Housing Poverty In Japan

  • 5,000 volunteers helped during the 2014 typhoon 5,000 volunteers helped during the 2014 typhoon
  • 1,765 volunteers hosted in FY20 1,765 volunteers hosted in FY20
  • Projects: disaster response, financial advice, education, reconstruction Projects: disaster response, financial advice, education, reconstruction

We opened our office in Japan in 2001 to handle the increasing number of Global Village volunteers from Japan and to provide guidance to several campus chapters that had been formed.

In November 2003, Habitat for Humanity Japan was officially registered as a non-profit organisation. HFH Japan’s main activities are in mobilising volunteers for overseas builds and local disaster response efforts as well as raising awareness of Habitat’s work. When disasters strike, HFH Japan also appeals for funds to support rebuilding efforts in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere.

The Housing Need

In Japan’s rapidly aging society, more people over the age of 65 are now living on their own. Based on government data in 2016, there were over 6 million older people who lived alone. Older people with health problems tend to stay in their homes and lose ties to the community.As their physical and mental health declines, they may continue living in unsafe and unhygienic conditions without seeking support.

With the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, older people, individuals with disabilities, single-parent households and those with unstable livelihoods face greater difficulties in accessing low-cost rental housing. In addition to limited supply, landlords are reluctant to accept these vulnerable groups as tenants due to the lack of stable income.

With the support of volunteers, Habitat partners with these vulnerable groups in accessing new rental apartments as well as cleaning up homes. In fiscal year 2020, Habitat mobilized over 200 local volunteers and served 59 households in Japan.

Responding To Disasters

When a major disaster strikes, Habitat Japan appeals for funding to support post-disaster reconstruction efforts. In the event of a domestic disaster, Habitat mobilizes local volunteers to clear debris and disseminate information on the revitalization of homes, among other needs. Habitat Japan responded to its first major disaster after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan in March 2011. Habitat also helped families affected by the Kumamoto earthquake in April 2016.

In the process, they worked with local governments as well as local non-governmental organisation partners such as Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center and All Hands Volunteers. They also initiated a Home Repair project for families whose homes were damaged in the disaster.

Main Facts And Figures

  • Capital: Tokyo
  • Population: 126 million
  • Life expectancy: 84 years
  • Unemployment rate: 2.4 percent

Solar Home Recovery Project

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Habitat for Humanity Japan launched its first disaster response project after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan in March 2011. Locally-based volunteers were mobilized by HFH Japan to clear houses and community buildings of mud and debris.

Habitat volunteers also distributed home starter kits as families moved into temporary shelter and supported the repair of damaged houses through the Home Repair Project. The Solar Home Recovery Project began in May 2013 in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture, to provide sustainable sources of solar energy. In August 2014, HFH Japan responded to landslides in Hiroshima by raising funds and sending staff to assess the damage as well as supporting Hiroshima-based volunteers to rebuild homes.

Community Revitalisation

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In 2006, HFH Japan became a member of Japan Platform, a non-profit organization that pools government funds and private donations to support disaster response efforts of Japanese non-governmental organizations. With Japan Platform’s funding, HFH Japan helped internally displaced and flood-affected families in Sri Lanka as well as supported a flood response project in Bangladesh.

HFH Japan also raises funds for disaster response efforts in the region and elsewhere. Such support in the past included Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (2013); flooding in Thailand (2012); earthquake in Haiti (2010); earthquake in West Sumatra, Indonesia, and Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines (2009); and others.

Volunteer Engagement

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Each year, HFH Japan sends about 1,000 volunteers overseas on Global Village trips. The top three Asian destinations are Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Cambodia, but volunteers also head to Europe and Central Asia. Habitat also engages young people through campus chapters which have a total of about 1,500 members who advocate, raise funds and take part in Habitat builds in Japan and overseas.

In 2014, more than 5,000 Global Village volunteers helped to rebuild homes for Philippine families affected by 2013’s Tyhoon Haiyan under the Habitat Youth BUILD campaign.