The Laureate of the 4th Okinawa Peace Prize
AAR JAPAN Association for Aid and Relief, Japan
[Reason for Award]
Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan), formerly known as Association to Aid the Indochinese Refugees, was the first refugee support organization to be set up in Japan. Established in 1979, AAR Japan launched in response to the international condemnation of Japan as “a country which gives the cold shoulder to refugees”, Yukika Sohma decided to demonstrate the Japanese goodwill to the world by creating AAR Japan.
AAR Japan operates beyond political, religious, and ideological and has provided support in more than 50 nations in the past 30 years. The NGO continues to be an active player in the global humanitarian field.
AAR Japan realizes that the disabled would often be the least likely to gain assistance in post-conflict chaos. Therefore, ever since its foundation has provided refugees with disabilities, the most vulnerable among displaced people with support they need to become self-reliant. In managing vocational training centers and operating wheelchair factories, AAR Japan contributes to supporting the financial, psychological, and social sustainability of the individual victims.
The organization has dispatched emergency support to more than 15 countries and areas, as well, has supported in the wake of major disasters such as the 2005 Pakistan Earthquake and the 2008 Cyclone in Myanmar.
In 1992, hundreds and thousands of Cambodian refugees finally returning to their homeland after the civil war encountered massive casualties because of the millions of hidden landmines. In response to this, AAR Japan took on the new responsibility of promoting the eradication of anti-personnel landmines and published the picture book, "Not Mines, but Flowers,” in an effort to advocate the global campaign to ban landmines.
Through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, AAR Japan urged many governments including the Government of Japan to ratify the mine ban treaty. In 1997, the organization was invited officially to attending the Noble Peace Prize Award Ceremony.
Currently, AAR Japan focuses on supporting mine-risk education and providing aid for landmine victims and children who are threatened by the landmines.
With its steady activities and participatory grass-root campaigns, which include various enlightenment programs, AAR Japan has contributed to advancing citizens’ awareness of peace and fostering youths with international perspective. Thus, the organization has evolved to become a pioneer amongst international NGOs.
It is highly expected that in the coming future, AAR Japan will not only continue to focus on refugee assistance and the landmine problem, yet also extend efforts to combating AIDS, malaria, and other wide-ranging issues. While it partners with other NGOs and remain a forerunner in initiating international humanitarian project, it is hoped that AAR Japan will continue to launch even more effective programs so that the Japanese society will be able to accept refugees.
The underlying spirit of “mutual assistance” in the work of AAR Japan echoes the philosophy of the Okinawa Peace Prize, which was established out of Okinawa’s historic and cultural distinction. The prize was instituted in hopes of helping create everlasting world peace from Okinawa that has come through horrific experience of the Battle of Okinawa, but is open to multiculturalism.
Through its efforts, the NGO has advanced sustainable development and non-violent activisms as well as human security from Asia Pacific to all corners of the world.
With this, the the Okinawa Peace Prize Selection Committee believes that there are no other candidates more appropriate than AAR Japan to receive the 4th Okinawa Peace Prize.
Accordingly, in the spirit of gratitude for the generous assistance from Japan and elsewhere that helped Okinawa surmount the desolation and confusion of postwar years and start on the road to development, Okinawa Prefecture awards the 4th Okinawa Peace Prize to AAR Japan in expectation of its future work.
Association for Aid and Relief Summary
Established: November 1979 “Association to Aid the Indochinese Refugee”
November 1984 Renamed to “Association to Aid Refugees”
Address: 5F, Mizuho Building, 2-12-2 Kamiosaki, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo,
President Yukika SOHMA
facsimile : +81-3-5423-4450
President Yukika Sohma established the Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan in 1979 as an organization with no political, ideological, or religious affiliation.
In 1997, the organization was invited to the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony as a member organization of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). As well, it was awarded the Yomiuri International Cooperation Prize in 1999.
AAR Japan aims to provide emergency aid, assistance to people with disabilities, and mine action, among other operations, and has worked in more than 50 nations.
I. Emergency Assistance
AAR Japan provides refugees assistance and emergency relief in the occurrence of conflict, natural disasters, and any other humanitarian crises.
1979 Began support for Indochinese refugees in Japan
1984 Implemented aid programs for Angolan refugees
1995 Implemented support programs for victims of the Hanshin Earthquake,Japan
2004 Coordinated project for the victims of the Mid Niigata Earthquake, Japan
2005 Supplied emergency aid for the Kashmir Earthquake, Pakistan
2008 Provided emergency aid for the victims of the Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar
2.. Assistance to Persons with Disabilities
AAR Japan provides refugees with disabilities, the most vulnerable among displaced people with support they need to become self-reliant.
1989 Supplied wheel chairs to Cambodia/Thailand
2000 Established a vocational training center in Myanmar
2004 Provided wheel chairs in Laos
2006 Began health improvement project for local Tajikistanians
3.. Mine Action
AAR Japan published the picture book "Not Mines, but Flowers" on September 1996. The series of this picture book have become the campaign literature to rid mines.
1996 Published “Not Mines, but Flowers” in campaign to rid landmines
(580,000 copies sold)
Campaigned to disposing landmines in Cambodia
1997 Gained membership to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL);
appealed to governments on banning landmines
Invited to the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony as an ICBL member
2000 Implemented the landmine avoidance education and mine disposal program
2006 Began education on unexploded ordnance and landmine avoidance in Lebanon
4th Okinawa Peace Prize Selection Committee
Chairperson Akito Arima(Japan Sciences Foundation, Chairman)
Hiroko Sho(University of the Ryukyus, Professor Emeritus)
Moshin Morita (University of the Ryukyus, Former President)
Taeko Nagai(Japan Broadcasting Corporation, Former vice President)
Gregory Clark(Akita lnternationa1 University, vice President)
Kinhide Mushakoji(Center for Asia pacific partnership, 0saka university of Economics and Law, Director)
沖縄県 子ども生活福祉部 女性力・平和推進課
〒900-8570 沖縄県那覇市泉崎1-2-2 行政棟3階（北側）