Making use of our experience of working and living abroad, we are engaging in activities to support young people with foreign roots who tend to be isolated in Japanese society. We support enhancing the management base of NPOs by Pro Bono or sending employees to the classes on the Japanese language and other subjects that are provided by these organizations to support the education of youth with foreign roots.
The inflow of people into Japan began increasing in the latter half of the 1980s, and the number of non-Japanese nationals who live and work in Japan has also been increasing. Accordingly, the number of children and young people who have foreign roots (one or both of whose parents were born outside of Japan) has been rapidly increasing. These people tend to face difficulties in terms of learning and career building, and it has been pointed out that support measures need to be implemented for them not only in schools but also in cooperation with various sectors such as government, NPOs and companies.
In October 2020, Sumitomo Corporation formed a partnership with the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) to collaborate with organizations receiving grants under the Supporting Youths of Diverse Roots and an Inclusive Society (SYDRIS) Initiative, a major grant program implemented by the JCIE which act as a funding organization, utilizing funds made available under the Act on Utilization of Funds Related to Dormant Deposits to Promote Public Interest Activities by the Private Sector. Through this initiative, Sumitomo Corporation contributes to enhancing the management foundation of the grantee organizations, which are working for the realization of a multicultural symbiotic society. The company also sends its employees to classes on the Japanese language and other subjects that are provided by these organizations to support the education of youth with foreign roots.
In order to support the grantee organizations, employees of Sumitomo Corporation form teams each composed of three to five members and conduct pro bono activities by making use of their business experience. Each of these teams supports one grantee organization, holding dialogue with the representative and core members of the organization and increasing their understanding of the organization’s activities. Specifically, the teams engage in a range of activities, such as proposing ideas about projects to diversify the organization’s fundraising activities, supporting the organization’s PR activities, and helping it build the foundation to become a sustainable entity. The teams are thus supporting the organizations in their long-term development while also sharing their vision and mission.
I participated online from New Zealand, where I am working now, in an activity conducted to support Alece Takaoka in building its management foundation. Takaoka is my hometown, and through striving together with the highly ambitious members who are working locally to foster social reform in there, I now feel that I can address social issues with more ownership. I have also realized that I can make use of my business experience in pro bono activities.
Employees who participate in the learning support activities regularly helping children to do their homework and prepare for exams. Support 21 is one of the grantee organizations. Sumitomo Corporation sends its employees to learning support classes held by this social welfare corporation for children with foreign roots. Because COVID-19 made it difficult for the organization to hold the classes face to face, it launched online learning support activities. Even children who can communicate fluently in Japanese sometimes find it difficult to learn the subjects from their textbooks. The employees help these children understand the Japanese language used in the textbooks and encourage them to continue learning in their schools.
I volunteer as a learning supporter once or twice a week. Because unexpected things always pop up during online lessons, I feel energized by spending time with the children. I would like to talk to those around me about the challenges faced by children who have foreign roots.