What We Are
SPF was established in September 1986, with endowments from The Nippon Foundation and the Japanese motorboat racing industry. The founding charter of SPF, which was developed amid increasing internationalization and a growing need for multilateral responses and solutions to a diverse array of problems in the 1980s, reflects an awareness of the need for Japan, as a strong economic power that has achieved remarkable growth, to play an active role in the international community. Based on this awareness, SPF has carefully considered Japan's role as a major nation in an increasingly interdependent international community, and, as a private nonprofit foundation, has worked to promote efforts to contribute to the international community.
How We See the World
Now, more than 20 years since SPF was established, globalization has become a highly dynamic force in the world, as have movements opposed to globalization. The rise of China and India are emblematic of major changes taking place in the distribution of global wealth and power. As a result, issues in such areas as natural resources and the environment, population problems, and urbanization are reaching across national borders and becoming more acute. There is growing awareness of the negative aspects of globalization, which include new forms of inequality, the loss of traditional cultures, and frequent acts of terrorism.
Amid these global trends, Japan is experiencing a relative decline in its international standing in light of its failure to play a sufficiently leading role, the loss of its economic superiority, and other factors. Within Japan, people have voiced concern that if the country continues on its current path, it may be left behind by the tide of globalization.
At the same time, however, the increasingly borderless nature of the world, the rise of civil society, and growing international appreciation for the activities of NGOs, among other factors, have led to the emergence of a more diverse array of actors with the potential to play a role in resolving the problems facing the international community. This enhances the ability of SPF, which promotes international interaction and cooperation led by the private nonprofit sector, to advance creative solutions to international problems through cooperation with various organizations in Japan and around the world.
How We Work
1. SPF promotes Japan's international contributions
SPF was established to promote international interaction, understanding, and cooperation. Japan's international cooperation has increased greatly since SPF was established, and now, as a private nonprofit foundation, we must improve our capabilities to conduct policy research and make recommendations, strengthen our ability to disseminate information, and undertake more proactive forms of international cooperation.
In the past, SPF has carried out its overseas projects through direct interaction with partners in other countries. From now on it will also be essential to draw on Japan's latent capacity for international contributions, and to make effective use of Japan's broad range of expertise to help find solutions to increasingly complex international problems.
As well as undertaking international cooperation on its own, SPF will identify partners in Japan that possess relevant expertise, and will carry out or support projects in which these partners collaborate with counterparts overseas to solve problems. In this way SPF is working to expand and improve Japan's private nonprofit-sector-led international contributions.
2. SPF seeks to resolve global issues
SPF strives to identify and help resolve common challenges facing the international community in the context of issues that have arisen in Japan and other Asian countries.
There are many such challenges, but SPF focuses on problems that Japan has faced and addressed in advance of other nations, and issues considered critical to the Asian region. SPF formulates policy recommendations through practical investigation, research, and experimentation, and also provides support for these sorts of efforts undertaken by others, thereby helping to solve global problems.
3. SPF endeavors to strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation with priority regions
In order to contribute to the sound and stable development of the international community, SPF designates priority regions, as determined by societal conditions at the time, and promotes interaction and cooperative relations with the countries in those regions.
The priority regions selected are those with which the establishment of cooperative relations is considered helpful to the peace and stability of Japan and the world as a whole. A region may also be selected if greater understanding of the region or resolution of the region's problems is deemed vital to the interests of the international community.
SPF operates the following programs based on the principles described in the program policy.
PROGRAM 1. EFFORTS TO ENSURE PEACE AND SECURITY IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
1.1 PEACE BUILDING AND SECURITY ISSUES
The global security environment has undergone a major transformation since the terrorist attacks of 2001, and that of the Asia-Pacific region is no exception. In cooperation with security experts from various countries, SPF explores strategies to promote peace and coexistence in the Asia-Pacific region, and supports initiatives by nonprofit organizations and others to undertake international cooperation relating to peace building in the region.
1.2 NON-TRADITIONAL SECURITY ISSUES
The concept of nontraditional security refers to security against threats that cannot be addressed by the military-centered security systems of the past. Although this concept is not yet well defined, SPF recognizes the urgent need to deal with nontraditional threats that pose serious dangers in Asia, such as avian influenza and other infectious diseases, as well as natural disasters. While efforts must, of course, be made at the national level, SPF contributes to the establishment of effective crisis-management systems for Asia and other developing regions by supporting fieldwork, research, and experimental initiatives at the private nonprofit-sector level.
PROGRAM 2 ADDRESSING POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF GLOBALIZATION
2.1 MARKET AND DISPARITIES ISSUES
East Asia has thus far managed to achieve economic growth by riding the wave of globalization, but the region is facing increasingly severe problems from the negative aspects of globalization namely, the disparities that have been identified in a range of contexts, including growing inequality among nations and regions, and the exclusion of vulnerable members of society. In an effort to provide creative ways to rectify disparities without relying on traditional means of assistance or the public-welfare structure, SPF promotes the creation of problem-solving business models and support systems for social entrepreneurs who can put the models into action, as well as the establishment of mechanisms to increase regional competitiveness. To promote stable economic growth, SPF also supports efforts to study and analyze problems in existing international financial and trade systems, especially from the standpoint of developing nations, and make recommendations for improvements.
2.2 ISSUES INVOLVING DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES AND POPULATION MOVEMENT
The major increases in life expectancy achieved during the twentieth century, and rapid population growth during the first half of the twenty-first century are expected to result in a global demographic shift. The aging of societies and population declines that Japan and other countries in East Asia experience will necessitate the creation of a new national image, one that embraces the notion of admitting people from other countries in order to maintain and develop the economy and living standards, and the formulation of policy measures based on this new image. SPF promotes efforts to illuminate changes in the demographic structure and the status of population movements, primarily in Asia, and to lay the groundwork for intraregional cooperation. SPF also supports projects that explore new concepts of nations and cities that are suited to addressing these changes, as well as efforts to resolve the problems that accompany migration, declining birthrates, and aging populations.
2.3 INTERFACE ISSUES BETWEEN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY
The transition to a knowledge-based society has been accompanied by recognition that the findings of scientific research are a source of wealth creation, and by an increasing emphasis on intellectual property. Such resources, however, are available to some countries but not to others, and situations are arising in which needed technology and intellectual property cannot be used to serve the public interest. At the same time, it has become possible even for countries that lack natural resources to attain international eminence in specific fields by skillfully taking advantage of the accelerating flow of information, people, and technology across borders due to the globalization. SPF supports initiatives to enable nations and societies that lack technology or intellectual property to enjoy the benefits of science and technology (such as by transfers of technology and the formation of knowledge and information networks and platforms for technology through interregional cooperation) and efforts to consider new mechanisms for technological development that fall outside the framework of intellectual property, such as open-source development for the public benefit.
PROGRAM 3 PROMOTION OF MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN PRIORITY REGIONS AND JAPAN
3.1 EXCHANGE PROGRAM BETWEEN JAPAN AND THE UNITED STATES
Although the United States is one of Japan's most important allies from an economic and security standpoint, the nature of the relationship is not symmetrical, and there are very few ongoing international exchange and cooperation projects carried out by private nonprofit organizations in Japan and in the United States acting as true partners. Taking a long-term perspective, SPF supports projects that seek to form interpersonal networks useful for shaping public opinion in both countries by promoting exchanges among researchers, politicians, and other opinion makers from Japan and the United States, as well as joint Japan-US efforts to resolve political, economic, and security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.
Third Midterm Program Guidelines（2000～2008）
1.Toward the Coexistence of Pluralistic Values
1-1.Initiatives in Comprehensive Understanding of Civilizational Issues
Of the myriad civilizational issues, SPF will concentrate on the following three core issues.
(1) Initiatives in Dialogue across Cultures and Civilizations
It is easy to talk about learning from one another on an equal footing, but far from easy to accomplish. Perhaps this is because we are not clear about why we seek to learn or because we seek to learn on the basis of a particular set of values. In this sense, we are still not free from "Asian stagnation" and "Orientalism." SPF has a special interest in initiatives directed toward mutual understanding with Islamic civilization, but we are also open to comprehensive, interdisciplinary dialogue across cultures and civilizations in general.
(2) Rethinking of the Economic Development Paradigm
At the end of the twentieth century, with a few exceptions development supported by official development assistance has little to show for itself. Sustainable development, which seeks the coexistence of the natural environment and development, is making little headway in the face of the unbridled drive to raise personal income and promote industry. Has economic growth as a means of pursuing human happiness become a completely self-directed exercise somewhere along the line? SPF seeks ambitious visions for an affluent society in the twenty-first century.
(3) A New Era of Science and Bioethics
Science has advanced to the point where some say it is meddling in God's business. Intellectual property rights give industry and business the right to swiftly incorporate the fruits of scientific progress. But who enjoys those fruits and who cannot are questions seldom asked. On the basis of the broad perspective of the relationship between scientific knowledge and the market, the interface between scientific knowledge and bioethics, and the place of citizens in all this, SPF is interested in initiatives to examine in easily understood language the balance between science and bioethics, including the question of whether common understanding on this issue among regions and nations with differing histories and traditions is possible.
1-2.Dialogue and Exchange on Common Regional Issues
The twenty-first-century world system will probably be shaped by two complementary subsystems. The first is made up of the individual issues of politics, security, confidence building, economy, trade, the environment, and so on. The second is regions comprising nations belonging to the same civilization. Whether the first subsystem functions globally will depend on whether that subsystem functions in the second subsystem of regions.
Making the first subsystem function effectively in the second will necessitate the formation of homogeneous groupings and a variety of cooperation mechanisms for resolving problems together. Transferring the experience of creating forward-looking regional cooperation mechanisms to regions about to embark on regional cooperation will also be necessary.
Historic initiatives exploring the possibility of new forms of cooperation in the twenty-first century are already underway in such regions as Northeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and the Indian Ocean Rim. The issues addressed will cover an extremely wide spectrum.
SPF, in cooperation with its four regional funds ― the Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund, the Sasakawa Central Europe Fund, the Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund, and the Sasakawa Southeast Asia Cooperation Fund ― will actively support dialogue and exchange for building regional cooperation systems.
1-3.Information Sharing and Dissemination to the Global Community
The effort put into finding ways of disseminating and sharing the results of various forms of intellectual dialogue is even more important than the effort put into producing them. Observing the uneven distribution of information in various parts of the world, as well as the many cases of highly inaccurate information, we must acknowledge that while we live in the so-called information age, unfortunately we have not fully utilized its merits.
There are a number of reasons for this situation even though we are flooded with what seems excessive information. SPF will address the following three areas in particular and endeavor to improve the situation.
First, we will focus on non-Western regions where such efforts have been relatively few. In particular, we will support the dissemination of intellectual commentary from Asia, including Japan, to the international community.
Second, we will support the dissemination of information that helps find meeting points between difference and commonality and identify and remove obstacles to mutual understanding. We hope for ambitious proposals using both print media and other media, including the Internet.
Third, we will study various possibilities and appropriate approaches with regard to the recipients of the information disseminated, that is, the putative audience. We believe that asking whom dissemination targets will clarify what needs to be conveyed.
2.Fostering Human Security and Private Nonprofit Activities
2-1.Cooperation Among Private Nonprofit Organizations, Business, and the Public Sector
As we approach the twenty-first century, the paradigm of affluence is shifting in various parts of the world in the bid to create affluent societies. To accomplish this paradigm shift, cooperation among NPOs, business, and the public sector is essential both on the level of nation-states and on the global level. SPF will focus especially on proposals for creative activities based on such cooperation across sectors.
On the level of nation-states, in developed countries such basic structures as the industrial structure and family system are undergoing change, as is the social makeup owing to declining birthrates and aging societies. To create societies in which people can live with assurance, developed countries are being required to fundamentally reexamine the systems thus far created by government and industrial society: employment, social security, and care for the elderly.
On the global level, reducing the burden on environmental resources is a major problem for developed and developing countries alike if they are to create affluent societies and ensure sustained development. What is asked in regard to conservation of the global environment is the presentation and implementation of new approaches and action plans for the right kind of collaboration between NPOs and business.
Meanwhile, the struggle for limited resources, inextricably linked with development behavior, is likely to emerge as a new problem for developing countries and countries in economic transition. The limits of international organizations' ability to address nations' internal conflicts have been pointed out. The role of the private nonprofit sector and the business sector as new actors to put an end to the vicious circle of development and conflict as well as the negative legacy of conflicts from the past and to prevent the outbreak of conflict is attracting attention.
With this perspective, SPF hopes for proposals for cooperation among NPOs, business, and the public sector based on new approaches. The main areas targeted will be changes in social makeup (especially falling birthrates and aging societies), environmental problems, development assistance, and preventive diplomacy, but we will also take a flexible approach to initiatives addressing other issues.
2-2.Capacity Building and Institutionalization of Private Nonprofit Activities
So far, SPF has focused on projects aimed at the institutionalization of private nonprofit activities. To keep such activities from being merely transient, we believe that mechanisms to establish them firmly in society are important and will give priority to projects aimed at strengthening such mechanisms overall. There will be three overarching areas of concern: evaluation systems for private nonprofit activities, mobilization of resources for private nonprofit activities, and interaction with public policy.
There is likely to be increasingly searching questioning of the social responsibility of private nonprofit activities, and of their results. Transparency, disclosure, and accountability are just some of the issues involved. On the basis of this perspective, SPF will support ambitious initiatives for the development, dissemination, and sharing of evaluation systems for private nonprofit activities.
To enable private nonprofit activities to expand further, mobilization of the various resources that comprise their infrastructure ― human resources, funds, management know-how, and so on ― and strengthening of the functions of intermediaries among NPOs and among NPOs, business, and the public sector are essential. In this area, too, SPF hopes for proposals both from within Japan and from abroad.
All proposals in the above two areas must be reflected in public policy. SPF is interested in building on the results of surveys and research to explore policy possibilities.
2-3.Surveys and Research on Private Nonprofit Activities
A fair amount of light is now being shed on private nonprofit activities, but still far from enough. SPF considers surveys and basic research on private nonprofit activities to be important, especially such activities in non-Western civilizations ― an area largely neglected so far ― as well as basic and theoretical analysis of civil society.
In regard to the former, SPF considers activities in Islamic civilization and their meaning for the non-Islamic sphere important because modern Western thinking has tended to ignore these subjects and little effort has been made to gain an objective grasp of them. We hope that patient, low-key efforts to elucidate them will lay the groundwork for true solidarity in private nonprofit activities across civilizations.
It must be admitted that construction of a basic theoretical framework for private nonprofit activities lags far behind similar efforts in other fields. Studies of civil society, for example, are both quantitatively and qualitatively inadequate when compared with studies of, say, democracy and market economics. This is one reason for legislative problems, such as the inadequacy or lack of constitutional and civil-law provisions regarding NPOs in Japan.
In addition to such basic tasks as clarification of the definition of the content and scope of private nonprofit activities and accurate understanding of supply and demand in this context, this area includes elucidation of the expectations of private nonprofit activities in the twenty-first century and of the factors impeding their fulfillment.
3. Japan and Asia in the World
3-1.Japan's Structural Change and East Asia
When we consider the near future of the early twenty-first century, the various structural changes underway in Japanese society will undoubtedly be highly useful in envisioning the future of East Asian countries. Japan experienced great economic swings in the second half of the twentieth century: rapid economic growth in the 1960s, stable growth in the 1970s, the "bubble economy" in the 1980s, and recession in the 1990s. Meanwhile, the political system shifted from stable one-party rule from the 1950s through the 1980s to coalition governments in the 1990s. In terms of society, too, there were two baby booms, in the late 1940s and the early 1970s, but since then the birthrate has been falling and the population structure aging at an increasingly rapid rate, leading to grave concern over education, labor, employment, social welfare, and other areas of society in the future.
East Asian countries, too, which had been firmly launched on the path of rapid economic growth, have confronted major structural changes since the 1980s: the emergence of a new middle class thanks to economic growth, changes in political attitudes and governance systems, new economic and social problems owing to rapid aging of the population structure, vulnerability to external shocks, the information-technology revolution, and educational issues, to name a few.
In the third midterm program guidelines SPF will focus on the structural changes facing Japan, supporting joint projects between Japan and East Asia addressing political, economic, and social aspects of change with a view to sharing Japan's experience and outlook with East Asian countries.
3-2.East Asian Renewal and Transfer of Experience
East Asia's 1997 currency crisis grew into a financial and economic crisis and also had an impact on governance systems. The causes of the crisis were diverse, including both the external factor of international capital flows, the very symbol of globalization, and the internal factor of the inadequacy of domestic systems.
Overviews of the experience from the East Asian miracle to the East Asian crisis and scenarios for renewal are sure to be of great use to developing countries, which still account for most of the global community, in formulating development policies. SPF supported initiatives for transfer of the East Asian experience to developing countries and countries in economic transition in the second midterm program guidelines and will continue to do so in the third midterm program guidelines. We will focus on projects addressing not only economic policy but also political and social change.
3-3.Construction of a World Economic System and the Role of Japan and East Asia
Japan and East Asia have come to occupy an important position in the world. Changes in this region will trigger a systemic shift in the world economy. Economic growth in Japan and the rest of Asia has been predicated on the existence of markets in Western developed countries. In the near future Japan and East Asia will have to support the sustained growth of the world economy by providing markets for many developing countries.
Japan and East Asia face many challenges, however, including the formation of an economic sphere comparable to those of North America and the European Union and the construction of a regional currency regime and other systems for regional economic coordination. From the viewpoint of coordination with the world economic system, we hope for proposals for reappraisal of the past "Asian model," a new international currency regime, rules for the sometimes unruly market-based economic system, and rebuilding of an international safety net based on the experience of Japan and East Asia. SPF hopes for ambitious proposals from both Japan and elsewhere for ways in which Japan and East Asia can contribute to the construction of a world economic system in the early twenty-first century.
Comparison of Program Components in SPF's Midterm Periods