1. WHAT is OISCA International?
OISCA International (founded in 1961) is a multi-cultural 'spirit-in-action' international non-government organization (NGO). Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural advancement International (OISCA International) seeks to impact all corners of the world through advocacy, building on its effective fieldwork at grassroots levels. Funding comes from membership fees, corporate contributions, government grants, support from regional/international funding institutions, etc.
2. WHAT is OISCA's PURPOSE?
OISCA aims to help elevate all peoples' consciousness to secure the well-being of current and future generations, of Earth's ecological systems, and of the whole Biosphere on which human and other forms of Life are based.
3. WHAT does OISCA Do?
OISCA promotes Ecologically Sustainable Development by:
1) Deepening and broadening consciousness through Experiential Learning programs (e.g. Children's Forest Program; training for occupational empowerment; international exchanges);
2) Spreading Ecologically Sustainable Commodity Production (e.g. food from organic agriculture; medicine from herbal plants; clothing from sericulture); and
3) Rehabilitating Ecological Functions (e.g. re-generating forests, mangroves and corals; reducing waste and pollution by re-use and recycling of materials)
4. WHAT is EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING, and WHY & HOW does OISCA promote it?
Experiential Learning or 'Learning by Doing' has the unique merit of being down-to-earth and emotionally engaging. However, it is neglected by the conventional education that focuses on cognitive learning and theory, leading OISCA to help balance the situation.
OISCA especially encourages local communities to actively participate in environmental restoration because it not only
1) Regenerates ecological systems
2) Provides an excellent opportunity for participants to develop the culture of nature by expanding a relationship to sites closest to the community
3) Develop the culture of the community, as 'doing together' enhances the quality of 'being together.'
OISCA's Furusato ("home town/village" in Japanese) Movement is based on such local involvement and often starts with the Children's Forest Program that has already spread to around 3,500 schools in 26 countries.
5. WHY & HOW did OISCA EMERGED
The initiator was Dr. Yonosuke Nakano, a Japanese philosopher who orchestrated a series of inter-cultural meetings leading to its formation. He saw the ever spreading modern worldviews originating in the West, featuring separations and oppositions including - Science vs. Morality, Material vs. Spiritual, Individual vs. Collective, Society vs. Environment, Natural vs. Supernatural - as an unprecedented threat to the well- being of humanity and others. Convinced that worldwide moral transformation was essential, he advocated ethics that reach across all levels and transcend all divisions. In 1961, people from 18 countries joined him to establish The International Organization for Cultivating Human Spirit (IOCHS), which in 1965 was changed to the current name.
6. WHAT does "INDUSTRIAL Advancement" mean to OISCA?
OISCA conceptualizes 'Industry' in a unique way. Originally, Dr. Nakano emphasized a Japanese word Sangyo to mean "acts of giving birth," and this was (rather misleadingly) translated into English as "Industry." But Dr. Nakano clarified any confusion in 1967, when he wrote that "industries" most essential to humanity were three Life-based economic activities - Agriculture, Forestry / Silviculture, and Fishery / Fish Culture - and that they need to be pursued through life-respecting attitudes and in life-promoting ways.
7. HOW does OISCA see the 'INDUSTRIALIZATION' that has taken place in the world over the past centuries?
If 'Industrialization' means the shift to machine-driven mass production, associated with the formation of world markets, hyper-consumerism, replacement of a solar economy by a 'carbon economy,' rise of weapons of mass- destruction, etc., then OISCA sees as many negatives as positives in it, if not more. It has already passed the constructive and progressive stage and become a destructive-delimiting factor to Ecology, Humanity, Community, and Personality - making it essential for us to establish alternative, profoundly healthier ways to satisfy our material needs.
8. WHAT does "SPIRITUAL Advancement" mean to OISCA?
As its original name IOCHS (...Spirit) signifies, OISCA has emphasized the "Spiritual" ever since its inception. It is convinced that human well-being requires not only physical satisfaction but also spiritual fulfillment, and any person is potentially capable of growing spiritually. It also believes that Spiritual Advancement is typically associated with:
1) seeing one's self from the perspective of being a part of a greater whole, both socially and over time;
2) honoring that force that is the basis of Life;
3) actively and voluntarily making contributions for the betterment of all.
9. HOW does OISCA see RELIGIOUS Traditions generally?
OISCA respects all religious traditions, yet sees that many do not address some essential resent-day issues, such as global ecological degradation and international military confrontation. Thus, OISCA advocates Earth Ethics - planetary ethics that transcend religious differences and are responsive to ecological and other urgent issues we face today.
10. WHAT does "CULTURAL Advancement" mean to OISCA?
"Culture" is a dynamic quality, capable of transformation and development. The concept of Culture itself has evolved from the original meaning of tending the growth of nature (hence agri-cufture, silvi-cu/fure, etc.), to include the cultivation of the human mind, intellect and wisdom. OISCA upholds such nurturing and life-promoting traditional connotations of the term, and conceptualizes its Advancement to be the changing pattern in our orientation from Destructive/Indifferent to Constructive/Caring, in both human-to-nature and human-to-human relations.
11. WHY does OISCA think that CULTURAL DIVERSITY is important?
One negative of Globalization has been the view that everybody, everywhere, is or should be the same. OISCA rejects such a 'conformist' view that negates Cultural Diversity, and envisions the world where each ethnic culture constitutes one of the sub-cultures that together produce a colorful painting or harmonized chorus. While OISCA believes that humankind needs to share certain values in common, it realizes that alikeness among parts is no guarantee for the solidarity of the whole, and its attainment may indeed require complementary differences among the parts.
12. WHY does OISCA think that UNIVERSAL VALUE-SHARING is possible while serious Culture-based Divisions exist in today's world?
There are a few factors that together lead OISCA to envision the establishment of Universal Value-Sharing:
1) it is obvious that most problems facing us today are global in scope (e.g. climate change, pollution of the oceans), and so their solutions require sharing values;
2) while humanity's traditions are rich in diversity, they share many things in common (e.g. valuing honesty and caring for the weak); and
3) science provides enough 'objective truth' that is independent of any culture (e.g. the evolution of Biosphere, of human consciousness) and can help us to reach consensus.
13. IS OISCA a 'DEVELOPMENT NGO?
The answer depends on what is meant by 'Development.' Given the origin of the organization (see 5 above), OISCA is certainly nota 'Development' NGO if the term implies the aim of conforming the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America to the economic and cultural practices and the idealized fantasy of social life in so called 'advanced' counties. On the other hand, if 'Development' means building capabilities at personal, communal and national levels for a self-reliant and sustainable future, then OISCA is certainly a Development NGO as "Advancement" in its name signifies.
14. IS OISCA an 'ENVIRONMENT' NGO?
Again, the answer is Yes and No. OISCA is certainly an 'Environment' NGO in aiming to "protect and nurture the ecological bases of all life on Earth" (Charter), and in thinking that the Biosphere would persist even if humanity may become extinct. Yet, if an 'Environment' NGO is narrowly (and superficially) defined as being focused on nature, then OISCA is not. The Charter articulates that
1) part of OISCA's mission is "the well- being of the whole human and natural world," and
2) the main approach is "to inspire all human beings."
Moreover, unlike some environmentalists, OISCA believes that consciousness for ecological sustainability requires not only scientific knowledge (e.g. alarming ecological data and forecasts), but enhancing the feelings of awe, wonder and affection to nature, as well as the commitment to the well-being of all peoples and future generations.
15. IS there anything OISCA wishes to add?
As experts have been warning with escalating intensity, Climate Change and other ecological troubles are leading humankind into an increasingly visible and tragic ecological catastrophe. OISCA believes that:
1) unless the world urgently transcends the destructive course inherited from the 20th century, many in current and future generations (as well as valuable heritages from the past) will perish within the coming decades;
2) the change of course requires not only technological 'easy-fixes,' but a profound evolution in worldviews on a planetary scale; and yet
3) most world citizens have not been properly introduced to this grave issue, hence are not able to become active and effective agents to meet it - as producers, consumers, voters, volunteers, and so on. Changing the course of civilization, of course, can never be achieved quickly nor easily, but OISCA finds it an exciting process in which it is honored to be involved, and urges you to join us for the well-being of yourself, your offspring, all humans, and Life at large.
OISCA awarded the 'Earth Summit Award Toward Global Sustainability' in 1993
(OISCA's past President, Dr. Yoshiko Nakano, second from left; United Nations Headquarters, New York)