Discovering Japan: Shapers' Experience

Elizabeth Okram - Global Shapers Imphal Team *

with Kunishige Masahiro, one of the last survivors of Hiroshima A-bombing : 2016 Asia Pacific Shape Hiroshima and the G 7 Youth Foreign Minister meeting, 18-23 March 2016, at Hiroshima city
with Kunishige Masahiro, one of the last survivors of Hiroshima A-bombing
2016 Asia Pacific Shape Hiroshima and the G 7 Youth Foreign Minister meeting, 18-23 March 2016, at Hiroshima city

The recently concluded 2016 Asia Pacific Shape Hiroshima and the G 7 Youth Foreign Minister meeting from 18-23 March 2016, at Hiroshima city was an eye opener to the four shapers from the Global Shapers Community: Imphal Hub - Ms. Elizabeth Okram, Mr. Oinam Adeep, Mr. Dineshkumar Ningthoujam and Mr. Chunthuingam Dangmei.

The Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture while welcoming the participants from across 37 nations openly invited the young people to participate and contribute towards the peace process in whatever ways we can. Participants were given firsthand experience of the Atomic bombing at Hiroshima - by taking a tour to the Peace memorial museum, Atomic bomb dome, Children peace memorial park, Peace memorial dome and firsthand testimony from one of the atomic bomb survivor, Kunishige Masahiro.

Representatives from around the world shared their thoughts on what peace means to them and their journey in endowment to peace. The day ended with a reception dinner hosted by the Hiroshima Prefecture/City. Some of the distinguished guests present were Hidehiko Yuzaki, Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture; Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima City; Kunishige Masahiro, one of the last survivors of the A-bombing. The four shapers from Imphal interacted with each one of them and told them of the history Manipur shares with Japan during WW II.

In relation to this, the Mayor of Hiroshima City delegated a task for the team. They were to identify city heads equivalent to the Mayor in and around Imphal and invite interested leaders to join the "Mayor for peace", an NGO established by Hiroshima and Nagasaki that has been constantly working towards abolishing weapons of mass destruction.

The third and last day of the conference began with a series of panel discussion under the topics "Diversity", "Conscience" and "Creating shared value" where experts from different disciplines were brought in for intense discussion. During activity-lunch, ten hubs were given the opportunity to pitch their hub projects and Imphal hub was one of them.

Our team spoke about few of the projects that were taken up in the past and about the assistance given in rehabilitating a village from the recent earthquake. In order to symbolize peace and solidarity between India and Pakistan, the shapers from the two countries arranged for a flash mob during activity lunch which took everyone by surprise and became one of the most talked-about presentations. The declaration by the Youth Foreign Ministers of the G 7 countries took place in the presence of the Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture and Mayor of Hiroshima City later that day.

2016 Asia Pacific Shape Hiroshima and the G 7 Youth Foreign Minister meeting, 18-23 March 2016, at Hiroshima city
2016 Asia Pacific Shape Hiroshima and the G 7 Youth Foreign Minister meeting, 18-23 March 2016, at Hiroshima city

Under the guidance of Akira Sakano, Curator of Osaka Hub and the Chair, Board of Directors, Zero Waste Academy in Kamikatsu, a team comprising of shapers from Imphal (India), Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Oxford (UK) visited the Zero waste town of Kamikatsu in Tokushima Prefecture. This is the first municipality in Japan to propose the concept of "zero-waste" and aims to attain their goal by 2020.

At the recycling center of Kamikatsu, waste is separated into 34 categories according to "Kamikatsu's zero waste chart". The team from Imphal intends to implement this same model in few villages back home. "I'm so inspired by this trip that I am going to keep my house clean and even start washing used plastic bottles before disposing it so that it can be recycled. I'm also thinking of starting a recycling business to help minimize the waste in Imphal," said Adeep Oinam, while passionately talking about his recent experience.

The Asia-Pacific Shape Hiroshima has been an overwhelming experience for the hub especially for the four participants. This was the first time a shape event was organized under the theme of "Peace" and what better location than the only country to face atomic bombing. "Perhaps the most admirable aspect of Japan is that it's now actually quite peaceful and lovely. At least that left me with a sense of hope and gratitude that they are able to put their terrible past behind them. It's a country that never forgets their past but fights for everlasting peace." said Chunthuingam Dangmei.

The team is all praise for Japan and the lifetime experience they had. They would say the first thing you'll notice when you land in Japan is the courtesy and how well mannered they are. "It has been an eye opening experience.

The modesty and core moral value instilled in the people is very inspiring. Knowing the fact that these values cannot be learnt in a day motivates me to do more for my society. They have won my undying love and respect through their generosity and kindheartedness," said Dineshkumar Ningthoujam, "From the city that was completely wiped out, to becoming one of the most developed countries, the world has a lot to learn and it should start with humility, discipline, and diligence.", added Elizabeth Okram.

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* Elizabeth Okram - Global Shapers Imphal Team, wrote this article for
The writer can be reached at globalshapersimphal(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on April 13, 2016.

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