Japan -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
IMAGES OF JAPAN EVOKE “BULLET” trains speeding across beautiful landscapes, anime comics, serene Zen gardens, and neon-lit cities filled with colorful, hip young Japanese. All are today’s modern Japan.
According to the International Monetary Fund’s 2006 rankings, Japan boasts the second-largest economy in the world. The country is also an active donor of overseas development assistance.
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.
Behind the 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.
Habitat for Humanity International opened a support office in 2001 to accommodate the increasing numbers 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. Today, HFH Japan is a full-scale national office with affiliates in Tokyo and Osaka.
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.
HFH Japan sends up to 800 volunteers overseas via Global Village trips each year. The top three Asian destinations are the Philippines, Thailand and India, but many volunteers are also heading to Europe, Hawaii and the US mainland. New trips planned for 2007 include Kyrgyzstan in central Asia.
Campus chapters involve about 800 volunteers in advocacy, fundraising, international and local projects. Campus chapters and individual students are regularly honored at Habitat awards ceremonies.
Habitat’s other key partners in Japan include non-governmental organizations such as Hope International, church groups like Japan Baptist Mission and Kobe Union Church as well as business corporations such as Cosmos Initia Co., Ltd, a Japanese real estate company.
• In March 2007, a five-member team kicked off HFH Japan’s pilot Learn & Build program when they worked at four build sites in Dade City, Florida, USA.
• Habitat helped to raise funds and explored ways of playing a role in reconstruction following a March 2007 earthquake in Noto peninsula in northeastern Japan.
• In January 2007, HFH Japan launched the House Supporter Project to call for 3,000 yen (about US$25) monthly donations from individuals or groups in the country to sponsor houses in countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.
• Three HFH Japan Campus Chapters organized a charity event called “Bangla” in December 2006 to raise nearly 610,000 yen (more than US$5,000) to construct one house in Bangladesh.
• In July 2006, HFH Japan partnered with HFH Pakistan to provide sawmill services to help reconstruction efforts in earthquake-affected Balakot district. The Japan Platform funded the project through HFH Japan.
• Partnering with the Japan Baptist Mission, HFH Japan set up a Habitat booth at the World Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan. The six-month event, attended by 13 million people, helped to raise awareness and recruit volunteers.
Population: 127.4 million (July 2007 est.)
Area: 377,835 sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, others 0.7%
Religions: Shinto and Buddhist 84%, others 16% (including Christian 0.7%)