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Asian Breeze

The “Asian Breeze” is a newsletter published in English and Japanese by Kitakyushu Forum on Asian Women/KFAW. It covers a wide range of up-to-date topics such as gender equality, empowerment of all of women and girls, SDGs and environmental issues and so on, allowing you to see 'Asian women today'. We hope you will enjoy reading it.

Asian Breeze No.98

Asian Breeze No.98

Economic Growth, Climate Crisis and People’s Well-Being

 Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University; Chairman, Japan Society for GNH Studies; Senior Fellow, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

The “Era of Global Boiling” Has Arrived

On July 27, 2023, United Nations Secretary-General Juan Manuel Guterres stated that “the era of global warming is over and the era of global boiling has arrived”[1]. This was stated at a press conference following the release of official data by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) confirming that July will be the hottest month in human history.

The Secretary-General further stated.

“All of this is in perfect agreement with scientists’ predictions and repeated warnings. The only surprise is the speed of change. Climate change is here now. It is frightening. And it is only the beginning.” “It is still possible to limit the global temperature increase to less than 1.5°C and avoid the worst of climate change. But it can only be done through dramatic and immediate climate action. Accelerating temperature rise demands accelerated action. We can still stave off the worst. But to do so, we must turn a year of extreme heat into a year of ambition and accelerate climate action.”

Economic Growth and Human Well-Being

Economic growth since the Industrial Revolution has brought affluence to humanity, absolute poverty has shrunk, human life expectancy has increased, and the population has grown. Economic growth began in developed countries such as Europe and the United States, and since the latter half of the 20th century, economic globalization has spread to developing and middle-developed countries as well. At the same time, rapid population and economic growth have increased CO2 emissions and resource consumption, causing environmental destruction, resource depletion, climate change, loss of biodiversity, and other problems. Today, the Earth’s natural environment is approaching the limits of sustainability, and if left unchecked, the very foundations of human existence may be threatened in the future.

The purpose of economic growth is to increase incomes and enrich people’s lives. But does an increase in income really make people happier? The American economist Easterlin showed that life satisfaction has not improved despite an increase in real per capita income, which is known as the Easterlin Paradox[2]. Many subsequent studies on happiness have revealed that economic growth does not necessarily lead to greater happiness. It is the content of economic growth that is being questioned.

Economic development must operate within the “planetary boundary”[3](Fig 1). This is what British economist Kate Raworth calls the “doughnut economy”[4](Fig 2).

Fig 1 (source: https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries.html)

Fig 2 (source: https://doughnuteconomics.org/about-doughnut-economics)

The outer edge of the doughnut-shaped diagram in Figure 2 represents the “ecological ceiling” line where human activities can take place without disrupting the planetary boundaries. On the other hand, the inner circle of the doughnut (the hole in the center) represents the “social foundation” such as food, shelter, education, and income, which is the basis of all human life. The “safe and just space for humanity” is defined as the area between the “ecological ceiling” on the outer edge of the doughnut and the “social foundation” on the inner circle, and economic activities within this range can improve human welfare while securing the social foundation without exceeding the planetary boundaries.

Once this doughnut economy is established, it will be possible to achieve the sustainable and inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity demanded by the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and to create the conditions for rewarding and humane work, taking into account the different development stages and capacities of each country.

What Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) implies

Bhutan’s concept of GNH makes it clear that economic growth is not an “end” but a “means” to improve people’s happiness.

Bhutan has adopted GNH as an alternative national goal to Gross National Product (GDP), and utilizes it as a guideline for policy integration in actual administration.

Former King Wangchuck, the fourth king of Bhutan, who advocated GNH, had this to say: “What the people want is happiness. In addition to a minimum level of material wealth, it is important to have family and community ties, harmony between people and nature, history and culture that can be shared by the people.” These are what King Wangchuk described as GNH instead of GDP.

So how can the goal of achieving happiness be reflected in actual political and administrative structures? In Bhutan, GNH is not only a slogan, but also an indicator for its realization, and efforts are being made to institutionalize a concrete policy evaluation process within the government.

According to the GNH Commission, GNH is both a philosophy, an economic theory, and a practical policy objective. GNH as a philosophy that integrates traditional culture and modern science leads to a shift in development priorities, while GNH as an economic theory develops a critique of GDP and focuses on improving the spiritual, physical, and social well-being of people, both quantitatively and qualitatively. GNH as a policy objective articulates detailed priorities and means to achieve sustainable development.

Sustainable development in Bhutan’s National Environmental Strategy is defined as “the policy will and national capacity to maintain today’s development and environment so that future generations do not lose their unique cultural integration, historical heritage, and quality of life. In his speech, the fifth and current King Wangchuk expressed his belief that “GNH bridges the pursuit of economic growth with the fundamental values of kindness, equality, and compassion.”

GNH consists of four pillars: (1) sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development, (2) environmental conservation, (3) cultural promotion, and (4) good governance. These are further divided into nine areas: (1) standard of living, (2) health, (3) education, (4) ecological health, (5) culture, (6) psychological well-being, (7) work-life balance (use of time), (8) community vitality, and (9) good governance.

Based on the GNH approach, policy priorities are being reevaluated and indicators are being developed to quantitatively and qualitatively assess improvements in people’s mental, physical, and social well-being instead of GDP. GNH does not reject indicators such as the Human Development Index or GDP, but recognizes their characteristics and roles, and sees them as complementary.

However, there are many challenges to the sustainability of Bhutan’s economy and environment. New threats such as climate change are becoming a reality, and the consumerist civilization of the modern world will flow into Bhutan relentlessly as a result of globalization and the advancement of information technology, and the traditional values of the Bhutanese people might be changed. Bhutan’s future, as it seeks human and national development under severe natural and geopolitical circumstances, with GNH as its guiding principle and focusing on the welfare and happiness of its people, has much to offer to other countries in terms of considering how to achieve sustainable development and well-being of the people.

[1] https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/07/1139162



[4] https://doughnuteconomics.org/about-doughnut-economics

Profile of Mr. MATSUSHITA

Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University, Senior Fellow of the Institute of Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Chairman of the Japan Society for GNH Studies. Before holding these positions, worked at several institutions including the Ministry of Environment of Japan, the Environment Directorate of the OECD, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), and as Professor of Global Environmental Policy at the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies of Kyoto University. Major research areas are sustainability studies as well as climate change policies and global environmental policies from the viewpoint of environmental governance.

His major publications include “The 1.5°C Climate Crisis” (2022), “The Climate Crisis and the Corona Disaster” (2021), “Journey to Global Environmental Studies” (2011), “Recommendations for Environmental Policy Studies” (2007), “Environmental Governance” (2002), “Introduction to Environmental Politics” (2000), “Environment in the 21st Century and New Development Patterns” (2000)

Fig 1 (source: https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries.html)

Fig 2 (source: https://doughnuteconomics.org/about-doughnut-economics)

Thank you for reading. Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

Email us!→info@kfaw.or.jp

Asian Breeze No.97 (Web Newsletter)

  • Did the G7 Accelerate Gender Equality, or is it Just “Feminist Diplomacy” as Token?
    – YAMAGUCHI Satoko, W7 Japan Steering Committee Member

  • CSW67 Meeting Summary Report
    – HORIUCHI Mitsuko, President of KFAW

  • CSW Field Report
    – OKUZAKI Reia, GOTEN Resort, Inc. and member of BPW Japan, graduated from the University of Kitakyushu

  • NGO Forum Parallel Event Participation Report
    – UENO Mayuko, A staff of KFAW in International Exchange Division

No. 97, August 2023

Asian Breeze No.97


  1. Did the G7 Accelerate Gender Equality, or is it Just “Feminist Diplomacy” as Token?
    – YAMAGUCHI Satoko, W7 Japan Steering Committee Member
  2. CSW67 Meeting Summary Report
    – HORIUCHI Mitsuko, President of KFAW
  3. CSW Field Report
    – OKUZAKI Reia
    GOTEN Resort, Inc. and member of BPW Japan, graduated from the University of Kitakyushu
  4. NGO Forum Parallel Event Participation Report
    – UENO Mayuko, A staff of KFAW in International Exchange Division

The G7 Hiroshima Summit was held from May 19 to 21. This issue of Asian Breeze features an article by Ms. YAMAGUCHI, who was involved in the summit as a member of W7 (Woman7).

KFAW also held the debriefing of the 67th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) on 30 May 2023. CSW is one of the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council. It meets annually around March at UN Headquarters in New York to formulate policies/actions on gender equality. Speakers at the debriefing were Ms. HORIUCHI, President of KFAW, Ms. OKUZAKI, a member of BPW Japan, and Ms. UENO, a staff of KFAW in International Exchange Division. The contents of each report are also posted.

Did the G7 Accelerate Gender Equality, or is it Just “Feminist Diplomacy” as Token?

 W7 Japan Steering Committee Member

It is probably fresh in your minds that the G7 Summit was held in Hiroshima from May 19 to 21, 2023, and that Ukrainian President Zelenskyy also participated in the Summit by surprise. I attended the G7 Hiroshima Summit to see what kind of discussions would take place among the leaders and what would be agreed upon, especially with regard to gender.

The Summit is a forum for the political leaders, and why I was given the opportunity to participate in it was by reason of my commitment in the Engagement Group. In recent years, there has been a lot of activities in making recommendations to the governments within G7 discussions from their respective fields, and the groups that conduct such advocacy in an official way are called the Engagement Groups. One such is the W7, which develops policy recommendations from a gender perspective and the standpoint of civil society. The G7 accounts for 40% of global GDP. Recognizing such impact, the W7 has consistently ensured participations from the Global South. At the same time, the W7 has incorporated the perspective of intersectionality, the idea that discriminations and oppressions intersect based on multiple characteristics such as disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and ethnicity, and has worked to ensure that those voices that have not been fully heard are reflected in the W7’s Communique. As a member of the W7 Steering Committee, I participated in the G7 Hiroshima Summit in order to monitor and lobby the process so that the Leaders’ Communiqué would be as gender-sensitive as possible.

While the major themes of the Summit were the situation in Ukraine and nuclear disarmament, gender issues were also discussed. The Leaders’ Communiqué, the outcome of the Summit, has a section dedicated to gender*1, as in the previous Summits, and states a commitment to “providing support for childcare and other field of care work and care economy“*2. It is also worth highlighting that the Communiqué recognizes the essential and transformative role of comprehensive SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights) in supporting gender equality and diversity, including sexual orientations and gender identities*3.

On the other hand, throughout the Communiqué, it does not mention concrete measures to implement these commitments. For example, Paragraph 44 says “to make every effort to collectively increase the share of our bilateral allocable ODA advancing gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment over the coming years”, but a specific financial commitment with a clearly set timeframe should be accompanied. It is not enough to simply talk about ideals; the role of the G7 and politics is to take concrete measures including funding.

As for why Hiroshima was chosen as the venue of the Summit, Prime Minister Kishida explained “As the prime minister of Japan, the only country to have suffered the atomic bombings, there is no better than Hiroshima to show our commitment to peace”. And it was that Hiroshima where an agreement was reached to strengthen military assistance to Ukraine. The W7, which has called for a non-violent foreign policy, including reduction in military spending, as conflict disproportionately affects women and girls, expresses deep concerns that the Hiroshima Summit, while proclaiming peace, turned into an opportunity to increase arms supply.

On another note, following Germany’s Presidency last year, this year’s Leaders’ Communiqué also gave accounts of sexual minorities. We find adoption of the following sentence, “we strongly condemn all violations and abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms for women and girls and LGBTQIA+ people around the world” as a step forward compared to the previous year*4.

A new engagement group, P7 (Pride7), was established this year to address the rights of sexual minorities, and W7 and P7 collaborated on joint press conferences and other activities during the Hiroshima Summit. Gender-based discrimination is not only directed between men and women, but also at sexual minorities who are seen as deviating from sexual normativity, so it is essential to work in solidarity.

In Japan, the law for the promotion of understanding of the LGBT was passed and enacted after the Hiroshima Summit. However, the legislation says ‘peace of mind’ of all citizens and prioritizes rights of majority. Now that the law is in effect, rather than strongly condemning all violations and abuses of human rights, the P7 Committee members castigate the politically driven attacks escalated on trans persons, in particular trans women as if they are threats to the safety and security of women, and question whether the Communique at the Hiroshima Summit was merely a diplomatic performance.

On June 24-25, about a month after the Hiroshima Summit, Japan’s first Ministerial Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment was held. The three W7 representatives were given the opportunity to participate and engage in the discussions throughout the Meeting, as were the Ministers from each country. The W7 appreciates the meaningful engagement of the W7, composed of civil society organizations in the Gender Equality Ministerial Meeting as a way of inclusive decision-making.

The Joint Statement of the G7 Gender Equality Ministers adopted at the end of the Meeting, provided analysis that gender-based discriminations and violence have become increasingly complex and difficult to resolve due to COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflicts around the world, and emerging technologies. Given these situations, the Joint Statement concludes that “We will continue our efforts toward realizing a society where the human rights and dignity of all women, girls and LGBTQIA+ persons, are fully respected, promoted and protected. We are committed to fighting the backlash against gender equality.”

As a member of a civil society organization, I will continue to monitor governments and raise my voice to ensure that the G7countries and, of course Japan take substantive action promised in these Communiques.

*1 “G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué” Paragraph 42 to 44.

*2 Paragraph 36

*3 Paragraph 43

*4 Paragraph 43

Profile of Ms. YAMAGUCHI (she/her)

W7 Japan Steering Committee Member/ Generation Equality Youth Task Force Member/ Member of Board of Trustees, ICHIKAWA Fusae Center for Women and Governance

She was a former member of the Generation Equality Youth Task Force set up by UN Women (August 2019 to November 2021) and a young women’s program coordinator at YWCA of Japan, where she has worked on youth-led and intergenerational movements building, developing strategies, coordinating programs and campaigns, and conducting lectures at various levels from grassroots to international political arena for gender equality.

CSW67 Meeting Summary Report

– HORIUCHI Mitsuko
 President of KFAW

The priority theme of CSW67 is “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”

Because this was discussed only by the delegates, UN Women sees the challenges of the digital world as described before. There is much discrimination and exclusion of women in the digital world: only 22% of the AI-related workforce is female, and 44.2% of AI systems are said to have a gender – bias.

This year’s CSW67 was the first time Youth Forum was held. Although I do not have enough information on the details, youth involvement in gender equality is much wanted.


CSW Field Report

 GOTEN Resort, Inc. and member of BPW Japan, graduated from the University of Kitakyushu

I participated in CSW67 from March 5 to March 16. I would like to introduce some of the events that left a deep impression on me.

One was a discussion on digital education hosted by the Canadian NGO. An NGO speaker said that digital education in compulsory schools is good until the age of 15, and that exposure to digital in childhood changes attitudes toward digital. She also talked about gender gap in digital is creating a new gender inequality. I felt that digital education must be provided at an earlier age in Japan.

Another thing is about the International Women’s Day. There was an events organized by UN WOMEN and held in the General Assembly Hall. One of the memorable moment was to say “You are beautiful” to each other, and the entire Hall echoed with voices saying “You are beautiful.” I felt very happy to be there.

During participating in CSW67, BPW Japan held a parallel event under the theme of “How to make actions for gender mainstreaming in entrepreneurship.” We had a presentation by Ms. KIKUCHI Moana who runs a business in Tanzania, and had a group discussion. Forty-two people attended the event, including those from United Kingdom, Republic of Kores and France.

Participating in CSW67, I was very much impressed by great energy shown by participants. I got encouragement and confidence to continue my activities. The participants with a variety of backgrounds and role models will open up new possibilities for my future. I had the opportunity to meet youth reporters from other NGO, who had different reasons and identities for participating, which stimulated me and motivated me to continue my activities.

NGO Forum Parallel Event Participation Report

– UENO Mayuko
 A staff of KFAW in International Exchange Division

On 11 March, I participated in a parallel event organized by Japanese Association of International Women’s Rights (JAIWR). The theme of my own presentation was “Online Training on Gender Mainstreaming Training for Government Officers in Developing Countries.” KFAW is commissioned by JICA Kyushu to provide training to government officers in developing countries. The training has continued for 30 years, from 1992 to 2022, with 486 administrative officers from 91 countries.

The advantage of online training is that there is no need to travel. It is also considered effective for people with disabilities, caregivers and childcare providers. As stated in Article 10 of the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, “elimination of discrimination in education,” online training can be used to provide opportunities for those who have not had access to education for various reasons. In addition, by recording videos, trainees can watch programmes over and over again resulting better understanding.

However, there are challenges with online. One of the challenges might be internet access in developing countries. In light of the above advantages and challenges of online training, I would like to apply this experience to my future work. In general, it goes without saying that face to face meetings are really much better than Video conferences.

In light of the above advantages and challenges of online training, I would like to make use of this experience to my future works.

Thank you for reading. Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

Email us!→info@kfaw.or.jp

Asian Breeze No.96 (Web Newsletter)

  • Overcoming adversity: Street youth of Metro Manila receive vocational-technical training certificates, pave the way for a brighter future
    – Dr. Herbert Q Carpio, Executive Director of Childhope Philippines Foundation, Inc.

  • For a Society Where Every Child Believes Changing the World Better is Possible Report on Change Makers Fes2023
    – NAKAJIMA Sanae, Chair of the Board, Free The Children Japan

  • Experiences of women with disabilities in Bangladesh during the COVID-19 pandemic
    – KANAZAWA Mami, 2021/22 KFAW Visiting Researcher

No. 96, May 2023

Asian Breeze No.95 (Web Newsletter)

  • Protecting Youth from Online “Gender-Based Violence” in Indonesia
    – SUZUKI Mari (Vice President, Executive Secretary, Asian Community Center 21 (ACC21))
  • Creating opportunities for underprivileged people 
    – TSURU Saki (Co-founder, ‘Musubite’, NPO)

No. 95, March 2023

Asian Breeze No.94 (Online Newsletter)

  • Promoting Gender Equality and women’s empowerment in Egypt
    – Rasha Hassan, Ph.D. (Gender Advisor)
  • Gender Equality and Women Empowernment: A Smart Way to Achieve Development
    – James Twene (AG. Director, Department of Gender, Upper East Region, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), Ghana)


No. 94, February 2023

Asian Breeze No. 93 (Web Newsletter)

  • Business and Human Rights, and World Cup – Yuka IWATSUKI (President of ACE)
  • A crucial matter: mainstreaming gender into all the population programmes – Mitsuko HORIUCHI (President of KFAW)

No. 93, January 2023

Asian Breeze No. 92 (Web Newsletter)

  • Pre-event of the 33rd Kitakyushu Conference on Asian Women – entitled “Fleeing Ukraine to Moldova -Women and Children Refugees” 
  • JICA’s Cooperation to Moldova - Satoshi Sugimoto (Chief Representative, JICA Ukraine Field Office)
  • How Moldova national authority supports Ukrainian women and children refugees “Small Country with a Big Heart” - Vladimir Negura (Head, International Relations and European Affairs Directorate, General Police Inspectorate, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Republic of Moldova)
  • Notable debates on the refugee crisis at the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova - Rodica Zadnipru (Senior Consultant, Department of Assistance and Development, Secretariat of the Parliament, Republic of Moldova) 

No. 92, August 2022

Asian Breeze No. 91

  • WOMEN TODAY ― FIG Gender Equality Forum in Kitakyushu Keynote Speech
  • CURRENT ISSUES SERIES ― “Computers and Women’s Empowerment” (Part 2)
  • 32nd Kitakyushu Conference on Asian Women
  • KFAW Career Development Program for High school Students
  • KFAW International Understanding Seminar

No. 91, February 2022

Asian Breeze No. 90

  • WOMEN TODAY ― “How Gender Equality Will Move Forward”
  • Mary C. Brinton, Harvard University


  • CURRENT ISSUES SERIES ― “Computers and Women’s Empowerment” (Part 1)
  • Harumichi Yuasa, Meiji University


  • 32nd KFAW Research Report Session
  • NGO CSW65 Virtual Forum Parallel Event
  • Reports from KFAW Foreign Correspondents 2021-2022

No. 90, August 2021