The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

As a member of the global business community in Japan, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) is committed to corporate social responsibility. And in this time of increasing polarization, it has never been more important for us to come together in support of the less fortunate in our host country. While Japan remains a leading economy, and its society and culture attract ever-growing admiration, there remain many opportunities for the ACCJ to demonstrate leadership in community service.

The ACCJ Charity Ball Committee (CBC) works closely with the Community Service Advisory Council (CSAC) to activate this effort with the generous participation of member companies and the membership at large. The annual Charity Ball is a time when we come together to share our success in Japan with each other and, at the same time, generate funding for charities qualified by a rigorous process.

Each year, the CBC and CSAC choose several charities to promote, publicize, and support with the funds raised through the Charity Ball in Tokyo. We favor smaller non-profit organizations with specific needs that work to help the homeless and support women’s issues, children, education and US–Japan relations. This year our charities focus on the homeless and at-risk children, as well as homes and programs for these children.

This year, our Charity Ball funds will continue to support the Mike Makino Fund—which includes the rice programs for the Tokyo Union Church and Franciscan Chapel Center—as well as the Sanyukai Homeless Center, the ACCJ Community Service Fund, and the YMCA/ACCJ Ohisama Camp. Our other charities for the year are:

FAIR START SUPPORT
Providing career training opportunities for high school students living in orphanages through company tours and work experience, Fair Start helps students identify appropriate work according to their interests. High school graduates who have been through the Fair Start program have a stronger sense of job roles and workplace relationships, resulting in much lower turnover rates. Fair Start not only works with the students, but also identifies and visits all companies interested in being part of the program. Many of those who intern with a company are ultimately hired.

GOOD NEIGHBORS JAPAN
“Good Gohan” provides assistance to the children of single-parent households facing poverty and a shortage of food. About one in two Japanese single-parent families are in relative poverty and need assistance. Good Neighbors Japan offers free food distribution to single-parent families in Tokyo’s Ota and Shinagawa Wards. This initiative provides mental and physical help by supporting the healthy growth of children, providing allowances for living expenses, and reducing the single parent’s isolation and mental burden.

NGO PLAYGROUND OF HOPE

Established after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011, Playground for Hope creates safe play areas for children across the Tohoku region. To date, Playground for Hope has built more than 60 playsets and expanded into revitalizing play spaces affected by the 2016 Kumamoto earth­quakes. The program has also begun assisting orphans aged 18, who are often on their own and face challenges finding work and living quarters. Playground for Hope helps these disadvantaged youth find full-time employment opportunities, and offers counseling to help them succeed.

NONOHANA-NO-IE (WILDFLOWER HOUSE)
Founded in 1984, Nonohana-no-ie Children’s Home has pro­vided a secure, home-like environment for hundreds of Japanese and non-Japanese children who are victims of child abuse, neglect, and other inhumane treatment. Based in Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, the facility currently accommodates about 40 children aged 2–18. Nonohana-no-ie acts as their second home, with each unit providing a warm, secure, family atmosphere. The group was recognized and awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization as well as the prime minister and emperor of Japan.

YOUMEWE
Many of the nearly 30,000 children living in children’s homes in Japan have faced some sort of abuse at the hands of a family member. They struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, decreased motivation, lack of confidence, and a distrust of adults. Many struggle to attend university and become inde­pendent members of their community. YouMeWe hosts an annual summer camp to provide these children an oppor­tunity to experience different forms of art. Taught by professional artists, this exposes them to new perspectives, positive messages, and mentors—all in a fun, safe, and therapeutic setting.

For more information on how to help, visit: www.accjcharityball.org/accj-community-service.html