of activities and offered their reflections on the experience. One support team representative noted, “We were not even aware that children with diverse roots were in need of learning support due to the language barrier, but this made us aware that this is a problem that needs to be solved,” while another added, “I used to think that volunteer activities required noble ideals and I felt that this was a high hurdle, but this activity was easy to do because I could volunteer while receiving support from the company.” In addition, Ms. Fukuoka of YSC, who coordinated the support team, shared, “Because we had to verbalize and explain the tasks we do in our daily work to support members, it gave us an opportunity to objectively view our school activities.” She expressed her appreciation for the support, stating, “The children enjoyed meeting the new teachers, and the teachers all found the support very helpful.”
The webinar attracted a lot of participation and interest from the Sumitomo group companies, showing how the word has spread within the organization. Participants shared that they have gained a greater understanding of issues related to multicultural coexistence and of the support activities.
Read more about the 1st lunch and 2nd Lunch Webinars here.
[i] To commemorate Sumitomo Corporation’s 100th anniversary, it has launched the 100SEED global social contribution project. (SEED stands for Sumitomo Corporation Group Emergent Evolutional Deed.) A survey of the company’s employees worldwide regarding where they would most like to see the company make an impact showed overwhelming support for SDG 4, quality education. With this global theme identified, Sumitomo employees around the world created working groups to plan the different ways they can do their part to get involved within local communities and support quality education close to home and have begun implementing programs around the world. For more information, visit the Sumitomo website. ↩