Table Speech

Initiation Speech

June 13, 2012

Mr. Shigeru Shimada
Mr. Shozo Uemura

Mr. Shigeru Shimada
General Secretary, The National Council of YMCAs of Japan

YMCA Relief Operations for the East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and Assistance for Reconstruction

 One year and three months has passed since the March 11th Earthquake. I recall that day, staying overnight in the office to collect information and discussing about emergency relief operations to be taken for the unprecedented disaster. YMCA has a history of overcoming many disasters side by side with the victims, including the Great Kanto Earthquake, the Typhoon Vera, the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the Chuetsu Earthquake. We have also provided assistance overseas through YMCAs at disaster-stricken areas, including the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami, the Sichuan Earthquake, Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti Cyclone.

 YMCA established a coordinating council of citizens’ groups which provided relief and reconstruction assistance for the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. From this experience, YMCAs across Japan established a network of volunteers for emergency assistance, jointly with the social welfare councils as well as in collaboration with NGOs and NPOs with wide-ranging expertise and the municipalities. This network facilitated coordination of volunteers for various disasters across the country.

 The March 11th Earthquake, however, hampered us from sending volunteers promptly, due to its scale and the extent of damages and the unprecedented accidents at the nuclear reactors. Due to shortage of gasoline and anxieties over radioactive contamination, we sent experienced YMCA staff members and volunteers with expertise from across Japan, instead of young student volunteers.

 In total 14,000 volunteers were sent to Sendai YMCA Volunteer Support Center, Miyako Volunteer Center of Morioka YMCA and YMCA Ishinomaki Support Center and provided assistance to 58,000 survivors. Thanks to the generous contributions by many companies, we invited 2,680 children and families mainly from Miyagi Prefecture to YMCA camps throughout Japan.

 YMCA resolved to provide long-term assistance to the vulnerable members of society, including the young, the elderly, the disabled and foreigners, by utilizing donations from people in Japan and overseas. Being a local-based youth education entity, YMCA aims to train leaders for relief operations and reconstruction.

 I have to admit that we were able to support only a limited number of people in limited areas. We can never truly understand the deep sorrow of those victims. Yet I believe our long-term efforts together with survivors which are adapted to the communities will bring a new spirit of hope for reconstruction. We are determined to continue our support that encourages affected children to construct their own towns that had been washed away by the tsunami.

  Let me express my sincere gratitude to many of you for your generous contributions, which enabled us to provide assistance. I must say donations are likely to decrease over years. Let me close my speech by asking for your continuous support so that we will not forget the earthquake and tsunami disasters.

Mr. Shozo Uemura
Vice Chairman, Patent Attorney, Aoyama & Partners

Revitalizing Japan as an Intellectual Property Power

 I had dealt with Japanese and international policies on intellectual property at the Patent Agency of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry as well as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Then I entered the practical world of patent lawsuits, and currently I am a patent attorney to protect the rights of companies and inventors. My speech today will be on how the intellectual property mechanism can contribute to the revitalization of Japan.

 As Japan has limited natural resources, we can achieve economic growth only by promoting international trade of our products and services. Japan is also a country with declining birthrate and longevity, and we must pursue technological development for enhanced productivity and value-added industries. We often come across slogans of “trading country” or “scientific and technological powerhouse.” “Intellectual property power” has become part of our national strategies today, yet we are still far from the expected goal to vitalize the system.

 Japan used to have the largest number of patent applications for several decades. For example, its number totaled 400,000 per year, while that of the US remained around 200,000. Yet, the number has shown rapid decrease in recent years and the US overtook Japan about five years ago. Patent applications are showing remarkable growth in China, reaching 530,000 last year (350,000 for Japan) and forecast to reach 750,000 in three years. China overtook Japan the year before last while the gap keeps widening.

 Turning our eyes on the international arena, the economy keeps globalizing and thus we need a mechanism that harmonizes the expanding networks that protect intellectual property rights. Countries have joined forces to formulate an international framework from the late 19th century, eventually leading to the Agreement on WTO-TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights administered by the World Trade Organization) in the end of the 20th century which facilitates international collaboration on a macro level. An increasing number of challenging issues remains to be addressed through international efforts, yet discussions and negotiations are undermined by confrontation between the North and the South. We must deal with such global issues in good faith.

  How to solve the north-south problems regarding intellectual property is now being discussed and negotiated in a wider context of development, human rights, environment, life and poverty. Such global issues are dealt with by various organizations, including WIPO and WTO, forums and frameworks which often have close political relations, with common technological and legal problems to be addressed. I believe international negotiations based on a comprehensive approach and strategy will be effective.

 The international economy and society keeps globalizing. For Japan to revitalize as a dynamic intellectual property power, we must cultivate an intellectual property mind to further stimulate research and development as well as have a global mind to take a lead in solving various global issues concerning intellectual property.