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Civil Participation for 50 Years: Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers

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Japan’s International Cooperation in Education

Part of the book series: Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects ((EDAP,volume 63))

Abstract

This chapter covers the 50 years from the inception of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV). It explores the growth and diversification of JOCV as well as its expected returns to Japanese society. Stakeholders nationwide made many efforts to establish and develop JOCV, assisted by increasing domestic internationalization. As Japan’s economy grew, Official Development Assistance (ODA) was strengthened and the JOCV program expanded. After the Cold War, new destination countries for aid were added, and the types of work JOCV volunteers were expected to undertake became more diversified. In the twenty-first century, globalization and changes in society have led to a demand for more interactive international cooperation and the possibility of contributing back to Japanese society. Originally, JOCV had three missions: to contribute to developing countries, to deepen friendship and mutual understanding between Japan and those countries, and to cultivate an international perspective among Japanese youth and contribute to society. JOCV has a long history of ODA projects involving citizens, and there is potential for a wide range of future social contributions, including promoting Japan’s own sustainable development.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Although the Peace Corps is a government-run organization, it is not controlled by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which provides international cooperation, and is an independent organization. In the first year of its foundation, the Peace Corps sent 900 young people to 16 countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, following President Kennedy’s encouragement of young Americans to open a new frontier. With the political background of the Cold War at that time, American idealism inspired young people to participate (Kaneko, 2015, p. 78).

  2. 2.

    The other three volunteer programs were the Senior Overseas Volunteers, which started to dispatch volunteers in 1990; the Youth Volunteers for Japanese Communities, which started in 1985; and the Senior Volunteers for Japanese Communities, which started in 1990. The JOCV and the Senior Overseas Volunteers promoted activities to provide cooperation for the regional economy and social advancement for local residents. The Volunteers for Japanese Communities chiefly referred to activities to promote the development of Japanese communities in Latin America. According to JICA (2016b), the total number of dispatched volunteers by the end of 2015 was 40,987 for the JOCV, 5,843 for the Senior Overseas Volunteers, 1,246 for the Youth Volunteers for Japanese Communities, and 465 for the Senior Volunteers for Japanese Communities. In 2019, JICA volunteer programs were reorganized into the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), the Senior Volunteers, the Youth Volunteers for Nikkei Communities, and the Senior Volunteers for Nikkei Communities, which are collectively called “JICA volunteers.” The JOCV and the Senior Volunteers are now categorized in accordance with the required technical level instead of the age of the participant.

  3. 3.

    The first volunteers engaged to work on construction machinery and electric construction were dispatched to Kenya as the fifth destination, behind Asian countries, in 1966 (https://www.jica.go.jp/kenya/office/about/history.html). It was the first dispatch to the African continent. Kenya, which later maintained its relationship with the West during the Cold War, became an African center for JOCV dispatches and support for JICA.

  4. 4.

    The Peace Corps sent a total of 230,000 people to 141 countries by the end of September 2017, with the largest sector being the education sector (at 41%), followed by health (20%), support for youth (11%), and community development, environment, and agriculture (8% each) (Peace Corps, 2018), which demonstrates the high rate of volunteers in the education field.

  5. 5.

    JOCV employed a system to send a group of volunteers to work on a single project with the goal of achieving greater accomplishments through their activities.

  6. 6.

    The “package” arrangement aims to provide more efficient support by combining JICA’s diverse international cooperation methods, including the dispatch of JICA experts, the invitation of foreign trainees to Japan, and JOCV dispatch.

  7. 7.

    South Korea’s international volunteer project has sent 55,780 people to 96 countries over the 25 years from 1990 to 2015. The Chinese government founded the Overseas Youth Volunteer Program (OYVP) in 2002, aimed for South-South Cooperation, and had sent 590 people to 22 countries by 2013. The Thai government founded the Friends from Thailand (FFT) in 2003 and has sent approximately 100 people, mainly to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, by 2015.

  8. 8.

    https://www.jica.go.jp/volunteer/application/seinen/job_info/youth (accessed on June 10, 2018).

  9. 9.

    https://www.jasid.org/ (accessed on June 10, 2018).

  10. 10.

    http://www.gakkai.ne.jp/jces/ (accessed on June 10, 2018).

  11. 11.

    The Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) was founded in the UK, earlier than the US Peace Corps. Unlike its counterparts in the USA and Norway, VSO is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) operation and, hence, was not established by the government. Dispatch by VSO does not require a British nationality, and approximately 43,000 volunteers from 94 countries have been sent to 120 countries. The VSO Alliance Secretariats established in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Kenya, and the Philippines take initiatives to conduct activities, operate and manage region-led programs, and collaborate with VSO partners (NGOs, government agencies, international organizations, etc.) in other developing countries (Matsumoto, 2018).

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Maruyama, H. (2022). Civil Participation for 50 Years: Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers. In: Kayashima, N., Kuroda, K., Kitamura, Y. (eds) Japan’s International Cooperation in Education. Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects, vol 63. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-6815-9_14

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-6815-9_14

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