SGI Cohosts Panel on Opportunities for Civil Society Cooperation between China, South Korea and Japan

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Sendai SymposiumAoi Horiuchi of the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation(JANIC)

From March 14–18, the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) was held in Sendai city in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. On March 16, SGI co-organized a side event highlighting the possibilities for increased collaboration in disaster management in Northeast Asia.

The event was titled “Strengthening Resilience in Northeast Asia through Cooperation for Disaster Risk Reduction” and brought together a panel of civil society speakers from China, South Korea and Japan. Over 100 people attended.

Chen Feng, deputy secretary-general of the intergovernmental Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, stated that, as close neighbors, the three governments share the view that a disaster in one country would also impact the other two.

In their speeches all civil society speakers gave an overview of DRR initiatives and challenges in their countries and shared ideas on how to further cooperation.

Huang Haoming, vice chairman of the China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO), put forward ideas for increased collaboration within the region, including exchanges between humanitarian professionals and volunteers, holding specialist meetings and eventually establishing a formal civil society alliance for disaster risk reduction.

Sendai SymposiumFrom left: Kimiaki Kawai, Program Director of Peace Affairs, SGI; Young-Jin Park, Secretary-General, Hope Bridge in Korea; Aoi Horiuchi, Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC); Chen Feng, Deputy Secretary-General, Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat; Hirotsugu Terasaki, Director of Peace Affairs, SGI; Huang Haoming, Vice Chairman of China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO); Daisuke Namaki of Next Stage Tohoku

Aoi Horiuchi, representing the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) and the Japan CSO Coalition for 2015 WCDRR, stressed the importance of exchange visits, saying that when we have close friends in other countries it is easier to imagine their suffering after a disaster.

Daisuke Namaki, representative of Next Stage Tohoku, then described current initiatives aimed at continuing international cooperation in the region affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.

Hirotsugu Terasaki, director of peace affairs for SGI, summed up the event, commenting, “Our three countries face numerous challenges in the field of political exchange, but precisely for this reason it is crucial for civil society organizations to take the initiative to conduct dialogue and establish cooperative ties that link people at the grassroots.”

Co-organizers of the panel were the Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation (KCOC), CANGO and Next Stage Tohoku, and it was supported by the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) and the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS).

related article Building Sustainable Societies Building Sustainable Societies by  Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International The following is excerpted from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's 2014 peace proposal. The full proposal and those of previous years can be viewed at www.sgi.org/about-us/president-ikedas-proposals/. In light of the increasing incidence of disasters and extreme weather events in recent years, there has been growing stress on the importance of enhancing the resilience of human societies--preparing SGI also co-organized another side event at the WCDRR, a March 15 panel titled “Community based DRR from a faith-based perspective—sharing best practices.” The Soka Gakkai Tohoku Youth Peace Conference co-organized a symposium on “The Power and Potential of Youth in Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery” on March 14. Tohoku Soka Gakkai members also organized an exhibition of images and stories of survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami titled “The Light of Humanity” from March 14–17.

[Adapted from reports from the SGI Office of Public Information (SGI-OPI); photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun and SGI-OPI]

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