20 March 2003

Young Japanese Contribute to Counter-Narcotics Efforts

VIENNA, 20 March (UN Information Service) -- Young Civic Ambassadors, a group of six Japanese teenagers representing the Tokyo-based Drug Abuse Prevention Centre (DAPC), visited the headquarters of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna today. They presented clear evidence of their support for global counter-narcotics efforts through their latest contribution of US$170,000 towards the international fight against illicit drugs. Since 1994 DAPC is running a nationwide fund-raising campaign in Japanese cities, collecting money in the streets, as well as from the private sector and civil society at large, and each year from six to eight of the most effective participants come to Vienna as designated ambassadors to present their contribution to UNODC. Their activities contribute to increasing awareness among Japanese youth of the dangers of drug abuse.

"Over the past decade, the DAPC has raised more than US$ 3.5 million in support of our work, which makes them equal to some major donor countries in terms of contribution," Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of UNODC, said in a meeting with the young ambassadors today.

Their contribution to UNODC is used for grants, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, supporting non-governmental organizations in developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe in their grass-root activities in drugs abuse prevention. So far, more than 300 grants have been given to such organizations in over 90 countries.

DAPC plans to continue this fund-rising campaign until 2008, in support of the goals set by the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem.

This year's Young Civic Ambassadors from Japan -- Tomoyo Kuroda, 16, Saori Noyama, 14, Jun Nakamura, 16, Ryudo Furuyama, 16, Shiori Tominaga, 17, and Kunihiro Nagayoshi, 16 -- have been accompanied on their visit to UNODC by three adults from DAPC: Shunzo Abe, Akiko Rath, and Jun Yoshino.

Japan's Permanent Representative to the UN in Vienna, Ambassador Yukio Takasu, also attended the ceremony at UNODC.

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