I would like to report to you what we have been doing in regard to IERS (changed from IERI because the State of Utah did not let us use the word “Institute” as a NPO.)
We just finished an excellent summer internship program through the BYU internship program LTL (Language Teaching and Learning), which dealt with education of BYU students and the Japanese youth who wished to study English seriously. We had a total of five groups meeting in two places in Japan with seven intern students teaching English. They taught three groups in Yamate, Yokohama and two groups in Sakai, Osaka, both sponsored by the Yokohama Stake and the Sakai Stake, respectively. Yokohama had started with 15 students of whom 12 completed successfully a 12-week course in two classes. We also had a group of primary children meeting once a week.
Osaka started with 36 students in two sessions with two classes each and 33 of them completed the course. Two left for the University of Southern Virginia before the end of the course, one high school student passed the qualifying test to go to New Zealand to study, and two qualified to be admitted to BYU-H. There were several non-members in both Yokohama and Osaka and at least one member was reactivated. Both in Osaka and Yokohama, the participants travelled long distances with expensive modes of transportation to attend the classes. Some in Kobe spent three hours each way each day to commute. BYU students home-stayed at members’ homes and studied Japanese when they were not in class. It was incredible to see the Japanese students and BYU students all in tears to say good-byes at the closing socials. Some precious bonding was established.
It also was very beneficial for the participants to become active in the Church activities. Several people have been reactivated and the following email is from one of the sisters (Sister Atsuko Hashizume) who became quite active and had success in helping the missionary work in Osaka.
I am so happy to receive your letter. I sent Japanese thanks-card, Oreijo in Japanese for you and Hoku. I’ve just wanted to share wonderful news with you.
I often have introduced Eikaiwa students to our church. When I studied English with you in Sakai Ward. I introduce this BYU English program to Eikaiwa students at the a misshonary farewell party. If you were a church member you would improve your English, then six students came to church,and then four of them had lessons and got baptized, one boy is 27years old in July, two boys 19 years, and 23years boy in September and another boy is 25 years old in October.
My ward was surprised and so happy. BYU program was so wonderful. Please tell professor Watabe, BYU program and God helped me to open my mouth and invite them to help them got baptized. In Japan missionaries teach us English at the church as a volunteer. Eric Bushman, David Drake and Troy Shepley thought me English, two years ago I met Eric Bushman and Troy Shepley, at that time I couldn’t understand English well. Thanks to them I got BYU program somehow.
Next summer the church organize BYU English program in Kyoto or Osaka,
I want to take four boys there. I hope you are so happy all the time.
Lots of love
At the end of summer, Brother Yasuo Niiyama, arranged for me (Watabe) to visit Kokusai Kyouyou Daigaku in Akita (Akita International University) and I met with a member of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Matsuhiko Sasaki. The university started as the University of Minnesota, Akita Campus, but went under and Akita Prefecture made it into an extremely successful international university. It is zenryousei, meaning all students live on campus. Some of the reasons why I think this university became successful at a time when many schools in Japan were closing because of a decrease in the college-age population are: zenryousei with at least one foreign student in each apartment; all classes are taught in English; all students are required to pass the TOEFL exam to study abroad for one year (in their junior year) and earn 30 credits from the university they attend; the faculty’s tenure is only for three years but renewable for three times to keep up in the forefront of knowledge and skills. The graduation rate is extremely high and they claim 100% placing of graduates in the work force after graduation. The campus is beautiful in the middle of nowhere in Akita.
This type of university is an attainable goal for us, but it takes a lot of funding and efforts. We cannot begin the project with this magnitude, but it is certainly possible and fairly easy for us when you consider the resources we already have in the existing Church-owned universities. The key is funding and locating an appropriate facility in Japan.
NPO in Japan
On December 4, 2010, we had the first NPO board meeting in Japan, 国際教育研究会. The following are some pictures from the meeting.
The president elect of the NPO is Brother Michio Ueno of Fujisawa Stake (third from left, Front Row) with Brother Yasuo Fujimura of the Sebdai Stake (the first from right, Front Row) and Brother Dai Endo of Yokohama Stake (the second from right, Front Row) to be his vice presidents. Those who attended are (from the first from left, the Front Row) Seiji Katanuma, Ryousho Nakamura, (from the first from left, Back Row) Seiya Tanaka, Katsuichiro Fukuyama, Makoto Fukuda, Conan Grames, Siiichiro Utagawa, Jun Endo (Executive Secreary.) Those who are members of the board but were not able to attend are Hitoshi Kashikura and Daisuke Hirota. We have board members representing Japan from Sapporo to Fukuoka. There will be some others who will be considered to become board members.
We decided to work toward the immediate goals of (1) starting E-juku, a distant learning program using a group video conferencing. This could expand from the English program to other subjects and eventually some BYU continuing education or on-line learning. (2) Continue the summer intensive English programs in Osaka and in Yokohama and possibly in Kobe. (3) Recruit members with the membership fee of $1,000 (10 man yen) annually for this cause. We hope to accomplish in five years (2015) a legitimate school for LDS students who might be interested in global education. Some board members expressed the needs of LDS members whose children struggle with the normal education process in Japan.
Brother Richard Austin, a member of the board in the U.S. has arranged a meeting with a network company called Nuriche, which is just starting its operation in Japan. The company executives have agreed to donate 2% of the total sales in Japan under the NPO, IERS. We will begin our operation in Japan and any commission and profit IERS will make will be donated to the establishment of the school in Japan.
As we have talked about our project to build an international educational institute for the saints in Japan, some members and friends have offered their own properties for us to consider. I (Watabe) have visited all the following possible facilities and considered what can be done in each.
Purchase a three story building in Kyoto and convert it to a dormitory for 16 to 20 students and the director’s family. The exact address you can look up in Google-map is:
Build a dorm in a remote property out of the city of Kyoto (approximately one hour and thirty minutes from Kyoto.) The property is being leased rent-free by a member in Kyoto. The approximate address is:
Use a cabin in Niseko, Hokkaido. It houses approximately 15 students and a director’s family.
Build a dorm in a remote property out of the city of Chiba (approximately one hour and thirty minutes from Narita and Tokyo and Yokohama.)
Find a suited property and building in Karuizawa.
Build a graduate international business school in Kooriyama, Fukushima. This is a proposal made by the president of Tohto International School of Business in Kooriyama.
These are possibilities that exist to explore. As we study the above possibilities, the number one choice seems to be the best at this time for both BYU students who are enrolled to study Japanese and the Japanese students who wish to master English. We could develop in a small-scale zenryousei similar to the university in Akita and send Japanese students to one of the Church-owned schools. As we become successful and grow to meet the demands, we can develop into something greater such as 2, 5, or 6, or even something better. In short, we would like to propose that we start our fund-raising activity with 1 above as the goal. The building is for sale right now and the price is 4,500 man (approximately $542,000) and the remodeling will cost around 1,500 man (approximately $180,000.) We need to raise 6,000 man yen (approximately $722,000.)
The following were appointed as a working committee of the board:
Doyle Mortimer: Former member of the Utah State legislature and a member of the board of UVU
Van Gessel: Professor of Japanese and former dean of the College of Humanities, BYU
Paul Warnick: Associate professor of Japanese, BYU
Masakazu Watabe: Professor of Japanese, BYU
Some interesting statistics report from the quarter ending in June 2010.
The total missionaries serving from Japan 122 (73 Elders, 49 Sisters)
Total young men (ages 12-17) 4,491
Total young men attending priesthood meetings: 2,055
Total young women (ages 12-17) 3,448
Total young women attending YW Sunday meetings 1,921
With total of 7,939 members in six years (12-18), the average of 1,323 should be available for the missionary service. We are not sure how many of 122 missionaries are converts and how many grew up in the Church, but assuming they serve 2 years, the average number of the native Japanese missionaries serving in Japan each year is 61. The actual number of 61 missionaries out of 1,323 is 4.6%. In other words, only 4.6% of the youth growing up in Japan will serve a mission if this trend continues.
I hope it is clear to all of us that we need some work in educating, helping, training this rising generation in Japan. We appreciate any help, suggestion, and advice from you, wonderful friends of the saints in Japan.
December 31, 2010