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Saturday 24 December 2011

Hope - Kibou

Two days in Tokyo. One enjoys little Lost in Translation moments, stumbling across popular fashion shop names like `Freak`s Store`, or dodging dogs pushed around in prams.  At the railway station, on platforms once so bright you could run a chain of cosmetic shops, the lights are now dimmer to save on electricity. Such small signs from the aftermath of the nuclear disaster pierce through the veneer of polite ritual and Shinjuku chaos.

It is the Emperor`s birthday. The city is under attack from black vans with nationalist flags and megaphones playing military marching music in a throw back to Mishima. It sounds to my untrained ears like a failed Eurovision entry.  The vans are eventually penned in around Shibuya with a large police presence, but the authorities are detached to the spectacle, almost tolerant. A man with a long grey coat and a large camera stands alone in the middle of a bridge, watching and waiting. It is another sign of what is unspoken.

At an art gallery, I stumble across the `hope – kibou` exhibition, which unites artists from Greece and Japan through their experience of confusion and struggle arising from the earthquake and economy in 2011. As the exhibition says, `Although it may take a long time, the most important thing under such circumstances is to have hope in your mind`. It is a good message for Open Talent, all the more poignant following my visit to Greece this year to support the work of a charity seeking to establish a Foyer for young people caught up in the justice system. I have hope – kibou – that the much needed Foyer  finds its foundations over 2012.

As I make my way from Tokyo, I receive a message from a University professor who came to visit Foyer Federation last year to find out more about our work on MyNav and social inclusion.  The professor tells me that the e-learning lecture produced from the visit has been very successful, and that he is now engaged in research with his students in the northeast of Japan to contribute to the regeneration of the area following the earthquake.  It is reassuring to note that the University is contributing to the important work of rebuilding lives. Once the international media circus has moved on to the next tragedy to appeal for, it is the work on solutions and futures which seems the most significant story to me.

I see a connection between the professor`s work, and our own message for a different and deeper investment in young people. We are both involved in the ancient science and art of retelling the narrative of modern life, so we can understand and change our world.

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