Volunteers engaged in FY20: 1,765
- Capital: Tokyo
- Population: 126 million
- Life expectancy: 84 years
- Unemployment rate: 2.4 percent
Source: World Bank
Habitat for Humanity in Japan
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. Habitat Japan has continually mobilized volunteers under the Global Village program. In the financial year ended June 30, 2018, a record number of 1,430 GV volunteers from Japan were sent on various Habitat builds including the first team to Africa. With the launch of the Project HomeWorks program in Japan in April 2017, Habitat’s volunteers help to improve the living conditions of older people and people with disabilities.
The housing need in Japan
In Japan’s rapidly aging society, more people over the age of 65 are now living on their own. Based on government data in 2016, there were over 6 million older people who lived alone. Older people with health problems tend to stay in their homes and lose ties to the community.As their physical and mental health declines, they may continue living in unsafe and unhygienic conditions without seeking support.
With the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, older people, individuals with disabilities, single-parent households and those with unstable livelihoods face greater difficulties in accessing low-cost rental housing. In addition to limited supply, landlords are reluctant to accept these vulnerable groups as tenants due to the lack of stable income.
With the support of volunteers, Habitat partners with these vulnerable groups in accessing new rental apartments as well as cleaning up homes. In fiscal year 2020, Habitat mobilized over 200 local volunteers and served 59 households in Japan.
How Habitat addresses the need in Japan
International volunteer builds
Through Habitat’s Global Village program, teams of volunteers from Japan build homes with families in the Asia-Pacific region and other parts of the world. Due to strong support, Habitat Japan had expected to break its record of mobilizing over 1,500 volunteers in fiscal year 2020 if not for the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country in February 2020.
Habitat Japan has nearly two decades of experience engaging youth volunteers. With the addition of eight new student-led groups, there are now 52 campus chapters with 2,600 young people supporting Habitat Japan’s work. Students advocate and raise funds as well as volunteer with Habitat locally and overseas. Campus chapter members are also strong supporters of the Habitat Young Leaders Build campaign that rallies young people to volunteer, fundraise and speak out for the need for decent homes.
Launched in April 2017, Project HomeWorks mobilizes local volunteers to improve the living conditions of vulnerable groups, particularly older people and those with disabilities. Volunteers help to clean their homes and make simple repairs. Habitat Japan also offers counsel and support to vulnerable households who are looking for affordable homes. Since the launch of the project, Habitat Japan has mobilized more than 800 volunteers to help over 170 households have a place where they can call home.
When a major disaster strikes, Habitat Japan appeals for funding to support post-disaster reconstruction efforts. In the event of a domestic disaster, Habitat mobilizes local volunteers to clear debris and disseminate information on the revitalization of homes, among other needs. Habitat Japan responded to its first major disaster after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan in March 2011. Habitat also helped families affected by the Kumamoto earthquake in April 2016.