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.