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Hiroshima for Global Peace

The Miyajima Society of Commerce and Industry Youth Division’s SDGs Initiatives

Courtesy of Hiroshima Prefecture

As an island with a world heritage site, Miyajima is a lively place visited by many tourists. The Miyajima Society of Commerce and Industry Youth Division, where the area’s young business leaders gather, is putting effort into activities regarding SDGs. They held a seminar in order to increase understanding of SDGs, and in 2022 they conducted an SDGs-themed observational trip. The culmination of these learning experiences was producing the Miyajima SDGs Map in June 2023. We talked with Sasaki Kenichi and Okada Shoma about SDGs initiatives at the Miyajima Society of Commerce and Industry’s Youth Division.

The story begins in 2016, when Mr. Sasaki became the vice chairman of Junior Chamber International Japan. He was placed in charge of the international division and became interested in SDGs, which at the time had only just been adopted at a UN summit. He then became certified as an SDGs facilitator and began activities like giving lectures in and outside of the Miyajima. Then, as he was set to graduate from the Youth Division, he planned a trip to learn about SDGs.

Sasaki Kenichi, certified SDGs facilitator

Mr. Sasaki: On my trip, I went to the city of Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture, where they’ve been pouring resources into promoting SDGs tourism. I learned about how to maintain an old townscape that has some inconveniences while still being able to live out our daily lives. I also visited a company in Fukui Prefecture that promotes SDGs as one part of their business activities. However, with SDGs, the most important thing is feedback. You’re never going to get it perfect on the first try, so repeated trial and error in which you look at the effects of things you did and try doing things differently when you fail will lead to sustainability for SDGs. That’s why I didn’t want to just do something and then set it aside, I wanted to produce some kind of tangible result.

That “tangible result” was the Miyajima SDGs Map. This displays what SDGs initiatives the businesses that are members of the Youth Division are working on. Toriiya, the tourism center run by Mr. Sasaki, took inspiration from Goal 12, “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns,” stating “Zero food waste. Eliminate waste and protect resources.” Kiyomori-Chaya, current Youth Division head Okada Shoma’s restaurant, declared that it would “live in harmony with health and community in mind” based on Goal 3, “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

The completed Miyajima SDGs Map. Currently displayed on the Miyajima Society of Commerce’s home page


Mr. Sasaki: It’s not the best choice of words, but I think it’s fine if people think of SDGs as something you don’t need to get too serious about. You don’t have to go out of your way, just connect it to things you’re already doing. Once you see the connection you’ll be able to take pride in your work and become motivated to keep working hard.

What’s interesting is that at the same time the map was being produced, the participants registered to Peace Platform Hiroshima, operated by the Hiroshima Organization for Global Peace (HOPe). Not only was it the first registry by a chamber of commerce youth division, the individual stores registered as well, and a total of 12 organizations registered all at once. It seems this is the first time a registration of this scale has occurred.

Okada Shoma of the Miyajima Society of Commerce and Industry’s Youth Division

Mr. Sasaki: However, just making a map is meaningless, so I think that participation in the Peace Platform Hiroshima adds some weight to it that convinces people around us that we’re committed. That’s why we all decided to register.

Mr. Okada: Going forward, we’d like to add some new elements like overtourism and continue to expand it. I hope that this will become something that leads to peace.

The Miyajima Society of Commerce and Industry Youth Division isn’t just seeking prosperity in the present, but a sustainable form of tourism that can continue into the future. This is rooted in the island’s tradition of passing on what you received from your predecessors to the next generation.

Mr. Sasaki: I think the most important of the SDGs for us is Goal 17, “Partnerships for the goal.” The island’s future won’t improve if just one company does well. Community partnership is vital for maintaining the townscape even as population declines.

Mr. Okada: More worrying than tourism issues, the island’s aging population and population decline are serious problems, and there’s a fear that in the future there won’t be anyone living on the island. I think Miyajima Island’s foundation is made of the smiles of everyone who lives there. In addition to operating the restaurant, my company also distributes meals to the elderly and other community members in the hopes of making Miyajima a little bit better of a place to live. My hope going forward is to work together with more young business leaders to increase the island’s appeal.

The island having a history as long as it does can only mean the people who came before us built up a sustainable society. Miyajima is garnering new attention as a positive example of what SDGs can do.

Sasaki Kenichi

Representative director and president of the tourism center Toriiya. Actively involved in giving lectures and other activities regarding SDGs.

Toriiya home page:

Toriiya’s SDGs initiatives: (Japanese only)

Okada Shoma, head of the Miyajima Society of Commerce and Industry’s Youth Division

Successor to the restaurant Kiyomori-Chaya. Received instruction from Mr. Sasaki at a local kendo school as a child.

Kiyomori-Chaya home page:

Kiyomori-Chaya’s SDGs initiatives: (Japanese only)

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