On 22 – 26 March 2011, eight award-winning junior and senior high school students visited the United Nations and the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN through the Oku / Inoue Commemorative Youth UN Visit program. The students were the winners of a national speech / essay contest held in Tokyo last year.
During their visit, on 23 March, the students toured the UN, visiting the General Assembly Hall and experienced sitting in Japan’s seat. They were then briefed by Ambassador Kazuo Kodama, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN, on the importance of the UN to Japan and the global reaction to the natural disasters which affected Japan on 11 March. They were further briefed by Minister Ariyoshi and First Secretary Kanamori on the workings of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN.
The students enjoyed a lunch by the East River in the UN Delegates Dining Room while speaking with Japanese UN Staff, who shared their experiences and advice about working in the United Nations. Following the lunch, the students visited the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the UN. Counsellor João Alberto Dourado Quintaes gave an enthusiastic briefing about Japan and Brazil’s similarities, work in the G4, and touched upon the student’s interest in soccer.
On March 24, the students visited UNESCO for a briefing by Director Kridelka and Programme Specialist Ms. Roca-Hachem, who spoke about the agency’s four pillars of work, including UNESCO’s role during natural disaster situations. They then were received as guests at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN where First Secretary Vinod Jacob also gave the students an insight into India’s work and goals at the UN, as well as the similarities between children in India and Japan.
Later that day, Mr. Yasuhiro Ueki briefed the students on the UN Department of Public Information’s work. Lastly, the students met with Ms. Michiru Tamanai of UNICEF, who demonstrated cross cultural communication and discussed UNICEF’s role in assisting and protecting children around the world and how the students could aspire to help through understanding and accepting different cultures.
The Oku / Inoue Commemorative Youth UN Visit program is an annual program sponsored by the Government of Japan and the U.N. Association of Japan for the purpose of enhancing student’s understanding and interest in the United Nations and the international community. The program enables the students to spend five days in New York, where they not only learn about the UN, but also visit a local high school for a student exchange.