Japan – National Council of YMCAs
Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1880
Membership Status : Full Member
Full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs since: 1891
Brief YMCA History
The first YMCA established in Tokyo in 1880 followed by the establishment of the local YMCAs throughout Japan. Students in universities began to work actively for the formation of Student YMCAs, and with the effort of J.R. Mott, many Student YMCAs were formed in Japan. In 1901, the National Council of City YMCAs of Japan was formed by 4 local YMCAs such as Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, and Kobe, and 2 years later, in 1903 the National Council of YMCAs of Japan was formed, merged with the Student YMCAs.
Under the YMCA philosophy of balanced Spirit, Mind and Body, the YMCAs of Japan have challenged in many programmes. In 1890 the English School was opened in Tokyo YMCA and after that, in 1917 the first gymnasium and in-door swimming pool were opened in Tokyo YMCA. YMCAs always worked with the people in communities throughout Japan, but the influence of the World War II seriously attacked the activities of YMCAs in 1940’s, and as a result the National Council of YMCAs of Japan unavoidably decided to withdraw from the World Alliance in 1941 until 1945.
After the War, the great assistance of the World Alliance and the global network of YMCAs, and also great effort of staffs and volunteers, the YMCAs in Japan were rebuilt. And up to now YMCAs in Japan always aim at further development of all the people in Spirit, Mind and Body, deeply rooted in the communities
‘We, the YMCAs in Japan, learning from the life of love and service manifested in Jesus Christ shall carry on the following mission in collaboration with other YMCAs throughout the world.
We shall promote holistic growth of all people throughout their lives, and shall preserve and foster all life, respecting the value and integrity of Creation.
We shall strive to preserve human rights, seeking justice and fairness, and hall work to develop a society where people volunteer to share in the pain and joy of others,
Recognizing our historical responsibility to the people of the Asia-Pacific region, we shall walk forward hand in hand with the people of the world to build a world of peace.’
Adopted at the 106th national Council meeting, June 1996
We, YMCAs in Japan have always tried to respond to the needs of society by working in the fields of life-long learning, higher education, health and fitness, social welfare and community development, and also by placing itself on the side of those whose voices often go unheard; specifically children, women, immigrants and the elderly. As we are now in the ‘Aged Society’ with high rate of aged population and low birth rate, the country has been faced to the new phase of society. For these 10 years, Japan has been struggling with the social problems of aged and youth.
YMCAs in Japan have taken this situation very seriously and tried to grapple with these difficulties. With the aged problems, some YMCAs have built Homes for aged people, Day-Care centers, Home support service centers, and also launched Training courses for Home-helpers. And with the youth, YMCAs very much have concerned with Refusals going to school, Learning Disabilities, Drop-outs, and other problems of youth, by offering Free School, Open Space, and other youth activities needed.
Also, it is very important to collaborate with YMCAs abroad. Recently we worked together with YMCA of Taiwan after the earthquake in 1999, with YMCA of USA held Management Seminar, and with YMCA of Korea held Korea-Japan YMCAs History Seminar. At the same time, YMCAs of Japan have tried to strengthen the collaboration with the World Alliance and Asia Alliance.
Members, volunteers and staffs all support YMCA services and activities. Our desires for change and development are based on the Mission Statement. Primarily still a movement of young people its membership includes men, women and children, young and old who through the YMCA seek to develop their individual capacities to the fullest and incorporate the inverted equilateral triangle, symbol of the YMCA philosophy of a balanced spirit, Mind and Body.
Emphasis and goals for the next quadriennum
In 2003, the National Council is celebrating its anniversary – 100 years of national unity. Based on the reflection on our past two to three decades that the YMCA have been stressing too much on self sustainability and financial growth, we like to take this opportunity to change ourselves to be ‘re-born’ as a people’s association which tackles problems of society.
YMCA has always been very strong in youth leadership development. In today’s society, however, we need to expand our services addressing increasing problems facing especially youth and family. According to some resent researches, there is a tremendous increase in the number of cases such as child abuse, school drop outs, and neurotic symptoms of youth. There are also increasing number of heinous crimes of youth. Some local associations are already actively responding to the children with physical and mental challenges, including learning disabilities, and are also involved in the care for the youth who withdrew from regular school system. Now, we like to expand these services to tackle even more serious social problems.
Address – National Office
Mr. Tsutomu Taguchi
National Council of YMCAs
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From the Field: Japan – Global citizenship programme
There are 34 local associations of the YMCA in Japan and over five thousand young volunteers involved in various activities such as leaders for camps and programmes with handicapped children. During their time as university students, leader activities provide great learning experiences; however their involvement tends to be limited to the time they are a student. After graduation, many leaders inevitably leave for their new employment. The YMCA needs a follow-up programme to keep them interested and involved in the YMCA: a global citizenship programme is one way of retaining these leaders.
A Global Citizenship Programme was discussed at the July 2006 World Council of YMCAs. It has three components.
The first stage is the YMCA Citizenship Award. Each YMCA can select those who have volunteered for one year or more and have taken a certain number of lectures provided through the local YMCA. These lectures should be based on themes such as a basic understanding of the YMCA, Christianity, leadership skills, and psychology of children.
The second stage is the Community Leadership Award. This award is for those leaders who have a broader range of leadership abilities and interests. For example, each year in Japan we have over one hundred leaders who are selected by their local YMCAs to attend national conferences.
The third stage is the Global Citizenship Award. This award is only available to those candidates who have completed the second stage in their own countries. Only experienced and trained leaders can be selected by the National Council for the great opportunities of learning about global issues with other young leaders from their respective countries. The special curricula for this programme would have to be jointly prepared and trainings should be held at the world or regional levels. This award will only be provided following the attendance of a 7 – 10 day programme, which has included various learning experiences and discussion among peers.
Most likely, those leaders who have attended the required programmes and been recognised with awards will be invited to participate in various ways at local, national or international level in the YMCA. This programme would provide the future YMCA, and even society, with community leaders of great experience and an international leadership to be proud of.
The Japan YMCA has already developed a programme for 2007-2008. We would like to jointly work with those YMCA movements interested in developing curricula and providing programmes on the theme of global citizenship.
Kohei Yamada, National General Secretary, Japan YMCA
Extract from YMCA World Magazine on : Global Citizenship , June 2007