SHARE is Japan's version of Medecins Sans Frontieres, a small nongovernment aid organization that sends volunteer doctors, nurses and health workers to assist in stricken areas abroad. It also helps those in need on the domestic front -- women involved in the sex industry and people who have overstayed their visas and are working here illegally.

It operates out of a tiny apartment in Iidabashi, just inside Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward, which is where I found SHARE's exhausted but still enthusiastic founder and chairman, Dr. Toru Honda, and five workers (some salaried, some volunteers) toiling elbow to elbow, with only a box of ice cream bars in the fridge to keep them going. "Have one," Honda offered. "It must have been very hot walking from the station."

The name SHARE came first, he explained. Only later did staffers think to make sense of it as an acronym: "We came up with Services for Health in Asian and African Regions. In spirit, it's about sharing our skills and knowledge with people in developing countries for their improved health and increased material wealth."