Papers & Essays

Japan report

This is a short report from a study trip to Japan in October 2006 written by Jan Storø, Associate Professor of Oslo University College, Norway. The trip was first and foremost a holiday. I went with my son who has taken an interest in Japan, as many young people in my country. Unfortunately we had just one week at our disposal, so we decided to limit our stay to Tokyo. Planning the holiday I also decided to take the opportunity to make some professional visits as well.

Going to Japan for the first time I had decided to try to find contacts with the same professional interest as myself. I am teaching students how to work in residential units for children and young people in care. I take a special interest in young people's transition to independent life. For ten years I have tried to contribute to this field in Norway with two books and two studies. I was eager to find people in Japan working on the same issues.

In advance I had found an article by Dr. Sumiko T. Hennesy on the Internet. It gave an overview on some issues in "Child abuse and neglect in Japan" that was very useful to me. The article can be found here:

Dr. Hennesy writes about the struggle to improve the child welfare system in Japan, and she especially looks into the development of legislation against child abuse and neglect, and also what can be done for young people leaving care. She describes The Anne Fund?fs Project, which has done a considerable effort in this field. I decided to find the project and visit them.

Due to language problems (I do not speak Japanese) it was not very easy for me to find places to visit. On the Internet, however, I found the children's home Shisei Gakuen in Tokyo, because they have set up an Internet site with some information in English. And, to my great relief, it said something about their work on the transition to independence.

I had some problems reaching the actual persons to visit, but I received valuable help from staff of Child Research Net and of the Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo.

During the week I made four visits. On all four places I was received with great hospitality. By the use of interpreters, it was possible to arrange a dialogue where we could inform each other about the situation in certain areas of interest in our two countries, and of course discuss similarities and differences

First I visited the Shisei Gakuen Children's home, which was an obvious choice because one of my main areas of professional interest is the transition that young people do from foster homes and residential care to independence. I had learned (as mentioned) before going to Japan that this institution has been working with the same topic and developed its practice to support the young people in the transition.

The next visit was to the office of Child Research Net, where I was received by Dr. Noboru Kobayashi and staff members. The discussions here was partly on child abuse, as Professor Kobayashi revealed that he had taken the initiative to CRN after having attended an international conference "Children at Risk" in Norway. The lunch discussion afterwards touched the situation for women's participation in education and work in our two countries, and the involvement in child upbringing by men.

Next, I visited Anne Funds Project, which is a foster home project with special interest in the transition to independence. We had a round-table discussion on this and other related topics. Among the participants were foster parents and also young people having experienced foster care.

The last visit was to the Norwegian embassy in Tokyo. Here I spoke to staff members about the other visits, as the embassy takes an interest in professional contacts between Japan and Norway.

My visit to Japan was, all in all, a wonderful experience. I find it very interesting to speak to people of other countries, when doing visits abroad. My holiday was very much a more interesting experience because of the visits. I would very much like to come back to this friendly and interesting country. If so I will surely make an effort to see more of it than I was able to see this time.

Note: For the system settig, we used "o" instead of "ø" for author's name in some parts.
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