Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) was founded in 1979, to assist Indochinese refugees, under the leadership of Yukika SOHMA, the former Chairperson, who upheld the spirit to lend a helping hand to one another in times of trouble, and the determination to spread the goodwill of the Japanese people across the globe. However, the circumstances of NGOs at the time were quite different from those of today.
During the time when AAR Japan was founded, the establishment of an organization with no religious affiliation, only supported by public donations, was difficult, even miraculous.
In the past, the value of NGOs was in their act of international cooperation itself. In other words, the role of NGOs was to engage in activities like constructing schools in post-conflict Cambodia, or supporting socially marginalized people from humanitarian grounds without any political, religious, or ideological affiliations. This was the “raison d'être” of an NGO, or its meaning of existence.
However, albeit declining, Japan's official development assistance (ODA) today is expanding. Private companies and local governments are assisting construction of schools in Cambodia as part of their contributions to society, and consulting firms and the Self-Defense Force are carrying out international cooperation activities in Iraq.
Then, what are the meanings behind the activities of NGOs in today's world? What distinguishes our activities as an NGO from activities of other organizations or companies?
The origin of AAR Japan is to not only support refugees overseas through our activities, but to open the hearts of the Japanese citizens. We strive to prevent Japan from isolating itself from the rest of world and to become a catalyst to create a large movement of international cooperation in the Japanese society through our activities. That is why, in such an era where the “raison d'être” of NGOs is being questioned, I would like for AAR Japan to keep moving forward with its original mission in mind.
We acknowledge that there are support activities that only we, as AAR Japan, can realize. We are dedicated to continuing such support activities for those in need around the world, and we truly hope that you will join our efforts and continue your kind support to AAR Japan.
Born in 1963 in Tokyo and raised in Ibaraki Prefecture. Graduated from Department of Political Science, School of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University. After working for a foreign-affiliated bank, OSA completed her Master's degree at the Graduate School of Political Science, Waseda University in 1990. While working at a foreign-affiliated firm, she joined AAR Japan in 1990 as a volunteer and became a full-time staff member in 1991.
At AAR Japan, OSA has held positions including the country representative of the project in former Yugoslavia, Deputy Secretary General, and Managing Director/ Secretary General (2000-2003). During this time, she participated in emergency assistance operations in conflict situations, mine action, and activities related to banning landmines as part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). She began pursuing a PhD in 2004 in Human Security at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, which she completed in 2007. Her dissertation is on Srebrenica genocide.
She has been the Representative of the Board of Directors for Japan Platform since July 2006, and professor at Rikkyo University Graduate School of Social Design Studies since April 2009.
Publications (All works are written in Japanese unless otherwise noted.):
- Srebrenica -Analysis of a genocide, Toshindo Publishers, 2009
- The Hand book on Landmine issues, Jiyu Kokuminsha, 1997
- “International Law and NGOs” in Yoshiki Mine ed. Globalization, Actor, NGOs, Shin Hyoron, 2011
- “What happened in Srebrenica”, in Yuji Ishida eds, Genocide and Modern World, Bensei Publishers, 2011
- “Human Rights of Refugees and IDPs and Activities of International NGOs” in Jyunichi Saito ed. Repositioning Human Rights Vol.IV, Houritsu Bunka publisher, 2011
- “Mine Action”, in Seiji Utsumi eds, International Humanitarian Assistance, Nakanishiya Publishers, 2008
- “The Challenges of Civil Military relations from NGOs' Perspectives”, in Yuji Uesugi eds, Civil- Military Relationship in State Building: The Theory and Practice of Reviving Failed States, Kokusai Shoin, 2008
- “The Civil Military Relationship and NGOs”, Tatsuo Kunugi eds, New Horizon for the United Nations and Global Civil Society, Toshindo Publishers, 2006
- “The Role of Japanese NGOs in the pursuit of human security: limits and possibilities in the field of refugees”, Japan Forum Volume 15 No.2 2003: written in English
- China Section for annual Landmine Monitor Reports, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, International Campaign to Ban Landmines: written in English