At age 21, Koki founded his NPO with a lofty goal: to provide Japan with a 24/7 accessible helpline to lend lonely people an ear, prevent suicide and modernize outreach. But can a college student solve what the government couldn't? With over 1,000 help requests per day, Koki's service is increasingly needed. Now, he must traverse the precarious world of government and inspire volunteers to join his cause. See how his generation is tackling societal problems, and securing a better future.
Hi, I'm Ozora Koki.
I'm the chairman of NPO IbashoChat.org.
Check out these 5 frames of love for me and you.
Thanks for having me.
"What words describe you best?"
"NPO Foundation" and "Chairman."
The IbashoChat.org is a platform where
you can get advice anonymously 24/7.
We give everyone access to help, with the goal
of ending helplessness and loneliness.
What else... hm.
I'm a senior, and I'll graduate this September.
Today, I'm going to speak on a live radio show
about loneliness and suicide among children.
There are many kids contacting our NPO,
asking for help. In fact, the numbers are increasing.
If you think about it, less and less
children are being born.
And then the number of suicides
among kids is also increasing.
It means kids feel lonelier than ever.
"The number of children
dying by suicide in Japan
has increased in recent years."
"In 2020, it increased by
25% from the year prior."
"Koki's NPO is a free online help &
chat service, open 'round the clock."
Most people who contact us
have thoughts of suicide.
We try to stop them by giving them a reason to say,
"I'm not gonna die today."
Or, "I can try to live for another day."
We often hear, "I can't talk to my parents
or a teacher" or, "I'm nothing but a burden."
We say, "Burdening others is
called caring. It's a part of life."
We listen carefully to everyone and let
them know that they are worth living.
Sorry, I'm late.
Here is where everyone works.
"Warning. Help Center has detected
a high risk of suicide."
The yellow light is when a high risk
of suicide is detected.
The red light is for emergencies, such
as domestic violence or abuse.
We have to react immediately.
These days, we receive about
1000 requests for help each day.
"I blame myself for not being worthy of living."
"I'm afraid of going outside because
I don't fit in with people."
"Yeah, interacting with people can be a scary thing."
"My mom calls me a wimp
when I say I'm tired of living."
"It hurts so much. I wish I could die."
Many of our chats happen late at night.
So, we take advantage of time differences
by having volunteers around the world.
This keeps us operating 24hrs a day.
"600 Japanese volunteers are registered
from all around the world."
"The varied time zones make it possible
to run the chat service 24/7."
I'm an advisor.
I was tired of taking care of my elderly mother.
If I didn't find this place, I'd have felt hopelessly stuck.
Here, I could help people in similar situations
as me. And it made me feel less alone.
Koki created a place where
I really felt I could belong, too.
I'm an administrator at the NPO.
That's Mrs. Takayama She helps with public relations, and she knows my
entire schedule...she basically manages everything.
I couldn't live without her.
I had no help from my partner with my baby.
I still remember standing outside on my balcony,
I couldn't even cry anymore.
But my child would cry until 5 a.m.
Looking back at that time, I was so lonely.
No one helped me.
I had to overcome it all by myself.
When I was in the hospital, I talked
about my situation with a doctor.
I felt a great release.
And that's the philosophy of the NPO.
You can reach out to people who
understand, and who will listen.
I was so inspired by this philosophy. And since
we can work from home, I wanted to try it.
It was a no-brainer for me to volunteer.
"In the wake of COVID19, the rate of suicide
among women has increased rapidly."
"The root is said to be in exhaustion over child-rearing or elderly care.
Most problems come from the family environment."
People who have experienced loneliness themselves
can be essential to helping others in that position.
It's important to me to emphasize that fact.
I'm so happy that like-minded people are
coming together, thanks to the NPO.
Today, I'm going to give a lecture.
I'm the chairman of the NPO IbashoChat.org.
I founded it by way of my own life experience.
My parents divorced when I was in the 5th grade.
When I got home from school one day,
my mom was gone.
And although I still had my dad,
he took his stress out on me.
I felt like I was living in hell.
I decided not to stay with my dad
and went to live with my mom.
When I was a junior in high school,
my mom was in financial trouble.
I took on many part-time jobs to support us.
I met all kinds of troubled people at my jobs.
For example, people with no registered family,
or people abused by their parents.
One common thread in our community
was that we had single parents.
Kids of single parents fundamentally have
less people around them to count on.
And if the relationship with the one parent
goes awry, there's nowhere to go.
So, it started from a need to create a place for
single-parent kids to meet trustworthy people.
"Koki enrolled in university and established
IbashoChat.org when he was 21.(2020)" Today, we were invited to
be in a fashion magazine.
It's a rare occasion. We mostly
appear in more formal media.
Can you check your bangs?
- Ah, they don't look OK?
- I'm not sure.
OK, I fixed them.
Yes, very nice.
What motivates you to keep going?
Hmm… why do I keep going… If I get a message saying, "I will try to live for
another day" then of course I feel relieved.
But I don't think that's my motivation.
My dream was to have an ordinary life.
I wanted an ordinary job, a marriage, and kids.
And I wanted those kids to have lots of family time.
But I wondered... would I be happy "sitting still"
and ignoring society's problems?
I think I'd get too antsy by the time I hit 30.
How do you feel about Koki being in the public eye?
It's great because our volunteers all over the world
will see it and the effect they have on society.
It really helps motivate all of us,
and I'm grateful for the opportunities.
They are my precious companions.
They are irreplaceable to me.
I didn't know how to better
structure my help system.
So, I decided to go to university
to see if I could figure it out.
I'm now in my senior year. My field
of study is "Policy Management."
"Koki's course aims to train professionals
in tackling societal issues."
"The professors are bureaucratic officers working
on sexual violence and abuse cases."
Ideally, we'd have an effective strategy to stop
the people before they commit a crime, by making them understand that
they could be arrested for it.
Thanks to her experience as an officer, she can
teach us how to deal with real-world situations.
Your generation is making the government
aware of problems that need to be solved.
You took your pain and changed it
into helping others heal their lives.
And with your spirit, you empower
people around you to do the same.
I need to make sure that all officers are aware
that Koki's service is a tool for them.
That would be amazing.
"December 2020 Koki submitted a governmental
policy proposal, to counter
the problem of extreme
loneliness in Japan."
"February 2021 The government established
the world's second only
"Minister in Charge of Measures
for Loneliness and Isolation."
I was surprised, but beyond happy that
this idea I had has become a reality.
The politicians couldn't come up
with any solutions on their own.
My generation is ready to
step up against this problem.
Mr. Kikuchi is a director of IbashoChat.org.
His day job is working as
a consultant for global firms.
We're close in age so it's easy to talk to him.
My parents worked for & raised me in the church.
But I couldn't help anyone back then.
Even if I saw someone who needed my help,
I couldn't dive in and do something about it.
I was pretty spineless.
Koki is the opposite of me.
He dives in straight ahead and it's such
an inspiration to be around him.
I say, "Do it or don't do it, but do something."
True, people think they need to be making X
amount of money before they can volunteer.
But you encourage people to just try.
And that the hurdle for getting involved in
social issues doesn't need to be so high.
The biggest problem is that not enough "normal," privileged people realize that there
are others who need their help.
Someone who is capable should
help people who are incapable.
I went on a live TV show.
I represented the Z generation.
5, 4, 3...
Let's talk about the heavy depreciation of the Yen.
In the last two weeks, more and more people are
reaching out because of dire financial situations.
The cost of goods and services
like electricity are all going up.
These are human beings who
slipped through the system, and their voices are crying out from the bottom.
We must lend an ear and get the word out to help.
Thank you so much.
My function, my purpose is...
If you are feeling lonely, I want to make it
more natural to just reach out for help.
Relying on each other should
be like second nature for all.
He told me he wanted to kill
himself at 3 in the morning.
I was able to open up to him.