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Habitat for Humanity Japan

Country Profile

Downloadable Country Profile (.pdf)

Habitat for Humanity International opened a support office in 2001 to accommodate the increasing number of Global Village volunteers originating from Japan and to guide the numerous campus chapters that were formed. In November 2003, Habitat’s presence was upgraded and expanded when it obtained a formal non-profit organization status. In 2005, HFH Japan partnered with the Japan Baptist Mission to organize Habitat booths at the six-month World Expo in Aichi prefecture. Today, HFH Japan is a full-scale national office with affiliates in Tokyo and Osaka. Habitat is involved in disaster response after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan in March 2011. HFH Japan has mobilized locally-based volunteers to clear houses and community buildings of mud and debris, distributed home starter kits as families move into temporary shelter and supported the repair of damaged houses.

Housing needs in Japan

Behind its economic, industrial and financial strength, Japan is changing. Social problems ranging from homelessness to unemployment are more acute and more visible than in the past. However, social ills are less pervasive than those found in other industrialized societies. While Japan’s citizens enjoy very high standards of living, costs are also steep with Tokyo and Osaka regularly topping the rankings of the world’s most expensive cities.

How Habitat for Humanity works in Japan

Each year, HFH Japan sends hundreds of volunteers overseas via Global Village trips. The top three Asian destinations are India, Thailand and Indonesia, but volunteers also head to Europe and Central Asia, such as Romania. Campus chapters involve about 1,200 volunteers in advocacy, fundraising, international and local projects. Campus chapters and individual students are regularly honored at Habitat volunteer awards ceremonies.

In 2006, Habitat became a member of the Japan Platform, a non-profit organization that pools government funds and private donations to provide emergency relief and reconstruction assistance for victims of natural disasters and conflicts.

Since March 2011, HFH Japan has been working with government and local non-governmental organization partners such as Peace Boat and All Hands Volunteers to send volunteers to earthquake-affected Iwate and Miyagi prefectures to help families rebuild their lives.

Supporting Habitat’s work overseas

With funding from Japan Platform, HFH Japan supports projects in Sri Lanka to rebuild lives of people affected by civil war and flooding in the north and the east. Supported by the same donor, HFH Japan helped flood-affected families in Bangladesh in 2007 and earthquake-hit Pakistani families in 2006. HFH Japan was involved in appealing for funds for families affected by the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the September 2009 earthquake in West Sumatra, Indonesia, and Typhoon Ketsana which hit the Philippines around the same time.

Partners

Habitat has worked with church groups like Tokyo Union Church, Japan Baptist Mission and Kobe Union Church. There are also supporters from the business world such as Nissan, Credit Suisse, Oakwood, and Daiwa House and from foundations such as Tokyo-based International Ladies Benevolent Society.

HABITAT HIGHLIGHTS

  • October 2011: By the six-month anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, HFH Japan had mobilized more than 340 local volunteers to clean up nearly 390 homes and com- munity buildings. Another 54 homes had been repaired.
  • October 2011: HFH Japan extended a project funded by Japan Platform to build houses for 100 displaced people in two districts in northern Sri Lanka.
  • September 2011: HFH Japan held summer camp for about 100 members of campus chapters to share their Habitat experiences and gain a better understanding of Habitat’s work.
  • July 2011: With funds from Japan Platform, HFH Japan sup- ported the distribution of 235 emergency shelter kits which helped about 1,000 flooded-affected people in Batticaloa district, eastern Sri Lanka
  • July 2011: Eleven campus chapters across the country held a national donation drive for Habitat’s response to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
  • June 2011: Standard Chartered banking group handed over a check for 32 million yen (about US$400,000) for Habitat for Humanity’s Rebuilding Japan tsunami response program. The money was raised by bank employees from around the world with Standard Chartered providing a matching gift to its staff members’ contributions.
  • March 2011: Indonesia-based Asia Pulp & Paper Group donated 100 million yen (about US$1.25 million) to the Rebuilding Japan program. The funds support Habitat in clearing and repairing homes, distribution of home starter and winter kits, and mobilization of volunteers in communities affected by the March 2011 earthquake.
  • March 2011: HFH Japan sent a university volunteer team, “Nissan Hope Builders”, to Chennai, southern India, where Nissan supported a project to build 75 houses.
  • September 2010: Some 60 guests paid to attend HFH Japan’s Habitat Premium Night held at Oakwood Premier Tokyo Midtown apartments in Tokyo.
  • November 2009: HFH Japan sent 15 volunteers including retired football legend Hidetoshi Nakata to the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. The volunteers primarily built at the main site in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in the annual Habitat signature event. The other sites were in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Sichuan, China.

COUNTRY FACTS

Population: 126,475,664 (July 2011 est.)

Capital: Tokyo

Area: 377,915 sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6% (2004)

Languages: Japanese

Religions: Shintoism 83.9%, Buddhism 71.4%, Christianity 2%, other 7.8% (2005)

Literacy: 99% (2002 census)

Urbanization: 66% (2008)

Access to Improved Water Sources: 100% (2008)

Access to Improved Sanitation Facilities: 100% (2008)

Sources: The World Factbook, World Bank