What is the Sasakawa Peace Foundation?
The Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) was established in September 1986 as a private not-for-profit foundation, with endowments from the Nippon Foundation and the Japanese motorboat racing industry. Since then, it has engaged in various projects and activities aimed at contributing to human welfare, advancement of sound international society and establishment of world peace through international understanding, international exchange and international cooperation. Following approval for transition into a Public Interest Incorporated Foundation in October 2011, the SPF has worked on the fields of international exchange and international cooperation through different types of projects: "Regular Projects," which focus on individual issues, and projects under four SPF funds (Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund, Sasakawa Pan Asia Fund, Sasakawa Middle East Islam Fund and Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund), designed to address region-specific issues. The activities of these projects include surveys / research, human resource development, invitation of various figures and international conferences.
The Japan Foundation for Shipbuilding Advancement, was established in 1975 for promoting the ship-building industry and related industries. Since then, it has broadened and enhanced its scope of research to cover all oceanic issues, and promoted international collaboration and domestic initiatives within Japan on issues shared between Japan and other countries and regions, such as general marine management and sustainable development. In 1990, it changed the name to the Ship & Ocean Foundation (SOF).
In 2002, the Ocean Policy Research Institute (OPRI) was founded within SOF to address comprehensive initiatives on marine issues under the new international order of the sea, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In 2005, it started operating under the name of Ocean Policy Research Foundation (OPRF) and launched its initiative for full-fledged research and advocacy activities on marine issues as a whole.
Since establishment, the SPF and the OPRF have carried out research, issued policy recommendations and promoted collaboration and exchange in an effort to explore solutions for issues in various fields. Yet, amidst recent increase in size and complexity of global issues that combines factors of human society and natural environment, both of them have begun to recognize their limitations to come up with solutions within their own sphere of activities.
In July 2013, external experts were invited to set up a joint forum to study what the two foundations' future activities ought to be. Members reviewed the foundations' past activities, exchanged views on future outlook and challenges, before discussing their future direction.
In the course of the discussions, the joint forum found that there was no overlapping in the past activities of the SPF and the OPRF. They concluded that the merger of the two foundations would allow them to complement each other through collaboration and the use of their respective knowledge and experiences, thereby generating new knowledge and facilitating effective initiatives for solving global issues of increasing complexity.
In April 2015, the two foundations' Boards of Trustees and the Boards of Councilors adopted a resolution for merger, with the SPF absorbing the OPRF to become one of Asia's largest Public Interest Incorporated Foundations with assets totaling 142.6 billion yen.
After the merger, the SPF set out its new Mission to carry out its social missions by combining and integrating the former SPF's solution-seeking project experiences, accumulated in the fields of international exchange and international cooperation, with the OPRF's achievements in research and policy recommendations as a think tank on marine issues. The Global Frontier Fund was also newly established for further expansion and development of these activities.
As of July 2017, the new SPF is reviewing existing programs to bring about greater synergistic effects from its predecessors and undertaking program reforms to explore new project deployment.
Program policy for FY2017
In 2016, the world experienced paradigm shift of a scale beyond expectations, as seen in the United Kingdom's referendum result in favor of leaving the EU and the victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. Presidential Election. Populism is gaining momentum in Europe and other parts of the world, while a trend of political leaders increasing their power is emerging in other countries. Political and geopolitical risks are growing, threatening the conventional Liberal International Order. International situations continue to be in chaos with murky outlook, amidst energy security risks arising from supply reliance on the ever-destabilized Middle East, refugee issue that has no end in sight, and the threat of terrorism from extremist organizations.
Given the turbulent state of the world, the roles the SPF plays are becoming more and more important because of its ability to make contributions to security and peace-building at its own discretion, without any constraints from existing frameworks.
Working toward actualizing missions set out in its Mission Statement, the SPF is reviewing its programs, implemented since April 2015, and has adopted five priority goals for 2017, i.e. (1) Further strengthening Japan - U.S. relationship, (2) expanding Japan's presence in Asia, (3) enhancing understanding on and relationship with Islamic countries, (4) establishing ocean governance and (5) empowering women.
Implementing unconstrained ideas as a Public Interest Incorporated Foundation, and maintaining a long-term perspective, the SPF is drawing up plans for achieving these goals, while staying aware of the need to adapt to changes in world situations flexibly and swiftly.
1. "Further strengthening Japan - U.S. relationship"
For Japan, the United States has been the most important ally from political, economic and security perspectives. Even to this day, however, it cannot be said that the people of the two countries have a sufficient level of understanding and recognition about each other. The SPF will further promote private-sector exchange between the people of Japan and the United States to make the bilateral ties closer and stronger than ever before. In the area of security, in particular, multi-faceted perspectives are used in promoting initiatives.
2. "Expanding Japan's presence in Asia"
Asian countries and regions are enjoying strong economic growth, but facing a multitude of difficulties in terms of growing population, environmental protection, etc. at the same time. The SPF sees Asian people's issues as its own issues, and shares Japan's extensive knowledge as well as its unique solutions accumulated from its past experiences with the people of countries and regions across Asia. Efforts will be made to explore measures that lead to a path for stable and sustainable development under collaboration between Japan and the rest of Asia.
3. "Enhancing understanding on and relationship with Islamic countries"
The emergence of extremism and protracted armed conflicts in the Middle East are having a ripple effect on the rest of the world, affecting even Muslim communities in Asia. Despite an increasing inflow of such information, the Japanese society still has a long way to go before establishing recognition and true understanding of people in Muslim societies. The SPF will promote networking with Islamic countries around the world, urging Japanese people to establish correct understanding about the presence of Muslim societies.
4. "Establishing ocean governance"
Various issues such as environmental pollution and excessive fishing are becoming apparent in oceans around the world, requiring urgent action. However, many countries have yet to fully address the ocean crisis they face. The SPF will gather opinions from international experts of various fields about making our oceans sustainable, and establish mutual cooperation, so as to generate a greater collective impact.
5. "Empowering women"
Women's empowerment is essential in all aspects of our society, including politics, economy, education and science, in order for Japan to increase its influence in international society. The world offers numerous advanced examples that Japan should learn from. The SPF will focus on roles that women fulfill in society, in exploring potential for finding new solutions to a range of international issues and social tasks.
As of the end of August, 2017