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OISCA Co-organizes Symposium on Bequest Donations to NGO

Mar 14, 2016

In cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 6 other NGOs, OISCA co-organized on February 25, 2016 a symposium on bequest donations to NGOs for international cooperation at the conference hall of the Japan National Press Club (Nippon Kisha Club) in Tokyo. 

Some 100 people including governmental officials, representatives from various NGOs and NPOs carrying out international cooperation activities, academics and private individuals attended the symposium which was held with a view of encouraging a culture of donation in Japan and facilitating bequest donations to NGOs and NPOs.

At the outset, Ms. Izumi Seki, Director, Non-Governmental Organizations Cooperation Division, International Cooperation Bureau of the Foreign Ministry, delivered an opening address. She stated that she was delighted to see the various NGOs closely coordinating their efforts for tapping the vast potentiality of bequest donations.

Mr. Tatsuo Ohta, President & CEO, The Japan Association of Charitable Organizations (JACO) made a key note speech. JACO is an intermediate support organization comprising 1,500 members, mostly NGOs and NPOs. He explained the mode of donations and actual situation of bequest donations in Japan. According to Mr. Ohta, Japan significantly lags behind the United States in terms of the number of persons who declared bequest donations to charities (Japan: 369 persons in 2013, USA: 2,740 persons in 2014) and also the amount of bequest donated (Japan: JPY 29.9 billion in 2013, USA:  JPY2,057 billion in 2014). JACO, therefore, has been requesting the government to revise the tax system on properties, to implement a specific trust system and to drastically reform the charitable trust scheme so as to promote donations to charities.

Then, the representatives of the 4 NGOs: Shanti Volunteer Association, OISCA, Japan Overseas Christian Medical Cooperative Service and CARE International Japan, made presentations on the 2015 report worked out by the NGO study group under the sponsorship of the Foreign Ministry. The study group conducted researches and studies on the ways and means of promoting donations of bequest and inherited properties to NGOs. The report consists of four parts: questionnaire survey on bequest and inherited properties, study sessions and seminar, hearings on donations of bequest and inherited properties, and overseas survey. 

Ms. Mizuho Kakinuma, Director for Domestic Operations of OISCA, took charge of reporting the summary of the 4 study sessions and a seminar held by the group in 2015. In those meetings with experienced resource persons, the group members debated on requesting the government for revising the tax system in order to foster a culture of donation, devising a social system for promoting bequest donations, how NGOs should go about strengthening the base for accepting donations, how those NGOS with rich experiences in handling bequest donations should advise other organizations, and how NGOs should adopt a practical management strategy.

Afterwards, a panel discussion followed. Representing OISCA, Mr. Michio Hirose, Vice-Chairman of the Board of OISCA Japan, joined the 4 other panelists: Mr. Tatsuo Ohta, JACO President & CEO, Ms. Mari Suzuki, JANIC Vice-Chairperson and Board Member & Executive Secretary of Asia Community Center 21, Atty. Masao Nakamura from the Nakamura Law Office, and Mr. Tomotaro Nagakawa from Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting LLC. 

The panelists commented on the earlier reports made by the study group members and presented their personal experiences and views on possible ways of further increasing donations to NGOs. According to Mr. Nagakawa, the present bequest market is estimated to reach 5 trillion yen. He pointed out the absolute necessity for NGOs to appoint a full-time fund-raising staff and suggested to utilize the knowledge and expertise of outside expert groups if they lack manpower and personnel budget. Mr. Hirose revealed that OISCA had made presentations on bequest donations to the current supporters in March 2015. On his part, Atty. Nakamura brought about an idea of distributing bequest donations among the 7 NGOs through JACO. 

Lastly from the floor, there were questions on the desirability of actively and openly promoting PR activities about the sensitive bequest and future prospect of revising charitable trust law in Japan.