NPOs aiding foreigners to get metro cash

by Noriyuki Suzuki

Kyodo News

Facing a major influx of foreign nationals, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will subsidize projects by nonprofit organizations supporting foreign residents in an effort to become more international and provide a comfortable living environment for minorities.

“This is the first time the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to subsidize such projects in the private sector,” said director Hiroko Takishima of the Citizens’ Affairs Division.

“We hope the projects become the first step to coordinating NPO activities to support foreign residents in Tokyo and filling gaps between areas.”

As of January, about 390,321 foreign nationals were registered as residents of the capital, up about 20,000 from a year earlier, accounting for more than 3 percent of the population.

More than 200 registered groups in Tokyo are providing support for non-Japanese citizens in fields including education, medicine and disaster measures. But most of the NPOs are volunteer-based and are short of financial resources.

Under the program to offer subsidies of up to ¥3 million per group, the metropolitan government hopes financially struggling NPOs will be able to offer better projects in such areas as medical care, Japanese language teaching and disaster measures, and give comprehensive support to non-Japanese citizens across Tokyo.

“Some NPOs have good projects, but those sometimes have to be put on hold due to financial difficulties,” she said.