Message from the President
Message from the President
This February, while the Covid-19 crisis was nowhere near the end, we were hit with another shock: Russian President Putin initiated a full-fledged military invasion of Ukraine, its neighbor, without any justifiable reason. At the time of writing, the outcome of this war looks far from clear. One thing is for certain, however. This war would exert a far-reaching impact on the world, more than or, at the very least, equal to the Pandemic. In particular, it would give a blow to the trend of the time, underpinned by the globalization, that has unfolded since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War as well.
When globalization was set in motion with the end of the Cold War, numerous “walls” were removed and the flow of people, information, goods, and money were boosted and widened. Consequently, the stunning changes occurred over the landscape of the international community: the dissolution of the former Communist bloc behind the “Iron Curtain,” the progress of regional integration such as the European Union (EU), the birth of the World Trade Organization (WTO) championing free trade, and the emergence of the internet. These developments are still vivid in our memory.
Globalization has, nonetheless, gradually run out of steam over time. In recent years, we have witnessed “walls” reappearing in the world, namely, Brexit, the fence on US/Mexican border. The Covid-19 crisis took place restricting the movement of people and imposing social distance measures. Furthermore, the international community centering on the West is now sanctioning Russia by cutting off the flow of people, information, goods, and, money. To run counter, there is no doubt Russia is building its own “walls.” An era opened with the fall of the Berlin Wall is over, and the next era when new “walls” are built is apparently about to come. We, at the Toyota Foundation, ought to put this in perspective in running our grant-making activities over the upcoming period.
On the other hand, if we take a broader and clear-sighted look at the world on the internet, we could view a picture different from “walls.” What is striking about the ongoing war is that, through SNS, the Ukraine citizens commenced to disseminate, as soon as the Russian force invaded, photographs and movies about the heroic resistance of their soldiers and themselves, their everyday life under the Russian military’s air raid, and, the perilous journey of refugees for the exodus. These visual images instantly went viral over the internet and, surprising enough, mobilized international public opinion at lightning speed. The surrounding countries, most notably Germany, maintained a neutral stand before the invasion. Due to the visual images spread by the Ukraine citizens, however, these countries shifted to actively support Ukraine over a few days. Now everyone can do this by combining smartphone and SNS platforms, thanks to the innovation of digital technology, which in the past only the big mass media such as CNN could do.
In the time ahead, dissemination of information harnessing SNS would have a deeper social magnitude than, or equal to, actions in the real world. The Toyota Foundation aims to actively and effectively reap the benefit of SNS and digital technology, needless to say, not only to present what we do and coordinate operations but also to explore a new field for program development and plan a partnership.
The Toyota Foundation has made an effort to redesign its grant-making programs over the last two years in light of various societal changes exposed after the Covid-19 outbreak. As the task was more or less completed, the Toyota Foundation will carry out the programs without modifying the last fiscal year’s framework. We would be most pleased if our activities would attract the attention of people more than ever.
Behind the scenes, we would like to cautiously overview changing of the time of the world and Japan as well, with a panoramic perspective and take a look at social issues triggered by the change. Also, we are determined to seriously and incessantly deliberate over the design of our grant-making activities to make a difference.
Two years later, in 2024, the Toyota Foundation will mark its 50th anniversary. Toward it, we would strive to, without cease, evolve into a grant-making foundation of much greater social significance.
Lastly, I would like to solicit strict but warm-hearted guidance from all of you.
Dr. HANEDA Masashi
The Toyota Foundation (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation)