Posts Tagged ‘charities’

Eat a potato chip and send a kid to college

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

They care

Besides manufacturing stuff, what do condiment maker Kagome, snacks producer Calbee and pharmaceutical company Rohto have in common? Not much, but in any case the three firms have joined forces to establish a foundation called Michinoku Mirai (Northern Region Future) to provide funds for young people who were orphaned by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami to pay for university or post-secondary vocational school. According to the Health Welfare and Labor Ministry, about 1,500 youngsters aged 18 or less lost both parents in the disaster, and starting in March 2012, those who graduate from high school and wish to continue their education can apply for up to ¥3 million a year from the fund to pay for anything related to that education, including entry fees, tuition and supplies.

The three companies estimate that the fund will need about ¥200 million a year, and each one will start by contributing ¥30 million for the first year, with the remainder coming from solicited contributions. They will continue supplying the fund with money for 20 years, at which point children who were orphaned as infants by the disaster will have graduated from high school. The reason the fund was created is that there is no public support in Japan for the continuing education of orphans. When orphans reach the age of 18, they are on their own. Foster care ends at 18, and since in Japan there is very little in the way of what in the West are called scholarships — meaning education grants — orphans almost never attend university. The exception is the long-standing, specialized private foundation Ashinaga Ikueikai, which provides educational support to orphans all their lives, from elementary to graduate school.

Let them rent mansions: Compensation for disaster victims will barely make a difference

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Cleaning up after the March 11 tsunami in Sendai (Satoko Kawasaki photo/The Japan Times)

For seven weeks now people from all over the world have been donating money to various charities to help the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. According to NHK’s morning consumer affairs show, “Asaichi,” as of April 25 ¥1.7 billion had been collected by Japan Red Cross and other charity organizations. After going through four stages of bureaucratic processing the money was supposed to start reaching victims on April 27. In the first wave of payments, affected households would receive ¥350,000 for each family member who died or is declared missing. If the family completely lost its home in the disaster, it would receive an additional ¥350,000. If the home was partially destroyed, the amount would be ¥180,000. Families who have been evacuated from the area surrounding the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear reactor receive ¥350,000.

That cash will certainly help, but as explained in an earlier post the burden of rebuilding shattered lives mainly falls on the central government, which will only compensate homeowners and businesses by so much. And as explained in another post, earthquake insurance, like supplemental medical insurance, is not designed to cover entire losses. Basically, benefits provide a little extra money, something to live off of while a homeowner or business owner decides whether or not he wants to go through the grueling process of starting over from scratch, which means borrowing money. NHK interviewed a Sendai family whose 4-year-old home was spared from the tsunami but nevertheless condemned by the local government because the landfill under it had subsided to the point where the foundation was at risk. They still owe more than ¥20 million on their 30-year mortgage and though they have earthquake insurance the benefits will cover, at most, only half the balance; which means they have to come up with the other half of the loan themselves. Then, presumably, they have to take out a new loan if they want to buy a new house. According to one financial planner on the show, they’d be better off renting, “but, of course there are financial disadvantages to renting,” she added. Obviously, in this case, there are even bigger disadvantages in owning.

Continue reading about disaster compensation →

Tax deductions and the myth of the “no-donation culture”

Monday, March 8th, 2010

From heaven Audrey guarantees your donation to UNICEF is tax deductible

From heaven Audrey guarantees that your donation to UNICEF is tax deductible

Around this time of year, letters to the editors sections of the national newspapers are filled with tales of people filing income tax returns and coming away confused. One 65-year-old man wrote to the Asahi Shimbun recently about tax deductions for donations to charities and non-profit organizations. He brought receipts for four donations he made, and the tax office accepted two of them, one for UNICEF and the other for Doctors Without Borders, but rejected the other two, both of which were for contributions he made to local NPOs who worked with homeless people. The letter writer was understandably disappointed and quoted the well-know physician, Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, who is a strong advocate for a broad and transparent tax deduction system so that Japanese people will contribute more freely.

Japanese people donate about ¥260 billion a year to charities, while Americans donate about ¥20.4 trillion, or 8 times as much. Accordingly, Japan has been called, usually by the Japanese themselves, a “no-donation culture,” which makes it sound as if the very idea of contributing to charities were something they can’t get their heads around. This is a myth, or, at least, a convenient means of explaining the lack of structural encouragement for donations. Almost every day on the news you see people collecting money for immediate, specific needs, like earthquake relief or overseas surgery for some poor sick kid, and people always give, but in those situations we’re talking small change. On a larger level people don’t give because they are not encouraged to do so.

Continue reading about making donations in Japan →

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