Literacy is not only a basic human right, but also a key factor for social and economic development. According to UNESCO, literacy is \"the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts\". Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.
On September 8, the world celebrates International Literacy Day (ILD) to raise awareness of the importance of literacy and the challenges that millions of people face in acquiring basic literacy skills. The theme of ILD 2021 is \"Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide\". The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the education of children, youth and adults around the world, exposing the digital inequalities that hinder access to quality learning opportunities. The pandemic has also highlighted the need for literacy skills to cope with the health, social and economic challenges posed by the crisis.
In Japan, literacy rates are among the highest in the world, with 99% of adults aged 15 and above able to read and write. However, literacy is not only about reading and writing, but also about critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity and digital skills. These skills are essential for young people to thrive in the 21st century and to contribute to the sustainable development of their country and the world.
Japan has a rich literary tradition that dates back to ancient times. The country has produced many renowned writers, poets and scholars who have influenced its culture and history. Some examples are Murasaki Shikibu, who wrote The Tale of Genji in the 11th century; Matsuo Basho, who perfected the haiku form in the 17th century; Natsume Soseki, who is considered one of the greatest novelists of modern Japan; and Haruki Murakami, who is one of the most popular contemporary authors in the world.
Literature can inspire young people to explore their identity, values and aspirations. It can also expose them to different perspectives, cultures and experiences. Reading can foster curiosity, imagination and empathy. Writing can help young people express their thoughts, feelings and opinions. Literature can also be a source of empowerment, as it can challenge stereotypes, promote social justice and inspire action.
One example of how literature can empower young people is the project \"Power Cronicas Japon\", which was launched in 2019 by a group of young writers from Japan and Latin America. The project aims to create a platform for intercultural dialogue and exchange through literary journalism. The participants write cronicas, which are narrative non-fiction stories that combine facts, analysis and personal experiences. The topics range from social issues such as gender equality, immigration and environmental protection, to cultural aspects such as music, food and art. The cronicas are published online in Spanish and Japanese, reaching a wide audience across continents.
The project \"Power Cronicas Japon\" demonstrates how literacy can enable young people to share their stories, learn from each other and raise awareness of global issues. It also shows how literacy can foster cross-cultural understanding and cooperation among different regions and countries.
On International Literacy Day 2021, let us celebrate the power of literacy to empower Japan's youth and to build a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable society. aa16f39245