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Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012
Bolstering Japan's public commons
More than three years have passed since a new system for public service incorporated bodies (PSIBs) went into force. Under the new system, traditional incorporated bodies and foundations are called on to finish procedures to become new incorporated bodies for public services by Nov. 30, 2013. It is hoped that as many organizations as possible will become new PSIBs because doing so will attract larger donations, thus enabling them to expand the scope of activities.
The original system of incorporated bodies for public services was established in 1896. Discussions to reform it began in 2001 and the new system was established in December 2008.
PSIBs are now divided into two categories: ordinary incorporated bodies and foundations that can be set up just by registering with district legal affairs bureau, and PSIBs whose establishment must be initially approved by committees composed of experts.
The latter category of PSIBs are granted tax privileges. Individuals who donate money to them are eligible for large tax deductions if certain conditions are met. There are national-level and local-level PSIBs, the former getting final approval for establishment from the prime minister and the latter from prefectural governors. The conditions they must meet to gain approval for establishment are rather stringent. More than half of their spending must be used for public activities beneficial to a large number of people. They also must have a high standard of governance.
As of December 2008, there were 6,625 national-level and 17,818 local-level incorporated bodies and foundations entitled to apply to become new PSIBs. As of November 2011, about 6,900 organizations had submitted applications.
PSIBs have played an important role in helping areas devastated by the March 11 disasters. They have carried out various activities including collecting financial donations, holding charity concerts and dispatching medical doctors and experts in other fields. In general, they are engaged in cultural, social welfare, academic and many other activities. It is our sincere hope that many organizations will opt to become new PSIBs. The greater the number that do so, the stronger Japan's "new public commons" will become.