What is in a name? Judging by our Rotary Global Grant Scholar, much more than meets the eye! Our speaker on 18 February 2015 was our scholar Kohei Norota. Kohei – it rhymes with Hay and not with High – gave us an insight into life in Japan and the differences between living in London and Tokyo. Kohei does not have a direct translation but refers to water, light and justice when the written characters are examined.
Kohei comes from the Kanagawa Prefecture, just south of the Central Tokyo area, and is the youngest of four children. Kanagawa is the second largest prefecture in the Greater Tokyo area. Tokyo, we learnt, is quite different from London in ways that we did not expect. The population of Greater Tokyo is some 38 million, compared to London’s 10 million, but the area is more than 7 times the size of London. Whilst London has an estimated 22% of people with a connection to an overseas country, Tokyo has a much smaller 3% making it significantly less multi-cultural than London. A comparison of property prices surprised many of us, showing that the cost of rented accommodation per square metre was twice as high in London.
Kohei (remember it is hay and not high) is studying for a Masters in Economic Development at SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies). His first degree was in Economics, and then he worked in a Micro Finance organisation before embarking on the scholarship. His specific area of interest is Banking through SMS Text – a technology well suited to countries where access to banking is severely limited. Kohei hopes to find a position with an international organisation where he can help put his ideas into practice.
We are extremely grateful to the Rotary Club of Hadano Naka and District 2780 for sending Kohei. He is an outstanding scholar and a credit to the programme.