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Computer Support Volunteering in Japan

In March 1998, Japanese nonprofit computer groups invited Daniel Ben-Horin, then executive director (now president) of CompuMentor, to Japan for an exchange program. CompuMentor is a San Francisco based nonprofit to support computerization in  nonprofits and schools. Japanese groups, primarily groups working for senior citizens and the challenged and nonprofit technology support groups, organized five conferences in Sendai, Amagasaki (near Kobe), Nagoya, Tokyo, and Yokohama.

The campaign raised awareness for the need of computer assistance for nonprofit organizations. Several groups such as JCA-NET, and Japan TUNAGU-NET, had already started such programs. However, in Japan, where the nonprofit sector still is in the emerging stage, assistance to nonprofits is not a big market. Many groups focus on supporting seniors and people with disabilities.

The following is a list of groups and Web sites which provide computer assistance for nonprofits and the disadvantaged.

Computer Assistance Groups and Web Sites

Internet Mutual Support Yokohama (IMASY)
Provides computer support to nonprofit organizations in Yokohama. Based in the Kanagawa Prefectural Citizens' Activity Center, one of the first of the nonprofit office/support centers in Japan.

Japan CompuMentor
Based in Project 2020 in Tokyo. Promotes computer use in Ombudsmen and other civic activity groups.

Beside providing Internet access on their own server, JCA-Net provides technology support and consulting to nonprofit organizations. Also organizes training classes for nonprofit people.

IBM Japan's computer support page for the challenged.

Based in Tokyo and Fukuoka, M@cSalon provides twice monthly computer training classes for nonprofits and citizens. It also provide mentoring services to nonprofits and the challenged.

One of the most active organizations in providing computer support for the physically challenged. Seeks to create a Japan "where the Challenged can be a taxpayer."

Skip Project
A computer technology support group for the physically challenged and senior citizens. Works especially with social service/daycare/rehabilitation organizations in the Nagoya area.

Sustainable Community Center Japan
A Kyoto-based "incubator" nonprofit to support business and social entrepreneurship. Partnering with Kyoto Social Education Promotion Foundation, the SCCJ started in April 1999 a computer mentoring project primarily for the senior and the challenged.,

Japan   ("Connect-Net")
TUNAGU-NET provides computer support for volunteer and nonprofit organizations in Nagoya area.  It connects "persons to computers, as well as computers to computers".

A research firm on universal designs for information equipment.

Welfare PC Association
Tokyo based Welfare PC Association spearheaded to organize WeCan, a nation-wide network for computer using challenged people. Promotes independent living and working, using computer at home. Organizes computer volunteers.

World Nature Network (Wnn-v)
An environmental information Web site operated by NTT, the largest telecommunications company in Japan. Has many links to computer volunteering groups.

Computer Recycling Related Sites/Groups

What happened if there is no computer when you want to provide computer help to  a nonprofit? Hence the need to obtain inexpensive, second-hand computers for nonprofit groups. The following is a list of groups working to "recycle" computers for nonprofits and the disadvantaged. Some have web sites on which they organize exchange of used computers and parts.

Japan TUNAGU-NET recycle ML

Katchin-san's Computer Recycling Home page

Texas Instrument's Used Computer Page

Personal Computer Recycling Homepage

Recycled Equipment Page (Aichi Prefecture)

CompuMentoring Japan Campaign in 1998

Daniel Ben-Horin of CompuMentor Invited as the Speaker

March 23 (Mon.) Sendai Conference (connected with Sapporo via TV conference)
March 27 (Fri.) Visit to Kobe Quake survivors
                Amagasaki Conference
March 29 (Sun.) Nagoya Conference
March 30 (Mon.) Tokyo Conference
April  1 (Wed.) Yokohama Conference

The following are details of the conferences and organizers.


(Connected to Sapporo via TV conference)

1:00-5:00p.m., March 23 (Mon.)
At Sendai L Park, Gallery Hall
Organized by Sendai Education Commission and Sendai-Miyagi NPO Center

Other Supporters:
NTT, Tohoku Branch
Routeku Kenkyu-kai of the Institute of Electronics, Information and  Communications Engineers (IEICE)
Miyagi Multimedia Magic Cooperative

Contact: Yasushi Sato
Lifelong Learning Section, Education Bureau, City of Sendai
Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-71, Japan
Phone: 022-214-8886  Fax: 022-268-4822
Internet: yas-s@virgo.bekkoame.or.jp

Noriko Kondo, Routeku Kenkyu-kai
SeniorNet Sendai

   The City of Sendai (Sendai Education Commission in charge) is constructing Mediatheque, a major media and information center to be completed by 2000. It will include a library, an art gallery, a visual media center, Internet access terminals, and media facilities for the challenged. Sendai City had taken unusual steps (as a Japanese government entity) to work closely with citizens to plan, build, and operate this public facility. They regularly organize events to promote awareness about media among citizens. Every March they have major such events, "Media Festa", to which they invited Ben-Horin in 1998.
   Sendai-Miyagi NPO Center is one of those NPO support center organizations springing up nationwide. They support and coordinate nonprofit organization creating  efforts in Sendai and Miyagi Prefecture. See details of Routeku Kenkyu-kai in the Tokyo Conference section.

SAPPORO CONFERENCE (video telephone conference, connected to Sendai)
1:00-5:00p.m., March 23 (Mon.)
At Sapporo City Network Plaza
Contact: Takashi Suzuki
Sapporo HashiNet

  The Sendai Conference was connected to the Sapporo Conference via video telephone. NTT helped this online project.  Many of the Sapporo organizers work closely with "Network Community Forum '97" (NCF97), which was formed in Sapporo in 1997 to promote civic computer networking. The NCF97 organizes computer classes at Network Plaza, a city owned community media center.


6-9:00 p.m., March 27 (Fri.)
At Women's Center Trevie
Organized by NPO Symphony.

Other Supporters:
Citizens Office of Hyogo Prefectural Government
City of Amagasaki
Sankei Newspaper
Yomiuri Newspaper, Hanshin Branch
Asahi Newspaper, Hanshin Branch
Mainichi Newspaper, Hanshin Branch

Contact: Kaoru Yamazaki, NPO Symphony
3-21-35 Higashinaniwa-cho, Amagasaki, Hyogo-ken
Phone: 06-483-2329, Fax: 06-483-2329
Internet: y129@gold.ocn.ne.jp

   NPO Symphony is not an orchestra. It is a regional coalition of groups to promote idea of nonprofit organization. They have been active in campaigns for NPO bills and advancement of nonprofit management.
   Amagasaki is situated between Kobe and Osaka, and was devastated by Great Hanshin Earthquake (popularly Kobe Earthquake) in January 1995, which killed more than 6,000 people. Though devastating, the quake prompted massive volunteer activities, with total 1.5 million volunteers entering the Kobe area to support victims and to rebuild the city. The Japanese dubbed the 1995 as the "first year of the volunteerism". After 4 years, the volunteers and volunteer organizations still active in the Kobe area are wondering what they can do next.
   They still have tasks to do, to serve many survivors housed in temporary housing. But what strategy they can take now to systematically build the newly emerged volunteer sector? CompuMentor gave them some hints. They learned now-hows to strengthen the nonprofit sector and specifically to organize computer volunteers for nonprofit work.
   During the quake relief efforts, volunteers obtained many computers. "Personal computer volunteers" ("paso-bora" as they are called in Japanese) used the technology to coordinate the relief efforts. Yet, overall the machines were not used widely by the volunteers. They face tasks to improve computer literacy among volunteers and nonprofits.


1:30-4:00 p.m., March 29 (Sun.)
at Nagoya International Center Hall
Organized by Japan TUNAGU-NET and American Center of Nagoya

Other Supporter: See below.

Contact: Hirosato Matsuura, Japan TUNAGU-NET
114-2-303 Tkamine-cho, Showa-ku, Nagoya, Aichi-ken 466-0811
Tel:052-837-4228  Fax:052-782-1445
Internet: matswra@jca.ax.apc.org

   Japan TUNAGU-NET  ("Connect Net") is a newly organized civic activity connecting organization. They say, "We will be a CompuMentor in Japan." Helping other nonprofits, Japan TUNAGU-NET is planning to establish an Internet home page, called "Civic Activities Calendar System, Chubu-Version," for information exchange among grassroots groups. Chubu is the central Japan area (between Tokyo and Osaka), where Nagoya is the main city.
   Japan TUNAGU-NET was formerly called "Civic Forum 21 Information Networking Group". Civic Forum 21 had been active in promoting nonprofit organization ideas and practices, and especially focused on the role of information and networking technology. They sent a couple of study tours to the Bay Area.
   American Center is the public affairs and exchange programs division of the United States Information Agency (USIA). Their support prompted support from city and prefectural governments in the Nagoya area.
   The organizers published an extensive report of the conference, titled: "Mentors Connect People, Dreams and the Future". Contact Japan TUNAGU-NET.

The following groups also supported the Nagoya conference.
Nagoya International Center
(City government operated international event center. Venue of the Nagoya conference.)
Eco Volunteer Mie
(Supports information exchange among environmentalists.)
Citizen's Media Study Forum
Skip Project
Japan Pacific Resource Network (JPRN)
Japan-U.S. Community Education and Exchange (JUCEE)
Wadati Computer House
(The challenged's self-help group to promote independent living and working. Organizes the challenged into a computer professional work group, which provides consulting and other computer related services on contract basis.)
Civic Forum 21 NPO Center
Aichi Prefectural Government
Gifu Prefectural Government
Nagoya City Government
Aichi Prefectural International Exchange Association

Other related information sites in Nagoya area:
(Provides fax access to information on the Internet.)
Mikanyama-Net Informal Homepage
(The community computer network Mikanyama-Net provides computer assistance to social service organizations in Nagoya.)
Tokai Internetwork Council's Social Service Application Committee
(A computer professional's organization to promote and support a barrier-free information environment for the challenged)
Asks Network
(Yokkaichi, Mie-based computer support group.)


1:00-5:30p.m., March 30 (Mon.)
At Matsushita Multimedia Center
Organized by Routeku Kenkyu-kai of ICS (InfoCommunication Service), which is in turn a project of IEICE (Institute of Electronics, Information and  Communications Engineers)
Title of the Conference: Fourth Seminar on Multimedia for Seniors and the Handicapped  - Universal Access to the Virtual Community

Other Supporters: See below.

Contact: Noriko Kondo,

   Routeku Kenkyu-kai stands for Old-tech (rhymed with Low-Tech) Study Group. The IEICE is the oldest and most prestigious academic society in communications engineering. Routeku Kenkyu-kai supports seniors and the challenged people in media/computer literacy. Their emphasis is on universal access. They frequently invite American and Korean Seniornet members to conferences in Japan and participate in international exchange programs overseas. They work with academics, government agencies (Post and Telecommunications Ministry and local governments), businesses (such as NTT) and civic groups.
   The Ben-Horin speech is part of a larger one day symposium, in which many telecommunications experts and grassroots practicians spoke and discuss universal access to technologies.

Sponsor of Tokyo Conference:
Telecommunications Promotion Foundation

Technical Supporters:
NTT America
NTT Mehora
Matsushita Electronics Systems Square
Matsushita Electronics Technology General Affairs Center
Matsushita Electronics Telecommunications System Research Institute

Access International
N. Takeda
Ginchan Oendan


"Citizens, Media, and Nonprofits" U.S.-Japan Yokohama Conference
3:00-8:50 p.m., April 1 (Wed.)
At Kanagawa Prefectural Citizens' Center
Organized by Inter-com.SYFA (Shanhai-Yokohama Friendly Association) and NPO Support Center Collaborative

Other Supporters:
Advance Ltd. Co
Japan-U.S. Community Education and Exchange (JUCEE) http://www.jucee.org
Yokohama City Social Service Council Volunteer Center
Kanagawa Interpublishing Association
Kamome Internet
Kanagawa Prefectural Citizen's Activity Support Center

Contact: Nakakazu Nagashima, Conference Secretariat

NPO Support Center Collaborative
Tel: 03-3545-0561  Fax:03-3545-0562
c/o NPO Promotion Forum
   The conference was supported by and held at Kanagawa Prefectural Citizens' Center where Kanagawa Prefectural Citizen's Activity Support Center is located. The Citizen's Activity Support Center is one of the first nonprofit incubators in Japan. The Center has a 4-floor 3000 square meters space for meeting rooms, multipurpose areas, a printing room, and a volunteer counseling area. Startup nonprofits rent lockers and mail box here. More than 300 groups use lockers to store their organizational belongings. More than 230 groups use P.O. boxes. They can use printing machines without fees. The Center, the hub of civic activities in the Yokohama Area, has a big fair every March, in which Ben-Horin was invited in 1998.
   One of the organizers, NPO Support Center Collaborative, is a coordinating efforts among dozens of NPO support centers around the nation. Their office is based in NPO Promotion Forum, which is spearheading efforts in NPO legislations and other nonprofit sector promotion campaigns.
   Also instrumental in organizing the conference is JCA-Net, Japan member of the Association of Progressive Communications, which is a world-wide collaboration of progressive computer networks. Beside being an Internet access provider to nonprofits, JCA-Net provides computer training classes and consulting services for grassroots groups.