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Message from the Chairman

Message from the Chairman

As we enter 2018, please let me extend my New Year’s greetings.

It is said that since ancient times Japanese have regarded New Year as an important occasion and a time when the deities of the year who keep the family and farmland safe visit us at our houses. To enable such an important occasion and time, it is necessary to make preparations. We need to do susuharai, or cleaning our home, to remove the stains and dirt built up during the old year and set up kadomatsu (decorative pine branches) and shimenawa (sacred Shinto rope with festoons) where the deities of the year are drawn or summoned and kagamimochi (round mochi cakes) where spirits stay. In addition, early in the morning on New Year’s Day, we will worship the first sun of the year and drink wakamizu, the first water drawn from well. As we go through these rituals, we greet the New Year, which is a pure and important occasion and a time different from routine everyday life. Then, fresh vigor is blown into our hearts and bodies, and that will lead us to auspicious occasions in the new year, I believe.

Looking back on the previous year, I recall several events which made us feel that Japanese society was infused with trenewed vigor. In the shogi (Japanese chess) world, Sota Fujii, who is just 15 and holds a fourth-dan rank, won one victory after another and set a magnificent record of 29 consecutive wins, the all-time record for most consecutive wins. In the world of table tennis, 17-year-old Miu Hirano beat Chinese playerswho have shown overwhelming strength for many years, in quick succession and won the gold medal in the women’s singles in the Asian Championship for the first time. This vigor is exactly what will open the way to the future of the Japanese society.

The Toyota Foundation would also like to actively encourage our partners to bring fresh vigor into Japan through its grant programs. For that purpose, we will work on the innovation ― this English word “innovation” exactly means to “bring in something new” if we go back to the original Latin ― of our grant programs themselves in 2018.

We will work on the process of innovation by humbly listening to the opinions of our partners while asking ourselves questions such as what specific issues we should work on to best demonstrate the way of the Toyota Foundation, how we can make our grants into the projects with great social significance in a focused manner, whether the scheme of our grant programs scope out the future 10 and 20 years from now, and what we should do to enhance the impacts of the projects to which we make grants.

Given the changes in society taking place at unprecedented speed, at the beginning of the new year, I have a stronger determination to make a contribution by responding to those changes and through innovations in our grant programs that anticipate them. In so doing, I respectfully request the continued support and advice of all our partners.

January, 2018
Nobuyori Kodaira
The Toyota Foundation (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation)

Message of April 2017 When New Fiscal Year Opens

At the start of fiscal 2017, allow me to express my sincere gratitude for your understanding and support for the Toyota Foundation and its activities.

Fiscal 2016 was an eventful year. There were momentous choices made by the British and American electorates, signaling a change of eras. But what about Japan? As I reflect on the Japanese way of life and its cultural history, one of the nation's virtues comes to mind, namely, its inclusive tolerance. Consider Japan's history, From the Asuka period through the Nara period, Buddhism was introduced throughout Japan, and in a complicated process of assimilation, Japan adapted its thinking to combine Buddhism with traditional Shintoism. In the Edo period as well, Japanese classicism, Confucianism, and Dutch studies each had their own religious basis and world view and existed as competing schools of thought. And yet even as these three belief systems competed, Japan never experienced the kind of intense conflict witnessed among the religions and ideologies of Europe. It was this native good sense that helped prevent open conflicts within our island nation and preserve distinctive traditions developed over so many centuries.

And there lies an important contrast to this recent wave of change, which appears tinged with exclusivity and intolerance. It is a worrying prospect that this exclusivity and intolerance is spreading over the United States and Europe, once considered bastions of diversity and tolerance. It will be important to monitor the effects of these recent trends in countries neighboring Japan. One thing is sure: the global situation will become increasingly uncertain. It will be vital for Japan to exert its good sense and engage with issues around the world. In this way, Japan can continue to respond to the expectations of international society and live up to its trust. The Toyota Foundation remains eager to play a role in these initiatives in line with its capabilities.

The Toyota Foundation will continue its three core grant programs in fiscal 2017. The Research Grant Program is dedicated to creating new value for society through scholarly endeavors. The International Grant Program seeks to solve Pan-Asian issues through regional exchanges and cooperation. The Grant Program for Community Activities in Japan, meanwhile, supports the creation of sustainable communities in regions in Japan through industry-oriented activities. All of these are vitally important themes for the foundation. The foundation’s program officers will work hand-on-hand with grant recipients in support of their on-site research and other activities to create exemplary models and cases.

Another key initiative is the Toyota NPO Kaiketsu "Solution" College, held with the support of Toyota Motor Corporation. Since fiscal 2016, this program has been sharing Toyota Motor Corporation's problem-solving methodologies with NPOs. The program represents an important model for spreading the know-how accumulated at Toyota Motor Corporation among NPOs, and we look forward to continuing this program in fiscal 2017. In this way, the foundation is striving to transcend its traditional scope of grant activities with new initiatives.

Cheng Tang, a ruler during China's ancient Shang dynasty, was said to have had a proverb carved into his wash basin that translated as "If you renew yourself for one day, you can renew yourself daily, and continue to do so."We can interpret this to mean that thinking about new things every day prevents our lives from falling into old routines. Here at the foundation, we too will approach our mission with a fresh spirit, facing the trends of social change to enhance human happiness and support the development of societies.

Thank you for your warm guidance and enduring support.

April 1, 2017
Atsuko Toyama
The Toyota Foundation (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation)

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