I visited Okinawa twice in the week of August 4th.
On Monday August 5th, I took a day trip to Okinawa. I attended the program Asian Youth Development Program in Okinawa (AYDPO) that I have reported about in past postings. It is a program held in Okinawa in which some fifty students, between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, spend three weeks together. Around 10-15 university students also participated, as well as a few OB/OG.
The program started when I was special advisor to Prime Minister Abe as a project planned by the Cabinet in 2007. This will be the sixth time it has been held. Everyone is connected via Facebook and they are very active during this time of year. I recently met with an OB from Indonesia, who taught as a university student tutor in the first and second years of the program. We discussed his current project, which he is conducting in his home country.
I have been a part of this program since the very first year. This year, I gave a speech at the opening ceremony. I had many discussions with the youth, who will lead the future of Asia, and the session was very interesting and stimulating.
Among the Japanese youth, the ratio of female to male students has always been around 2:1 since the start of the program, but this year all of the participants from Okinawa were female. I encourage more male students to participate. Everyone had an enjoyable time and there were some OB/OGs joined this year’s program. The students from Asia had a female to male ration of 1:1, as recommended by their home countries.
I hope that this kind of program will start in many regions of Japan, in local schools, villages, through homestay programs, for example, no matter how small it is in the beginning.
The future of Japan depends on the youth.