The Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection, a grant recipient of the Suntory Fund for Bird Conservation, has received the 2022 Yamashina Yoshimaro Award from the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, and its president, Masayuki Kurechi, has received the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award for Wise Use.
For more than 40 years, Mr. Kurechi and the Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection have been dedicated to the conservation and restoration of several species of geese that live and breed in wetlands, as well as the preservation and restoration of their habitats. Their activities are not limited to Japan; in collaboration with researchers in the United States and Russia, they have advanced a broad range of surveys, research, and educational and promotional activities that have helped the populations of several endangered species of geese to recover. Some species have even begun migrating to Japan again. Recent work has focused on conservation efforts along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. These two awards offer significant recognition of the activities and achievements of Mr. Kurechi and his association over the years.
The Suntory Fund for Bird Conservation has been providing grants to the Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection since 1991, the year after its establishment, and has awarded a total of 37.8 million yen on 20 separate occasions through fiscal 2022. In 1970, there were only about 5,000 geese in Japan, but the population has recovered to more than 200,000 geese today. We hope that the Fund’s support has played a role in the significant achievements of conservation activities over the past half-century. These two awards are a great honor for the Fund, and we offer our sincere congratulations.
*What is the Yamashina Yoshimaro Award?
The Yamashina Yoshimaro Award conferred by the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology is one of the most prestigious awards for ornithology in Japan. It honors “individuals or organizations that contributed to the development of ornithology research and conservation of birds in Japan.”
*What is the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award?
The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award recognizes individuals, organizations, and governments around the world who have made significant contributions to the conservation and wise use of wetlands. It is awarded in three categories: “Wise Use,” “Innovation,” and “Youth Activities.”
The 2022 award ceremony will be held at the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands this November.
Suntory Fund for Bird Conservation
I am surprised and very pleased both that I have received the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award from the Ramsar Convention, and that the Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection received the Yamashina Yoshimaro Award, one of the most prestigious award for ornithology in Japan.
These awards recognize our longstanding efforts to protect and restore geese populations, promote the spread of winter-flooded rice paddies, and achieve a symbiotic relationship between waterfowl and agriculture.
We are able to continue these efforts thanks to the Suntory Fund for Bird Conservation, which has supported our activities since its establishment. We would like to once again express our thanks, and we hope to continue receiving your support going forward.
On July 22, the Yamashina Yoshimaro Award was presented to the Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection by the President of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, Prince Akishino, at the Akasaka East Palace. Below is a letter of appreciation from President Masayuki Kurechi.
Letter of appreciation in regard to the receipt of the
22nd Yamashina Yoshimaro Award
Masayuki Kurechi, President of the Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection
I am deeply honored to have received the Yamashina Yoshimaro Award, Japan’s most prestigious award for ornithology, in the presence of His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Akishino.
I am particularly pleased to have received the award not for myself, but on behalf of the Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection.
I see this award as constituting recognition of the value of all the activities undertaken by large numbers of Association members over many years in terms of safeguarding, conserving and restoring the goose species that visit Japan and their habitats, and I am sure that my pleasure at the receipt of this award will be shared by all of the Association’s members.
I feel immensely honored to have received the Yamashina Yoshimaro Award directly from His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Akishino within the grounds of the Akasaka Estate, in my capacity as President of the Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection, and there is something that makes this even more meaningful.
This is the fact that, thanks to the combined efforts of many people both within and outside Japan, the Aleutian Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) has been successfully brought back from brink of extinction.
A detailed account of the 40-year effort to achieve this is presented in “The Tale of the Aleutian Cackling Goose,” which was published last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection.
When the Aleutian Cackling Goose recovery plan was first drawn up, the number of Aleutian Cackling Geese visiting Japan each year never exceeded three birds. Dr. Yoshio Yokota, the founder and former president of the Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection, was determined to help this bird species recover.
Dr. Yokota passed away in 2003 at the age of 98, but among the writings that he left behind him was an essay entitled “The Events of May 9th.” 1)
Dr. Yokota had been invited to Spring Garden Party at the Akasaka Estate, held on May 9, 1980, and the essay summarizes a conversation that he had with His Majesty Emperor Showa about geese. It notes that His Majesty the Emperor kept geese himself in the Imperial Palace, and was concerned about the threat to the Aleutian Cackling Goose. Although the details of the conversation are limited to this, what Dr. Yokota most wanted to get across in the essay was his dream of helping the Aleutian Cackling Goose to recover, and his discussion of this dream with His Majesty the Emperor. Since then, the Aleutian Cackling Goose has made an impressive recovery, and the number of Aleutian Cackling Geese visiting Japan each year has risen to around 10,000 birds, so one can say that Dr. Yokota’s dream has come true.
Today, 42 years since Dr. Yokoto discussed geese with His Majesty Emperor Showa, I am deeply moved to have received the Yamashina Yoshimaro Award from His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Akishino, who is the grandson of His Majesty Emperor Showa, in my capacity as President of the Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection, an award which represents recognition of the activities undertaken by the association, including the initiatives that have enabled the Aleutian Cackling Goose to recover. I have a strong feeling that this award represents the continuation of an existing connection.
Once again, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for having had this wonderful opportunity to be here today.
At the Akasaka East Palace 2) , Akasaka Estate, on July 22, 2022
1) See pp. 18 - 22, “A Tale of Aleutian Cackling Geese, Kurechi, M. & Sugawa, H. (eds) 2021, Kyoto Tsushinsha Press. Kyoto.”
2) The venue for the garden party to which Dr. Yokota was invited was located around 100m away from the Akasaka East Palace, where the award presentation ceremony was held.
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The Ramsar Award and Yamashina Award: A Double Victory and the Tale of the Aleutian Cackling Goose Source: Information Design Associates Kyoto
* About the Yamashina Yoshimaro Award
* About the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award for Wise Use