At a glance: Japan

Japan’s UNICEF House offers visitors a window into the agency’s global work

UNICEF Image
© Japan Committee for UNICEF/2010
A replica schoolroom at UNICEF House in Japan shows books and other learning materials from around the world.

TOKYO, Japan, 13 April 2010 – UNICEF House in the Minato ward of Tokyo is unlike any other building or museum in the world. 

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The Japan Committee for UNICEF building boasts an interactive learning centre, and offers guided tours through its video theatre and exhibits focusing on issues facing the world’s children – and on the work UNICEF does to address these issues.

In addition, visitors can see examples of the life-saving supplies that UNICEF deploys to developing countries. 

Emergency tent and supplies

On a recent tour, guide Yoriko Uda highlighted a 15-square-metre emergency tent that is stocked with the sorts of items that UNICEF typically sends to the field during a crisis.
 
“Here we have the blankets and baby clothes,” she said, gesturing. “And here on this side we have crushable plastic water gel cans and oil lamps, along with oral rehydration salts that UNICEF uses to help prevent acute dehydration from diarrhoea.”

Other items in the tent included high-protein biscuits and family food preparation kits – which are designed to aid those living without access to their normal food preparation utensils and utilities.

Beside these kits are examples of UNICEF ‘School-in-a-Bag’ and ‘School-in-a-Box’ kits stocked with notebooks and other emergency school supplies. These items serve as a  stop-gap to help children resume education after a crisis.

UNICEF Image
© Japan Committee for UNICEF/2010
Inside UNICEF House in Japan stands a tent filled with emergency supplies that UNICEF dispatches in crisis situations.

The tent also displays toy dolls, colourful puppets, stuffed animals, soccer balls and other sports items.

“In the case of an earthquake or tsunami, children lose their normalcy in an instant,” Ms. Uda explained. “That can affect them psychologically – and tools like toys and puppets can help.”

Regular, daily aid work

In addition to emergency supplies, the UNICEF House in Japan highlights the regular, daily aid work that UNICEF does to help meet the basic needs of children around the world. Included are replicas of a classroom and a health centre, as well as water and sanitation supplies. 

Visitors can see an insecticide-treated bed net like those UNICEF distributes to help combat malaria, or sit at a sample UNICEF school desk. Or they can see and touch replicas of land mines and other weapons such as those encountered by children in conflict zones.

“At UNICEF House, you can touch and feel real things,” Ms. Uda said, citing as examples the weight of water containers or machine guns carried by children recruited into armed conflicts.

At the end of the tour, Ms. Uda said she hoped Japanese children who visit UNICEF House will come away with a better understanding of the problems faced by their peers around the world.

A better understanding

After each tour, students fill out a questionnaire about their impressions of what they have seen.

“Quite a few [say they] have started thinking about the situation of children in the far corners of the world as their own problems – not as a problem distant from themselves,” Ms. Uda noted, adding that many children come away with a desire to help others. “Whenever I see that reaction...I’m quite encouraged and quite happy,” she said.

The UNICEF House visitors’ centre receives approximately 30,000 visitors each year. Most are Japanese children.


 

 

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Hear some sounds and meet a tour guide from the interactive exhibit at Japan’s UNICEF House.
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