JACO (Japan Association of Charitable Organisations) was established in 1972 and has grown to be the largest umbrella body in the charitable sector in Japan with 1,600 organisations as members. In the course of 40 years, JACO has been a highly effective advocator representing not only the view of its members but also the whole sector to government and other sectors. It has taken the lead in research and analysis on the charitable sector of Japan. JACO’s new goal is to promote and support charitable activities operated by charities and contribute to the further development of the third sector in Japan. To achieve this goal, JACO has developed three main programs: 1. dissemination and enlightenment program on charitable activities, 2. operational support and capacity development program for charitable activities, and 3. promotion of research and advocacy campaign program on charitable activities, organizations and systems. For more information visit, http://www.kohokyo.or.jp/english/eng_index.html
JACO is member of AGNA. Affinity groups are groupings of CIVICUS members that exist to take forward CIVICUS’ mission and values. The Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) brings together national associations from around the world. National associations are those organisations, which provide and give a collective voice to civil society in their countries, serve as interlocutors between civil society and other sectors and struggle for the creation of an enabling environment for civil society at the national level.
State/civil society relations:
How does the state view and relate to civil society in your country?
Government agencies in Japan understand the nature and potential role of civil society. An independent regulator, Charity Commission in Japan, that has been established within the Cabinet Office, thinks that having partnerships with national or local umbrella organisations is important to creating a better legal system and to understand the situations on the ground. In fact we sometimes have an exchange of information almost once a week. Also JACO supports their activities, such as doing/offering consulting services as a contracted business.
A relationship and partnership between civil society organisations (CSOs) and the government is becoming more common in Japan in relation to the past. For example, before the Japanese government reformed the CSO legal system, they set the meeting to understand the reality of the CSO world/context in Japan and established a committee to create better policy.
If there is something that is not understood regarding CSOs, JACO and other CSO groups provide advice and recommendations on the issues. In another example, JACO sometimes initiates advocacy campaigns with the Charity Commission against the national tax agency.
Have there been any significant changes in relations between civil society and the government in your country in the last year?
What conditions do you feel need to be in place to allow for a good relationship between the state and civil society at a national level?
The relationship between CSOs and the government in Japan is not bad, but rather, very stable. If there is an official policy document regarding partnership between government and a CSO such as COMPACT in the UK, it will be useful.
The legal and regulatory environment:
Are there any particular challenges with the legal and regulatory environment for civil society? (e.g. are the laws outdated / inappropriate / inadequate / over-complex / partial / not properly applied / adequate)?
In 2008, we had a CSO legal reform and a new General Non-profit Corporation Law (GNC) (The GNC is not allowed to share their income among their members) and Public Interest Corporation (PIC) Recognition Law were created.
In the case of the GNC, it is very easy to establish an organisation. They just need to register at the registry office, and then they can receive tax benefits.
To receive better tax benefits, the GNC must be recognised by the Charity Commission as a PIC. This is the basic structure of how we establish CSOs in Japan.
At the first stage since the new GNC and PIC law came into effect in 2008, we had several issues such as:
- Application procedures for initial registration, annual reporting forms etc. are too complicated and rather difficult.
- Principle of balancing out revenue and expenditure.
- Ratio of spending on public interest activities
- Regulation on idle assets
For example, it is too complicated and rather difficult an application procedure for initial registration and completing the annual reporting form thereafter. In the case of general registration procedures for PICs, it is very hard for small organisations to prepare the written registration form. JACO not only pointed out the problem regarding the registration form and other legal issues, but also suggested improving procedures to make them more efficient and flexible to the Charity Commission. In fact, the Commission has already started to improve authorisation. Therefore the situation of PIC is getting better.
What recent trends do you feel have enabled or restricted the efficiency of civil society?
Funding environment for CSOs:
The information indicated below comes from “Giving Japan 2010: the Annual Report on Giving and Volunteering for the year 2009”.
The total amount of annual individual giving is estimated to be 545.5 billion yen in 2009, and it is 0.12% of the nation’s nominal GDP. The total estimated amount of membership fee payment is 375.5 billion yen in 2009, and the total amount of membership fee payments and individual giving added up together is 921 billion yen. Amount of giving for religious activities is 240.9 billion yen, and accounts for the highest percentage (44.2% of the total individual giving amount), followed by giving for international cooperation (12.1%), for central, prefectural or municipal governments (9.6%), for education or research (7.8%), for emergency assistance and disaster relief (4.3%), and for community chest (3.4%). The total number of individuals who donated is 37.66 million. This number is equivalent to 34% of the total national population over 15 years old. Those who donated to community chest accounts for the highest (18.9%), followed by emergency assistance and disaster relief (9.0%), Japan Red Cross Society (7.2%), international cooperation (6.2%), and neighbourhood community associations (5.2%). Women and the elderly people are more likely to give. There seems not a correlation between donors’ educational backgrounds and their inclinations to give and giving amounts, whereas those with higher household income and assets tend to give more. The largest percentage of donors (53.1%) give via giving boxes located at local stores or their work places, followed by via giving collectors on streets (32.2%), via donation of reward points (14.8%), via click-to-donate sites (14.7%), and via postal transfer (14.5%). 66.6% of the donors gave to more than two organizations annually. The most common response for motivations/incentives of donors is “because I donate every year” (33.1%). Other motivations for giving are as follows: “because I want to contribute for wellbeing of others and the society” (30.9%), “because monetary giving is the most suitable way to make contributions” (28.0%), “because I want to compensate the lack of time to fiscally participating in volunteer activities” (26.7%), and “giving is a part of my socialization” (23.6%). The most frequent response for the question why donors do not file tax exemption is “because the giving amount is lower than the minimum for the deduction” (28.7% of all responses). The other reasons are: “because the amount exempted from tax is too small” (24.1%), “because I didn’t know about the tax exemption system” (22.7%), “because I didn’t feel like filing a claim” (12.5%), and “because the organization I donated for was not eligible for the deduction” (7.5%). 14.7% of all respondents indicate that they are willing to donate their inheritance. Also, those who hold more than 16 million yen either in financial property or real assets are more likely to donate their inheritance.
The total amount of corporate giving was 494 billion yen in 2008, equivalent to 1.4% of the total amount of corporate annual income. Due to the worldwide economic depression starting in the latter half of the year 2008, most corporate annual incomes have drastically decreased compared with the year before. However, the corporate giving amounts have slightly increased and the percentage of giving amounts within the corporate annual income is relatively stable around 1.4%.
Total amount of individual and corporate giving is 1.04 trillion yen, and each percentage of the total amount is 52.5% for the former and 47.5% for the latter. The number of corporations who made contributions or donations accounts for 256,000, equivalent to 9.8% of the total corporations in Japan. The amount of corporate giving to the field of education and research is the highest (30.5%), followed by culture and entertainment (24.0%), environmental protection (13.5%), real estate developers (8.6%), and social services (8.1%). In the past thirty years, corporations with capital stock of more than 10 billion yen have accounted for a large percentage of corporate donors. Corporate giving expenditure had gradually and constantly increased until the year 1991, especially the corporations with more than 10 billion yen in capital stock which made a drastic increase in their giving expenditure. However, these corporations decreased their giving expenditure after the year 1992, while corporations with capital stock less than 10 billion yen kept the stable increase in their giving expenditure. Corporations in industries such as construction, chemical industry, financial insurance, and transport and communications utilities have relatively higher donation amounts and percentage of giving expenditure within annual corporate income than the ones in other industries. 44.9% of corporate giving in the year 2008 was not counted as deductible expenses. In addition, among corporate donors, the percentage of those who already reached the maximum amount of deductible expenses is 35.0%.
The average monthly time spent for volunteering is 12.4 hours among individuals engaging in some forms of volunteer works throughout the year 2009. The yearly time spent for volunteering is thus 148.8 hours. The total number of volunteers is estimated to be 39.75 million, equivalent to 36.1% of the total national population over 15 years old. The total hours spent for volunteering is approximately 5.91 billion hours. The total economic value of volunteer activities is estimated to be 10.5 trillion yen, and it is equivalent to 2.2% of the national nominal GDP and twenty times larger than the total amount of estimated monetary giving amounts. At the macro level, volunteers spend significant amounts of their time for the activities of neighbourhood community associations (29.6%), and then for religious activities (9.0%), arts, culture and sports (8.6%), youth development (8.3%), and revitalizations of towns (5.8%) At the macro level, economic monetary values of volunteer works for neighbourhood community associations is the highest (3.6 trillion yen, 34.5%), volunteering for religious activities is equivalent to 868.6 billion yen (8.3%), volunteer works for arts, culture and sports is equivalent to 668.8 billion yen (6.4%), volunteering for youth development is equivalent to 622.3 billion yen (5.9%), and volunteer work for Japan Red Cross Society is equivalent to 617.6 billion yen (5.9%) Individuals volunteered for neighbourhood community associations most (19.3%), followed by community chest (11.4%), Japan Red Cross Society (8.7%), revitalizations of towns (4.5%), and youth development (4.2%). The elderly people are more likely to volunteer, whereas the gender difference is various by age cohorts and fields of activities. There seems not a correlation between volunteers’ educational backgrounds and their inclinations to volunteer. In looking at the volunteers by employment status, the percentage of executive officers in corporations and organizations is the highest (44.5%), followed by full-time government employees (44.4%), part-time and freelance workers (37.9%), unemployed (37.7%), and housewives/househusbands (35.7%) The most frequent response regarding motives/incentives for volunteering is “because I agree with the mission or objectives of the organizations or activities” (35.0%). Other main motives/incentives for volunteering are: “volunteering is a part of my socialization” (29.9%), “because volunteering is the most suitable way to make contributions” (20.5%), “because I participate in volunteer activities every year” (18.8%), and “because the organizations are trustworthy” (17.6%). 54.7% of those making monetary contributions are involved with volunteer activities, whereas 51.5% of those volunteers make monetary giving. The percentage of volunteers who donate and volunteer to the same causes is higher in emergency assistance and disaster relief (52.8%), religious activities (52.2%), international cooperation (45.2%), community chest (40.6%), and human rights protection (29.4%).