Title: United Nations Youth School (UNYS) for revival of Japan
Author: Taishiro Sonae
At first, I would like to appreciate having such a great chance to raise an attention to you as a member of United Nations University (UNU) and kindly ask for those who are just reading this paper to take my message seriously, and I would be very pleased to cooperate with you for the same goal, revival of Japan.
As well recognized across the nations, Japan has been in a very critical moment for its survival over the decades and desperately seeking a way to revive especially since the historical natural disaster took place in Tohoku area on 11 March 2011. As one of the citizens of Japan, I also have been very concerned about this situation and having very serious thoughts about how I can make a contribution to this problem in order for us to recover from it and to strengthen our presence in international community.
Through the courses I took at UNU and my own extensive researches, I came up this final paper to raise a solution that can resolve one of the critical problems that Japan has been facing over the decades, and I am hoping that my effort will be not only recognized as a paper for academic purpose but also utilized as a tool for the people who will participate in taking an initiative action into the practical field and making a significant impact on our lives in this global community.
The issue to be resolved for Japan
Among the extensive problems that Japan has been facing, on this paper I would like to particularly focus on one issue that I think needs to be prioritized and resolved within a short time period. My most concerning issue is that Japan lacks the human resources who can play an important role and enhance the presence of Japan in UN community.
According to the report from UN that describes the staff demographics, there are only 258 Japanese who work for UN amounting to 0.59 % of the all UN staff. This is significantly lower than any other developed countries which have a similar strong international economic influence to Japan. For examples, there are 2694 Americans who work for UN amounting to 6.16 % of all UN staff, 1531 French amounting to 3.5 %, 934 British amounting to 2.14 %, 600 Russians amounting to 1.37 %, 437 Chinese amounting to 1.08 % and so on. This statistic clearly shows the degree of weak presence of Japan in UN community, and I think that Japan needs to take a drastic action to regain its status as one of the countries that can take a great part of the international cooperative development under the UN system.
The background of issue
The origin of this critical issue comes from many variables, and I would like to mention some of the main ones.
First of all, language is one of them that prevent many Japanese aiming at working for UN from achieving their dreams.
Although many Japanese especially younger generations have been getting many opportunities to acquire foreign languages especially English due to the globalization, technological advances, more incomers of English speakers to Japan and so on, it has been still challenging for many of them for many reasons. For example, unlike some languages such as French, Spanish that are similar to the language structure of English, the Japanese language structure is quite different from English one; therefore, in general it requires more practice and efforts for Japanese to acquire English. Furthermore, Japanese is most commonly used language on the daily basis across Japan, and it is still difficult to keep practicing English particularly in speaking continuously for many Japanese especially among those who live in the local areas of Japan due to their lack of opportunities unless they intend to get involved in some particular groups or organizations. For example, when I went to a high school in my home town, Okayama, which is one of the local areas of Japan, on average there were only around 3 people out of 30 in my classmate who could fluently speak in English. To make it worse, there were just few who could actually communicate by speaking in English even among the English teachers, and I remember many English teachers taking the oral communication courses! Out of the school, it was quite difficult even for me to practice my English although I was relatively more exposed to the English environment compared to others. In my case, it was the greatest opportunity to obtain a comprehensive skill in English that I spent a significant time on staying in Canada for study and work. This experience gave me a great chance not only to study English but also to make up a different mindset from ordinary Japanese one that helped me regard the world in a different perspective.
I think that it is an education that needs a drastic reform to deal with this matter, and I would like to explain about it in detail in the latter section.
Secondly, there is a trend in Japan that many Japanese are reluctant to work for UN even when they have been an opportunity to do so.
One of the main reasons is that UN itself has been losing its presence and social impact in the global community, and it has become in a stage of decline as an international organization and unattractive place to work for Japanese. For example, in a very severe political conflict between Japan and China regarding the dominium of Senkaku Island, so far UN has made a very little (possibly worse) contribution to mediate it as an intentional peace keeping organization as far as I have considered. At the stage of UN General Assembly that took place at headquarter of UN in New York City while ago, I was hoping that some form of mutual agreement would be made among the participating parties. However, it turned out that not only did UN almost nothing about this mater but also provided China and South Korea, which both have been rejecting the fair judgment under International Court of Justice and unfairly claiming their dominium of the islands which Japan sovereignties over, an opportunity to deceive Japan collaboratively just for pursuing their economic and political interests.
I think that it is time for UN to make a drastic reform within its system and to accomplish its mission more effectively.
Thirdly, nowadays Japan tends to have more aging population, and the number of young generations has been declining for many reasons such as low birth rate, economical obstacle to raise a family and so on. As a result, it makes more difficult for many Japanese to persuade a career in UN. According to the National Institute of Population Social Security Research, Japan is expected to enter a long period of population decline, and its total population will decrease to around 116.62 million by 2030, 99.13 million in 2048, and 86.74 million by 2060 in a comparison with the population of 128.06 million in 2010.
I think that this will make a very negative social impact for Japan over the decades and Japan is in an urgent stage to set up a new framework which can effectively resolve this matter.
A solution to the issue
As described above, I view the issue as a very critical factor for Japan to overcome the unprecedented challenge, and I think that we must take a progressive action to quickly deal with it for our revival.
From now, I would like to talk about how to resolve the issue for Japan. In my view as a conclusive statement, it is a solution that we will establish a new school, called United Nations Youth School (UNYS), under UNU in Japan to provide an educational program to the Japanese young generations up to the age of 18 who have been aiming at working for UN. Regarding the curriculum, my plan is to integrate the existing programs of United Nations International School (UNIS), simplified programs of UNU, and the Japanese traditional programs to uniquely fit the students into the Japanese society. In addition, I would like to suggest proving an entrepreneur program made in Japan to help the students have an entrepreneurial mindset and initiate a new project by themselves to make a social contribution to Japan. My goal is to establish this new school by 2015 collaborating with Millennium Development Goals.
Additional comments on ICD for UK & Japan
Additionally, I would like to touch upon the subject of International Cooperation & Development for UK & Japan.
Coincidently, I had an opportunity to attend a lecture by Sir David Warren, who is a British Ambassador to Japan, and the lecture reminded me of the importance of having a cooperative partnership between two countries.
As clearly mentioned on the joint statement by the prime ministers of UK and Japan on 10 April 2012, Japan and UK have been significantly committed to promoting a leading strategic partnership for global prosperity and security working towards the same goals based on the shared values in many aspects such as democracy, rule of law, human rights, and market economy.
I think that this is a significant status quo for the two countries in the upsurge of global economy, and I hope that Japan will be able to regain its strength by having a great strategic alliance with UK. In particular, I am expecting that Japan can overcome one of the critical challenges which Japan has been facing and desperately seeking a way to accomplish over the decades. The challenge is to become a permanent membership in UN Security Council which UK has been showing a great support to. In my opinion regarding this matter, it is a question of how some Japanese representatives can diplomatically negotiate with the participating countries especially China and appeal to the international community by well explaining the significance of accomplishing such status for the international peace keeping.
In order to accomplish it, as I repeatedly mentioned, I think that it would be necessary for Japan to establish UNYS to develop more Japanese citizens who can make a great contribution to it. I desire that it will be more recognized among Japanese citizens and accomplished in a short time period. Finally, I would like to congratulate that UK made a great success in London Olympic and Paralympic giving so much courage to the great number of audiences and participants. I hope Japan will do so in Tokyo on 2020.
I strongly believe that it is time for Japan to make a drastic change for its revival, and it is essential that Japan develop more Japanese citizens coming from young generations who can enhance the presence of Japan in the stage of UN. Therefore, I think that it will be significant for Japan that we establish a new school, UNYS, to resolve the issue.
I hope that my effort will be well recognized by others especially among those who read my paper and we can take more practical action together into the field of international development not only for Japan but also the progress of humanity from our generation to the next generation.
I think that it will take a significant effort and time to actually accomplish this and we need supports from people not only in Japan but also across the nations.
Now my question to you is “Do you also want to help in achieving this together?” If so, let’ s do so no matter what it takes to get there not only for ourselves but also for all human beings. Thank you.
United Nations General Assembly, 8 September 2011, Sixty-Sixth session, Item 139 of the provisional agenda, Human resources management, Composition of the Secretariat: staff demographics, report of the Secretary-general
Population Projections for Japan (January 2012): 2011 to 2060, http://www.ipss.go.jp/index-e.asp, National Institute of Population and Social Security Research
JOINT STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTERS OF THE UK AND JAPAN: A Leading Strategic Partnership for Global Prosperity and Security, 10 April 2012, http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/europe/uk/joint1204.html, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan