[ALFP Lecture Series]
Bridging Divides and Disparities in Asia

This event now concluded. Report available here.



  • Keynote Speaker:
    Palagummi Sainath (Independent Journalist / India)

  • Speakers:
    Saree Aongsomwang (Secretary General, Foundation for Consumers / Thailand)
    Chito Gascon (Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines)
  • Moderator: Imata Katsuji (Vice Chairperson, Japan NPO Center)
  • Date: Tuesday, February 19, 2019, 6:30-8:30 pm (Doors open at 6:00 pm)
  • Venue: Iwasaki Koyata Memorial Hall, International House of Japan
  • Co-organized by: Japan Foundation Asia Center
  • Language: English / Japanese (with simultaneous interpretation)
  • Admission: Free (Registration required: seating 180)
While “development” and “growth” have been stressed in many countries for decades, the world continues to witness inequalities at all levels of society and Asia is no exception: divides and disparities such as in economic status, class, ethnicity and religion keep widening, while the space for civil society to address the issues is shrinking. Considering this, are there any breakthrough approaches to turn around the situation? In this session, three public intellectuals from India, Thailand and the Philippines will share some of the concrete measures they have taken to ease the plight of neglected and marginalized people in their respective countries and cast new light on these pressing issues from a broad perspective.


(Posted in order of presentation)

Palagummi Sainath (Independent Journalist)
写真:サイナートMr. Sainath, one of India’s leading journalists, is committed to shedding light on marginalized people living in rural areas, and to bettering their condition through his reportage. He was the winner of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2007, for Journalism Literature and Creative Communications Arts, and also the first reporter in the world to win Amnesty International’s Global Human Rights Journalism Prize, in 2000. His writings include Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India’s Poorest Districts (Penguin, 1996), a non-fiction bestseller declared a Penguin Classic in 2012. His latest project, the People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI) launched in 2014, is a platform that seeks to document every corner of an Indian village. For over 20 years, he has spent on average three-fourths of the year with village people, covering urgent issues such as the agrarian crisis afflicting India’s peasantry.
Saree Aongsomwang (Secretary General, Foundation for Consumers)
写真:サリーMs. Aongsomwang is widely acknowledged as a leading consumer activist in Thailand, Southeast Asia and the ASEAN community, working extensively for people’s movements in consumer protection, consumer’s rights and consumer education. In 1994, she co-founded the Foundation for Consumers (FFC) and has ever since helped gather the country’s consumers into a broad and powerful network. Throughout her career, she has contributed to strengthening the consumer movement in Thailand, such as ending the privatization plans of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), and the creation of networks to push legislation for the universal coverage in the health care services law.
Chito Gascon (Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines)
写真:チトMr. Gascon is a lawyer, political activist and social reformer committed to working for human rights and democracy. In the 1980s, he participated in the “People Power Revolution” as a fighter and served as a member to draft the Philippine Constitution in 1986. He was the principal author of legislation that institutionalized youth participation in local governance and that introduced special protection measures for children from all forms of abuse. From 2001 to 2004, he served as a member of the government’s negotiating panel in peace talks with the National Democratic Front. He has also held several senior positions in government, including Undersecretary at the Office of the President (2011–2014).
Imata Katsuji (Vice Chairperson, Japan NPO Center)
写真:今田Mr. Imata has worked extensively for the development of civil society and engaged in the management of international nonprofit organizations in Japan and overseas for over 20 years. In 1996, he founded Japan-US Community Education and Exchange (JUCEE) in Oakland, California, and from 2000 to 2007, he worked for CSO Network Japan (for which he is presently the Board Chair). Prior to joining the Japan NPO Center in 2014, he was with the senior management of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, with a commitment to strengthening citizen action to build a more just and equitable world.
*The Asia Leadership Fellow Program (ALFP) is a joint program of the International House of Japan and the Japan Foundation that seeks to create a close, personal and professional network of public intellectuals in Asia who have demonstrated outstanding leadership ability and are committed to civil society beyond their respective backgrounds and professional arenas through collaborative activities and discussions.