a Run for the Cure Foundation in Japan | IE3 Global
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Run for the Cure Foundation in Japan | Tokyo, Japan

Jessica Tran and RFTC staff June 2016

More photos from this internship can be found here.

Run for the Cure Foundation (RFTC) is a unique non-profit, working to raise awareness about breast cancer and affect social change at the individual level across Japan. Aided by the support of major corporations and organizations that are willing to donate time, money, goods, and energy to fulfill their mission of eradicating breast cancer in Japan, RFTC runs a variety of educational and awareness-building programs, including publishing a quarterly magazine in English and Japanese. Interns will gain hands-on experience in outreach and fundraising by supporting the Foundation’s annual events and ongoing educational programs. Outreach touches on early detection and screening, as well as survivor support and wellness.  Interns will learn about the different ways of dealing with the issue of breast cancer across cultures, due to the multicultural background of the team.

Duration of Internship:

  • 10 weeks – 24 weeks

The Run for the Cure Foundation (RFTC) is a non-profit organization focused on breast cancer awareness in Japan. Operating in Tokyo since 2003, their mission is to eradicate breast cancer in Japan as a life-threatening disease through education, timely screening, and treatment. They also hope to impact social change at the individual level by sharing knowledge and empowering people.

RFTC funds education initiatives, donates funds to organizations that promote related activities, and develops and executes community outreach programs. The Foundation also funds clinical examinations (3,600+ to date) and has donated six mammography machines in areas where women are underserved, benefitting more than 18,000 women to date.

RFTC holds multiple events each year open to the general public to raise funds and awareness of their cause. Some annual fundraisers include:

  • Run for the Cure/Walk for Life: held in Tokyo at the end of each year, this lively event draws close to 1,000 participants who take part in the annual 10K/5K run or 3K walk to raise funds and awareness about breast cancer.
  • Pink Ball: the Foundation’s biggest charity event of the year, usually held in early spring. It is a black-tie fundraising gala dedicated to advancing breast cancer research, education, and awareness. It is the Foundation’s goal for at least 75% of ticket sales and auction proceeds to go directly toward achieving RFTC’s mission. 250 guests were in attendance in 2014, enjoying a night of good food and top-notch entertainment, while supporting a worthy cause and raising 14 million yen.
  • Cuisine for the Cure: a charity dinner hosted by different embassies in Tokyo in early summer. Guests to this fundraiser are treated to entertainment, auctions, and great food. The 2014 event was themed “Grazie Italia!” providing delectable Southern Italian cuisine at the renowned gardens at the Italian Embassy. The 2016 event was held at the Australian Embassy.
  • Casino Night: a night of gambling and entertainment, rounded out with live and silent auctions to raise funds for RFTC. In its first year (2013), the event attracted more than 300 people. This event typically takes place in September at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Tokyo.

Other outreach efforts include the PiNK Beauty Party, a special day of beauty treatments for breast cancer survivors and their families, and the Lemon Project, RFTC’s free education initiative to increase awareness about breast cancer. The Lemon Project provides information about the signs of breast cancer and how to conduct self-examinations, using lemons! The free seminars can be held in English or Japanese and last approximately one hour, reaching up to 200 people in each session.

RFTC also publishes PiNK, Japan’s only magazine dedicated to breast cancer. 18,000+ copies of the quarterly magazine are distributed free-of-charge nationwide, providing the latest information about breast cancer treatment and related health and lifestyle topics in English and Japanese. For more information about RFTC, visit their webpage.

Interns will typically work on fundraising or outreach programs, depending on their interests, skills, and current projects. The small but very international staff at RFTC welcome 2-3 interns each term, and interns are given significant responsibility.

Outreach programs like the Lemon Project, PiNK Beauty Parties, and preparation of the PiNK magazine occur throughout the year. Interns wishing to support fundraising and events should keep in mind the timeline of their internship and when each event occurs. Internships leading up to a fundraising event will include support of the planning, coordination, and execution of the events. Interns may be asked to assist with PR, outreach, database management and record keeping, sponsor solicitation, donor relations, ticket sales, and entertainment. Typically, events are organized by a group of English and Japanese speaking staff and volunteers. The interns will need to work closely with the staff and volunteers to coordinate and provide administrative support before and after events, and represent the organization during planning and execution.

Some past intern tasks include:

  • Organizing donation solicitation letters for corporations, organizations, individuals, embassies, etc.
  • Updating the member and donor/donation database
  • Updating the ticket sales database
  • Providing support leading up to and on event days
  • Organizing thank you letters to donors
  • Assisting with PR efforts, such as creating materials for advertising, social media, and outreach
  • Translation, proofreading, and editing of PiNK magazine materials

Academic Background

This internship is well-suited to students from a variety of academic backgrounds, including but not limited to: International Studies, Japanese Language and Culture, Asia Students, Sociology, Intercultural/Multicultural Students, Women’s Health, Public Health, and Non-Profit Management.


Interns should have general computer skills (MS Office suite), excellent English or Japanese writing skills, and be able to work independently. Ideal candidates are detail-oriented and have experience with event Planning/Management, PR, or Communications. A background or strong interest in community issues, intercultural communication, research, women’s or public health, and policy development are also a plus.

Language Requirements

English and/or Japanese. Some Japanese language and cultural background is useful, and strong candidates will be able to demonstrate cross-cultural awareness. The team at RFTC is multicultural and events and publications are in Japanese and English.

Other Requirements

Interns will be required to join events that take place in the evening or on weekends. Male and female interns are encouraged to apply, but all should be prepared to deal with sensitive women’s issues.

Estimated One-Time Expenses

  • IE3 Global Program Fee: $3,450
  • Host Site Fees: $1,000 (offsets the costs of arranging the internship and includes in-country orientation and support)
  • International Travel: $1,600
  • Visa Fees: $100 if longer than 90 days
  • Recommended Immunizations: $300

Estimated Monthly Expenses

  • Housing: $900
  • Food: $400
  • Local Transportation: $250
  • Recreation: $150
  • Personal Expenses: $100

RFTC provides a 500 Yen stipend per work day for lunch costs, when funds are available. RFTC will provide a small stipend to help with commuting transportation costs of approximately $120/month.

Interns arrange their own housing, with assistance and recommendations from a local contact. Interns have the option to stay in shared houses, apartments, or dormitories.

Final Reports:


“In terms of professional rewards, I think the biggest things I learned is the power of positivity in a professional work environment. Although I had known that optimism was important in the workplace prior to my internship, I was really able to see the extent of that power during my time working because it made the environment so much more welcoming and fun, which also increased productivity. I think my greatest personal reward was rediscovering and deepening my passion for Japan. Although I have wanted to go to Japan for a really long time, as my college career progressed, I became less enthusiastic about it because I was always stressed and overwhelmed with academics, work and extra-curricular activities. However, having the time to actually live in the country made me remember all the reasons why I fell in love with Japan in the first place and in some ways, I feel like a piece of me that was missing was found. I really feel like I belong in Japan and I can’t wait to continue learning more about its culture in the future.”

- Jessica, Oregon State University, Spring 2016

“I have been lucky to be able to do a wide variety of things. I have helped with event planning, sponsor coordination, and donation collection while being able to help with PiNK Magazine, website updates, and sending out newsletters. I update the website anytime it is needed, and compose newsletters every other week to send to our sponsors and friends. I have made a ton of contacts with new possible sponsors and reached out to previous donors to ensure more support. Planning for our annual Run for the Cure/Walk for Life and the 10th annual Pink Ball has also been an everyday task. I do so much work here and I feel very valuable to the team. I was even part of the screening and interviewing process for hiring a new employee. I was the person to do the initial screening and was involved in all the interviews. It is very nice to feel like an asset, especially since I am only an intern.”

– Alexis, University of Oregon, Summer 2012


Fall | Spring | Summer

Application Deadline

Summer: January 25

Fall: April 15

Spring: November 15

Basic Requirements

-Experience with fundraising, event planning, marketing, communications, or publishing is preferred.

-Ideal for students with backgrounds in public health, women’s health, Asia studies, Japanese language, and business.

-Open to all backgrounds, but interns should be prepared to deal with sensitive women’s issues.