Asian Opinion Leaders' Exchange

Project Outline

The objective of this project is to invite Asian opinion leaders to Japan in order to increase opportunities for dialogue with Japanese individuals active in politics, academia and finance and thereby strengthen collaboration between Japan and Asian countries.

Implementing Agency The Sasakawa Peace Foundation Year Implementation year(3/3)
Project Type Self OperatedGrantCommissionedOther Year project budget implementation 29,200,000yen
The Summary of the Lecture by Prof. Gowher Rizvi (April 7, 2016)


The Sasakawa Peace Foundation has invited Prof. Gowher Rizvi, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh as a part of the project entitled “Asian Opinion Leaders’ Exchange” and organized the lecture “Is Government Dead? - The Future of Governance” in Tokyo on 7 April 2016. Prof. Chiharu Takenaka, Professor, Rikkyo University moderated the discussions.

Prof. Rizvi explained in his lecture that the government’s work has expanded over the decades to sustain socio-economic development and transformed to respond to the market and social development despite while the duties expected for the government hasn’t changed. As excessive bureaucracy has been criticized and the smaller government has been called for, the government is increasingly required to provide regulations and public services effectively to meet the needs of the society. The government needs to operate effectively in the mutual confidence with the people and to play a role to network and coordinate various stakeholders and facilitate flexible social innovation to meet the ongoing transformation. With respect to the Bangladesh’s national and foreign policies, Prof. Rizvi stated that Bangladesh as a plural and democratic state, strives to foster socio-economic development in the country and advance the policies towards reinforcing partnership with the countries in Asia and promoting prosperity in the region.

Prof. Gowher Rizvi

Historical Transformation of the Government’s Role
The government has played an important role historically in improving literacy, public health and housing infrastructure and contributed to the socio-economic development while expanding the realm of its duties. However, in 1980’s, Prof. Milton Friedman, former UK Prime Minister Margarete Thatcher and former US President Ronald Regan advocated a small government policy and started assigning the work to the market, the private sector and non-governmental organisations through privatization and institutional reforms where possible with the view to rationalizing the work of the government by focusing on the work legitimate for the government to perform. When the work of the government was slimed down, the 9/11 terrorist attacks compelled us to recognize once again the role that the government needed to perform. The government reform has been carried out to strengthen the function necessary for the government and reinforce its effectiveness.

Restoring the Confidence to the Government
It is imperative for the government to recognize once again the role that the government needs to play in proving public service, regulating the market and society, assuring livelihood and facilitating healthy economy while assigning other functions to the organizations other than the government where possible. This will enable the government to restore mutual confidence with the people. The healthy market is indispensable for socio-economic development. For this reason, it is vital to maintain competition in the market and enhance the market quality. Furthermore, institutional transformation needs to be facilitated for establishing a more effective government.

There is no one fit for all model of the government. We need to define and execute the role of the government taking into account varying national and social conditions. At present, the government needs not just to exert its authority, but also to network and coordinate stakeholders. The government must drive innovation effectively and undertake innovative institutional transformation as an effective entity.

After the lecture, Prof. Rizvi responded to the comments by Prof. Takenaka and questions from the floor as follows:

By applying the analogy of his lecture to the context of Bangladesh and its neighbouring countries such as economic gaps, failed states and oppression in the neighbouring Islamic countries, Prof. Rizvi stated that Bangladesh aims to develop as a pluralistic and democratic country by ensuring accountability and enhancing productivity and promoting innovation. There are 85,000 villages in Bangladesh and local governments have introduced IT to improve public services. Prof. Risvi also underlined that Bangladesh is a secular and pluralistic country and totally different from those controlled by IS.

Prof. Chiharu Takenaka

reference to economic cooperation with Japan, Prof. Rizvi stated that it is intended to promote all-inclusive development and provide basic universal health insurance in the country. Prof. Rizvi stated his hope that Bangladesh with the staple political conditions and abundant skilled labours will continue to attract foreign direct investment including those from Japan. Concerning the possible application of his analogy to a communist or dictatorship country, Prof. Rizvi mentioned that it is important for the government to protect human rights and democratization. Regarding human rights and diplomacy, Prof. Rizvi pointed out that Bangladesh implement the labour standards and conventions of the International Labour Organisation and contribute to regional stability and prosperity through improving its relations with India and Myanmar. With respect to the role of the government in advancing development, Prof. Rizvi emphasized that it is important to promote innovative approaches at various areas.



The Summary of the International Seminar (June 22, 2016)


The Sasakawa Peace Foundation has invited Dr. Wijarn Simachaya (Director-General, Pollution Control Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand), Dr. Qwanruedee Chotichanathawewong (Director, Strategic Environmental Research and Development Center, National Research Council), Ms. Pattaraporn Srichumni (Environmental Officer, Pollution Control Department, Thailand) and Mr. Santikorn Pakdeesettakul (Researcher, Thailand Environment Institute), as a part of the project entitled “Asian Opinion Leaders’ Exchange” and organized the International Seminar “Forging Partnership for Achieving a Sustainable Society Challenges and Opportunities of Social Collaboration in the Areas of Waste Management in Thailand” in Tokyo on 22 July 2016. Prof. Kazuhiro Takemoto, UNU-IAS moderated the discussions and Dr. Hideaki Fujiyoshi, JESC, Dr. Yasuhiko Hotta, IGES, Dr. Michikazu Kojima, IDE-JETRO, Mr. Hironori Shimoda, JVC, and Mr. Masanori Kobayashi, SPF, joined it as panelists and discussant.

Dr. Wijarn Simachaya stated that the solid waste volume is likely to increase over 27 million ton per year and stressed that it is vital to promote collaboration between the local government and local people in order to undertake measures effective to talking this challenge. Nevertheless, it is still prevalent that the waste management facility is considered as NIMBY ? Not in my backyard to mean that it is not welcome in my neighborhood) and such facilities are not fully functional at this stage. In this context, he presented the measures undertaken to facilitate the implementation of the roadmap and master plans for sound waste management as national action plans developed from the long term and strategic viewpoints.

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Dr. Wijarn Simachaya・Dr. Qwanruedee Chotichanathawong

Prof. Kazuhiko TAKEMOTO

Current situation in Thailand
Total amount of the municipal solid waste is estimated to be about 27 million ton per year of which only around 50% are properly managed. The remaining waste is just dumped in the open landfill in the public or private land. There are about 400 waste treatment facilities in Thailand. However, many of them do not operate due to the protest by the local people. There are about 1,900 dump sites. However, waste is not treated properly there. As a result, they cause health hazard, environmental degradation and ground water contamination. Local governments do not consider waste management as a priority and take a non-cooperative position considering such facilities as a NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) stance.

Governmental Actions (Roadmap, Master Plan and Action Plan)
The Thai government developed a roadmap in 2014,and adopted the 6 year long Master Plan for 2016-2021 to improving solid waste and hazardous waste management. The waste management roadmap has set out four milestones. Thai government promotes innovative measures such as waste-to-energy. The Thai government also facilitates the revision of the legal and policy frameworks for waste management for the benefits of the future generation. In the new master plan, the Thai government encourages citizens including children and the private sector to apply 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). The Thai government also intends to establish proper disposal methods for municipal waste and household hazardous waste at waste management facilities. The Thai government underlines the importance of all relevant sectors’ participation. For the next step, the Thai government plans to develop action plans per annul, and amplifies its efforts to achieve the numerical target of 5% waste reduction in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Industry, and Ministry of Education.

Perceptual transformation of the local authorities and citizens
The Thai government developed a master plan that demonstrates the long-term plan for waste management. However, the collaboration with local governments remains to be a challenge due to their autonomy. Social issues need to be taken into account such as the health hazard of scavengers including children who work in the landfill sites. There are local governments that oppose waste incineration and landfill and refrain from cooperating in waste management. It is vital to facilitate the perceptual transformation of people over the issues.
After the keynote lecture by Dr. Simachaya, PCD Director-General, Dr. Chotichanathawewong reported on the outcome of the field visits undertaken prior to the seminar. She underlined that the proper waste separation is thoroughly undertaken as a basis for promoting recycling and reducing landfills. In addition, learning ceters are located in most of the waste management facilities. It was reported that many school children visit there and such facilities are very useful for public awareness-raising on waste management issues. More specific points were reported as follows.

Brief report on the field visits to the waste treatment facilities in Japan
In the Rainbow Plan in the Nagai City, Yamagata Prefecture, it was observed that people collect food waste and produce compost to reduce wastes for incineration and revitalize local agriculture. Local people harness integrated thinking and cooperate very systematically. They collect food waste in towns, produce compost at a plant, distribute fertilizer to the farmers, sell their products with labels at the supermarket and also supply them for school lunch programs. It was deemed as very advanced as local people, NGOs and the local government collaborate for reducing wastes, revitalizing agriculture and promoting food education. In Nasu-Shiobara, Tochigi Prefecture, construction wastes and other industrial wastes are mixed and disposed in the landfill in the former gravel extraction site. It was noteworthy that the solar panels are placed in the closed landfill site in the forest areas as a multi-purpose land use.
In Mobara, Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture, the group visited the waste-to-energy plant that incinerates 350 tons of wastes per day and generate power. It was interesting to learn that an emission factor and a volume of generated power are shown to the public, and a learning center was there open to the public.
In Nogi City, Tochigi Prefecture, the group visited a waste management plant that mix food waste with tree branch wastes and produce compost for fertilizers. The facility was highly sanitary and equipped with the devices to contain odor within the facility.
In Tokyo area, the group visited the bio-energy plant that produces biogas energy and generates power from food waste brought in by from restaurants and food processing plants. Public education is provided there as well for local people and children to learn about the plant operations. The group visited the e-waste management plant. the plant promote recycling without the government’s subsidy. The group also learned that the extra heat generated from incinerators is used for managing the botanical garden and the indoor swimming pool.

After her reporting, the discussions were spearheaded by Dr. Takemoto with the commentators and the audiences of the seminar. Dr. Kojima pointed out the importance of public-private partnership and waste separation. As key issues, Dr. Fujiyoshi referred to environmental sound waste management and a potential of utilizing energies. Dr. Hotta mentioned the private sector’s initiatie for promoting recycling. Mr. Shimoda stated the better understanding of the scavenger in Thailand. Mr. Kobayashi highlighted public participation and the use of market mechanisms. The participants exchanged further views and perspectives throughout the discussions.
From the audience, it was stated important to promote the linkages of waste management with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and environmental safeguarding measures as well as the proper fiscal allocation. Dr. Takemoto underlined the importance of addressing waste management in conjunction with local development and social issues and stated that it is vital to reinforce holistic viewpoints, capacity development, stakeholder partnership, technology advancement and good practice propagation. Dr. Takemoto stated that the seminar distilled key recommendations and thanked the speakers and audience for their active participation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation for organizing this seminar.


The Summary of the Lecture by Dr. Parni Hadi Kasanpuro (December 13, 2016)


As part of its “Asian Opinion Leaders Exchange Program”, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation invited Dr. Parni Hadi Kasanpuro, the founder of Indonesia’s largest NGO Dompet Dhuafa (“Poor Man’s Wallet”, in Indonesian), to lead a discussion entitled, “Social Contribution in Islamic Societies: The Experience of Dompet Dhuafa” in Tokyo on 13 December 2016. Dr. Imam Rulyawan (President, Dompet Dhuafa), Mr. Yudha Abadi (General Manager, Health and Education Program, Dompet Dhuafa), and Dr. Bambang Widjojanto (former Vice Chief, Indonesia Corruption Eradication Commission and Visiting Fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation) also participated in the panel discussion.
Before founding Dompet Dhuafa, Dr. Parni Hadi worked as a journalist and lecturer in Education. Feeling a strong personal obligation to serve his community, he began promoting activities aimed at poverty alleviation and created innovative socio-economic projects in line with the Islamic duty, “zakat”. Dompet Dhuafa aims to improve society and eradicate poverty as well as building trust in zakat organizations by promoting transparency and accountability. Today, Dompet Dhuafa employs around 10,000 volunteers and their work has touched the lives of nearly 13 million people. In recognition of this work, Dompet Dhuafa was awarded the 2016 “Ramon Magsaysay Award”.

Dr. Parni Hadi Kasanpuro

Dompet Dhuafa's Activities
Dr. Parni Hadi and a group of friends founded Dompet Dhuafa in September 1994, while he was working as a journalist. The organization’s funding comes from donations stemming from the Islamic duty, “zakat”.
As one of the pillars of Islam, zakat requires Muslims to donate 2.5% of their income to the poor. From its humble beginnings, over the last 23 years Dompet Dhuafa has successfully collected around $20 million per year from a pool of donors 128,000 strong. This success is one of the reasons that Dompet Dhuafa has earned the trust of the general public.
Dompet Dhuafa not only distributes zakat donations to the poor, it also strives to help people reclaim their independence and stand on their own two feet. It acts as a bridge between rich and poor, and helps support communities that receive little, if any, government support, for example by constructing free hospitals. Dompet Dhuafa aims to solve the many and multifaceted health, education, economic and societal problems facing communities and also works on disaster relief unburdened by divisions of race, religion and ethnicity. Outside of Indonesia, Dompet Dhuafa has offices in Australia, America and Japan.
The basis of any humanitarian organization is trust, and Dompet Dhuafa strives to emphasize transparency and accountability throughout its work. The organization’s zakat donations and annual report are regularly audited and, in the interest of transparency, Dompet Dhuafa also counts communication with donors as one of its responsibilities.
Dompet Dhuafa works closely with the media to ensure that it is kept up to speed with the latest developments as well as to disseminate information about its own projects more effectively.
Dompet Dhuafa aims to eradicate poverty arising from natural disasters such as tsunamis as well as those stemming from social problems, such as corruption. It is said that around 70% of the World’s poor are female. Dompet Dhuafa works to strengthen the capacity of women through concrete and productive program design, helping them to escape from poverty. In order to improve women’s skills, Dompet Dhuafa also works to bring greater attention to the necessity of women’s training, such as through improving women’s skills and developing systematic and logical ways of thinking through radio, television, newspapers and social media.
Those who are not blessed with wealth often suffer from a lack of healthcare and education as well as the erosion of their culture, values, ethics and religion. Dompet Dhuafa believes in breaking this vicious cycle that poverty creates, as well as the necessity of greater capacity building, training and capital policy advocacy at the individual and institutional level.

End Note
Though the majority of Dompet Dhuafa’s funding comes from individual zakat donations, they are also able to receive money through corporate CSR funds and are the recipient of donations from a large number of entrepreneurs. In the words of Dr. Parni Hadi, “We can only do so much. We hope that people will donate and contribute as much as they can and have empathy for those less fortunate than themselves”.