Table Speech

“Let’s Support Many Scholars as Possible---Rotary Yoneyama Memorial Foundation Scholarship Project”

October 7, 2009

Mr. Hiroyasu Sakashita
Chairman of Rotary Yoneyama Memorial Foundation

 Rotary Yoneyama Memorial Foundation was founded here at the Tokyo Rotary Club 57 years ago. Thanks to the timeless efforts made by many senior Rotarians, the scholarship project has developed into a unique nationwide service activity, in which all 34 districts participate. The project is funded by generous contributions made by Rotarians totaling 1.4 billion yen a year (grand total 45 billion yen) to assist 800 students a year (totaling 15,130 students from 116 countries/regions).

 Besides receiving financial support, Yoneyama scholars enjoy hear-to-heart interaction through the Sewa club (host club) and Counselor system, unique to this project. Its objective is to promote world peace and harmony. We are proud of this truly international service activity handed down from our predecessors. The project goes through strict checks, including monthly auditing. The fund is managed effectively by national bonds, resulting in latent profit.

 Let me touch upon the history of this Foundation. Mr. Yoneyama, whom the Foundation commemorates, passed away in April 1946. In 1949, Japan was reinstated into Rotary International. In 1952, the 33rd President Mr. Josaku Furusawa proposed establishing the “Yoneyama Fund,” as it best reflected the intentions of the late Mr. Yoneyama and thus would be the monumental activity to commemorate his virtue. In 1956, the two District conferences in Eastern Japan approved this proposal (there were only 4 Districts in Japan then), as it would be the ideal international service activity. In 1957, the nationwide “Rotary Yoneyama Scholarship Committee” was established, with the newly-inaugurated RI Director Mr. Gaichi Kobayashi (30th President of Tokyo Rotary Club) as its first chairman. In 1967, the Rotary Yoneyama Memorial Foundation was authorized by the Ministry of Education. Its prospectus states that this Foundation is mainly financed by contributions from Rotary Clubs across Japan and Rotarians are responsible for its management, to achieve the objectives of Rotary. Let me share with you today, the DVD “From Heart to Heart---to the World,” which highlights the distinguished alumni in various fields over the world.

<First Episode>
 Mr. Jun Ji graduated from Beijing University, Faculty of Law in 1992. His encounter with Yoneyama Foundation changed his life, as it gave him confidence to realize his dreams. Both material and moral support made him an up-and-coming lawyer. He is now seeking ways how to pay back the kindness he received in Japan.

<Second Episode>
 Ms. Archana Shrestha runs the vocational training center for women in Nepal, motivated by high literacy rate and women’s active social participation and economic independence in Japan. Social discrimination based on casteism remains in Nepal. Support expressed by Rotarians encouraged her to establish the center which assists women’s economic independence. All her hard work resulted in getting assistance for 3 years by the local Rotary Club and 5 Rotary Clubs in District 2630. As a Rotarian herself since 2006, she is continuing her efforts for the development of Nepal.

<Third Episode>
 Mr. Galbadrah Janchiv is the principal of the three-year-high-school in Mongolia opened in 2000, the first school based on the international curriculum. Expectations from many Rotarians were the driving force behind him to advance educational reforms and develop future human resources in Mongolia. He also wishes to cooperate with educational reforms in Japan.

<Fourth Episode>
 Ms. Mun-Lee Lin led the three-year-renovation of the National Palace Museum in Taipei as the first female chairperson, directly appointed by the then President Chen Shui-bian. As a specialist in art education and painter herself, she believes that museums should exist for the people. The renovated museum displays works classified by period with detailed explanations. Various measures to secure necessary funds are implemented, including high-quality restaurants and cafes, and a stylish souvenir shop to attract visitors. “I did not only obtain my PhD but had wonderful experiences in my 10-years stay in Tokyo, where my future vision was created. I expect cross-cultural communication based on respect of people’s individual culture will promote interaction and thus further enhance creation of new cultures.”

<Fifth Episode>
 Mr. Mohamed Omer Abdin is the former Yoneyama scholar from Sudan. He became blind due to a serious progressive illness, and thought it would be a disadvantage to go through interviews. He later learned that his counselor had insisted accepting him, for it would best suit the Rotary spirit. Mr. Abdin is currently studying peace building, conflict prevention, and post-conflict democratization at the graduate school. He also founded the NPO “CAPEDS (Committee for Assisting and Promoting Education for the Disabled in Sudan),” to improve life of Sudanese people in disadvantageous conditions. Being a Yoneyama scholar opened a new horizon for him.

 Mr. Jun Ji has been working hard to pay back all the favors he received. His long-lasting wish gave birth to the nationwide Alumni Association in China in March 2009. Mr. Jun Ji made a speech in Japanese at the inaugural ceremony, calling upon alumni to work together with the spirit of friendship, given by the Yoneyama Foundation. He is determined to collaborate with his fellow scholars in handing down the kindness to the generations to come.

 Mr. Toshio Itabashi, Director of Yoneyama Foundation, attended this ceremony. “It was my happiest day as a Director,” he stated “as I confirmed affection growing among alumni even after 5 and 10 years. Conveying the heart of Japan to China will bring about world peace.”

 I am convinced that the Rotary spirit and desire for peace, nurtured in Japan, will spread over the world through the Yoneyama alumni.