ROAD TO RECONSTRUCTION
Support Spreading for Afghan Rehabilitation (November 6, 2003)
Two years after the United States launched its war on terror,
the reconstruction of Afghanistan continues. Although public attention may appear
on the surface to have shifted to Iraq, in fact an array of support is
being extended from Japan, at both the government and grass-roots levels. Meanwhile,
a new film set in Japan and Afghanistan carries hopes of bringing the
two countries closer together.
|A flyer for the film I Love
Peace (I Love Peace Producing Committee)
Bridging Japan and Afghanistan Through Cinema
On September 18 a special preview of I Love Peace,
a film set in Japan and Afghanistan, was held in Shimane Prefecture. It depicts
the story of a deaf Japanese woman aspiring to be a prosthetist who befriends
and encourages an Afghan girl who has lost her right leg in a landmine explosion.
The filming took place over one month at various locations in Shimane Prefecture
and another month in Afghanistan, and the scenes in Afghanistan were shot with
the cooperation of a local movie company. A 10-year-old Afghan girl who had actually
lost her leg in a landmine explosion was chosen by audition to play the young
I Love Peace is the third in the I
Love series by director Osawa Yutaka, who has created numerous films focusing
on social issues. "I would be honored if the work serves as the catalyst
for cultural interchange between Japan and Afghanistan and for friendships between
the children of Shimane and Afghanistan," says Osawa.
One of the guests invited to the preview commented afterwards, "I was touched by the girl
who lost her leg and by how the deaf woman gains independence. It's a wonderful
movie that documents Shimane's fine culture and history." After premiering
on October 25 in Shimane, the film will be released in Kyoto, Tokyo, and other
Fruits of Goodwill
A variety of efforts are going on in Japan to support the reconstruction of Afghanistan,
at the forefront of which are nongovernmental organizations and other citizens' groups.
One such organization is Citizens Towards Overseas Disaster Emergency, or CODE,
which was formed by several Kobe-based NGOs.
CODE is currently promoting a project to breathe life back into vineyards that
were burned down amid the confusion of war and restore the livelihoods of local people.
The project is being carried out in the Shomali Plains to the northeast of the
Afghan capital of Kabul, with some 300 farming families as the beneficiaries.
These vineyards formerly sustained approximately 2,500 people, but
the ravages of war have rendered them useless.
Under the scheme a cooperative has been organized in the area, which loans money
to the families for purchasing young trees, fertilizer, farming equipment, and
the like. To finance these loans, CODE has set up a Grape Fund and is calling
on people in Japan to become "grapevine owners" by donating money in
units of ¥3,000 ($27.30 at ¥110 to the dollar). The organization hopes
to raise ¥5 million ($45,500) in the first year, and it plans to deliver raisins
from Shomali to donors after the harvest.
CODE's other plans in Afghanistan include the construction of a school in the
northern region of Baghran and the construction and operation of a center to promote
women's independence, where literacy classes and other programs will be offered.
More Groups Reach Out from Japan
Another organization, the Takarazuka Afghanistan Friendship Association (TAFA)
of Takarazuka in Hyogo Prefecture, has been aiding internally displaced women
and children since the pre-Taliban days of 1994. In the spring of 2003 it built
women's restrooms at a teacher training institute in Jalalabad. By April 2004
it also plans to complete a soccer field at the university so that people "can
run around without worrying about landmines." The ¥5-million project
will be funded by the proceeds from a charity ekiden
(long-distance relay race) that was held in Saitama Prefecture and by donations
collected from people in Japan.
In addition to these projects, TAFA has donated $10,000 for the operation of a
cinema staff training school in Kabul, and it has begun calling on people to donate
video cameras they no longer need, which will help alleviate the shortage of equipment.
Charity sales of Afghan carpets and rugs are another way that Japanese people are supporting Afghanistan. One Tokyo-based NGO sent buyers to Afghanistan
last year and bought a stack of carpets and rugs, and this year it has been exhibiting and selling in 10 cities across Japan. The sales target is ¥20 million
($181,800) per site, of which ¥1 million ($9,100) is sent to Afghanistan to
go into school construction and purchases of stationery.
Many more groups and individuals are doing their part to reach out to Afghanistan.
The network of support for Afghan reconstruction is, slowly but surely, spreading
Related Web Sites
Japan Video Topics : Japan's Assistance for Iraq
I Love Peace (Japanese only)
Citizens Towards Overseas Disaster Emergency (CODE)
Takarazuka Afghanistan Friendship Association (TAFA)
Copyright (c) 2004 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.
RESCUING IRAQ'S HERITAGE
(October 16, 2003)
LOCAL MOVIES MAKE NATIONAL IMPACT
(August 5, 2002)
(July 5, 2002)