On Christmas Day someone secretly placed 10 boxes containing new school backpacks in front of a children’s welfare facility in Maebashi in the name of Naoto Date, the hero of the “Tiger Mask” manga and anime series. This act of charity has since inspired more than 1,000 people to make donations to such facilities.

It is important to support this trend of helping the needy to flourish at the grassroots level in Japanese society. According to the Japan Fundraising Association, which helps nongovernmental organizations obtain funds, Japanese individuals donated about ¥550 billion in fiscal 2009, compared to ¥19 trillion ($227.4 billion) in the United States in 2009 and ¥1.3 trillion (£9.9 billion) in Britain in 2008.

A law revision proposed by the Democratic Party of Japan government under the concept of “new public commons,” an idea of former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, aims to expand tax privileges for people who make donations.

Through 2009 incomes, a person could deduct the amount of the contribution, minus ¥5,000, from his or her income, to reduce taxable income. Under the revision, a person can choose between two options — deduction of the contribution amount, minus ¥2,000, from his or her income, and a newly introduced tax credit system. In the latter, a person can deduct 40 percent of the donation amount, minus ¥2,000, from his or her income tax. (The upper limit for the tax credit is 25 percent of his or her income tax.) The same deduction can be made from his or her residential tax.

The revision also will make less strict the conditions NPOs must meet to accept donations that qualify for the tax privileges. In addition to donations to legally certified NPOs, donations to welfare and public interest corporate bodies and educational corporations will be eligible for the tax privileges. The revision will also create a system under which a person can authorize a trust bank to manage his or her money in regards to charitable contributions. The opposition forces should cooperate with the DPJ to enact the revision, which could change Japanese society for the better.

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