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Gift from a participant (July 2017)

Completed assembling the gift from a participant! Can you guess from which country it is?

The answer is Kyrgyzstan!
We received a miniature of “yurt”, portable dwelling from Central Asia. Yurts are Kyrgyz tradition loved by Kyrgyz and used as a part of the design of the national flag.

PREX has been promoting Kaizen activity (July 2017)

All staff have been participating in Kaizen activity since FY2015 in PREX.
First prize of FY2016 was given to “tidying up the area around the trash cans”!

Changing the world and future by connecting people (July 2017)

Our work in PREX helps connect administrative officials, business managers and people having dreams

I have liked supporting people since I was little. I am very glad to be able to connect people who are strive to attain his or her dream, regardless of whether they are in or out of Japan.

In addition, I am proud of supporting them to stimulate each other and to achieve their goal in PREX. Whatever little their achievement may be, participants’ success makes me feel great pleasure.

I majored in international development studies as undergraduate. In 2014, I supported local entrepreneurs in Bangladesh under Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, In developing countries, there are lots of people having difficulties in realize their dream due to financial and geographical reasons in spite of having great dream and hope.

I questioned myself what I could do and began to think that connecting people might help people who want someone’s support. I strongly believe that excellent business managers can create employment and provide employees and customers the chance to live as proper human beings. If the number of excellent business managers increases, the world would change in a good way.”

During our programs, participants visit Japanese small and medium-sized companies. Although the economy in Japan is said to be “in recession”, there are so many blooming companies, business managers and employees. They regard each participant and PREX staff as a “human beings” and deal with us naturally and frankly.

Their attitudes towards valuing their staff and their idea that “the company belongs to all employees”, are Awesome”! As long as there are such people at such small and medium-sized companies, Japan can be regarded as “the country with hope”.

Stimulated and influenced by business managers from Japanese companies, I would like to increase leading administrative officials and business managers in the world.
(Fujita, International Department, PREX)

Head of Kazakhstan-Japan Center visited PREX. (May 2017)

Ms. Zhanar Orazgaliyeva, head of Kazakhstan-Japan Center, and Ms. Abe, JICA Expert, visited PREX! Ms. Zhanar has joined in PREX’s seminars before. It was a nice surprise to know that she had become a promising head of the Kazakhstan-Japan Center. We were very pleased to see them again in Japan. (Ms. Zhanar, the second from left in the photo, Ms. Abe, the third from left)

Participants from Africa liked umeshu so much! (May 2017)

The visit to KOBE SHU-SHIN-KAN, the brewery of “Fukuju” (Japanese sake), was carried out through the “JICA Capacity Development for Investment Promotion (B) Training and Dialogue Program”. Participants from Cameroon, Kenya and Zimbabwe liked “Fukuju’s umeshu (plum wine made from rice wine)” so much that they bought one bottle each.

Message on leaving

I will return to DAIKIN INDUSTRIES, LTD. as of 30 April.
I was fortunate I could work with people from various fields while being at PREX.
I will utilize this experience in my next job in DAIKIN INDUSTRIES. Thank you very much for having me for 12 years.

Pleased to meet you! I am Hiroyuki Nakatani!

Pleased to meet you! I am Hiroyuki Nakatani.

I have been sent from Sumitomo Electronic Industries, Ltd. as of April 1.
I had been in charge of sales of thin heat-resistant electric wires and tape-shaped wiring material used in home appliances and in-vehicle equipment since I joined the company in 1983. Our clients are companies which you are familiar with, including Panasonic and Daikin. It was my pleasure to have been able to provide the most suitable products by meeting the clients’ needs, which resulted in contributing to the development of new products indirectly.
I am very nervous as the duties in PREX are completely different from what I used to do. However, I think that the fundamental concept may be the same as the duties here are to meet participants’ and entrusters’ needs and provide the most suitable seminars. I will do my best to help developing countries and companies in Kansai through the fostering of human resources and international exchange. I look forward to working with you.

What kind of training is energy conservation training?

Japan has many things to be proud of on the world stage. Energy conservation technology and know-how in particular can contribute to effective energy use, CO2 reduction, and environmental conservation if this knowledge is spread worldwide. I think this will become ever more important in the future. In the Kansai region in particular, there are large corporations as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises that have the technology to promote energy conservation, which I would like to introduce to the world through the training program.

“JICA Training for Government Efforts in Energy Conservation Technology and Dissemination of Technology” is a training program that started in 2014 and has been going on for three years. This year, it was held twice in July and October, with a total of 12 participants from 11 countries. Our goal is to have participants learn about energy conservation, create action plans, and implement them in their organizations once they return to their home countries. I hope in particular that learning about energy conservation technologies and specific measures carried out by Japan’s private companies will help participants draw up effective energy conservation measures in their own countries.

Tell us about the participants.

The participants came from countries in various situations, including energy-rich countries, countries with the world’s cheapest electricity fees, and countries where daily 10-hour blackouts were the norm. As such, their energy conservation situations were vastly different from each other. Most countries had some form of law concerning energy conservation, but it seems the state and citizens have neither a strong interest nor understanding of energy conservation. They also face budget limitations. However, these participants were workers from their country’s energy-related ministry or agency, municipality, or power company, and were already involved in energy conservation in their own countries. They all shared the same desire to somehow gain the understanding of the state, organizations, and citizens to promote energy conservation.

What makes energy conservation in Japan and Kansai something to be proud of?

Japan can pride itself on how there are mechanisms in place in companies and organizations to train people to promote energy conservation, how there are many energy-efficient products available domestically, and how energy management systems are widely in place amongst companies and organizations. The Kansai region can pride itself on its many companies that have excellent energy-conservation and environmentally-friendly technologies.

For training, I asked Mr. Takuo Yamaguchi from Bizen Green Energy Co., be our advisor. This company, located in Okayama, has made energy conservation its business. I would like participants to hear about their experiences and look into the possibility of creating a company like this in their home countries.

Is common sense in Japan common sense for the world?

Advisor Yamaguchi comments as follows: “I have learned a lot through the training program by getting to know the state of countries all over the world.” For example, Venezuela is the third-largest oil producer in the world, but is dependent on hydroelectricity for power. When draughts occur during the dry season due to global warming, the dams become unusable and there is a shortage of power. This is a strange story, considering how they have oil.

What is seen as common sense in Japan is not necessarily the same for the world. There are many people in the world who face challenges that we cannot even imagine. I don’t know what kind of environment Japan may find itself in the future, but I think that hearing about how people of the world are grappling with their challenges and thinking about them together through this training is very valuable in preparing for the future.

*The four-week training program. Participants who experienced Japan’s energy conservation technology!
(Musha, International Department)


New employees take a trip to Central Asia for the 1st time(March,10,2016)

Lunch in Kyrgyz. Prof. Belov and Kana Koguchi

I had assumed Central Asia was a cluster of similar countries, as their names carry the same suffix “stan.” But when I actually went there for the first time, I discovered that Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz and Uzbekistan each have distinctive characteristics. So I will introduce them here.
The streets of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s old capital, resemble those of Europe, and it is a metropolis of towering trees and stylish buildings. There are several advertisements made of LCD panels in the center dividers of wide, expressway-like streets. I was left with the impression of a modern metropolis.
The instant we arrived at the airport in Kyrgyz, a big crowd of people approached to get us to take their taxis, putting us under pressure. The capital Bishkek is compact, so getting around didn’t take much time. The Kyrgyz people are frank, open and brimming with warmth. The country’s biggest bazaar, Osh, is a bustling place, giving the impression -- along with the touts at the airport -- that Kyrgyz is a robust and lively country.
Finally, as for Uzbekistan, Shuichi Kato in his 1959 book titled “Travels in Uzbekistan, Croatia and Kerala,” wrote, “When people look at this city, which lies in the center of Central Asia, everyone is suddenly overwhelmed by its modernity. It would probably take some effort for the surprise to wear off.” The book was written 56 years ago. I had exactly the same impression during our recent trip. I was surprised at the beauty that came from the careful attention paid to road maintenance and grass in public squares. The way Islamic culture remains firmly rooted is also charming.
As mentioned above, the three countries have their own characteristics. Still, hammer and sickle emblems on old buildings symbolizing the former Soviet Union and statues of leaders from that era give a sense of the three countries’ shared history. I definitely want to stop by the green city of Samarkand next time.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz, Uzbekistan: What kind of countries are they? (March,10,2016)

I think lots of Japanese people paid attention when the media reported Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to five Central Asian nations in late October. Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union, each of the countries has developed and changed in the various ways. I recently visited Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz and Uzbekistan for the first time in five years. I will now convey my impressions based mainly on my visit to those three countries.
(Emiko Setoguchi, International Department)

Kazakhstan: a major and quickly growing natural-resources power in Central Asia

Kazakhstan is a country of abundant natural resources including energy and minerals. As it has experienced a lot of rapid growth, it will soon graduate from being an ODA recipient country. But that does not mean Kazakhstan is complacent. The government is aiming for sustainable economic development in the future and striving to move forward with energy conservation and fostering industries that include small and medium-sized manufacturers. There seemed to be a high level of interest in Kaizen at local enterprises, and specialists continue to be dispatched from Japan to provide guidance for such activities. We stayed in the old capital of Almaty, which was livelier than five years ago. Urbanization, including traffic jams, is spreading. Yet at the same time, we could also sense development and change, such as small-scale and independent-operated solar panels, which weren’t there before, on a plain that stretches into Kyrgyz. The people who participated in PREX seminars in the 2000s include a central bank governor, カイラト・ケリムベトフ, and governor of South Kazakhstan Region, ベイブト・アタムクロフ.

The Ala-Too mountain range can always be seen from the capital Bishkek.
Large wind turbines jut from a wide plain.

Kyrgyz: a small country with plenty of charm

Kygyz has few natural resources compared to its other Central Asian neighbors, and its population and land area are both small. However, 155 people from the country have attended PREX seminars, the highest number of all Central Asian countries. Right after gaining independence, Kyrgyz joined the WTO and recently the Eurasian Economic Union. Despite being jostled around by the major powers that surround it, the country has been endeavoring to sustain itself, and its current President, Almazbek Atambayev, is already the fourth leader. In the meantime, young entrepreneurs have launched a variety of companies, while the government has established a forum for consultations in order to listen to the voices from the economic sector. I had the impression the country is the most advanced when it comes to democratization. During Prime Minister Abe’s recent visit, President Atambayev said, “Even though Japan has no natural resources, it has shown that it could become a great democratic power. Japan’s existence in itself gives support to Kyrgyz.” Around 150 students and others from Kyrgyz are working hard in Japan. Many Japanese have a sense of affinity toward this small country as it struggles to make its way in the world. Advice came from Japan in the One Village, One Item Project. Thus, products that were improved as a result of developments under the project are being sold in Japan, including lovely felt products and honey collected from nature

Baroqxon Madrasasi in Tashkent

Uzbekistan: A sense of Islam and urban transformation

On our recent trip, Uzbekistan gave us the biggest sense of change. We did not get an impression of high-growth economic liberalization and development under the original development policy called “gradualism.” Even so, the number of fashionable restaurants and modern buildings in Tashkent has increased, along with new parks and roadwork, giving us a different impression than before. Government control has managed to keep out the bad influences from economies overseas. We heard about the results of efforts to nurture domestic industries, including agricultural processing and textiles, as well as evaluations saying government industrial policy has been doing a good job and even changed lives, and that the people have been able to obtain domestically produced food products and clothes. Even so, democratization has yet to become an issue. After some brainstorming, company managers have established forums for sharing experiences and forging business ties. (The managers meet regularly every week at such forums as the “Plov Sessions” and “Book Café.”) Another feature of Uzbekistan is that Islam seems to be very close to the people. The fact the capital of the Timurid Empire in the14th and 15th centuries was in Samarkand in the country and Muslims account for the majority of the population probably have had an influence. During breakfast at our hotel, the greeting “as-salamu alaykum” was heard often, and when we were invited to a dining party for male company officials only, a Muslim prayer was conducted before the meal. These scenes were different from what we saw in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyz.