Message from Our Founder

The Goodwill of the People of Japan

Yukika SOHMA

AAR Japan,
Former Chairperson,
Yukika SOHMA

I thought of establishing “AAR Japan” when Japan saw a surge of boat people fleeing Vietnam in 1978.

The trigger was when I received a letter from a friend in Canada, who wrote, “Europe is very far away, nevertheless they are receiving refugees from Vietnam. Japan, on the other hand, is a lot closer to Vietnam, but for the most part, is not receiving any of its refugees. The people of Japan are cold-hearted.”

If a foreigner goes as far to say something like that, I thought I needed to show him he is mistaken. There is and has been goodwill in the hearts of Japanese people since ancient times.

However, many problems arose in the beginning. (omitted)

I searched high and low for supporters, and finally we were able to hold a preparatory meeting for the establishment of the organization.
Right around that time, a journalist from a newspaper came to me for an interview, and asked, “it is great that a preparatory meeting will be held, but what are you going to do about the operating costs of the organization?”
I answered, “if every person in Japan gives 1 yen each, it will add up to 120,000,000 yen. The warm hearts of the people of Japan will realize the activities of this organization.”

To which the journalist laughed and replied, “You are like an ageless schoolgirl.”
However, the fact of the matter was, the goodwill of the people of Japan came together from all across the country, and it did not even take four months before the donations reached 120,000,000 yen.

If people just come together and combine their energy, they certainly can do something to change the world. Even an “ageless schoolgirl” like myself can make possible something that was thought to be impossible. (omitted)

I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that the whole world will see peace and all people can live happily. To get there, of course, countries will need to work together to build trust.

That being said, what makes up a country are households. And households are made up of individual people. I believe that individuals need to take time to self-reflect, and make sure they have firm ideas and opinions.

Please do not give up.
Please have courage.
And, please, paint the world that your children will live in in a beautiful color, like that of a sunrise.

(From the book “What Will You Tell and Leave for Your Children,” written by Yukika SOHMA herself, and published by Shoden-sha)


Yukika SOHMA

Born in 1912 in Tokyo. At the age of 67, SOHMA founded the “Association to Aid the Indochinese Refugees,” the forerunner of Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan). Throughout the 96 years of her life until her passing in November 2008, she was active worldwide, having held key posts in various civic organizations in addition to serving as AAR Japan's chairperson. The third daughter of Yukio OZAKI (pen name GAKUDO), a well-known liberal political known as “kensei no kami” or “the god of constitutional government” in Japan, SOHMA was Japan's first English/Japanese simultaneous interpreter.

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