A Greeting from our President
YIFA: 25 Years of History
The foundation of our association, based on the sister city ties between Yasu City and the U.S town of Clinton Township, Michigan, has celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. For their cooperation in support of our work, I wholeheartedly wish to thank our past presidents, office managers, CIRs, and, above all, our members.
Previously our association was named the Yasu and Chuzu International Friendship Association, but following the merging of those two towns into Yasu city, our current name (Yasu International Friendship Association) came into being.
From the basic philosophy of “Connecting Yasu City to the World”, our approach has been formed through principles aimed towards “Building a Better Local Society”, “Building a Multicultural Society”, and “Building a Society of Cooperation”.
YIFA has five divisions: The General Affairs Division, the International Exchange Projects Division, the Cultural Projects Division, the Public Relations Division, and the Japanese Teaching Division. The General Affairs Division organises work aimed at increasing international understanding. Their work includes sending teachers into elementary and junior high schools, setting up foreign language classes and our ‘World Watching’ international understanding seminars.
The International Exchange Projects Division is responsible for supporting the planning and management of our sister city programme with Clinton Township, as well as events such as the halloween party. Particularly our relationship with Clinton Township—which has seen 219 Yasu residents visit as a part of our delegation, and 193 Clinton residents come to Yasu—has been very successful in sharing our differences in culture and custom through the homestay programme.
The Cultural Projects Division is responsible for organising events such as the ‘World Cuisine Classes’, where cultural exchange is facilitated by foreign residents teaching about the food of their home country. Other events include the culture classes, where Japanese cultural traditions are introduced.
The Public Relations Division creates the regularly printed “YIFA MATE” newsletter. The newsletter explains our work and events, has articles written by our members, and gives information about our association to all the residents of Yasu.
The Japanese Teaching Division organises the one-on-one Japanese lessons for foreign people. After the ‘Lehman Shock’ of 2008, foreign residents in Shiga and Yasu dwindled, but the past few years has seen a gradual increase. Currently in Shiga Prefecture, there are around 33000 foreign residents of 100 nationalities, while in Yasu City we have just under 700 foreign residents (as of 2020). We offer these Japanese lessons in order to support these people in their daily lives. A mixture of economic, political, and religious reasons has led the world we live in today to face huge confusion. Furthermore, legal changes have recently led to an increase in the number of foreign workers coming to Japan. This one key function of YIFA—supporting foreign residents with their Japanese study through our lessons—is becoming increasingly important.
Based on the philosophy of “Connecting Yasu City to the World”, YIFA’s work aims to promote a multicultural society welcoming of many different nationalities. What will not change is our need for the cooperation and support of our members. From the bottom of our hearts we thank our association’s staff, volunteers and members for their great efforts. I hope for the continued development of our association, and I would like to wish you all good health.