JPF 15th Anniversary Special Roundtable Talk Built through 15 years of partnerships
A platform that connects civil society actors,
delivering humanitarian aid abroad and within Japan

JPF 15th Anniversary Special Roundtable Talk
Koichi KanedaToshio Arima
Keiko KiyamaMisao Eddy

Japan Platform’s (JPF) Board of Directors Chairpersons, Director, and Advisor for the Standing Committee all look back on the fifteen years since JPF’s foundation and its future. We may just be able to get a glimpse of how we can all take part in building up JPF for tomorrow.

Relationship of trust between the corporate and NGO sectors
How Japanese emergency humanitarian aid changed in 15 years

Arima
Toshio Arima In 2000, Japan Platform (JPF) was born as a new framework for delivering swift and more effective emergency humanitarian aid for refugees and persons displaced as a result of natural disasters and conflicts around the world. JPF celebrated its 15th anniversary in August 2015 thanks to all of your understanding and support since its foundation. I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the many people who support JPF, including our corporate and individual supporters who have provided regular contributions. I was not personally involved in founding JPF, but both Kiyama-san and Kaneda-san have been actively involved from the very beginning, with Kiyama-san as somebody who has been well versed in the fields in which NGOs work, and Kaneda-san has seen JPF through from the corporate perspective. With JPF’s founding 15 years ago, what do you think changed?
Kiyama
Back when JPF was founded, when there was need for emergency humanitarian aid in the world, individual Japanese NGOs did not have the financial or operational capacity to swiftly deliver comprehensive aid, and therefore could not fully be a part of the circle of international aid providers. Whenever something happened, an NGO would have to begin with collecting donations, and it would be one month later by the time they reached the field site, so all the NGOs faced problems securing funds for the initial response. To solve this problem, an idea had been conceived among the NGOs where they would create a platform along with the business community and the Japanese government. It was also important that these NGOs would quickly get to the field, secure their space for aid provision, and properly show their presence as providers of Japanese aid. Before the establishment of JPF, when Japanese NGOs participated in the field coordination meetings of aid organizations, there was a sense of surprise at the fact that Japanese persons are present in the meeting. Today, Japanese NGOs have gradually grown to obtain contracts and funds from international organizations and to lead field meetings for aid clusters and sectors, so that Japan would carry out its share of aid within the international community.
Arima
So, I see that being on the ground swiftly and being ready for aid provision was an important factor in gaining trust, and that to make it happen, it was extremely important to have a certain level of funding pooled for the initial response at all times. Today, we have a functioning system where NGOs, the business community, the Japanese government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), the intellectual community, the media, and the foundations bring each of their expertise and resources together, and cooperate for the purpose of quickly and effectively implementing Japanese emergency aid. Thanks to the JPF framework, field information, and initial response funds, it became possible to leave for the site only a day after an emergency occurs. This has resulted in over 1,100 projects worth over 3.5 billion yen in funds in over 40 countries and regions since JPF’s foundation.
Kaneda
In 1999, right around when we were moving towards JPF’s foundation, then UN Secretary General Kofi Anan proposed the need for the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), which would promote CSR activities of global corporations, at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Japanese corporations had already been globalizing their businesses, but were not too familiar when it came to global issues such as emergency humanitarian aid, and were searching for ways to be involved in that new concept. This was when JPF’s platform idea had been conceived. Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) called on the corporations, which led to Fuji Xerox providing human resources support for the secretariat, Sony providing video equipment, and NEC helping to create the website. In such manner, a few corporations first cooperated to slowly build up JPF’s operational capacity.
Kiyama
Has the relationship between corporations and JPF/NGOs changed in these 15 years?
Kaneda
Koichi KanedaYes, I think there have been great changes on both sides. First of all, on the NGO side, there is greater transparency, with not only the aid activities being disclosed, but also the actual use of funds being more sufficiently explained. We also see changes in the depth of aid activities. We now receive information on the output, or what kinds of activities had been implemented by the NGO as aid providers, as well as on the outcome and the impact. Outcome refers to the fruit of the aid activities, such as how they have improved and stabilized the targeted region and the living conditions of the residents who were affected. And impact refers to how aid activities triggered changes in the local community, including how they have provoked local government to support long-term reconstruction efforts.
There were changes on the corporate side as well. In the past, humanitarian aid just meant that the CSR department works hard on something on their own, or that the corporation only makes a donation and will not be involved any further. But in response to the changes on the NGO side, there were now cooperative ties made with various departments within the corporation that had previously seen themselves as having no part in humanitarian aid. Also due to the support from Keidanren, corporations were seeking ways to be more actively involved in humanitarian aid using each of their strengths, and were coming together to learn about having better cooperative relationships with NGOs. This resulted in corporations themselves proposing monetary donations and product contributions. In some cases, they even did an inventory of their own assets – such as human resources, technologies, and know-how – and started making suggestions to the NGOs about innovative ways of aid provision. This cannot be done without a relationship of trust, and this is a marked difference compared to 15 years ago. Upon receiving activity reports, those on the corporate side feel a genuine sense of awe seeing the meticulous and hands-on work that the NGOs are doing, and come to realize that there is an advantage to contributing to aid when it comes to the employees’ motivation and the company’s reputation. This leads to corporations thinking that there must be more that they can do to provide aid, or that they should do this again. As an intermediary support organization, JPF has been in a position to accelerate the good changes to happen to both the NGOs and the corporations.
Eddy
When making donations, I believe that many corporations also place their trust in JPF as a screening system to make sure their contributions go to NGOs with experience, knowledge, and a good track record. I have heard that the assessment system to ensure transparency was something that the corporations suggested when JPF was founded. Today, we can see that JPF’s strict assessment process is functioning well. Each NGO’s aid project proposal is evaluated first by the Project Evaluation Committee, which consists of experts in related fields and the JPF Secretariat, for its economic efficiency, feasibility, and security management. It then goes to the Standing Committee – consisting of representatives from the business community, NGOs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and experts – where its validity is judged from a more comprehensive perspective. Only the projects that are finally approved are to be funded. Even after the project is launched, JPF Secretariat follows up through monitoring.
Kiyama
Since when it was founded, JPF valued accountability and transparency in aid activities. I find that this has created a good cycle of trusting relationships being built with corporations and other donors. In the very beginning, there were no resources for running JPF, and we went through many trials and errors as we figured out how exactly to work with the corporations in what ways. We had not even dreamed of matching donations, and we were happy with just having one corporate employee being dispatched to the JPF Secretariat. I think the greatest value created by JPF is the fact that both the corporate and NGO sides can talk with the premise that there is partnership between the two sides.

Added values of JPF that must to be reviewed and pursued

Arima
At the root of accountability, there needs to be results produced based on JPF’s objectives. At the 10th anniversary in 2010, we set up an opportunity for a review to take place where we looked ahead into the next ten years of JPF. What came up in this review was that JPF must pursue its added values. For example, while operating an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp after the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, we were not satisfied with just having mobilized quickly based on the initial response fund. So we aimed for the generation of an added value through cooperation among the NGOs working on the ground, so that there would be a multiple effect of aid. We can also look at another example that has to do with the private funds. We did set up a new structure of using ODA funds from the government as initial response funds. However, in order for JPF to fundamentally function better, we face challenges to not only create opportunities for corporations to best utilize their main business in working collaboratively with NGOs, but also to more readily accept contributions from corporations during non-emergency times through regular support memberships and funds for disasters that have not yet happened. Thus far, only corporations with a strong sense of social responsibility have participated in the platform, but from now on, there is need for the business community to change their perception of CSR, and it becomes all the more important what kinds of added values JPF would be able to propose to them. Also, there remains room for improvement in the process of strategically providing aid as well.
Kiyama
When it comes to cooperation among the NGOs, JPF’s existence has made it possible for them to collaborate where each NGO can contribute its own resources. Today, 47 JPF member NGOs create working groups for each of the aid programs. They share information about the field, build on each of their own expertise, and implement aid activities with a collective sense of providing more effective aid. For example, with long-term aid programs such as the Great East Japan Earthquake Victim Aid and Iraq-Syria Refugee/IDP Aid programs, we have held symposiums with the member NGOs where they reported on their aid activities, and with the 2014 Philippine Typhoon Hagupit Victim Aid program, we mobilized a joint emergency initial response investigation team with the member NGOs for the very first time. In addition to the daily collaborations, I think these efforts allow for us to reaffirm JPF’s added values in a visible way. We would like to further encourage these friendly competitions among NGOs and enhance the multiple effects of aid.When it comes to cooperation among the NGOs, JPF’s existence has made it possible for them to collaborate where each NGO can contribute its own resources. Today, 47 JPF member NGOs create working groups for each of the aid programs. They share information about the field, build on each of their own expertise, and implement aid activities with a collective sense of providing more effective aid. For example, with long-term aid programs such as the Great East Japan Earthquake Victim Aid and Iraq-Syria Refugee/IDP Aid programs, we have held symposiums with the member NGOs where they reported on their aid activities, and with the 2014 Philippine Typhoon Hagupit Victim Aid program, we mobilized a joint emergency initial response investigation team with the member NGOs for the very first time. In addition to the daily collaborations, I think these efforts allow for us to reaffirm JPF’s added values in a visible way. We would like to further encourage these friendly competitions among NGOs and enhance the multiple effects of aid.
Arima
In terms of private funds for humanitarian aid, American Express is one of the leading corporations in having a strong sense of social responsibility. As a relatively new member of the JPF Board of Directors, how do you see JPF, Eddy san?
Eddy
Misao EddyAs JPF celebrates its 15th anniversary, and as those of us involved in JPF take ourselves back to the origin of JPF at its foundation in engaging in this discussion, it is clear to me that the expansion of support from corporations is one of the most important themes here. I understand that, in principle, corporations should contribute to society. But from the actual corporate perspective, we would like to value the sense of pride our employees feel from knowing that they work for a company that is doing something good, and it is also very important to be able to sufficiently explain to our shareholders what the purpose of the aid is and how the outcomes are measured. Especially from the managerial standpoint, I think that being able to explain properly at the shareholders meeting is JPF’s added value that should not be ignored. When you are living in Japan, it is sometimes difficult to see how you are connected to what is happening in the world, but I hope that we can continue to present them as something familiar.
Arima
I agree. The concept called CSV, which is short for Creating Shared Value and has been gaining attention since a few years ago, would be something that can be easily explained by corporate managers. Investing for R&D is explainable because it yields a return in the long term. It is also relatively easy to explain donations that are made for the purpose of saving face among the competitors. Likewise, until the managers can persuasively explain the investment toward humanitarian aid, it will not result in a huge change. To actualize this, JPF must be able to properly summarize all that the corporations are expected of by the international community, and follow up on those points.

What the international community expects of Japan in humanitarian aid

Eddy
Arima-san and Kaneda-san, I understand you’re involved in the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), so what are your thoughts on what the international community expects of Japanese corporations?
Arima
I see the status quo as Japanese corporations being polarized. On the one hand, there is a rise in the number of corporations with a strong sense when it comes to social issues, while on the other hand there are many that cannot afford to do anything other than to pursue profit. UNGC has also celebrated its 15th anniversary this year in 2015. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) [*1], which started in 2000, has run its course and ended its 15 years. Post-2015 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) [*2] were both officially adopted at the UN General Assembly, but it may take quite some time for Japanese corporations to actually take active roles in pursuing SDGs. I believe that for corporations to be proactively involved in society, each corporation must have its own unique philosophy or theory. How much can corporations and civil society transform their consciousness? This is the exact same task that JPF is trying to tackle, too.
Kaneda
Especially when it comes to providing aid for refugees of conflict, corporations currently have not much involvement. In that sense, we may have come to a point in time where JPF must communicate directly to the corporations about their relationship to conflicts, in order that your own connection to these issues in the world, as Eddy-san had just said, are clarified. As I said at the beginning of this discussion, it used to be just monetary donations even with natural disaster relief, but because people from JPF came to Takeda Pharmaceutical Company and gave sufficient explanations to our officers, employees, and the labor union about the realities on the ground of natural disasters, each department and the employees worked proactively to actualize an aid plan that utilizes our diverse assets. In the UNGC, an initiative called “Business for Peace” [*3] has been launched. Business cannot exist without peace, so a serious discussion has begun starting among corporations in the natural resource industry that have a higher likelihood or being dragged into a conflict, and among corporations that supply landmine removal devices and other equipment that are necessary for peacebuilding. Through coordination with the UNGC, many things may become more apparent for JPF and the corporations as to how the corporations can be involved in conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
Arima
With the Great East Japan Earthquake Victim Aid program that have gathered 7 billion yen in donation from private corporations and individuals, JPF has indeed demonstrated its added value through coordinating all the efforts. In order to support the power of reconstruction that is led by the disaster victims themselves, JPF has been grounded in the local communities to listen to the local residents’ voices, and have connected residents to other residents, experts, and businesses.
Eddy
The Great East Japan Earthquake marked the first year of humanitarian aid for most Japanese, in terms of making monetary donations, of course, but also as many thought deeply about contributing to solving social problems utilizing their own businesses. Kiyama-san, how do you feel about the expectations placed on Japanese NGOs that are at aid sites for the international community?
Kiyama
I believe it is important to realize, as a fundamental concept behind humanitarian aid, that peace in Japan is not created by Japan alone. We are on the receiving end of the world’s wealth and owe our peace to economic prosperity, so we must work hard to make sure that this peace circulates; otherwise, we cannot protect the peace that we have in Japan. Those of us at NGOs have this awareness of this major premise while we are on the field: that the people who are in positions to receive aid have been put in those conditions for a variety of reasons even though they, too, were supposed to live life just as we live. As a fellow citizen of this world, I think that the appropriate way to be involved is to not force a certain set of values upon them, but to respect their will and ideas, and support their autonomy and independence so that they can demonstrate their own abilities. When their resilience [*4] can be enhanced, then ultimately it will lead to fewer conflicts.
Eddy
Corporations and NGOs are both a collectives of individuals, so it is important what kinds of ideas we have as human beings when we get involved.
Kiyama
Keiko KiyamaYes, it certainly is. I see how much Japanese NGOs have grown. On the grounds of emergency humanitarian aid in the world, which have become more complex and prolonged, professional NGOs that can implement an even higher level of aid are in need. JPF has contributed to enlarging the possibilities for Japanese NGOs that have expertise, experience, and know-how to work in those regions, on top of having a high standpoint, so that they can successfully work as professionals alongside other aid actors in the international community. However, we have not gotten to a level that we had hoped at the time of JPF’s foundation. For instance, we look forward to more growth where the presence of Japanese NGOs at aid sites would be considered a matter of fact, just as the presence of American and British aid organizations is now.

Creating a platform of aid within Japanese civil society through making connections

Arima
As an aid providing nation, Japan still needs to develop further, but we have the potential to create a uniquely Japanese way of providing aid, with ideas that can be considered unique in the world and with high-quality know-how and technology that we have here. I feel the need to think about aid provision from a wider perspective, starting from what has been achieved through JPF’s emergency humanitarian aid platform as well as the challenges that have arisen from there. Recently, it has become very important for the corporate and public sectors to collaborate, as signified by the term PPP, or public-private partnership. If we wanted to make the most of all the potentials and know-how that Japanese corporations essentially have, then emergency humanitarian aid would be too small a stage to fit all. If we are to appeal to a wide range of corporations, look at things long-term, and target a widened recipient base – e.g. not only limiting to victims of natural disasters and conflicts, but thinking also about people in the developing nations who are considered BoP [*5] – we certainly need to review JPF itself, but also consider the possibility of having a second and a third JPF in the future, even if the NGOs may be in different categories or sectors in those cases. In that sense, I believe that JPF lays the groundwork as the starting point.
Eddy
Because JPF was created, there is much better and wider coordination among Japanese NGOs. In my daily corporate work, I feel the importance of partnerships. So I find it crucial that we appeal to a wider audience and to gain their approval so that JPF can become the kind of organization that would be supported by Japanese civil society.
Kaneda
And this is not limited to Japanese private corporations, but it is also crucial that we communicate what we do to a wider audience both within and outside Japan, and seek an even wider and deeper connection with various actors. For example, linking with a university department may be one way to do this. They can connect to JPF as supporters and sympathizers who are responsible for the next generation.
Kiyama
In my interaction with students, I find it hopeful that so many have the desire to do something good for society, and it seems to me that they have a firm understanding of how development of society is not just about economic development.
Arima
Right at this moment as we are talking, there is a steady increase in the number of people who are in need of emergency humanitarian aid, may they be refugees and IDPs as a result of worsening conflicts in the world, or victims of disasters and draughts caused by climate change. At JPF, we are grateful for your partnership throughout these 15 years, and are determined to work diligently as an emergency humanitarian aid professional and a platform that gives shape to Japanese good will, as we build a wide and deep relationship with even more of you. Our hope is for all of you to put this platform’s possibilities to good use for the next 5, 10, and 15 years. Thank you for your continued warm support.

*1 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): Goals shared by the international community in the area of development, based on the UN Millennium Declaration, which was adopted at the UN Millennium Summit held in New York in September 2000. 8 goals were established to be achieved by 2015, including eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.
*2 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Goals established at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 to complement MDGs. Officially adopted at the UN General Assembly, and have become the new international goals for the years between 2016 and 2030.
*3 https://www.unglobalcompact.org/take-action/action/peace
*4 resilience: the capacity to recover; the ability to regain its shape.
*5 Base of the Economic Pyramid (BoP): A class of people whose annual per capita income falls below $3,000 in purchasing power parity measured in 2002 U.S. dollars. There are an estimated 4 billion people, or around 70% of the world’s population, in this group.

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