Local NGOs form group to promote int'l volunteer year.
Fifteen Japanese nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) met Tuesday to form a council to expand the scope of their activities beyond their respective fields ahead of the United Nations-approved International Year of Volunteers 2001.
The groups making up the council include the Japanese Red Cross Society, the Japanese Council of Social Welfare, Japan Silver Volunteers and the Osaka Volunteer Association.
Jitsujo Arima, head of the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation, Tsutomu Hotta, head of the Sawayaka Welfare Foundation, and Mikiko Yamazaki, director of the Tokyo Volunteer and Citizens' Activities Center, were sworn in as council representatives.
"As volunteer work makes headway in many parts of the country, a number of Japanese are participating in international activities," Foreign Minister Yohei Kono told an inauguration ceremony.
"We hope they can overcome the problems each of them is facing and perform more effectively," Kono said.
A proposal to observe the International Year of Volunteers next year was submitted by Japan in February 1997 for eventual discussion in the U.N. General Assembly, which passed the proposal as a resolution co-sponsored by 123 countries later that November.
With the role of NGOs expanding to cover a wide range of issues such as environmental problems and refugee assistance, the Japanese Foreign Ministry intends to extend greater assistance to them, ministry officials said.