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Habitat for Humanity Japan

Country Profile

Downloadable Country Profile (.pdf)

Habitat for Humanity International opened an office in Japan in 2001 to handle the increasing number of Global Village volunteers from Japan and to provide guidance to several campus chapters that had been formed. In November 2003, Habitat for Humanity Japan was officially registered as a non-profit organization. HFH Japan’s main activities are in mobilizing volunteers for overseas builds and local disaster response efforts as well as raising awareness of Habitat’s work. When disasters strike, HFH Japan also appeals for funds to support rebuilding efforts in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere.

Housing needs in Japan

Behind its economic, industrial and financial strength, Japan is
changing. While the people enjoy very high standards of living, the
capital Tokyo and Osaka regularly top the rankings of the world’s
most expensive cities. Among the younger generation and femaleheaded households, social problems ranging from unemployment and poverty are more visible than in the past although less pervasive than in some higher income countries.

How Habitat for Humanity works in Japan

In response to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, HFH Japan sent volunteers to worst-hit Iwate and Miyagi prefectures to help families rebuild their lives. In the process, HFH Japan worked with local governments as well as local non-governmental organization partners such as Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center and All Hands Volunteers. HFH Japan also initiated a Home Repair project for families whose homes were damaged in the disaster.

Solar home recovery project

Habitat for Humanity Japan launched its first disaster response project after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan in March 2011. Locally-based volunteers were mobilized by HFH Japan to clear houses and community buildings of mud and debris. Habitat volunteers also distributed home starter kits as families moved into temporary shelter and supported the repair of damaged houses through the Home Repair Project. The Solar Home Recovery Project began in May 2013 in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture, to provide sustainable sources of solar energy. In August 2014, HFH Japan responded to landslides in Hiroshima by raising funds and sending staff to assess the damage as well as supporting Hiroshima-based volunteers to rebuild homes.

Community revitalization

In 2006, HFH Japan became a member of Japan Platform, a non-profit organization that pools government funds and private donations to support disaster response efforts of Japanese non-governmental organizations. With Japan Platform’s funding, HFH Japan helped internally displaced and flood-affected families in Sri Lanka as well as supported a flood response project in Bangladesh. HFH Japan also raises funds for disaster response efforts in the region and elsewhere. Such support in the past included Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (2013); flooding in Thailand (2012); earthquake in Haiti (2010); earthquake in West Sumatra, Indonesia, and Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines (2009); and others.

Volunteer engagement

Each year, HFH Japan sends about 1,000 volunteers overseas on Global Village trips. The top three Asian destinations are Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Cambodia, but volunteers also head to Europe and Central Asia. Habitat also engages young people through campus chapters which have a total of about 1,500 members who advocate, raise funds and take part in Habitat builds in Japan and overseas. In 2014, more than 5,000 Global Village volunteers helped to rebuild homes for Philippine families affected by 2013’s Tyhoon Haiyan under the Habitat Youth BUILD campaign.

Meet a Habitat family

Fumiko Goto, 77, who lives in Misato, Miyagi prefecture, was affected by the earthquake and tsunami that struck in March 2011. Her house was badly damaged with cracked walls and shattered windows. Although she was given a government subsidy to repair the windows, she was not able to do so due to her limited income as a rice farmer. Soon after, she moved in to stay with her mother-in-law.

She came across a flyer on Habitat for Humanity Japan’s home repair project and immediately rang to seek help. After assessing the damage, HFH Japan carried out repairs on the cracked walls with the help of staff and volunteers.

“The students remind me of my grand kids – - they are all so precious! I just loved having them around. Everyone worked so hard. I’ll never forget this experience,” Fumiko. “Thanks to all the help I got, today I’m no longer afraid to be home. Please come visit me soon, I’d love to spoil you and feed you!”

COUNTRY FACTS

Capital: Tokyo

Population: 127.1 million (July 2014 est.)

Urbanization: 91.3 percent of population (2011)

Life expectancy : 85 years

Unemployment rate: 4.1 percent (2013 est.)

Population living below poverty line: 16 percent (2010)

Access to improved water sources: 100 percent

Access to improved sanitation facilities 100 percent

Source: World Factbook