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, SPF has worked in the fields of international exchange and international cooperation through different types of projects including "Regular Projects," which focus on individual issues, and projects under the 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, arrangement of meetings, and international conferences.
The Japan Foundation for Shipbuilding Advancement was established in 1975 to promote the ship-building industry and related enterprises. Since then, it has broadened and enhanced the scope of its research to cover all oceanic issues, and has also promoted international collaboration and domestic initiatives within Japan on common issues shared between Japan and other countries and regions, such as general marine management and sustainable development. In 1990, it changed its name to the Ship & Ocean Foundation (SOF).
In 2002, the Ocean Policy Research Institute (OPRI) was founded within SOF to consider comprehensive initiatives on marine issues according to the new international order of the sea and alligned with principles such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In 2005, OPRI started operating under the name Ocean Policy Research Foundation (OPRF) and subsequently launched its initiative for full-fledged research and advocacy activities on marine issues as a whole.
Since their establishment, SPF and 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 the recent increase in the size and complexity of global issues that include factors of human society and the natural environment, both organizations began 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 potential challenges, and discussed their future direction. As a result of the discussions, the joint forum found that there was no overlap in the past activities of SPF and OPRF. They concluded that merging the two foundations would allow them to complement each other through collaboration and the use of their respective knowledge and experience, generating new knowledge and facilitating effective initiatives for solving global issues of increasing complexity.
In April 2015, the two foundations' Boards of Trustees and Boards of Councilors adopted a resolution for the merger, with SPF absorbing OPRF to become one of Asia's largest Public Interest Incorporated Foundations with assets totaling 142.6 billion yen.After the merger, SPF established a new mission statement by combining and integrating SPF's former solution-seeking project experiences in the fields of international exchange and international cooperation with OPRF's achievements in research and policy recommendations as a think tank focusing on marine issues. The Global Frontier Fund was also established to promote 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 strategies.
Program policy for FY 2017
In 2016, the world experienced a paradigm shift on a monumental 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. Amidst energy security risks arising from supply reliance on the ever-destabilized Middle East, a refugee crisis with no end in sight, and the threat of terrorism from extremist organizations, the international outlook appears uncertain.
Given the turbulent state of the world, the roles that SPF plays are becoming increasingly important because of the foundation's ability to make contributions to security and peace-building at its own discretion, without any constraints from existing frameworks. In order to acutualize the missions set out in its Mission Statement, SPF is reviewing its programs, which where implemented in April 2015. SPF has also adopted five priority goals for 2017, (1) Further strengthening Japan-U.S. relationship, (2) expanding Japan's presence in Asia, (3) enhancing understanding of and relationship with Islamic countries, (4) establishing ocean governance, and (5) empowering women. By presenting unconstrained ideas as a Public Interest Incorporated Foundation and maintaining a long-term perspective, SPF is drawing up plans for achieving these goals while remaining flexible and able to swifly adapt to changes in world situations.