Japan Launched Guardian Girls Karate in Fukuoka 🇯🇵

United States Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel

Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Kenko Sone

Koyamada International Foundation (KIF), World Karate Federation (WKF) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have launched the Guardian Girls Karate in Fukuoka, Japan and hosted its Reception at the U.S. Consulate Fukuoka's American Center Fukuoka. The event was organized with local partners such as U.S. Consulate Fukuoka, Japan Karatedo Federation (JKF), KIF Japan and UNFPA Japan.

Shin Koyamada, KIF Global Chairman
Takashi Sasakawa, Japan Karate Federation President

“Promoting gender equity and equality is a critical priority for me, but most importantly for President Biden,” said US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel. “Seeing through our continued commitment to the values of dignity and security for women of all ages and all backgrounds, the Guardian Girls Global Karate Project builds on the United States and Japan's shared values and our shared goals. It's about preventing gender-based violence while promoting a positive message of empowerment.”

Ambassador Emanuel added: “This initiative began in the United States just last October, but it's already spread to Egypt, Spain, Morocco, and now right here in Japan. With support from the United Nations and the United States, Japan, and the Japanese government, and now the United States Mission in Japan, it is clear that we all speak with one voice when we say there is no place, no room, and no acceptance for gender-based violence. I hope many Japanese people will participate in this project, and Japanese women and young girls will grow from these self-defense seminars.”

Chuka Asike, Principal Officer, U.S. Consulate Fukuoka
Eiko Narita, UNFPA Japan Director

The event had the participation of the Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka Chuka Asike, KIF Co-Founder and actor Shin Koyamada, Japan Karate Federation President and WKF Honorary President Takashi Sasakawa, the Chief of the UNFPA Office in Japan Eiko Narita, and WKF General Secretary Toshihisa Nagura. U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and the Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Kenko Sone participated via video message.

Toshihisa Nagura, WKF General Secretary
Shin Koyamada with Japanese press and media

KIF Chairman Shin Koyamada said:

“In October 2012, at the Consulate-General of Japan in Los Angeles, we signed the partnership of three international organisations (KIF, UNFPA and WKF) against gender-based violence, and that's when we launched the Global Project. We started this initiative in Los Angeles with the aim of eliminating violence through the use of karate. After this project here in Fukuoka, we will continue in Ireland and Hungary, and then we will introduce the Guardian Girls Karate Academies, a programme to expand the seminars all over the world.“

Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka Chuka Asike said:

“It's a great honour for me to represent the US. Consulate of Fukuoka and to congratulate the Koyamada International Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund, and the World Karate Federation for the launch of the Guardian Girl Global Karate Project in Japan.

“This is the first time the US. Diplomatic facility has hosted the Guardian Girl Global Karate launch event, and I'm thrilled that we can support this event here at the Fukuoka American Centre.

“This Global Karate Project is aimed at promoting gender equality and women's empowerment by teaching women and girls self-defence. Guardian Girls Global Karate seeks to fight against the silent pandemic of gender-based violence. Through our joint support for this program, we are demonstrating the shared values of the United States and Japan. Responding to all forms of gender-based violence is essential for promoting democracy and advancing human rights.”

Amy Connell, Guardian Girls Instructor from Scotland
Amy Connell demonstrates a self-defense

Japan Karate Federation President and WKF Honorary President Takashi Sasakawa said:

“My first job as a public member of parliament 30 years ago was to protect the human rights of those who are physically weak. I am also a member of the Ministry of Justice, and I am the only person in Japan who has been a member of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Ministry of Justice for thirteen years. I would like to live in a society in which no one suffers from the aftereffects of their companions. However, the reality is quite difficult.

“Women have firmly taken up karate so that they do not only keep fit through karate but also learn to defend themselves in case of an emergency.“

The Chief of the UNFPA Office in Japan Eiko Narita said:

“When we look at the issue (of population growth), what we're really starting to see as United Nations and the international community is that we really have to tackle the gender inequalities. If we want a society that guarantees human rights, we can't do this without the achievement of gender equality.

“Around 23% of women in Japan have been victims of domestic violence. Approximately one woman in 14 had experienced sexual violence. Also, the National Policy Agency in Japan quoted that 74.8% of survivors of domestic violence are women. So, it's not great data. And this is why I think we're here, to have this kind practice of martial arts for the girls to be able to protect themselves as well as to prevent gender-based violence.”

Koyamada International Foundation Japan team
Nia Lyte, KIF Global President and friends

WKF General Secretary Toshihisa Nagura said:

“Karate was born in Japan and now is practiced as a universal sport by more than 100 million people around the world. Last year we initiated this project with KIF and UNFPA and we decided to cooperate fully and work together in this activity of high social contribution; since then, we have been successfully carrying out this programme in several countries around the world.

“We are very happy to see that karate has become a lifelong sport for our society, and we will continue to support this project, to further contribute to the improvement of people through these activities which we believe present a great social contribution and a clear representation of the uniqueness of Karate.”

Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Kenko Sone said:

"The mission of the Guardian Girls Global Karate Project is to promote gender equality around the world and to empower women to protect themselves through karate. The first training seminar was held in Los Angeles in October of last year, and a self-defence seminar for women was also held in Los Angeles in April 2003. These events attracted attention from local councillors and mass media as an initiative to help women live stronger and more resilient lives. I hope that the project will give courage and hope to women all over the world, and I will continue to cooperate with the project."

The presentation included a review of the highlights of the programme, which was hosted by the President of KIF Nia Lyte. Ms Lyte said: “I am very proud and happy to be here with my husband presenting this project in Japan. We are here because we believe that women around the world can learn how to defend themselves and how to escape from situations of gender-based violence, which are extremely common. One in four women have suffered from gender-based violence.”

Moreover, a showcase of self-defence techniques for women was represented at the event. Featuring WKF Head Instructor Amy Connell, the techniques were an example of the movements that are being shared at the "Guardian Girls Karate" seminars to give women tools to face situations of gender-based violence.

Nia Lyte, Eiko Narita, Army Connell and guests
Nia Lyte and KIF Global volunteers