Japan Chair Platform: The Untapped Potential of Japanese Civil Society

Civil society in Japan is far more vibrant than it was 20 years ago as Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) have grown significantly in number and expanded their range of activities. There are some 80,000 civil society organizations now operating in Japan engaged in various endeavors, so it is hard to generalize about this sector except to say that Japan gains much from their efforts and from citizen mobilization in support of their tasks.

It is now a dozen years since legislation was passed that facilitated the establishment of NPOs, but few observers are satisfied with the prevailing regulatory environment. Gaining official recognition for a NPO remains time consuming and costly, and it is hard to see any need to maintain all the red tape. Given that most NPOs suffer from scarce financial resources and understaffing, it is clear that the tedious demands of the bureaucracy are an unhelpful diversion from their tasks.

Jeff Kingston