The Handa International Association which had its start after Handa and Midland, Michigan,
USA became sister cities in 1981, changed into a privately run organization after October 2003, and is involved in activities lead mostly by volunteers. In the past 38 years the relationships with the sister cities of Midland, Michigan, USA, Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia and Xuzhou, Jiangsu, China, with the assistance of the City of Handa, have continued as touching citizen level exchanges. Furthermore, accepting foreign visitors in homes, taking care of visiting groups and student exchanges, using the sister city relationship as a base, have made possible close relationships between the citizens of Handa and our guests from abroad.
Through such activities, the projects dedicated to the citizens’ mutual international understanding and friendly relations have greatly increased in quantity and quality. Furthermore, The increasing need for foreigners living in Japan to understand Japanese customs and the need for mutual understanding with foreign citizens in Japan force us to meet those needs and take action from now on.
At this time the active organization of the Association, under a board of directors, is divided into the three committees below:
1. Committee for Promotion of International understanding and International Exchanges (main assignment is organizing the event of exchange with foreigners known as “Konnichi-World Festival”.)
2. IT - Public Relations Committee (main assignment is the publication of the bulletin four times a year, and keeping the web site up-to-date.)
3. Multicultural Symbiosis Promotion Committee (main assignment is to organize Japanese language class for foreigners in this area, the training of volunteers, and to manage the day to day relations with foreigners.)
All of the above committees are very active in their respective fields.
Such as written above, the Handa International Association is active in pursuing the goal achieving friendly relations between Japan and other nations, accompanied with increased friendly relations and mutual understanding through cultural, economic or citizen exchanges.
The Handa International Association is supported by grants from the city and members’ fees. We are asking for the help of as many persons as possible. And, we also ask for your help or presence as a volunteer.
Message from the chairman of Handa International Association
Chairman of Handa International Association
Handa International Association had been founded in 1981 when Handa city had signed the sister city treaty with Midland city in USA. It was reorganized as non-governmental volunteer organization on October 1, 2003. Since then, almost 16 years have passed.
The friendship which has been cultivated in the sister city relationship with three cities, i.e. Midland in USA., Port Macquarie in Australia and Xuzhou in China, for the past 38 years, has been further developed during these 16 years and has continuously promoted various heart-warming culture exchange activities at the citizen level.
The culture exchange opportunities with various countries people such as an arrangement of home stay for foreign people, taking care of the delegations to and from overseas, meeting with foreign students, etc, has been getting increased.
Furthermore, there are approximately 2.7 million foreign residents living in Japan now. In Aichi prefecture, the population of foreign residents exceeds 3%. Japan has quickly turned to be a country where multi-national people live together. Foreign people may want to come to Japan for their own sake. But, it is not the only reason for the increase of the foreign resident. Japanese society, particularly enterprises, rather wanted foreign labors to cope with the issue of the decrease of a young generation and the increase of an old generation.
When Handa International Association was formed, it was the main activity for the association to assist Handa citizens to understand globalization and meet foreign people. But, under the current situation where approximately 4,200 foreign residents are living in Handa, we have seen a big increase of activities to tackle various issues of multi culture society and provide a practical solution in addition to the initial enlightening activity mentioned above.
The association is supported by many volunteers. There are many volunteers working in Sunday Japanese class. They assist foreign people to fit into a daily Handa life and improve their Japanese skill for a better communication with neighbors and colleagues at work place. I am really grateful to the people who support Handa International Association including volunteers.
I have to tell you that Handa International Association has currently a difficult problem to carry out those activities. The association fund is running out. The subsidiary from Handa city and a member fee from the association members are the major source of the association fund. We are trying to reduce expenses by various ways including reduction of the activities and avoiding wastes. However, the workload is constantly increased and higher skills are required for us to deal with difficult problems.
The directors of the association, of course, including me and volunteers are working without pay. But, I am afraid that the association office may have to be closed in the future due to a financial reason.
Here is another issue. What we should do as a non governmental organization? What roles we should play? How much responsibility we should bear? What should be our future? I would like to hear your opinions and work on these issues with you.
Under those current situations, we need your opinions to carry out the activities of Handa International Association this year. We also need to discuss with you to set the policy for Handa International Association how to assist Handa citizens on understanding of globalization and multi culture society. I think it touches a fundamental of Handa International Association.
Please think how Handa city and the life of Handa citizens will be in the global society in the future. It should be beneficial for our children who will support our future, too.
As you see, the activities of Handa International Association are changing very much and are more complex. We have many problems piled up. Under this circumstances, I will continue to be assigned as a chairman of the association.
I will continue to pursue what is the desirable international culture exchange activity and actively promote various activities and events with the association members, volunteers and foreign residents. I would like to ask for your understanding and support on these matters. I will also ask Handa city government to provide more assistance on our activities. I will try to increase the association members. There are still many political and economic problems in the global society. It must be difficult to solve those problems. But, I strongly believe that we as a citizen of the earth can understand each other at the level of a citizen of the earth. In order to achieve it, I think that the most important thing is for us to recognize the differences among countries and respect each other. At the same time, we need to firmly maintain the identity as a Japanese and have a good common sense and own opinions. Handa International Association is a small local organization, but, I will continue to observe the sense of a citizen of the earth.
The chairman of Handa International Association
Contact: Handa International Association Head Office
Handashi Fukushi Bunka Kaikan
1-22-1 Kariyado-cho, Handa-shi,
Aichi-ken 475-0918 Japan
Tel: +81-(0)569-26-1929 Fax: +81-(0)569-26-1992
Web site: http://www.handakokusai.aichi.jp