JAPAN: Human Rights Education Expansion

18 April 2014


Japan is famous for high tech products and advances. The snow capped Mount Fuji, the symbol of Japan and UNESCO cultural heritage site, attracts and inspires artists as well as writers. Her 378 square kilometers lures visitors to 16 World Heritage Sites and delight in a bird's eye view from Tokyo Tower, rides at Tokyo Disneyland, cherry blossoms in Tokyo's Kitamomaru park, underwater ruins in Ryukyu Archipelago and festivals rich in colorful kimonos, culture and tradition. Japan proudly enjoys her traditions while making giant strides toward the future with world-class electronic advances. Her population of about 127 million is preparing to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The purpose of Youth for human Rights International is to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace. In 2004 the YHRI World Educational Tour included Japan and YHR-Japan was launched.

The YHR-Japan team learned that some serious cases of bullying had emerged among youth in schools. They saw the urgent need for Human Rights Education as a means to help reduce bullying. They reached out to schools. The talented artist, Kotomi Tsubota, depicted the 30 human rights in anime, which is the Japanese abbreviation for the word animation. The anime was used for puppet shows in schools and proved popular among students.

In 2008 the YHR-Japan team participated in the YHRI International Human Rights Summit held at the United Nations headquarters in New York. This experience helped expand their activities exponentially, including promoting human rights in broad scales through media such as national Cable TV (almost 1.5 million viewership) and showing the YHRI videos in large public venues in the Tokyo business district.

In 2009 the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports reported that the cases of bullying had decreased from 85,000 to 73,000 incidents. This was cause for celebration among organizations who had participated in anti-bullying initiatives including Friends of United Nations Asia-Pacific who acknowledged Dr. Yukimasa Goto and the YHR-Japan team for their contributions; "you took action, paying attention to human rights and dignity, therefore Friends of UN show deep respect to your organization and your activity and present commendation to you."

YHR-Japan continued to expand. They reached out with petition drives to get the Universal Declaration of Human Rights taught in schools nationally. Support flooded in and they got thousands of signatures.

The Central Education Council acknowledged the YHR-Japan team for their work and recommended the YHRI materials for use to high school students.

Ryota Asaoka, National Athletic Meet boxing champion and director of PEAceSPORTS, joined YHR-Japan. He shared his own story of being bullied as a child. National media shared his story to millions.

Other professionals such as medical doctors and martial arts professionals came on board and started delivering lectures to tens of thousands of students. Celebrity performers participated in concerts promoting human rights.

Congratulations to the YHR-Japan team for expanding Human Rights Education in Japan and beyond her borders!

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Youth for Human Rights International is a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 to teach youth about human rights and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace. Since its inception, it has grown into a global movement, including hundreds of groups, clubs and chapters around the world.