On 27 March 2008, 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, who wrote speeches about global issues, such as the need for international communication, the rights of people with disabilities, and climate change, were the winners of a national speech contest held in Tokyo last year.
During their UN visit, the students were briefed by UN Staff about the workings of the UN. The students also heard a briefing from Minister Mari Miyoshi at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN, where the minister emphasized the importance of Japanese youth taking an active role in the international community.
On 28 March, the students made visits to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN, and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the UN. At the German Mission, the students had the opportunity to speak with the Press Officer, Ms. Katharina Ahrendts. Ms. Ahrendts pointed out the similarities of Germany and Japan and the stressed the value of the UN to both countries. The students then received a briefing from the Permanent Representative of Indonesia, H.E. Raden Natelegawa. Ambassador Natelegawa praised the students on their speech topics and ambition, while pointing out that both Indonesia and Japan had important active roles to play in the future of the United Nations.
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.
The Oku / Inoue Commemorative Youth UN Visit program is 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.