Happy New Year!

This year is the year of the dragon, and this year is the last year for this calendar of lessons learned. I am not in a happy mood just because it is New Year. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been going on for two years now, and in addition, Israel's invasion of Gaza has been really tragic. We have been reminded of the powerlessness of the international community. We are also devastated by the helplessness of ourselves.

In the midst of all this, our fellow Worldwide WAN members have translated our message for peace into many languages. In addition to Japanese, English, and German, we were pleased to be able to translate it into Hebrew and Arabic. We wanted to send at least one call to the people of the world together.

Last year, Ueno became a “latter-stage elderly person.” It was a bad year for me and I had a lot of difficulties. I was in the hospital at the time of last year's general meeting but the meeting went smoothly without the director. It was a great success in demonstrating that the general meeting does not need the presence of the director. WAN is now 15 years old. I really think it is time to seriously consider a generational change. As I mentioned last year, we also held a directors' camp, and it is time to think about the next step.

The highlight of last year, by far, was that we pushed back the Nursing Care insurance “reforms” through our mutual support with WAN and Women's Association for Better Aging Society. This was a really big event. As we all will be aging in the future, the safety and security of the elderly today is protected only because of the Nursing Care insurance. It is important that we do not let that, at any cost, be set back now. As a result of what we have done, the “reforms” were postponed again. However, postponement is a tricky thing, and there is no guarantee that it will not come up again. We need to continue to monitor it. I was very happy that WAN was able to be involved in these actions.

I am sure you have noticed that the WAN site has been changing a lot. Recently, the base has expanded. We deal not only with gender, but also with sexual minorities, nuclear power, peace, the environment, and welfare and nursing care. Last year, we supported Fifties, a group seeking to send young female candidates for the local elections, with a grant from WAN Foundation. We also held an election event with the Parité people. I am very happy that the website is now working as an action tool.

We are steadily moving online. There are several online events, which are free of charge for members. Thanks to this, I am sure you are enjoying the advantage of being able to participate from anywhere in Japan, or for that matter, anywhere in the world. I won't go into details, but if you take a look at the site, you will find that there are many very stimulating topics.

We also had an introductory feminism course. After the first term finished, the students wanted to continue it, so they voluntarily organized the second term, and the second term is now ongoing. We also established an advanced course as the next stage for those who had completed the introductory course, and we received more than 20 applicants for this course as well. We are now trying to have the students become producers of information, not only recipients. Another big result of going online has been the board meetings. Thanks to this, travel costs have been eliminated, and we have become a truly cost-efficient organization.

Recently, there have been a number of problems with the accounting of NPOs. For example, inappropriate use of funds. Many things are being said, but if you think about it, the fact is that we have been throwing all the responsibility on NPOs, when in fact public organizations should be taking responsibility, and now we have been paying the price. Fortunately, WAN's finances are supported only by your membership fees and donations. Therefore, we can avoid accusations of misuse of public funds. In addition, we underwent a very thorough audit for our fifth-year renewal as an authorized non-profit organization and passed that audit. So I would like to reassure everyone that we are in good standing.

We have a lifetime membership system among our members. If you pay a lump sum of 300,000 yen, you will receive the benefits of membership for the rest of your life. In the early days, the lifetime members were friends or acquaintances of one of the board members. The name of the person was someone you could think of. Recently, however, we have been receiving lifetime membership requests from complete strangers. I am truly happy to know that such people are supporting us. Please continue to support us so that we can continue to be an organization that makes people happy to have WAN.

Let me give you an advance notice of some upcoming events. On January 7, the Minicomi Library will host a symposium to commemorate the publication of the six-volume New Feminist Review, a feminist magazine that appeared in the 1990s. Keiko Higuchi, one of the editors of the magazine will also participate in the symposium, although another editor Mikiyo Kano has already passed away. Connecting generations and history in this way is also a big challenge for us. There is still time to register, so please look forward to it.

Then in March, as in past years, we will hold an expanded board meeting. Thanks to online, there is no longer a limit to the number of attendees. All members are welcome to attend from anywhere and find out who is involved and what is going on in WAN's backyard. We want you to be not just a recipient of information about WAN, but also a source of information. This is your chance to do that, and I hope you will join us.

I really hope that peace will return this year, and that this year will be a good one for all of you. I, personally, sincerely hope that I will never fall over again. Thank you very much.


Message for peace
Translated by Akiko Tawara