CHECK IT OUT! APASWE: No. 28 (2018)

World Social Work Day Event in Tokyo

Examining the Global Definition and its Asia Pacific Regional and Japanese National Amplifications in relation to Social Work Practice


Viktor Virág
Committee of International Affairs, JASWE

On March 18th, the Japanese Association of Social Work Education (JASWE) hosted its 1st Global Social Work Practice Seminar. The event was organized by JASWE’s Committee of International Affairs and held in Tokyo’s Minato Ward at the lecture room of the JASWE Office. This seminar also served as a commemoration of World Social Work Day 2018 and was the first of its kind since the birth of JASWE after a recent merger between the Japanese Association of Schools of Social Work, the Japanese Association of Schools of Certified Social Worker, and the Japanese Association of Schools of Certified Psychiatric Social Worker.

The title of the seminar was ‘Is the Global Definition Fundamental to your Social Work Practice? – Discussing practice in relation to the Global Definition of Social Work and considering future definitions based on practice’. The purpose of the seminar was twofold: first, to deepen awareness of the Global Definition of the Social Work Profession, as well as its Asia Pacific Regional and Japanese National Amplifications by connecting them with practice in the Japanese field; and to provide an initial platform for discussions, similarly based on practice, about possible points for improvement in the definition and the amplifications from a Japanese perspective for the future international review process. In essence, the event was a challenge to social work professionals in Japan with altogether approximately 50 participants, most of whom were practitioners.

The seminar was initiated with a welcome speech by Prof. Yasuhiro Kuroki of Doshisha University (Director for International Affairs, JASWE) who also explained the above described outline. Next, a short introduction of the three-layer definition structure was provided by Prof. Kenichi Shimura of Toyo University (Committee of International Affairs, JASWE) with a special focus on the translation process surrounding the Global Definition and the Asia Pacific Regional Amplification, and activities of the Working Group responsible for the Japanese National Amplification.

The main section consisted of three presentations that bridged field practice and the Global Definition. This relay talk and the following panel discussion were moderated by Professor Junko Wake of Tokyo Metropolitan University (Committee of International Affairs, JASWE). First, Ms. Mika Fukuda from Tomei Atsugi Hospital focused on medical social work, namely practice with immigrants in chronic health care, and included a case analysis in comparison with the definition. Then, Dr. Ryuhei Sano, currently Associate Professor at Hosei University with extensive experience in social development, presented on international practice in the disability field mainly in Southeast Asia with case studies from Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, illustrating key concepts in the definition framework. Finally, Mr. Takanori Fujita, Representative Director of the NGO Hot Plus and Visiting Associate Professor at Seigakuin University, spoke about poverty issues and social action in relation to the Global Definition, highlighting human rights, social justice, empowerment, liberation, social change, and other issues.

Main themes from the presentations were pointed out in a commentary by Prof. Mie Ohwa of Kwansei Gakuin Univesity (Committee of International Affairs, JASWE). These comments were followed by nearly a full hour of heated discussion between the panelists and the audience, showing the high level of interest in the topic.


Discussion between the panel and the audience (the panel from left to right: Prof. Wake, Prof. Shimura, Prof. Ohwa, Ms. Fukuda, Dr. Sano, Mr. Fujita)

The results of this seminar and additional opinions collected in a questionnaire format from the participants will serve as a basis for JASWE’s 2nd Global Social Work Practice Seminar scheduled to take place during the 2018 academic/fiscal year in Japan. Great enthusiasm was demonstrated in Japan throughout this event towards the Global Definition and its amplifications, making it possible to consider a participatory workshop format for the follow-up.