‘Tree of Hope’ lit up for refugees

by Masami Ito

The Christmas “Tree of Hope” was set aglow in Tokyo’s Marunouchi district Tuesday by Princess Kiko and a group of schoolchildren to show support for refugee kids worldwide suffering in conflicts and hardship.

Hosted by Refugees International Japan, a Tokyo-based nonprofit,the decorated tree with gold ornaments was placed in the lobby of the Marunouchi Oazo commercial complex. Princess Kiko is a longtime supporter of RIJ.

“This campaign highlights the plight of children affected by conflict, children who got caught up in the insecurity and dangers of a problem that should not be of their concern, children who should be playing, studying and enjoying the thrills of growing up rather than living in insecurity and hardship,” said Jane Best, chief executive officer of RIJ.

The lighting of the tree is part of RIJ’s 21st “Light Up the Life of a Refugee Child Campaign,” which was started in 1989 at Tokyo Station. According to RIJ, the campaign has raised ¥130 million over the last 20 years to support projects for refugee children.

“Despite what we think are difficult times, we are fortunate,” Best said. “And we can share some of this good fortune with little inconvenience to ourselves.”