Ashinaga USA

12 E 49th Street, 11th Floor

New York, NY 10017

+1 (929) 232-2893

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 Foundation, 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 110,000 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 110,000 orphaned students to finish their high school and university educations.


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.


Ashinaga USA, Board Members and Officers

Yoshiomi Tamai

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.

John Feroe

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.

Yukichi Okazaki

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.

Ken-Ichi Takemaru, PhD
Director and Secretary

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

Nozomi Terao

Ms. Terao is the Founder and Director of and, a company that uniquely connects young people through shared experience for mutual understanding and respect.

Luisa Duarte-Silva
Senior Advisor

Dr. Duarte-Silva graduated from the Université de Genève, in Switzerland, and completed graduate degrees at Georgetown University and CUNY-Graduate Center. For over 18 years, she was a faculty member at Princeton University, and Director of the Office of International Programs. She has devoted much of her free time to advocate for access to education for high-achieving low-income students from around the world. She has been advising Ashinaga since 2013, when she helped place the first three Ugandan students with full scholarships in the US. Since then, she has been advising Ashinaga USA since its launching till the present day.

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 137 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. For more information, please visit the Ashinaga Kenjin-Tatsujin Council page.

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

Hafsat Abiola
President & CEO of Women in Africa Initiative

Ibiyinka Olufemi Alao
United Nations Ambassador for the Arts; Artist

Patrice Koffi Anoh
Former Ambassador of Côte d'Ivoire in Japan
Côte d’Ivoire

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

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

Julie Azuma
Founder of Different Roads to Learning

James Boliba Baba
Member of Parliament; Former Ambassador of Uganda to Japan; Former Minister of State Government of Uganda

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

Leonor Beleza Beleza
President of Champalimaud Foundation

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

Göte Bernhardsson
President of the Foundation of Children and Youth

Flemming Besenbacher
Chairman of Carlsberg Group, Carlsberg Foundation, Tuborg Foundation and UNLEASH

Dr. Afework Bogale Bezawork
Assistant Professor, Addis Ababa University

Betty Oyella Bigombe
Senior Advisor to Uganda Government on South Sudan

Andrea Bocelli

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

John Caird
Director and Writer of Theatre and Opera

Kent Eyring Calder
Professor of Johns Hopkins University

Moreira William Chonguiça

Bolette Christensen
CEO of BORNEfonden (ChildFund Denmark)

Alex Godwin Coutinho
Former Executive Director of Partners In Health - Rwanda

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

David Daniel
Chairman & CEO of DHD Holdings and SOICO Group

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

Fernand de la Rúa
Former President of Argentina

Bruno Delvaux
Former President of Université Catholique de Louvain

Hideaki Domichi
Former Ambassador and Senior Vice President of JICA

Rosa Maria Correia dos Santos Mota
Olympic Gold Medalist in Marathon

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

Esther William Dungumaro
Principal Mkwawa University College of Education

Kathleen Durham
CEO, Paige Enterprises, TyG; Former Executive Director, Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill

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

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

William Easterly
Director, Development Research Institute and Professor of Economics (Joint with Africa House), New York University

Junzo Fujita
Former Ambassador of Japan to Uganda, Former Ambassador to TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development)

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

Coumba Gawlo
Artist-Writer-Singer-Composer; President of the Association “Lumière pour l'Enfance– Coumba Gawlo”; Chief Executive Officer of Go Media Group

Gilberto Gil

Michinari Hamaguchi
President of Japan Science and Technology Agency, Former President Nagoya University

Andrew D. Hamilton
Vice-Chancellor of University of Oxford

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

Lazarus Hangula
Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Namibia

Hans-Dieter Hausner
Former President of the Bayer Group in Japan

Junko Hibiya
Former President of International Christian University; Managing Trustee for Educational Affairs, Sacred Heart School Corporation

Catharine Bond Hill
President of Vassar College

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

Kazuo Hiramatsu
Former President of Kwansei Gakuin University

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

Keisuke Honda
Professional football player at Football Club Sūduva; Head of Delegation, Cambodia National Football

Mieko Ikegame
Former Director, United Nation’s Office of Under Secretary General and Special Advisor on Africa; Special Advisor to the CEO of AU-NEPAD Agency; Lecturer at University of Tokyo; Visiting Professor at Yokohama City University; New York Representative of Japan-UN Friendship Association; Senior Consultant for Private Sector Companies in Japan, USA, and Africa

Senko Ikenobo, PhD
Headmaster Designate of Ikenobo

Sheena Iyengar
Professor of Business in the Management Division at Columbia Business School

Dhanjay Jhurry
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mauritius

Daisaku Kadokawa
Mayor of Kyoto

William Kamkawba
Co-Founder of Moving Windmills Project, Inc.

Takehiko Kariya
Professor, University of Oxford; Former Professor, University of Tokyo

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

Takashi Kawamura
M Hitachi Ltd., Chairman Emeritus

Gilbert M. Khadiagala
Professor of International Relations and Director of the African Centre for the Study of the United States (ACSUS) at the University of the Witwatersrand
South Africa

Steve Knapp
President of The George Washington University

María Kodama
Borges International Foundation

James Masaakira Kondo
Chairman, International House of Japan

Chiharu Kubo
President, Kyushu University

Michiharu Kurita
Professor Emeritus of Asia University; Member of the Board of Directors of Asia Gakuen; Former President of Asia University

Dieter Lenzen
President of Universität Hamburg

Strive Masiyiwa
Founder and Executive Chairman, Econet

Tsitsi Masiyiwa
Founder and Co-Chair, Higherlife Foundation

Hiroshi Matsumoto
President of Riken, Former President of Kyoto University

Takashi Matsuoka
Former President, Doshisha University

Ibrahim Assane Mayaki
Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency, The New Partnership for Africa's Development); President of the Sahel and West Africa Club; Former Prime Minister of Niger

Ntombizodwa Yvonne “Chaka Chaka” Mhinga
President of The Princess of Africa Foundation; Singer
South Africa

Alberto Michelini
Journalist, Former Member of Parliament of Italy

Chomora Mikeka
Dean of Science, University of Malawi

Norman Yoshio Mineta
Former United States Secretary of Transportation

Frédéric Mion
President, Sciences Po, Fondation nationale des sciences politiques (FNSP), Institut d’études politiques de Paris (IEP)

Hideo Miyahara
Honorary Professor of Osaka University (Former President)

Naya Mondo
Chief Executive Officer, Elerai Global Services

Charles Murigande
Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Institutional Advancement of the University of Rwanda; Former Ambassador of Rwanda to Japan; Former Minister of Education in Rwanda

Dikembe Mutombo
Former NBA Player

Osmund Damian Mwandemele
Coordinating Director, Office of the Vice Chancellor, University of Namibia

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

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

Mitsuo Ochi
President of Hiroshima University

James Chukwuma Ogbonna
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), University of Nigeria Nsukka

John N. Oliphant
High Commissioner of Lesotho in the United Kingdom

Francis Gervase Omaswa
Founder and Executive Director, African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST)

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

Onyeka Onwenu
CEO of Ayollo Productions Ltd.; Multi-Talented Artist

Ramiro Osorio
The first Minister of Culture of Colombia

Mohamed Mahmood Ould Jafaar

Ebenezer Oduro Owusu
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana

Toshiro Ozawa
Former Ambassador of Japan to South Africa; Former Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna

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

Thulisile Phiri
Founder and Managing Director, The African Story Teller PTY LTD
South Africa

Lucho Quequezana
Composer of Traditional and Contemporary Peruvian Music

Herinjatovo Aimé Ramiarison
Professor of Economics, Researcher, The University of Antananarivo

Louise Richardson
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford

Jean-Christophe Rufin
Novelist Médecins sans frontières

Oussouby Sacko
President of Kyoto Seika University

Masashi Sada
Singer, Actor, Writer

Yoko Sakanoue
Business Strategist, Writer

Daniel Mukoko Samba
Managing Director, "Société Commerciale desTransports et des Ports"; Former Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Budget
Democratic Republic of the Congo

Noemí Sanín
Former Minister of Foreign Affair of Colombia

Susumu Satomi
President, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; Former Tohoku University President

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

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

Soshitsu Sen
Chado Urasenke Grand Master

Godfrey Simasiku
National President, Zambia Red Cross Society; Former Ambassador of Zambia to Japan

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

Türkan Şoray
Actress, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

Sidi Soueina
President and Founder of the MiFiTT Institute; Former Chair and Co-Founder of US Mauritania Business Forum; Professor of Computer Science, Ecole Polytechniquede Mauritanie

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

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

Tato Takahama
Executive Director, Pacific Research Institute, Journalist

Asako Takakura
Japan Football Association; Former Head Coach of Japan Women's National

Junji Takegami
Tiger Pacific Capital L.P., ManagingPartner

Yuko Tanaka
Former President of Hosei University

Hirotaka Tateishi
Professor Emeritus, Tokyo University of ForeignStudies (Former President)

Nadir Tati
President of Nadir Tati, Lda

Erica Terpstra
Olympic Gold Medalist in Swimming

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

Marianna V. Vardinoyannis
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

Douglas Maina Wakiihuri
First Coach, Sotokoto Safari Marathon; Olympic Silver Medalist in Marathon at Olympic Games Seoul 1988

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

Teresa Watanabe
Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times

Miriam K. Were
Former Chancellor of Moi University; Co-Founder, UZIMA Foundation-Africa

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

Juichi Yamagiwa
Former President, Kyoto University; President of Japan Association of National University

Tetsuo Yamaori
Honorary Professor in Religion

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

Kandeh K. Yumkella
Former United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All
Sierra Leone

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

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

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

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

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


Elisa Edmondson

In 2013 during my second year at university in the US, I made a goal to pursue an internship in my home country of Japan that summer. I was lucky enough to find Ashinaga through some research, then reach out and secure a spot for their first-ever summer internship program based at the Tokyo Kokorojuku. I was grateful to spend most of the following year of 2014 on the African continent, a part of the world with which I was developing a deep connection. Following a study abroad program at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, I had the privilege of working with Ashinaga Uganda as an intern at the Rainbow House in Nansana. Two years into my professional journey, I learnt of the AAI, Ashinaga’s newest program dedicated to global higher education access for African students. When a position opened up at the US office in 2017, I couldn’t pass up pursuing the opportunity. Now at four years full-time with Ashinaga, I am grateful to continue learning from and contributing to an organization that so profoundly expanded my global perspective during some of the most formative months of my life.

Lynne Stillings
Program Director

Lynne graduated with a PhD in Ethnomusicology at The Graduate Center (City University of New York) with a Certificate in Africana Studies in 2021. Her dissertation research focused on children’s rights and musical activism in Senegal, where she first learned of Ashinaga. Lynne has also taught as adjunct music faculty at Brooklyn College and Hunter College in New York. She is passionate about children’s and youth participation in social and economic development, and is excited to be a part of the Ashinaga Africa Initiative.