Japanese actress Kuroyanagi visits child care center in South Sudan

Kyodo

Actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi on Friday paid her first visit to a center she helped set up in the 1990s in what is now South Sudan’s capital to care for children traumatized by the Sudanese civil war.

Kuroyanagi expressed gratitude that Japanese donations had helped fund the Totto Chan Center, which was opened in Juba in 1996 and carries her nickname. The actress has been one of the most high-profile figures in Japan’s entertainment scene for decades.

She led efforts to build the center in Juba after visiting the city in 1993 during Sudan’s civil war. It initially opened for children traumatized by the conflict, but in recent years it has been caring for children ensnared in ethnic strife and human trafficking. The state of South Sudan was created in July 2011.

During her trip, Kuroyanagi met with people she first encountered as children around the time the center was founded.

She also visited and offered words of encouragement to Ground Self-Defense Force personnel engaged in infrastructure development as part of U.N. peacekeeping operations in Juba. Around 330 GSDF troops are deployed to South Sudan.

Separately in Tokyo, the Imperial Household Agency announced Friday that Princess Tsuguko, the eldest daughter of the late Prince Takamado, will begin working in April for the Japan Committee for UNICEF, an organization that publicizes and raises funds for the United Nations’ Children’s Fund.

The British-educated princess, 27, is expected to graduate from Waseda University’s School of International Liberal Studies at the end of the month. Last year, she did internships at the government’s Japan Foundation cultural exchange body and the Japanese Red Cross Society.

She is expected to continue carrying out activities for the Imperial family after she starts working for the committee. The princess is following in the footsteps of some of her Imperial relatives who took up employment, including her father, who also worked for the Japan Foundation.