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After graduating from Shanghai’s Fudan University, studying Japanese at Tokyo’s Takushoku University and history at the University of Tokyo, Chinese writer Ye Qing is now leading a drive to construct elementary schools in Asia and Africa.

A member of the ethnic minority from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, 31-year-old Ye is convinced that, “education could be the most powerful weapon in guaranteeing children’s futures.” “I was blessed with my education in China and, fortunately, was able to study in the most desirable environment in Japan,” said Ye, who also studied ballet, German, Russian and English in Moscow.

In her 10 years in Japan, Ye has also written novels in Japanese, become a television personality, a regular contributor of essays and articles to magazines and an enthusiastic participant in volunteer work.

Ye knows that several million yen could translate into a facility for primary school education.

“There are still many children in Asia who are deprived of a chance to go to school,” she said. “If children are denied an education due to the stagnation of society resulting from exploitation or corruption by those in power, education could be the most powerful weapon to guarantee their future.”

In September, an elementary school building was constructed in Taian — a remote area of China’s Shandong Province — with money sent by Ye. A primary school in flood-stricken Tailai, Heilongjiang Province, was restored in the spring of this year, again thanks to her funds. Both facilities are named the Ye Qing Hope Elementary School.

Ye’s next goal is to set up a school in Tibet, a region she visited last year. In the future, she hopes to establish elementary school facilities in Africa.

Eight years ago, while still a student, Ye was dispatched by a volunteer organization to the hinterlands of Myanmar, near the Chinese border. There she encountered Tibetan families who had escaped their homeland.

“A child aged about 9 or 10 years was looking after a cow,” she said. “Mud covered his body. He couldn’t tell me why he was there. He had received no education in either his own country or Myanmar.”

This experience encouraged Ye to help establish educational facilities for children in Myanmar.

According to the U.N. Children’s Fund, about 130 million children worldwide have no school education, while 250 million children work as laborers — 150 million of them in Asia.

With help from magazine companies and television personalities from entertainment agency Horipro Inc., Ye runs charities and calls on politicians and athletes for support, attributing the success of her drive to the cooperation she has received from the people of Japan.

While she never intended to stay in Japan for an extended period of time, Ye admits she has changed her mind, saying she has become “fond of the Japanese, who do not betray me once they get to know me.”

Ye is worried by the rise in juvenile crime in her adopted country, as well as the number of children absorbed in video games.

And she dislikes the sight of teachers and children behaving like friends, unlike the strict teacher-student relations in China.

Considering herself a “resident of the global village rather than being a Chinese,” Ye believes people of different countries can deepen their friendship through increased exchanges.

Despite her increasingly hectic schedule, Ye will take on another assignment in October, heading a Japanese language school to be established jointly with a Japanese corporation.

The Tokyo Kokusai Koryu Gakuin, or Tokyo International Interchange Academy, will be set up in a building about five minutes’ walk from JR Nishi-Hachioji Station.

“The school will accept students from China and Southeast Asia,” she said.

“I will be pleased if graduates of Ye Qing Hope Elementary School come here to study.”

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