Frequently Asked Questions

RET Japan provides protection and resilience to vulnerable young people through education, but there is so much more to know about us. Here are a few of the questions frequently asked by our stakeholders.

What You Have Always Wanted to Know about RET Japan Pick a question and get your answer.

Why was RET Japan created?

RET Japan was created in 2015 as a Japanese humanitarian non-profit organisation, officially approved by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, to provide protection through education to vulnerable young people in fragile environments in Asia and the World.

Our Parent organisation, RET International, was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 2000 by Mrs Sadako Ogata, then the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. RET International’s mission is to bridge a large gap, which no other organisations properly address, between the dire needs of youth made vulnerable by displacement, violence, armed conflicts and disasters, and today’s humanitarian assistance. RET Japan draws on the experience and approaches of RET International to become a well needed additional actor dedicated to implementing Mrs Sadako Ogata’s vision, with a longer-term focus on Asia.

During emergencies, the international community so often focuses its efforts on children or adults and young people are left lower in the list of priorities due to budgets simply not stretching far enough to encompass their needs and protection. They are often considered too old to need priority attention, as children do, and too young to be partners or leaders with whom to work. Furthermore, in crises leading to displacement, young people are not only often left aside by humanitarian aid, they also fall between the cracks of development aid, which is designed for host populations only and not refugees. In these contexts, the host communities, refugees and displaced youth remain highly vulnerable to falling into harms way.

In times of crisis young people without access to education are vulnerable to violence, illegal activities, gangs, joining armed groups, sexual abuse, forced early marriage (child brides), sex trafficking, and so much more. Education provides them with the skills to confront these threats and become positive actors of their community.

What does the acronym RET stand for?

Even if at inception and during the first years of our existence RET was an abbreviation of the Foundation for the Refugee Education Trust, the meaning has evolved with our mandate (see why here).  Today, what RET offers is Relief & Resilience through Education in Transition.


Relief from the threats of fragile environments and Resilience to cope with challenges

Relief from the threats of fragile environments and Resilience to cope with challenges

Education as the tool for individual protection and development

Transition out of crisis and towards more stable and peaceful communities, by considering young people as part of the solution

Education as the tool for individual protection and development

Transition out of crisis and towards more stable and peaceful communities, by considering young people as part of the solution

What is the legal status of RET Japan?

RET Japan is legally registered and approved as a Japanese non-profit organisation (NPO) by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government since February 2015.

RET Japan is an affiliate organisation of RET International, which is legally registered in the Register of Commerce of Geneva, Switzerland as a foundation. There exists various organisations like RET Japan such as RET Germany in Bonn and Berlin and RET USA in Washington. These organisations and their representatives work with the same mandate, passion and institutional identities as RET International. They report to RET International’s CEO for strategy and operations, who in turn reports to RET International’s Foundation Board.

Until the official registration of RET Japan, RET International (then “the Foundation for the Refugee Education Trust”) had been supported by individual donors in Japan through the Association Japan for UNHCR from 2001 to 2014. Therefore, ties with Japanese society are not new, even if the official creation of RET Japan is relatively recent.

Are RET Japan and its parent organisation RET International part of the United Nations?

Even though RET International, the parent organisation of RET Japan, is recognised by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and holds a consultative status. We are both independent organisations and are not part of the United Nations. RET International is, however, an Implementing Partner of UNHCR in various countries and an Operating Partner Globally.

We were born out of a strong relationship with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at the time of the 50th Anniversary of the UN’s Refugee Agency, when Mrs Sadako Ogata, our founder, was High Commissioner for Refugees (read more about why we were created). Also, we work closely and productively with UNHCR and other United Nations agencies (UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP, amongst others) and share a number of memorandums of understanding that foster mutual support and respectful, complementary cooperation.

We nevertheless remain independent.

Is RET Japan a religious or political organisation?

RET Japan was purposefully founded as an independent, impartial, non-partisan organisation, with no religious or political affiliations.

What are the main activities of RET Japan?

RET Japan is committed to working in emergencies and fragile environments around the world to ensure the protection and resilience of vulnerable young people and young women through education. RET Japan benefits from the experience and approaches developed by its parent organisation RET International.

Since its inception in 2015, RET Japan has been present not only in Japan, but also in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, where we are active through awareness raising, on-the-ground operations and by active learning from RET International’s experience.

Moreover, RET Japan closely monitors the different crises unfolding in Asia, especially in South-East Asian countries, where natural disasters such as cyclones, flooding and earthquakes and long-standing conflicts create large scale displacement and vulnerability for young people and their communities. RET Japan’s longer-term approach is to prepare interventions that will use the experience an knowhow of RET International and apply them in the fragile contexts of Asia.