Fostering transnational friendship “Mt. Fuji 2012”

The international “Mt. Fuji 2012” meeting of Japanese Junior Red Cross (JRC) and Red Cross Youth (RCY) members from the Asia Pacific region was held in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, from November 23rd to 26th, 2012. Through school teachers, the Junior Red Cross aims at fostering in students as part of their daily lives a spirit of pursuing friendships with people around the world so that they can contribute to world peace and social welfare on the basis of the Red Cross principles.

Forty-seven RCY members from 22 countries and regions and 75 JRC members from Japan participated in the meeting this year. These young people, aged between 13 and 22, play an important role in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement by boosting transnational mutual understanding and nurturing friendship. In the meeting, they participated in group discussions and in field work aimed at deepening their understanding of the Red Cross’ belief in humanity.

Ms. Sukhdave Singh, regional adviser of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), attended the programme on group work entitled “human dignity” on November 24th as an instructor. The participants were divided into groups, and the groups discussed human dignity and what they could do to protect dignity. Ideas included making posters and holding discussions on human dignity.

The participants then introduced their Red Cross and Red Crescent activities to each other by setting up booths for each country, displaying in them brochures and various goods, and wearing ethnic attire to make their countries attractive to the other members. The booths were designed on the basis of various ideas and were a huge success. For example, the Japanese participants from Fukushima Prefecture provided information regarding support for the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. They made various presentations and received a good response: “Many people listened carefully to our report, nodding their heads, and we found that they were highly concerned about Fukushima, both domestically and overseas. We had hoped to convey our thoughts even more, but unfortunately there was not enough time.”

Ms. Misaki Yamashita, a participant from Osaka, gave the closing address: “Until now, I have only looked at such issues as war, children and elderly people, but I have come to realize that I should also pay attention to such issues as healthcare, education, disasters and the environment, which are daily problems in many people’s lives. Needless to say, I felt even more keenly the importance of respecting people and understanding the way of thinking or living of each individual.”

Akhila Imantha Nilaweera, a participant from Sri Lanka, said, “We are one family living on the earth. You and I, the young generation, should create a world where this family can live a happy and peaceful life.”

At the final day’s farewell party, members said such things as “We have gained a lot of valuable experience in our first visit to Japan.” “We have caught the enthusiasm of members for the future.” “We would like to keep in touch with our new friends.”

This international meeting has been held in Japan every other year since 1970. Many young members have enjoyed meeting other members from overseas who share the Red Cross philosophy and discussing ways to strengthen the sense of unity of the International Red Cross.

Japanese Red Cross hopes that this year's meeting also helped participants build a long lasting relationship with other RCY members.