SPF commended on the Arab Day Recognition of contribution to developing ties between Japan and Arabic nations
SPF Chairman Hanyu joins the Egypt-born sumo wrestler Osunaarashi and others in receiving commendation
At the 2014 Arab Day reception on April 7, 2014, the SPF chairman Jiro Hanyu was commended for the foundation's contribution to strengthening ties between Japan and Arabic nations. The Arab Day was an opening ceremony for Arab Week, a week-long collection of programs including symposium, movie screening and fine art exhibition on the theme of Japan-Arab relations. The event attracted a large number of politicians and economic leaders.
Having received commendation at the reception was SPF Chairman Hanyu as well as the former Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Kazuyuki Hamada, Special Advisor to the Cabinet Isao Iijima and Keidanren Vice Chairman Yoshio Nakamura. The Juryo-ranked sumo wrestler Osunaarashi from Egypt also became the first Arab to receive the commendation.
Fruit of steady efforts for connecting Japan and the Middle East
Behind this honor lie the activities of the Sasakawa Middle East Islam Fund, established in April 2009. For example, the Fund set up the Arabian language website "alyaban.net" to communicate information about Japan as part of the project to "disseminate information from Japan to the Muslim region in the Middle East". The website was opened at a time when there was no avenue of active information dissemination from Japan despite active business ties, so as to promote the Middle East's understanding of Japan. Although the site has since become part of the multi-language information dissemination website "nippon.com", the "alyaban.net" delivered a diverse range of online contents including daily news on Japanese politics, economy, cultures and sports, as well as expert opinions, basic profile of Japan and information about the Japanese language, pioneering the role of distributing information about Japan in Arabic.
The SPF has also organized a number of Middle East-related bilingual seminars in Japanese and English when no other organizations were willing to act on the need to deepen Japan's ties with the Middle East. These events proved to be valuable opportunities that non-Japanese speakers could also understand, attracting voices of praise from diplomats as well as journalists. The honor of commendation was the fruit of SPF's not-for-profit and steady efforts to contribute to deepening the mutual understanding between Japan and the Middle East in the field of human exchange and cultures.
Continued commitment to becoming a bridge with the Middle East
More recently, the SPF has received a number of enquiries from Middle Eastern organizations about organizing a seminar, with the organization citing that SPF's not-for-profit status would allow them to make unbiased statements. A series of SPF-organized seminars by ambassadors of Arabic countries has also been well-received as an opportunity for advanced-level seminars that can be presented from a unique approach and perspective. These SPF activities are highly regarded and recognized among the diplomatic circle, resulting in the lecture session by H.E. Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar, the Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been featured in the May issue of "Progress Now".
At the end of our interview, a somewhat blushing Chairman Hanyu expressed his joy for receiving such an honor, as well as his commitment to continuing to work toward strengthening ties with Arabic nations.