Spotlight: Japan, civil society after the tsunami

Oliver Henman was Head of Partnerships & International at NCVO, and blogged about civil society around the world. Oliver left NCVO in July 2014 but his posts have been kept here for reference.

In the build-up to the joint CIVICUS event at NCVO on 3 July we will spotlight a number of key partners from across the world who have been active in NCVO’s international membership

yoshiharu-shiraishi_japan-association-of-chartitable-organisations_jacoYoshiharu Shiraishi, Japan Association of Chartitable Organisations (JACO)

In Japan, every time great earthquake or major disaster occurs, a role of CSO has always been reconsidered. When the East Japan Great Earthquake occurred in March 2011, a number of CSOs responded to local needs and the amount of donations increased rapidly. Also, more and more opportunities for CSOs arose to work with government as a partner. Thinking back over the past decades, when the Hanshin-Awaji Great Earthquake occurred in 1995, the role of CSOs had also been reconsidered. In fact, a new legal entity called Specified Nonprofit Corporation was created in 1998. 112 years to the day since 1896, PIC legal and taxation systems have reformed and new independent regulator called Public Interest Corporation Commission (PICC) was newly created in 2008. Japan had a national consensus of modeling this on the charity system in the UK.

CSO legal and taxation systems have developed very fast since 1995 but some CSO legal issues still remain such as: (1) the legal system which is quite confused due to the existence of too many different types of legal entities, and; (2) the application procedures for initial registration and annual reporting forms are complicated and difficult.

At present, JACO has a good relationship with the new commission (PICC) therefore we have several opportunities to share our messages with policy-makers and to create a better legal system. Also information disclosure among CSOs is increasing, therefore it is expected that a culture of giving will continue to develop.

JACO (The Japan Association of Charitable Organizations) is a  registered charity which gives voice and support to civil society.  JACO,  established in 1972, is the largest umbrella body in the Public Interest Corporation (PIC) sector of Japan with 1,650 dominantorganizations in membership, and is fulfilling its mission by  undertaking a wide variety of activities covering a diverse range of  civil society organizations.

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