You may remember back in April I attended a charity gala event at the Tokyo Hilton in aid of Hope Japan, a non-governmental aid agency that works to provide safe drinking water to families in third world countries.

At the time I said

Whilst geekery is fun, sometimes I do wonder what the point to it all is. If, ultimately, it doesn’t contribute to the overall good of society, then it could be entirely pointless. Just a waste of precious time. But put a valuable cause at the end of the road and suddenly there’s a burning reason to continue to push original material out there, to grow a community, to create a movement of sorts.

My feelings remain unchanged.

John Janzen has recently returned from the trip to Cambodia that was discussed on the night, and here’s one of his videos. Had my attention. I watched it twice.

Made me think – am I making the best use of my time by doing what I’m doing, here in Tokyo?

John wrote an intro piece on Japan Probe, which I quote in almost its entirety here:

I recently came back from a trip to Cambodia with HOPE Japan, an NGO that builds wells and provides micro-loans in the very poor rural areas of the country. Our team members were all either Japanese or people living in Japan, so we were quick to notice the influence of Japan in Cambodia. When we were driving out of the capital city of Phnom Penh headed for the rural areas, we encountered a massive, under-construction bridge that was nicknamed the “Toyota Bridge”. Apparently, the money for the bridge was provided by the Japanese government, with Toyota and friends providing the expertise. I suppose that both are anxious to get more Toyotas flowing into the country.
But Japan’s involvement isn’t all corporate and governmental. In the following video we headed out to a floating village near the village of Krakor where we encountered something completely unanticipated (about at the halfway point of the video):

Be sure to check out John’s other videos on his YouTube channel.

2 Responses

  1. Hi, thanks again for coming to the HOPE dinner in April and for this post. I am encouraged by your thoughtful approach to the issue of extreme poverty and referring people to John`s video.


    Lowell Sheppard
    HOPE International Development Agency

  2. “But Japan’s involvement isn’t all corporate and governmental.”

    Love how things spin differently based on the country involved. When America does exactly the same sort of foreign aid (paying American corporations with U.S. taxpayer money to do improvements in countries in need), they’re blasted for funneling the cash back into their own self-interests. When Japan does it, they’re good Samaritans.

    I’m not saying Japan isn’t doing a good thing (they certainly are), but just noting the double-standard at play.