活動の様子 あしたの夢をともに実現

About Us

Our Mission

The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 took the lives of over 19,000 people, devastated numerous towns, and continues to pose serious challenges for recovering communities. At Ashita-Tomorrow, we support high school students in affected communities by providing fully-funded personalized programs that can inspire students in creative ways. Our non-profit organization offers English workshops, weekly communication with American students, and experiences in foreign countries. We believe that greater exposure to the international community can allow these Japanese students to evolve into the dynamic and effective leaders they dream of becoming.


As time passes, it is easy to forget the extent of the 2011 Earthquake’s devastation or assume that reconstruction will heal the communities. Yet Ashita-Tomorrow believes that we must not only continue to support those affected but also build better futures and stronger communities out of this catastrophe. We aim to do this by encouraging the advancement of the children in these communities, who will be the leaders of “tomorrow.” Ashita-Tomorrow is an officially registered non-profit organization in Japan as of July 2013, and 100% of the proceeds are given to Japanese students’ education-related expenses.

Our Role

The children who have endured the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 have both an immense responsibility and opportunity to lead the recovery efforts in their communities. As Japan rebuilds from the disaster, it needs leaders in environmental research, human resources development, and various other fields, and we aim to support students as they pursue these educational aspirations. We also believe that offering international exposure is especially valuable, as students can learn from and be inspired by different ideas, people, and cultures.

Ashita-Tomorrow Overview

NPO Ashita-Tomorrow
Registered:July 1, 2013
US:Tel. +1-908-604-8275 kitagawa@ashita-tomorrow.or.jp
Japan: phone/fax +81-3-3794-2224 ueda@ashita-tomorrow.or.jp
Board members:
Masako Ishimura Ueda, Chairperson
CPA, worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers
B.A. from Keio University
Shizuko Kitagawa (US)
SK Bernards, N.J.
B.A. from International Christian University
M.B.A. from the University of Utah
Mami Fujisaki (US)
Japanese language teacher at Horace Mann School, N.Y.
B.A. from Keio University,
M.A. from College of New Rochelle
Akiko Hasemi

Our Thoughts

Masako Ueda (Ishimura), Chairperson, Ashita-Tomorrow
Seven years since the Eastern Japan Earthquake, housing and infrastructure, such as roads and tide breakers, have been re-established quite well, and the residents want to return or stay in their hometowns. However, in actuality, the population in the affected areas continues to decrease. I have also witnessed and am saddened that people in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant area still cannot go back home and families and friends remain split. Some still live in the inconvenient temporary housing or evacuation facilities and cannot live the normal lives that they once had.

We have been helping the high school students of the affected areas since the earthquake and tsunami by providing opportunities to communicate with American students with the goal of encouraging them to maintain hope for the future. Our initiative started in July 2011, when we traveled to Kesennuma High School with Alyssa Zupon, who was a sophomore at Yale University. Even though four months had passed, the damage that tsunami caused was vivid beyond imagination.

Alyssa felt strongly about doing something for the victims and wanted to tell them that people in the USA care about them. She started the Skype Sessions with three Kesennuma students and helped them practice English conversation and told them not to give up their dreams. The number of participants has increased in both Japan and USA, and the program was expanded to include the “visiting USA” spring program and Express Yourself workshop. I believe that Ashita has helped many high school students go through a difficult time and has provided opportunities for them to broaden their horizons, which has given them different perspectives and hope for tomorrow.

The earthquake changed many students’ lives. They lost important things, but we hope that the students rise to challenges and succeed through difficult times by having broader perspectives. We will continue our activities, believing that they will become leaders for the recovery of the affected communities and for Japan at large.
Shizuko Kitagawa, Director, Ashita-Tomorrow
北川 静子顔写真
When I was a high school student, I thought that society and my environment would not change easily. Looking back, I did not have a huge dream or exciting ambition, and I was satisfied to go along a set path without serious thought. Everything went quite smoothly for me, and after graduating from ICU (International Christian University), I went to Toronto, Canada, then to the USA, where I obtained a MBA (Master of Business Administration) and CPA (Certified Public Accountant). There, after a couple of jobs including Salt Lake City government as a Capital Project Manager (the city’s projects planning), I worked for Panasonic USA as an accounting manager. After my son was born, I was faced with my first dilemma. I had a stable job that implemented all of my hard-earned degrees and credentials, yet I was often working until midnight and did not have the freedom to be the mother I wanted to be. I ultimately decided to quit my job, become independent, and start all over again with my own business. This was twenty years ago, and I still have my business today. Of course, there is more financial uncertainty associated with running my own business, but I have persevered, and I am so glad that I became independent. I enjoy what I do. I have dreams now.

After living in the USA for many years now, I know that the American Dream is real. I know many people who live it: many have achieved great financial success out of their own efforts or are living passionate lives by pursuing what they really like or believe in. I wish I believed in myself earlier, but rather than hold regrets, I am glad I became independent and started what I enjoy.

Through my career and experience, I have learned that the environment can change drastically, sometimes against us, but our education, acquired knowledge and skill will help us counter adversity. The ability to make the right decision will change the course of your life. You cannot control your environment, but you can control your own actions and how you handle a given situation.
Young people should dream big and make an effort to achieve it: you may alter the destination along the way, but in the process, you will achieve things that were unthinkable if you remained directionless.

Since 2011, I have been involved in assisting high school students who were affected by the 2011 North Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. I was touched by the students' resilience and strong desire to recover their strength, pursue their education, and contribute back to their hometowns. I have been humbled knowing that these students are thinking more seriously about their futures and societies than I was at their age. I was most encouraged that I can assist them to acquire the tools to achieve their goals. Under our NPO, Ashita, I am excited about continuing to encourage these students to dream big, and bigger. I would like to share my experience with them and help them meet people in North America or any other country. I believe that by experiencing the culture, history, and environment of different countries, they can obtain a new global view that will help them achieve their dreams.

I am excited for these high school students to become leaders in their communities and even for Japan, and I am honored to be working with my friends and daughter along with many other people who are devoted to our common goal.
Mami Fujisaki, DIrector, Ashita-Tomorrow
Ashita-Tomorrow has Skype Sessions, Spring Program and Summer Workshop “Express Yourself” and more activities for returnees in Japan. Through these programs, I have learned a lot from both Japanese and American students - they have endless potential and high spirits for their future.

We just finished the 7th “Express Yourself!” workshop. On the first day, I saw 23 Japanese high school students arriving in NY with mixed feeling of expectation and anxiety. Through a week-long workshop, with help of American students, they grew to express their thoughts and to ask more questions. Once they managed to ask questions (Japanese students are not used to asking questions in class), they were not afraid of making mistakes. Each day their eyes got brightened and found that it was really fun to express themselves in front of other people. After the workshop, they spent the weekend with host families and tried to ask more questions and to express themselves in English. They came back with a big smile and confidence. Both American students and I were impressed with their progress and change. I believe that their experience will be with them throughout their life.

Express yourself, and create your own life!
Alyssa Zupon, First Chairperson of Ashita-Tomorrow North American Affairs
I am currently a resident physician at Harvard’s Emergency Medicine program in Boston, Massachusetts. I graduated in May 2013 from Yale University, where I studied Biology and was captain of the Women's Ice Hockey team, and I graduated from Yale School of Medicine in May 2018. I love to travel, cook, and eat food from different cuisines, and I especially love Japanese food and culture.

When I first visited Kesennuma High School in July 2011, I was shocked by the devastation by March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Even though four months had passed, it looked as though the disaster had just swept through the town and most of the area was still in rubble. I was overwhelmed initially and felt that something needed to be done for the people who suffered so much. At our meeting that Ms. Masako Ishimura set up with Kesennuma High School’s principal and director of teachers, I proposed the idea of talking to students via Skype (internet video conferencing) as an immediate way to connect with the victims of the disaster. I wanted the students to know that I, and others, care about them and that they are not alone during their difficult recovery process. Further, English is a very important subject in the Japanese education, English conversation would be beneficial academically as well. The Skype tutoring sessions began in October 2011 and have since expanded to include several dozens of American volunteers (from Yale University and Horace Mann High School) and Japanese students.

This experience has taught me how one small idea or person can lead to incredible results by collecting many people’s goodwill. Also, I started with the intention of helping the victims of the disaster, but I also learned from their courage, perseverance, and appreciation for everything and they have reminded me what is important for life.

I am very excited that the Skype sessions and home-stay program with Ashita have continued for many years. These programs represent the goals of this organization, which include sharing ideas and cultures, and gaining strength and inspiration from others. With these aims, I see great potential for further expansion in new directions, too. Because Ashita encourages creativity, proactive attitudes, and dynamic thinking, I am looking forward to see this organization expand its reach and build future leaders in Japan and the world.

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