The Nippon Foundation Holding Seminars to Promote Bequests All Over Japan [2020/03/10]
Speaking at a seminar promoting understanding of bequest donations, held in Niigata on January 22, 2020.
I went to Niigata on the Sea of Japan coast in late January to attend a seminar The Nippon Foundation sponsored to help people better understand how to create a will to make a bequest to designated individuals or organizations other than their legal heirs. This was part of the foundation’s nationwide campaign to foster a culture of bequest donations in Japan, where only one in 20 people write a will due in large part to the long-cherished custom of eldest son inheritance.
The foundation plans to hold such seminars in 13 prefectures by the end of March, and in all the 34 other prefectures over the next three to four years.
The seminar− dubbed "The most fun seminar on creating a will in Japan!”−features a lecture by a certified administrative procedures legal specialist, an explanation on The Nippon Foundation’s efforts to promote bequest donations and free individual consultation for applicants provided by the foundation’s Bequest Donation Support Center.
Advertised in advance in local newspapers, the first seminar was held in Sendai last November with 38 participants, followed by seminars in Sapporo (52 participants), Nagoya (44) and Niigata (22).
According to a survey conducted by The Nippon Foundation, which covered 2,000 men and women aged 60 or older, 22.9% of the total and 42.8% of those without a spouse or children have positive attitudes toward making bequest donations, indicating an increasing number of people are looking at bequest donations as their final social contribution and their legacy.
In 2013, The Nippon Foundation undertook a project to build a school for children with disabilities in Myanmar, using a bequest of 150 million yen by a woman in Osaka, western Japan, with the request that the money be spent for disadvantaged children overseas. We then established the Bequest Donation Support Center in the foundation. So far, the center has helped with the preparation of 108 wills. Of these, eight wills bequeathed a total of 510 million yen that was spent on charitable activities.
Japan’s total property inheritance is estimated at around 50 trillion yen a year, but bequest donations remain low at some 30 billion yen. This was attributable to the lack of beneficiaries who receive and spend donations on charitable activities. So, in 2016, The Nippon Foundation’s Bequest Donation Support Center joined hands with 15 other organizations across the country to form the Japan Legacy Gift Association to better provide consultation and handle requests for making wills and bequest donations.
The Nippon Foundation is armed with expertise based upon years of wide-ranging social activities both at home and abroad, and uses all the money it receives for charitable activities as requested by donors with indirect costs being borne by us.
Mr. Kazuhiro Sayama, a certified administrative procedures legal specialist, who gave a lecture at the Niigata seminar, said no organization other than The Nippon Foundation spends 100% of bequest donations on charitable activities, using its accumulated knowledge of making the best use of donated gifts.
By sharing with our President Takeju Ogata the work of traveling all over the country, I sincerely hope we can help people better understand how to make a bequest, contributing to fostering a new culture of donations in Japan.
Within the next three to four years, The Nippon Foundation plans to have held such seminars in all 47 of Japan’s prefectures.