Japan Reaches Out

Guillaume Bonn / Think Pictures for TIME

Uganda: Japanese volunteer Chiyoko Ichishima teaches children arts and crafts at a school outside the capital Kampala

When Kensuke Onishi decided to use his foreign university degree and fluent English to help internally displaced refugees in Kurdish Iraq, his Japanese mother's friends told her they understood if she wanted to weep. After all, shouldn't a dutiful Japanese son return home and work for a big company, like the droves of salarymen before him? But in 1996, Onishi founded one of Japan's largest international NGOs, Peace Winds Japan, which operates everywhere from Sudan to East Timor. Today, the 41-year-old Osaka native has noticed that his countrymen no longer consider helping less fortunate foreigners a shameful occupation. Two...

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