|© Natsuno Shinagawa|
|Natsuno Shinagawa, 18, is working with UNICEF Japan to raise awareness of global issues among Japanese youth.|
By Kun Li
NEW YORK, 18 August 2005 – “In Japan, there are too many youth who are unaware of what’s happening around the world,” said eighteen-year-old Natsuno Shinagawa. “And I believe if young people become more involved with solving global problems, this world will be a better place,” added the high school senior, who lives in Tochigi, a city just outside Tokyo.
With that in mind, Natsuno became a youth activist. A few years ago, she joined Childnet, a programme sponsored by UNICEF Japan which is aimed at raising awareness of global issues among Japanese youth.
Working with Childnet, Natsuno has helped organize several workshops to educate young people; the most recent was a workshop on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS.
“To be honest I was not really concerned with HIV before. It seemed so far away from me,” admitted Natsuno. “Then I watched a video about a girl who lost her parents, sister, and best friend to HIV. I thought there must be so many girls like her in the world. I look around, and I don’t see many people who know what HIV is. So I thought that we really have to do something about it.”
All through the workshop Natsuno tried to explain to the youth that “HIV is not a problem for individual countries, it’s our problem, and we have to solve it.”
Natsuno strongly believes that young people can really make a difference. “It’s an injustice to see so many children who are dying from starvation, who can’t go to school to get an education. I want adults to know that we are capable of helping others. And I also believe young people have the right to get involved - according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Recently Natsuno attended the celebration of UNICEF Japan’s 50th anniversary. There she gave speeches to encourage young people to become involved in every possible way to help others who are disadvantaged. She also shared her views on war and conflict: “I don’t want war. War is a waste of money and time. People should use the money to combat other problems such as HIV, child trafficking and starvation.”
Natsuno is looking forward to going to college and studying liberal arts. She also has her eye on graduate school, and even a Ph.D. “In the future I want to work for the United Nations. I will devote my time in helping people in Africa, because they are often forgotten.”
“My goal is to realize everyone’s happiness and peace,” said Natsuno.