The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to provide financial support for so-called social firms where people who have difficulty working, including social recluses and the disabled, work alongside other employees.

The metropolitan government plans to offer assistance to facilitate the creation and management of such social enterprises, informed sources said. It will be the first time to provide this kind of support in Japan.

In fiscal 2020, the metropolitan government will draw up guidelines, including criteria to certify a company as a social firm and detailed support measures, so that the first social enterprise will be set up at an early date.

With single parents, people raised at foster facilities and poor people willing to work in mind, the metropolitan government hopes that the social enterprises will serve as a model workplace to help such people become self-independent, the sources said.

The metropolitan government submitted the country’s first ordinance bill to support the establishment and activities of social firms to the capital’s assembly in a regular session convened Tuesday.

In the bill, a social firm is defined as a company that runs on financial resources mainly from business revenues, employs a considerable number of people who have difficulty working and has them work with other employees.

The bill stipulates that those certified as social firms will receive support from the metropolitan government.

The certification criteria will be laid down after the bill passes the assembly. The requirements are likely to include the minimum percentage of people who face difficulty working in the total workforce.

As the social firms must be managed independently, the metropolitan government will only provide financial aid until the establishment of such firms.

The metropolitan government plans to set up a subsidy program for the assistance and will earmark related costs under its fiscal 2020 budget.

Also envisioned are measures to help social firms acquire business management know-how.

In November 2018, the metropolitan government established a panel of experts to discuss how to support people who face challenges when it comes to working.

In a report compiled last month, the panel said that more and more social firms are being established overseas.

“It is desirable for (the social firms) to spread in Japan” as a new category different from existing providers of work under welfare programs, the report said.

According to the report, social firms started in Italy in the 1970s. There are about 10,000 such firms in Europe and 2,000 in South Korea, which receive public assistance, such as subsidies and tax breaks.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.