The Asian Community Center 21 (ACC21) was set up in Tokyo by citizens in March 2005.
The founding members have seen that despite the remarkable economic progress in the recent decades in Asia, when we turn our eyes to its present situation, we still find so many problems waiting for solutions. These issues include poverty, children living on the streets and denied access to education and proper nutrition, wide gaps between the rich and the poor, the people in urban centers and the poor in rural areas. Many are still left behind.
The “Asian region” consists of people and races with a variety of languages, religions, traditions and cultures. The region’s natural environment also displays rich and colorful variety of landscapes and scenery as it extends through the tropical, subtropical, temperate and dry zones. Japan is a member of this region, and has maintained closer and more productive relationships with Asian countries than any other region in the world. Historically, culturally, and economically, our relationships have been mutual and interdependent. On the other hand, over half a century ago Japan turned some Asian countries into battlefields, took a great many people’s lives and destroyed their countries. While we have to face these historical facts and understand the complex emotions that many Asian people have toward Japanese people even today, we have enough evidence to believe that the interdependency among Asian countries will accelerate greatly from now on. Thus, we have an opportunity to collaborate with each other not only for the peace and development of the Asian region, but also of the whole world.
When we turn our eyes to the present situation in Asia we find so many problems waiting for solutions. The dynamic expansion of the market economy and its globalization led by industrialized such countries as Japan, Europe and America, have affected the lives of local people in Asia; their local economies and agriculture have been thrown into confusion, the bases of people’s lives have been shaken up, and traditional culture has been driven into a corner. Consequently, the economic gap between the rich and the poor is growing even further. Adding to the existing dominant class, some have had the opportunity to become the “new rich,” while others have not even had the slightest chance, being left behind the competition or even driven to the cage of exploitation. People who have fallen into poverty are finding it difficult just to survive. A life like this – a life deprived of human rights and freedom, may not be within the scope of the Japanese people’s imagination.
As of 2008, approximately 4 billion people are living in Asia. Among them the number of people living under extreme poverty (with income under one dollar per person per day) is over 700 million. The poor in rural areas are living without owning their own farms and the poor in urban areas are living in slums, suffering from chronic malnutrition without enough food or clean water. Many poor children cannot go to school, have to live on streets, begging, or are forced to engage in health-damaging labor for low remuneration. Some become victims of human trafficking, while others are sexually exploited.
We know there are many such people and children in Asia and therefore cannot neglect those who have been deprived of the right to live as a human being. We cannot overlook unsuitable policies or institutions that affect poor people. We will sincerely strive to provide support for them so that they can gain their basic human rights and maintain their own dignity as a member of civil society living with one another on the same planet.
It is ACC21’s goal to attain a mutually helping society in Asia, respecting each other’s differences in cultures, communities and countries. In order to realize our above vision, we undertake activities to promote the following four FLOWs or movements:
1) FLOW of “Capital”:
Utilize “money” as “social investment capital” to free people from poverty through our activities as secretariat of the Asian Community Trust (ACT).
By strengthening and expanding the activities as a driving force/secretariat of the Asian Community Trust (ACT), the first charitable trust based on general fundraising in Japan, we promote a flow of “capital”. This capital is actually utilized as social investment to provide impetus to those who seek seed money to become economically independent or those who try to emerge from poverty.
2) FLOW of “People”:
Facilitate a sense of a “mutually helping community” through human interaction beyond sector, generation, and national boundaries.
We believe human interaction based on “heart to heart” communication should be the foundation of a “mutually helping community”.
3) FLOW of “Knowledge and Information”:
For people who are unable to access knowledge and information.
We support those who have difficulty in accessing knowledge and information because of poverty by providing IT technology or other possible means of access. Also, we strive to disseminate information in our society about the present conditions of those suffering from poverty in Asia and to promote understanding to Japanese people so that they will join us in assisting those in need for help.
4) FLOW of “Reform” of Policy and Institutions:
Establish a fair society through collaborative activities with Asian leaders of social development movements.
With a view to realize a more effective framework to support those people suffering from poverty in Asia, we raise our voice to advocate the necessity of reforming public policies and institutions.
In order to activate these four FLOWs or “movements”, we strive to develop human resources who can join us and are equipped with the capacity and skills to carry out our mission, and to build up partnerships with those civil society organizations that have common values and goals with us, and also with governmental and economic organizations insofar as we share the same goals and objectives.
Based on our mission stated herein, we declare our determination to incorporate the Asian Community Center 21 (ACC21), which has served as a voluntary organization without legal status since its inception in March, 2005, and reaffirm the same objectives we have demonstrated over the past four years in contributing to the realization of peaceful, fair, and creative societies and communities in the Asian region.
March 1, 2005 (Revised October 20, 2009)