Washington DC Office

1725 I Street NW, Suite 300

Washington, DC 20006

(202) 349-3779

 

Princeton Office

252 Nassau Street

Princeton, NJ 08542

 

info@ashinaga-usa.org

At one of Ashinaga’s Summer Camps, President Yoshiomi Tamai (front row, in blue) joins 100 orphaned children from 20 countries and 300 orphaned Japanese college students who have come together to support each other, emphasizing their common experiences rather than cultural and language barriers.

Who We Are

Life for young people today is tough enough without losing a parent. Add the enormous impact of disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and the AIDS epidemic, not to mention the crushing weight of poverty, and bright young people worldwide need all the educational and emotional support they can get.

That’s why for nearly 50 years, Ashinaga, a non-profit organization founded and based in Japan, has been providing educational funding and psychological support to children who have lost one or both parents from illness, accidents, suicides, and disasters. To date, the organization has raised more than $1 billion, empowering more than 95,000 orphaned students to finish their high school and university educations.

Ashinaga’s extraordinary success in its home country of Japan, based in large part on anonymous individual donations, has grown into a worldwide movement focused on educating and nurturing future leaders who will contribute to society via caring attitudes, open minds, the energy to act, and an international perspective – with a special focus on the continent with the youngest and fastest-growing population facing the greatest challenges, Africa.

To date, Ashinaga has raised more than $1 billion, empowering more than 95,000 orphaned students to finish their high school and university educations.

The creation of Ashinaga USA in the United States marks an important step and a natural progression, giving Americans the chance to become part of the Ashinaga movement.

History

The original edition of Daddy-Long-Legs, the famous novel by American author Jean Webster.

Ashinaga is named for Jean Webster’s 1912 American novel Daddy-Long-Legs, (“Ashinaga” means “long legs” in Japanese), in which an orphaned girl’s college education is sponsored by an anonymous benefactor. The organization got its start when founder and current President Yoshiomi Tamai, having lost his own mother to a reckless driver, founded the “Association for Orphans of Traffic Accidents,” which later became the “Association for Natural Disaster Orphans,” and finally Ashinaga, serving iji, or orphaned children (defined in Japan as a child who has lost either one or both of their parents) in general.

In August 2014, 150 students from the world’s top 50 universities joined the Ashinaga internship program in Tokyo to conduct a fundraising campaign to raise awareness about the importance of higher education for orphaned students from Sub-Saharan Africa.

In August 2014, 150 students from the world’s top 50 universities joined the Ashinaga internship program in Tokyo to conduct a fundraising campaign to raise awareness about the importance of higher education for orphaned students from Sub-Saharan Africa.

A core element of the Ashinaga philosophy is that children who have lost parents should support each other. In that spirit, and in the spirit of the novel, the organization developed the first anonymous donation system in Japan, in which Ashinaga students conduct street-corner fundraising campaigns twice a year. Ashinaga receives no government support; it is funded solely by contributions from private individuals and companies.

In addition to scholarships, Ashinaga provides emotional support to children who have lost one or both parents as a result of illness, accident/disaster, or suicide, as well as children who have a parent with a disability that prevents them from working. This is accomplished through day programs and camps for younger orphaned children at the organization’s “Rainbow Houses” in Tokyo, Kobe and Tohoku. In addition, nearly 150 orphaned college and university students live at Ashinaga residential facilities in Tokyo and Kobe. There are also camps for orphaned high school and college/university students in the summer.

A New Horizon: Africa

His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko (his wife) came to visit Uganda in June 2012 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Japan and Uganda. During their stay in Uganda, they visited Ashinaga Uganda and spent some time with the children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko (his wife) came to visit Uganda in June 2012 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Japan and Uganda. During their stay in Uganda, they visited Ashinaga Uganda and spent some time with the children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the world’s regions most affected by the global HIV epidemic. In Uganda alone, 1.9 million children, or 10% of the country’s population, have lost parents due to HIV/AIDS. Once these children lose their parents, many of them drop out of school.

This situation led Ashinaga to open the first Rainbow House outside Japan, near the Ugandan capital of Kampala, in 2003. There, each year, Ashinaga Uganda provides psychological and educational support to some 800 bereaved children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. In addition, since 2007 the “Terakoya” Education Program at the Uganda Rainbow House has maintained a consistent enrollment of some 60 children ranging aged 8 to 15 who learn basic academic skills; after these students complete the program, they can study at regular schools on Ashinaga scholarships.

Irene Nabanoba and Julius Sseggujja finish their BA degrees at Kwansei Gakuin University, one of the most prestigious universities in Japan. Irene is now studying her MA degree at University of Kyoto, and Julius is working for a Japanese automobile company in Japan.

Irene Nabanoba and Julius Sseggujja finish their BA degrees at Kwansei Gakuin University, one of the most prestigious universities in Japan. Irene is now studying her MA degree at University of Kyoto, and Julius is working for a Japanese automobile company in Japan.

Currently fourteen Ugandan students who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS study on Ashinaga scholarships at some of the most prestigious universities in Japan, living at Ashinaga-run dormitories in Tokyo and Kobe. Since 2006, more than 50 orphaned students from developing countries have studied at universities in Japan and the United States thanks to Ashinaga-san.

Leadership

Ashinaga USA, Board Members and Officers

Yukichi Okazaki
Director/President

Mr. Okazaki graduated with a BA from Asia University in 1992 and earned an MA in psychology from New York University. After he lost his father to a traffic accident at the age of two, he went to high school and university with support from Ashinaga. Upon graduation, he joined Ashinaga.

Yoshiomi Tamai
Director

Mr. Tamai graduated with a degree in economics from Shiga University in 1958. He initially worked for a securities company and as an economic journalist, but the loss of his mother to a hit-and-run driver caused him to become Japan’s foremost advocates for victims of traffic accidents, and he secured initial funding that in 1969 established the Scholarship Foundation for Traffic Accident Orphans, for which he was appointed Executive Director. In 1989, he decided to extend the circle of his efforts to children who had lost parents for reasons other than traffic accidents, but he encountered unexpected internal bureaucratic obstacles, and resigned in protest in 1994. One month later, Mr. Tamai was appointed vice president at Ashinaga, which had been established in 1993 to provide educational loans and emotional care to children who had lost one or both parents to illness, natural disasters, and suicide. He became president of the organization in 1998, and remains so to this day. Now 80, Mr. Tamai still vigorously travels overseas to meet with business leaders and representatives of top universities, whom he asks for support and cooperation in order to realize the goals of the Ashinaga movement worldwide.

Osamu Fujimura
Director

Mr. Fujimura graduated with a BA from Hiroshima University in 1973 and received an honorary doctorate from the University in 2014. Upon graduation, he entered Ashinaga Japan and was in charge of a Japan-Brazil exchange program. He worked for Ashinaga Japan until he was elected to Japan’s House of Representatives in 1993. In September 2011, he was appointed as the Chief Cabinet Secretary in the cabinet of then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. He left office in December 2012. He actively supports President Tamai and also travels around the world to meet with business leaders and representatives of top universities, whom he asks for support and cooperation.

John Feroe
Director

As Assistant to the President of Vassar College from 2004-2014, he served as the College’s initial and continuing primary contact with representatives from Ashinaga Japan.

Nozomi Terao
Director

Ms. Terao is the Founder and Director of Msterio.org, a company that uniquely connects young people through shared experience for mutual understanding and respect.… She is also a member of the Japanese-American Association and US-Japan Council.

Ken-Ichi Takemaru
Director

Dr. Takemaru is Associate Professor of Pharmacological Sciences at the School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Luisa M. Duarte-Silva
Director

Director at International Internship Program, Princeton University

Kenjin-Tatsujin Council

To help further its mission, Ashinaga also has established an Advisory Board consisting of influential individuals (known as The Kenjin-Tatsujin Council) from throughout the world, who can serve as mentors for the Ashinaga movement.

The Japanese words kenjin and tatsujin do not have precise English equivalents. Kenjin can be roughly translated as “wise person” and tatsujin as “expert.” The members of the Kenjin-Tatsujin Council, which advises the Ashinaga movement worldwide, are that and much more. Each has achieved success at the top of his or her respective field, whether as academics, entrepreneurs, artists and performers (such as musicians, designers, and film directors), or athletes. What they all share in common, besides excellence in their individual fields, is a commitment to social justice and global citizenship, and to the Ashinaga movement’s efforts everywhere to help achieve those goals.

The Council’s current membership includes 67 distinguished names from across the globe, and continues to grow. Members provide valuable advice and counsel for the Ashinaga Africa Initiative. They support Ashinaga in developing the institutional trust and authority necessary for fundraising, and in establishing relationships with universities. They also advise Ashinaga about finding suitable matches between scholarship students and universities outside of Africa. Where possible, Council members visit and interact with Ashinaga’s scholarship students during their period of study.

The current membership of the Kenjin-Tatsujin Council is as follows:

Henry Louis (Hank) Aaron
Former Professional Baseball Player and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame
USA

Yuichiro Anzai
President of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Former Presidentof Keio University
Japan

Akito Arima
Former Minister of Education, Former President of Tokyo University
Japan

Julie Azuma
Founder of Different Roads to Learning
USA

Willie Banks
Track & field athlete, Former world record holder of the triple jump, Former President, USOlympians and Paralympians Association
USA

Leonor Beleza Beleza
President of Champalimaud Foundation
Portugal

Theodor Berchem
Former President of Deutschen Akademischen Austauschdienstes DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service)
Germany

Göte Bernhardsson
President of the Foundation of Children and Youth
Sweden

Andrea Bocelli
Singer
Italy

Nancy D. Bodurtha
Vice President, Meetings and Membership, Council on Foreign Relations
USA

John Caird
Director and Writer of Theatre and Opera
UK

Kent Eyring Calder
Professor of Johns Hopkins University
USA

Bolette Christensen
CEO of BORNEfonden (ChildFund Denmark)
Denmark

Alberto da Costa e. Silva
Board Member of Academia Brasileira de Letras (Brasil Literature Academy), Former Ambassadors of Brazil to Paraguay
Brazil

Maria Luisa de Cossio de Gonzales Posada
President of Executive Instituto Mundo Libre, Wife of the former President of the Congress, Luis Gonzales Posada
Peru

Fernand de la Rúa
Former President of Argentina
Argentina

Bruno Delvaux
Former President of Université Catholique de Louvain
Belgium

Rosa Maria Correia dos Santos Mota
Olympic Gold Medalist in Marathon
Portugal

Joseph Duffy
Former President of American University and Chancellor of University of Massachusetts, Faculty, Yale University
USA

António Ramalho Eanes
Former President of the Portuguese Republic, Honorary Doctor of the University of Lisbon
Portugal

Manuela Ramalho Eanes
Chairperson of Instituto de Apoio à Criança (a children support organization)
Portugal

Janice R. Fukakusa
Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Royal Bank of Canada
Canada

Gilberto Gil
Singer
Brazil

Andrew D. Hamilton
Vice-Chancellor of University of Oxford
UK

Lloyd Hand
Former US Chief of Protocol, Senior Counsel of King & Spalding LLP
USA

Catharine Bond Hill
President of Vassar College
USA

Shigeaki Hinohara
Honorary Chair, the Board of Trustees , St, Luke's International Unviersity
Japan

Kazuo Hiramatsu
Former President of Kwansei Gakuin University
USA

Linda Hoaglund
Bilingual film director and producer, Winner of the 150th Anniversary of US-Japan Relationship
USA

Carlos Kasuga
Founder of the Mexican division of the yogurt company, Yakult
Mexico

Takashi Kawamura
M Hitachi Ltd., Chairman Emeritus
Japan

Steve Knapp
President of The George Washington University
USA

María Kodama
Borges International Foundation
Argentina

Dieter Lenzen
President of Universität Hamburg
Germany

Hiroshi Matsumoto
President of Riken, Former President of Kyoto University
Japan

Alberto Michelini
Journalist, Former Member of Parliament of Italy
Italy

Norman Yoshio Mineta
Former United States Secretary of Transportation
USA

Hideo Miyahara
Honorary Professor of Osaka University (Former President)
Japan

Dikembe Mutombo
Former NBA Player
USA

Masato Ninomiya
Professor Doctor of Faculty of Law, Univesity of São Paulo, Attorney-at-law
Brazil

Ryoji Noyori
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Former President of Riken
Japan

Santa Jeremy Ono
University of Cincinnati, Professor of Pediatrics and Biology, Honorary Consul of Japan for Ohio
USA

Ramiro Osorio
The first Minister of Culture of Colombia
Colombia

Seiji Ozawa
Conductor, Former Music Director of the Vienna State Opera
Austria

Lucho Quequezana
Composer of Traditional and Contemporary Peruvian Music
Peru

Jean-Christophe Rufin
Novelist Médecins sans frontières
France

Yoko Sakanoue
Business Strategist, Writer
Japan

Noemí Sanín
Former Minister of Foreign Affair of Colombia
Colombia

Witney W. Schneidman
Covington & Burling LLP, Senior Advisor for Africa
USA

Louis Schweitzer
Special Representatif for French-Japanese Partnership, Former President de Renault
France

Masayoshi Son
The founder and CEO of Soft Bank, Chairman of Sprint Corporation
Japan

Türkan Şoray
Actress, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
Turkey

Teresita T. Sy-Coson
Vice Chairperson of SM Prime Holdings
Philippines

Paul Tagliabue
Chair of Georgetown University's board of directors, Former commissioner of NFL
USA

Junji Takegami
Tiger Pacific Capital L.P., ManagingPartner

Erica Terpstra
Olympic Gold Medalist in Swimming
Netherlands

Eric Jackson Thomas
Vice-Chancellor of Bristol University, Former Chair of the Worldwide Universities Network
UK

Marianna V. Vardinoyannis
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
Greece

Antonio Garrigues Walker
Chairman of Garrigues Foundation Board member of the Trilateral Commission
Spain

Michael H. Wilson
Chancellor of University of Toronto, Chairman of Barclays Capital Canada Inc.
Canada

Tetsuo Yamaori
Honorary Professor in Religion
Japan

Yasuhiro Yamashita
Olympic Gold Medalist in Judo, Vice President of Tokai University
Japan

Kandeh K. Yumkella
The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All
Austria

Keko Yunge
Singer, Author and Composer of popular music, Socio-cultural activist
Chile

Lassina Zerbo
Executive Secretary at Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)
Austria

Lionel Zinsou
Chairman and CEO of PAI Partners, Chairman French-African Foundationfor Growth
France

Marek Ziółkowski
Member of the Friendship League Parliament of Poland and Japan Senator
Poland