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Highlighting JAPAN

Tipping the Scales in the Right Direction

Momo Hosokawa, a licensed international nutrition supplement advisor and expert on preventive medicine, is on a mission to promote and explore the state of women’s health in Japan. Her primary target? Underweight women.

During Japan's presentation to the International Olympic Committee in September 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the details of his Sport for Tomorrow (SFT) Programme. As Japan's international contribution to sports, the SFT Programme is designed to promote technological cooperation through sports and expand the value of athletics during the seven-year period from 2014 to 2020, targeting more than ten million people in over a hundred countries. We spoke to Go Kuroki, who taught baseball in Brazil for two years as a member of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and is currently involved in promoting international cooperation through sports at the Nippon Sport Science University International Center.

"I went to Brazil as a JOCV member to teach baseball for two years starting in 2009, and in 2013 I served as a coach for the Brazilian national team at the World Baseball Classic (WBC)," Kuroki says. "The reason I applied to the JOCV was that when I was a part-time instructor for physical education at a junior high school, I wanted to widen my narrow perspective to the much larger world. Right around that time my former teacher recommended that path to me. My father, who had studied abroad on his own in America, strongly supported my application, and that was a big motivation in making the decision."

Kuroki, who devoted all of his time to baseball during his student days, described the two months he spent in Yokohama undergoing language training after becoming a JOCV candidate as his "first experience having to study so hard." Upon arriving in Brazil, he spent another three weeks in local training, and eventually was posted to Indaiatuba, a city with a population of about 1.4 million, where he became the sole coach for the city's baseball team.

"I was told that they wanted me to teach them the hard work of Japanese baseball, including etiquette and manners. But when I began teaching them the way I was taught in Japan, they started complaining, and within two weeks a team that started out with fourteen players was down to three. I believe this is a common issue that others have faced, and one that concerns many people in the JOCV. When it comes down to the choice of either adjusting my teaching methods to fit the local pace of life or sticking to what I believe in, I decided that no matter how many people complained that my methods were too harsh, if these three players would stick with me then I would continue to teach the kids the way I believed was right. When the other players noticed that those three kids were improving dramatically, before long they returned to practice, and in the end our team was ranked third in Brazil."