History

In 1979, we started to support
refugees in Japan and overseas
with the idea that
"when in trouble,
we are all in each other's way."
We have been active in over 60
countries and regions around the world.

1970s

Late 1970s

World EventsIndochina Refugees

After the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia (the three Indochinese countries) became socialist. Approximately 2 million people became refugees for fear of persecution and civil war. Eventually, refugees drifted to Japan as boat people.

Refugees and their luggage on a boat

1979

TopicThe Association for Aid and Relief for Indochina Refugees was established.

Japan does not accept refugees. In November 1979, the Association for Aid and Relief of Indochina Refugees (AAR) was established.

AAR staff members talking to people on the street
AAR activitiesVisiting a refugee camp

AAR dispatched a survey team to Thailand and Malaysia. They visited refugee camps on the Thai/Cambodian border and other sites.

AAR founder inspecting a refugee camp

1980s

1980

AAR activitiesAAR began to assist refugees.

AAR began assisting refugees in refugee camps on the Thai/Cambodian border. We provided clothing, blankets, glasses (if you wore them, you were considered an intellectual and were massacred), water purifiers, and other supplies. We have also sent youth volunteers and nurses to several refugee camps.

People holding a large banner reading love from the people of Japan

1982

AAR activitiesSupport for refugees in Japan begins.

The Refugee Relief Scholarship Program was established to support refugee students in Japan.

1984

World EventsGreat drought and famine spreads in East Africa

A significant famine spreads across East Africa, particularly in Ethiopia.

TopicThe Association for Aid and Relief was renamed the Association for Aid and Relief.

On the occasion of its fifth anniversary, the Association for Aid and Relief of Indochina Refugees changed its name to the Association for Aid and Relief of Refugees.
AAR expands its activities to a global scale.

AAR activitiesAAR began its support in Africa.

The "Water and Milk for Africa's Children" campaign was launched. In cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and others, AAR established the "Blanket Drive for Africa," which raised 1.72 million blankets and more than 1.3 billion yen in donations.

Staff handed out blankets as relief supplies.
AAR activitiesAAR began supporting Angolan refugees in Zambia.

AAR assists Angolan refugees in the areas of medical care, education, and agriculture. The support continued for 20 years until 2004 when many of the refugees returned to their home countries.

People gather around a well.

1989

AAR activitiesDelivering Wheelchairs to Cambodia

180 wheelchairs donated from all over Japan were distributed to Cambodian refugee camps on the Thai/Cambodian border.

People in wheelchairs gather in front of the building.

1990s

1991

World EventsCivil war broke out in the former Yugoslavia.

With the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, conflicts between forces of different ethnicities and religions worsened from 1991.

AAR activitiesBegan assisting in the former Yugoslavia

Began providing assistance to Croatian refugees who fled to Hungary. We distributed emergency supplies and medical supplies, supported the disabled, and provided mine countermeasures until 2003.

Children and AAR staff smiling happily.

1992

TopicEstablishment of "Support 21"

Social Welfare Corporation "Support 21" was established as a sister organization. It continues to provide support for refugees in Japan, study support for foreign residents in Japan, etc.

1993

AAR activitiesOpening of the Support Center for the Disabled

The Cambodian Disabled Persons Support Center (KKC) was established. Through vocational training, the center helped landmine victims and other people with disabilities become self-reliant.

AAR staff giving a speech at the commemoration ceremony
AAR activitiesDistribution of "Pochettes of Love

AAR distributed "Pochettes of Love" filled with stationery and other items in Cambodia.

Children with the pochette in their hands

1994

AAR activitiesOperation of a wheelchair workshop

Cambodian employees, including those with disabilities, manufacture wheelchairs and walkers and distribute them free of charge to people with disabilities.

1995

Disaster ReliefHanshin-Awaji Earthquake Emergency Support

AAR provided emergency relief worth about 1 billion yen, including the distribution of blankets, medicine, and food. We built a facility to accommodate about 70 volunteers from all over Japan and provided support for school lunches.

They were handing out relief supplies to children.

1996

AAR activitiesPublished "Please Give Me Flowers, Not Landmines."

Many of the Indochinese refugees who returned home were victims of landmines buried in their homeland. To promote the removal of landmines, Yanase (Honorary President) published a picture book campaigning for the elimination of anti-personnel landmines. Using this net income and others, we have secured the safety of 29.78 million square meters of land so far.

Cover of the picture book Please Give Me Flowers, Not Landmines.

1997

AAR activitiesThe International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), of which AAR is a member, lobbies the governments of various countries to pass the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty (Ottawa Treaty), which bans the manufacture and use of landmines. In recognition of this activity, the ICBL was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nobel Peace Prize Medal

1998

AAR activitiesLandmine Activist Becomes Torchbearer

At the urging of AAR, landmine ban activist Chris Moon was selected as the final torchbearer for the Nagano Olympics.

Photo of Chris Moon running as a torchbearer
TopicSpecial Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

1999

AAR activitiesBuilding an elementary school in Laos
TopicOur English name was changed from "Association to Aid the Refugees, Japan" to "Association for Aid and Relief, Japan."
AAR activitiesLandmine Removal in Afghanistan

AAR began mine clearance activities in Afghanistan in cooperation with the Halo Trust, a UK-based demining NGO, with net proceeds from the book "Please Give Me Flowers, Not Landmines.

Workers in protective clothing are clearing landmines in the wilderness.

2000s

2000

TopicAcquired NPO status.
AAR activitiesOpening a Vocational Training School for the Disabled in Myanmar
A boy in a wheelchair takes a class.
AAR activitiesHIV/AIDS support in Zambia

2001

AAR activitiesLand Mine Zero Campaign

The "Zero Landmine Campaign Committee" was established with TBS and others. At the call of Ryuichi Sakamoto, prominent artists collaborated to produce "ZERO LANDMINE.

CD jacket with landmines of various shapes lined up.
World EventsSimultaneous terrorist attacks occur in the United States.
AAR activitiesEmergency Assistance for Afghan Refugees Begins

AAR opened offices in Pakistan and Tajikistan to support Afghan refugees forced to flee their homes due to fears of military action by U.S. and British forces in response to the attacks. Refugee assistance such as food distribution was provided.

A boy carrying a bag at a market

2003

TopicAAR received certification as an authorized NPO from the National Tax Agency.

2004

Disaster ReliefSupport Sri Lanka for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Emergency Relief

2005

AAR activitiesAssistance in Sudan was launched.

A comprehensive peace agreement is signed, ending 21 years of civil war between north and south*. AAR began mine avoidance education in the north and water and sanitation support in the south.

*In 2011, the southern part of the country gained independence as the Republic of South Sudan.

People were talking in front of a poster with a red skull on it.

2008

Disaster ReliefCyclone Nargis hits Myanmar.
Emergency support was provided.

2010s

2010

Disaster ReliefHaiti Earthquake: Emergency Support

In response to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, AAR dispatched an emergency relief team. The team distributed food and other items to the victims and rebuilt facilities for the disabled and orphanages.

Distributing food and other items to the victims in Haiti

2011

Disaster ReliefProviding emergency support for the Great East Japan Earthquake

Two days after the earthquake, AAR dispatched an emergency relief team, which distributed relief supplies to approximately 180,000 people by February 2012. Currently, AAR is continuing its support activities for the disabled and elderly.

AAR staff delivers relief supplies to an older woman.©Yoshifumi Kawabata
Disaster ReliefKenya Drought Emergency Relief

AAR provided emergency assistance in northeastern Kenya in response to the severe drought that has hit the East African region.

Disaster ReliefEmergency Assistance in Turkey
World EventsSyria Crisis

A democracy movement that started with a small demonstration in February 2011 turned into a civil war. Since then, it has become bogged down by the conflicts between many forces. The Syrian crisis has been described as the largest humanitarian crisis of this century.

2012

AAR activitiesSupport for Syrian refugees in Turkey

AAR began distributing food and daily necessities to Syrian refugees who have taken refuge in Turkey. We also provided support for the disabled and education support for children who had lost their educational opportunities. Later, we opened a community center for Syrian refugees who had been displaced for a long time.

Children in a refugee camp in Turkey

2014

AAR activitiesBegan supporting South Sudanese refugees in Kenya

In response to the influx of refugees due to the worsening situation in neighboring South Sudan, AAR began providing emergency support at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya.

A large amount of supplies are being unloaded from a truck.
AAR activitiesAAR started to support internally displaced people in Syria.

AAR began distributing food through local partner organizations and so far has reached over 110,000 people living in Syria.

2015

Disaster ReliefNepal Earthquake Emergency Support

In response to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, AAR dispatched an emergency relief team. The team distributed daily necessities and constructed temporary school buildings for schools that were entirely or partially destroyed.

AAR staff delivers daily necessities to a woman affected by the earthquake.

2016

AAR activitiesThe visit of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress

Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress (at that time, the Emperor and Empress), visited the charity concert organized by AAR.

Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress, visited the charity concert.
TopicOpening of Saga Office
AAR activitiesSupporting South Sudanese Refugees in Uganda

In response to the massive influx of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda, AAR began providing educational support to refugees living in northern Uganda and children in the host communities.

Disaster ReliefKumamoto Earthquake Emergency Relief

An earthquake measuring over seven on the Japanese scale caused extensive damage. AAR started a soup kitchen the next day and has provided 17,000 meals so far.

AAR staff serving food under a tent.

2017

AAR activitiesBegan emergency support for Rohingya refugees

Due to clashes between armed forces and the military in northern Myanmar, more than 600,000 people have fled to neighboring Bangladesh. In cooperation with local NGOs, AAR distributed relief supplies for wintering.

AAR staff handing out relief supplies to parents and children

2018

Disaster ReliefProviding emergency support for the victims of the torrential rains in western Japan

2019

Disaster ReliefProvide emergency support for Typhoons 15 and 19

2020s

2020

AAR activitiesStart of support for new coronavirus countermeasures

In countries with weak medical systems, AAR conducted hygiene awareness campaigns to prevent infection, distributed hygiene products, and distributed food to refugees and disabled people in economically distressed situations. In Japan, we distributed masks to the disabled and welfare workers.

A man washes his hands with water from a water tank.
TopicAAR celebrates its 40th anniversary
Disaster ReliefAAR provided emergency support for the torrential rains in Kyushu (July 2020).

2021

AAR activitiesEmergency Assistance in Myanmar

On February 1, a state of emergency was declared in Myanmar, resulting in political and social turmoil. AAR has been providing humanitarian assistance such as food distribution to vulnerable people including people with disabilities and also continuing support for children with disabilities, while paying close attention to the security situation.

Foods and boy
AAR activitiesEmergency Assistance in Afghanistan

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, and it has brought a serious humanitarian crisis that millions of people has become internally displaced. AAR has been conducting emergency assistance including food and hygiene items distribution and also warm blankets for winterization.

A man received relief goods

2022

AAR activitiesEmergency Assistance to Ukraine

In February, Russia launched a military invasion of Ukraine, causing a serious humanitarian crisis said to be the worst since World War II. AAR provide emergency assistance to internally displaced persons in Ukraine and refugees in Moldova.

AAR staffs provided foods

Future

AAR had been committed to helping
people in challenging situations.
AAR Japan will continue to
provide support for the immediate crisis
and the next stage of life.