Trend in Japan Web Japan
Business and Economy Lifestyle Science and Technology Fashion Arts and Entertainment Sports People
Support Spreading for Afghan Rehabilitation (November 6, 2003)

A flyer for the film I Love Peace (I Love Peace Producing Committee)
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.

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 girl.

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 cities.

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 across Japan.

 Page Top

Related video
Japan Video Topics : Japan's Assistance for Iraq

Related Web Sites
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.

Related articles
(October 16, 2003)

(August 5, 2002)

(July 5, 2002)
Drop Us a Line
Your Name

What did you think of this article?

It was interesting.
It was boring.

Send this article to a friend

Go TopTrends in Japan Home

Go BackLifestyle Home