Press Conference Marking Start of Fiscal 2017

The Nippon Foundation held a press conference at its Tokyo headquarters on April 3 to announce its business plan and budget for fiscal 2017 (April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018) and report on several of its major activities. The program for the press conference was as follows:

  1. Greeting from Yohei Sasakawa (Chairman, The Nippon Foundation)
  2. Introduction to Fiscal 2017 Business Plan and Budget
  3. Activity Reports
    1. Results of Survey of Adoptive Families
    2. Results of Survey on Awareness of Bequests
    3. The Nippon Foundation Social Innovator Forum 2017
    4. Report on Support in Response to the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes
    5. Presentation of Business Plan and Budget (business plan list by prefecture)
  4. Question and Answer Session
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The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa welcomes members of the media.

Approximately 90 members of the media, representing television, newspaper, and magazine outlets attended the press conference. The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa welcomed the attendees and noted, “Japan faces a variety of social issues, and the time has come where these issues cannot be solved by national and local governments and NGOs alone. The Nippon Foundation’s approach is to identify issues, discuss them with various parties, decide on a direction and create a model case, and once implemented, promote that model nationwide.” He was followed by the Foundation’s Executive Directors, who presented the budget and plans for their respective areas of responsibility. The Foundation’s total budget for the new fiscal year is approximately ¥30.9 billion, and plans have been finalized for 414 activities. Next, staff responsible for several of the Foundation’s major ongoing activities presented reports on those activities.

Results of Survey of Adoptive Families

In Japan today, a scarcity of foster care and special adoption programs means that roughly 85% of children who require protective care live in nurseries or childcare institutions. The United Nations has declared that for children who cannot be able to be raised by their biological parents, priority should be given to placing them into permanent, family settings. In Japan, this process is called “special adoption.” Recognizing that special adoption is an important aspect of child welfare, The Nippon Foundation launched the Happy Yurikago Project in 2013. In addition to providing financial support to private-sector organizations to promote awareness and the use of special adoption and foster care, this project has involved making policy recommendations and collecting signatures for petitions to revise the Child Welfare Act. The Child Welfare Act was revised effective April 1, 2017, and now includes a basic principle that children should be raised in family settings through foster care or special adoption. It also requires local governments to establish consultation centers for special adoption.

Given the difficulty of contacting adoptive families in Japan after the adoption process is complete, there have been few surveys of adoptive families to date and little information regarding the actual situation for adoptive parents and adopted children is available. The Nippon Foundation therefore carried out a survey in August 2016 of adoptive families where the adopted child was at least 15 years old, to shed light on the daily lives of adoptive parents and adopted children, and serve as a starting point for considering what types of support measures are needed going forward.

The survey showed that more than 90% of adoptive parents are glad they adopted a child. Roughly 90% of adopted children also indicated that they are glad to be living with their adoptive parents, and feel loved by their adoptive parents. One in four adopted children, however, has had negative feelings about being adopted. More than 90% of adopted children know that they are adopted, and of these, more than 80% are glad to have been told of the fact. In addition, children raised in adoptive families do better in school than children who have been raised in foster care or childcare facilities. Respondents also expressed a desire for long-term support after adoption, opportunities to interact with other adoptive families, and a better system for finding information regarding biological parents.

Results of Survey on Awareness of Bequests

In April 2016, The Nippon Foundation established a support center to provide free consultation on end-of-life issues including bequests. Before opening the support center, the Foundation in March 2016 carried out an internet survey of persons aged 20 to 79 regarding these issues, and a total of 3,097 replies were received (1,498 men and 1,599 women). The results showed that one in five people aged 60 or older who have been involved with an inheritance experienced difficulties, and close to half of these cases were issues involving siblings.

The survey also showed that among people aged 60 or older, 4.9% had created wills and 22.4% were considering or were interested in creating a will, while roughly 70% replied that they had no interest in creating a will. The most common reason for not creating a will, at roughly half, was not having sufficient assets to necessitate a will, followed by satisfaction with the legally designated process for distributing assets, trust that the family will handle the process amicably, and that it was too early to think about a will.

Among people who wanted to discuss these issues but had not done so, older respondents were most interested in the amount of assets that could be passed on and what to pass on to whom, while younger respondents were most interested in how to manage inherited assets, inheritance taxes, and making gifts while still alive. Also, regarding the amount of assets to be passed on, more than 60% of younger respondents said that they did not mind if their parents did not leave much for them, and more than 60% of older respondents responded that they did not intend to leave a large inheritance, suggesting relatively little interest in inheritance among both parents and children.

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Members of the media at the press conference

With regard to bequests, more than 20% of older respondents indicated an interest in making a bequest, with 2% expressing a firm intention to do so, 8.6% expressing an interest in making a donation that would make a social contribution, and 12.2% expressing a general interest in making a bequest. In addition, close to half of younger respondents replied that they would approve if their parents expressed a desire to make a bequest.

The group with the most interest in making a bequest was people without a spouse or children, with 43% of these respondents indicating a desire to do so. Interest was also high among couples with no children, at 33%. Nevertheless, even among respondents with no spouse or children who wanted to leave a bequest, only 1% had already recorded that intention in their will, showing that there is a large gap between intention and implementation.

The Nippon Foundation Social Innovation Forum 2017

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The Social Innovation Team’s Hayato Hanaoka gives an overview of the Social Innovation Forum

Japan is facing an increasing number of social issues that are difficult to resolve, including child poverty, difficulty finding employment, and an aging society. The Nippon Foundation Social Innovation Forum 2017 will bring together representatives of government, private-sector companies, NGOs, and research institutions to facilitate cooperation among these parties and promote the resolution of these issues through new concepts and networks that transcend traditional organizational boundaries. The first Social Innovation Forum was held in September 2016, and this year’s event will be the second. Again this year, “social innovators” from across Japan who are using novel approaches to resolve these issues are being invited to submit entries to the Forum. Entries will be accepted from April 17 to May 19, and in late July, 10 entries will be selected as support recipients and will receive five million yen to support their social innovation activities.

These social innovators will also participate in the Forum itself, to be held in Tokyo for three days beginning November 17, and set up booths to introduce their activities. One of these presenters will be selected as the “Exceptional Social Innovator” and two will be selected as “Outstanding Social Innovators,” with the Exceptional Social Innovator receiving support of up to 100 million yen annually for up to three years, and the Outstanding Social Innovators receiving up to 50 million yen annually for up to three years.

In addition to the presentation explaining this year’s Social Innovation Forum, last year’s Exceptional Social Innovator, Yu Iwamoto of the Education Development Project of Shimane Prefecture, submitted a video message in which he expressed words of encouragement for this year’s Forum.

Report on Support in Response to the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes

On April 19, 2016, The Nippon Foundation announced support for reconstruction from the series of earthquakes that had struck Kumamoto and neighboring prefectures several days earlier (the strongest occurring on April 14 and 16), in an amount totaling 9.3 billion yen. As of March 31, 2017, allocations had been finalized for projects totaling 12.0 billion yen. The breakdown is as follows:

(Amounts in million yen) Announced on April 19, 2016 Allocations as of March 31, 2017
Emergency relief 300 376
Support for activities by NGOs and volunteers 1,000 320
Condolence and consolation monies 2,000 4,751
Financing structure for rebuilding of homes and businesses (Wagamachi Fund) (*1) 3,000 3,600
Support for repairs to Kumamoto Castle (*2) 3,000 3,000
Total (*3) 9,300 12,046
  1. To be implemented under a three-year plan, with 1,288 million allotted during fiscal 2016.
  2. To be implemented under a six-year plan from fiscal 2017
    In addition to these initially announced measures, The Nippon Foundation has allocated 366 million yen to support social welfare facilities, 13 million yen to dispatch student volunteers, and 80 million yen to hold events for elementary and junior high school children in damaged areas. We have also received contributions for Kumamoto support of 225 million yen from the Kirin KIZUNA Relief-Support Project,(*4) and from Philip Morris Japan and Johnson & Johnson toward projects totaling 457 million yen, bringing the total amount of support for recovery from the Kumamoto earthquakes to 12,716 million yen.(*3)
  3. Differences between sums and totals are due to rounding.
  4. Based on a comprehensive agreement concluded by Kumamoto Prefecture, the Kirin Group, and The Nippon Foundation. Allocations totaling 17 million yen for four projects have been finalized to date.

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