Links Japan was founded in 1998 with the objective of promoting civil society understanding between the United Kingdom and Japan, through sharing good practice, effective strategy and innovation and facilitating joint research and long term links, including partnerships with developing countries.
Links Japan aims to encourage understanding of, and communication on, how ordinary people respond to the needs of the most disadvantaged in society and how they can best contribute to their communities in areas which are beyond the reach, or outside the interest, of the government, the corporate sector, or the family. The challenge for Japan is particularly immediate with its low birth-rate and high rate of ageing and social upheaval, brought about by economic uncertainty. Important steps have been taken in Japan over the last few years which have had positive significance for the development of non-governmental activity. The devastation of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region galvanised giving and volunteering but the roots remain shallow in terms of continuity, sustainability and the strategic shape of the sector as a whole. Britain has longer experience to draw on, but, facing deep cuts in social sector funding, has much to learn, as both countries shore up and create sounder structures for effective civil society. The development of social enterprise and sources of social finance, as well as the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the delivery of aid and the benefits of community-based partnerships with Sub-Saharan Africa are other, related, areas of increasing involvement.
Links Japan, against this background, has worked to:
- promote and support bilateral research, communication, exchange and links between NPOs, NGOs or intermediary organisations where there is mutual benefit
- plan and arrange individual or group visits in both directions for the purpose of studying the voluntary sector and social entrepreneurship in the other country
- organise volunteering opportunities in voluntary organisations in the other country for those working, or seeking a career, in the non-profit sector
- create links between Japanese and Sub-Saharan African communities as a basis for long-term community-based partnerships
- encourage governments, academics, funders and the media to give more emphasis and greater support to links in all these fields