Second Meeting of the “Panel of Experts on Strengthening Sport Diplomacy”
March 10, 2014
On March 10, commencing at 4:00 p.m. for approximately 90 minutes, the second meeting of the “Panel of Experts on Strengthening Sport Diplomacy” was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An overview of the meeting is as follows:
1. At the beginning Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takao Makino reconfirmed the power and roles that sport can perform in development, in light of the second meeting’s theme of “development and sport.” On that basis, he then raised awareness of the issues he would like the panel to discuss, such as what is a Japanese-style support for utilizing sport for developing countries, as well as the areas where there is currently a lack of support for development via sport, and the areas that will need to be strengthened in the future.
2. Following that, Dr. Akihiko Tanaka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) gave a presentation on “development and sport.” President Tanaka outlined the roles that sport performs in development cooperation, such as establishing the identity of individuals and improving health, and improving the welfare of the group. He noted that albeit indirectly, sport is linked to poverty reduction, lower fatality rates, the development of human resources for industries and other outcomes. Additionally, he pointed out that from the perspective of human resources development, infrastructure development and peace-building for heightening self-reliance in developing countries, sport can act as a catalyst, and he introduced specific roles and results in improving sporting levels in various countries that have been achieved by JICA volunteers thus far. He also commented on the importance of spreading physical education and utilizing sport to support peace-building, human rights and the socially vulnerable.
3. During the discussion, the panel members praised the activities of JICA volunteers, and suggested that the importance of sport and physical education should be proactively explained to developing countries. Additionally, the opinion was presented that support which is based on local circumstances and needs is indeed the Japanese-style support approach, although it takes time. It is also mentioned that a sense of affinity and trust toward Japan should be fostered via sport. Panel members also noted the importance of supporting gender issues via sport and cultivating supporting environment that embrace athletes.
4. Additionally, panel members noted that dispatching Japanese athletes overseas as JICA volunteers or in other capacities is extremely important from the perspective of developing global human resources, and that Japanese companies should be more proactive. The opinion was also presented that when mapping out career paths for retired athletes it is necessary to include the standpoint of cultivating human resources capable of flourishing in the international sporting world.