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Exchange program for children from Korea, China, Japan

Posted August. 26, 2013 05:49,   


“I want a naughty chipmunk named Lili,” said a Japanese child.

“How about a traveler panda named Pangpang?” said a Chinese kid.

“How about a rabbit wearing glasses? The rabbit is a bit clumsy but loves carrots,” said a Korean kid.

“Who should be the protagonist in this storybook?” Children from Korea, China and Japan looked very serious. These kids are participants in the 2013 ChinaㆍJapanㆍKorea Children`s Story Exchange Programme, an annual event for making illustrated storybooks.

In this year’s event, a total of 100 children, including 33 from Korea, 33 from China and 34 from Japan, made storybooks under the subject of “dream” in Tokyo and Iichi prefectures, Japan, from August 17 through 23. Children had to do everything themselves from drawing sketches to coloring and bookbindings. Nothing was easy even exchanging opinions from the beginning.

Ten children in each group communicated one another through translators` aid or their body language. Kim Chae-won, a sixth grader from Korea, said, “At first we were awkward with each other, but we all became friends as I taught a popular Korean song.” A Chinese interpreter said, “Children make friends quickly because they don’t have prejudice.”

After being launched in 2002 by Japanese Parliamentary Union Thinking about Children’s Future (headed by Takeo Kawamura) and the National Youth Agency of Japan, the event had been held only in Japan until 2011, when Korea, Japan and China began to host the event in turn. The event in Korea is sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education and the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding under the auspices of UNESCO.

Children visited the birthplace of Nankichi Niimi, a Japanese writer of juvenile story from Iichi Prefecture, and listened to a lecture from Junichiro Kawaguchi, a senior researcher of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. These activities were designed to help children make stories. Children also had a chance to experience traditional cultures of each other’s countries such as folktales and traditional plays. At the end of the event, children exchanged address and words on their shirts. Haruna Tsuchiya, a Japanese sixth grader, said in tears, “We won’t be able to see each other often, but we will contact each other through email and social network services.”

Thirty participants in the 2004 event, who are now college students, visited the venue of this year`s event and announced “Dream Roadmap” about ways to promote exchange and cooperation among the three countries.

The participants’ respectful attitude toward one another led many people to examine the strained relations between the three countries. Tadahiko Ito, a lawmaker of the Liberal Democratic Party, said, “In ancient times of hundreds of years, Korea, China and Japan vigorously traded by traveling with tiny ships in rough seas. Now is the time for the three nations to build better relations than those of our ancestors.”