Japan's Official Development Assistance White Paper 2009

2. Increasing Public Participation

(1) Broad Participation by Japanese Citizens from All Walks of Life

In order to promote international cooperation with the participation of Japanese citizens from all walks of life, JICA implements programs like the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and Senior Volunteers. The JOCV is a citizen-participation instrument that dispatches youth between the ages of 20 and 39 for two years to developing nations to assist in social and economic development while living and working together with the people of the country. JOCV has a long history, spanning more than 40 years, and it has been highly praised overseas as a form of person-to-person Japanese aid. Senior Volunteers, the corresponding JOCV project for seniors, is a public participatory project under which the government supports the activities of senior citizens between ages 40 to 69 who possess a wide range of skills and abundant experience and wish to contribute to the development of developing countries on a volunteer basis.

The most familiar examples of citizen participation in international cooperation are assistance for NGOs that engage in international cooperation as well as participation in those assistance activities. The number of Japanese NGOs increased dramatically in accordance with legislative developments following the 1998 enactment of the Act on Promotion of Specified Non-profit Activities (NPO Act). The actual number of organizations involved in international cooperation activities is said to be around 400. Japanese NGOs are anticipated to expand the scope of ODA, cultivate highly-capable human resources in the field of international cooperation, and serve as the main body for activities that communicate the spirit of Japan.