International Symposium on Utilizing Dormant Assets for Social Issues

Both in mature economies and developing economies, it is becoming increasingly important to solve social issues, including SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), by utilizing arousing various private resources (funds and human resources, etc.).

Under these circumstance, in Japan, since FY2019, an initiative is to be launched to utilize dormant assets in providing grants to private organizations that are endeavoring to solve social issues.

On the back of the full-scale launch of such a system in Japan, we held the International Symposium inviting relevant persons from countries and regions where dormant assets are utilized in the solution of social issues, looking to the future by sharing experiences of countries and regions where such systems have been introduced, examples of success and future challenges, etc.


Date/Monday,13th May, 2019 15:10~18:10
Venue/Kioi Conference,TOKYO,JAPAN

15:10~15:15 Video Speech
        Ms. MIMS DAVIES/Minister for Sport and Civil Society, Department for Digital,Culture, Media & Sport (United Kingdom)
        Click here for the video pageopen movie in a new window

15:15~15:25 Keynote Speech
        Mr. MITSUHIRO MIYAKOSHI/Minister of State (JAPAN)

15:25~16:25 Panel Discussion(Part 1)

  • <Panelist>
  • ・Ms. ALENA LEVITZ/Executive Director, British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society (Canada)
  • ・Mr. KENNETH JORDAN/Principal Officer for Finance and Dormant Accounts, Department of Rural and Community Development (Ireland)
  • ・Ms. CLAIRE ETCHES/Head of the Dormant Assets Team, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (United Kingdom)
  • ・Mr. ALBERTO PADOVA/Chief, Strategic Engagement and Policy Integration Branch, Financing for Sustainable Development Office, DESA
     (United Nations)
  • ・Ms. MIHO MATSUSHITA/Director, Office for Utilization of Dormant Deposits Cabinet Office (JAPAN)

16:45~17:45  Panel Discussion(Part 2)

  • <Panelist>
  • ・Mr. KEVIN McCORT/CEO, Vancouver Foundation (Canada)
  • ・Mr. TERENCE O’ROURKE/Chairman, Social Innovation Fund Ireland (Ireland)
  • ・Mr. DANIEL BREWER/CEO, Resonance Ltd. (United Kingdom)
  • ・Mr. MASAYA FUTAMIYA / Chair, Japan Network for Public InterestActivities (JAPAN)

17:45~18:00 Closing Session

  • <Panelist>
  • ・Ms. CLAIRE ETCHES/Head of the Dormant Assets Team, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (United Kingdom)
  • ・Mr. ALBERTO PADOVA/Chief, Strategic Engagement and Policy Integration Branch, Financing for Sustainable Development Office, DESA (United Nations)
  • ・Mr. MASAYA FUTAMIYA / Chair, Japan Network for Public Interest Activities (JAPAN)
  • ・Mr. Hiroshi TAWA/Director General, Economic, Fiscal and Social Structure, Cabinet office (JAPAN)

Closing Remark Mr. MITSUHIRO MIYAKOSHI/Minister of State


Keynote Speech Mr. MITSUHIRO MIYAKOSHI/Minister of State

Good afternoon, I am Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, State Minister of Cabinet Office. Thank you very much for joining us at the International Symposium on Utilizing Dormant Assets for Social Issues. This symposium is the first ever attempt in Japan to invite many panelists from overseas to discuss the topic and we have the participation of a large audience. As a host, I am deeply grateful to you all for coming. At the outset, allow me to speak a bit on Japan's scheme and potential issues.

Having gone through the changes in the economy and social structures, such as aging, lowering birthrate, population migration and rapid digitalization, etc., each country faces challenges of realizing sustainable economic growth or correcting economic disparities, as well as issues of poverty reduction, social inclusion and the achievement of a society with a high degree of wellbeing. These are common challenges for mature economy like Japan and for developing economies, although the substance or the depth of the issues may vary. In order to cope with social issues that are becoming increasingly diversified and complicated, the national and local governments of respective countries are working on various approaches, and steady progress is being made by NPOs, charities, private companies and others. On the international front, at the UN summit on sustainable development in 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted, which was an action plan for human beings, the planet and prosperity consisting of 17 goals. Solving social issues such as SDGs requires a huge funding. An UN-affiliated organization estimates that achieving SDGs by 2030 would require 5 to 7 trillion dollars per year. Even larger funds are needed to solve the entirety of social issues. It is unrealistic and not necessarily appropriate to imagine that any economy and society will be able to finance these solutions only with public funds. The perspective of utilizing funds, human resources, competence and expertise in the private sector to solve social issues has come to be indispensable.

In Japan, thanks to the Abenomics conducted since the end of 2012, a long economic recovery has been experienced and is continuing. On the other hand, with the super aging of the population, social issues are getting more complex and diverse, including those concerning NEET, alienation, child poverty and abuse and so on. The national and local governments are taking measures to address these issues. Although responses should be tailored and given on a case-by-case basis, it is true on the other hand that the administration, which has to ensure fairness and uniformity, faces difficulties in making proper responses to all issues one by one.

Under such circumstance, Japan launched in 2019 a program to provide funds to private organizations working on solving social issues by the utilization of dormant deposits unclaimed for more than 10 years. This mechanism covers three fields of activities, namely, activities to support children and young people, activities to support people with daily living difficulties, and activities to support communities experiencing social difficulties. Funds are provided through grants or loans for those activities by the utilization of dormant deposits. By deploying dormant deposits, which are people's assets, to assist private organizations' activities that are hard for the national and local governments to handle, we are aiming to solve social issues and thereby enhance benefits for the public in general. The mechanism to utilize dormant deposits unclaimed for a long period of time has been introduced in many countries in the world. Some countries use such deposits to replenish their national or state revenues and there are also regions and countries of some panelists here: although the number may be small, that use dormant deposits for the purpose of solving social issues. It is true that experiences of these overseas predecessors had driven Japan's discussions toward the establishment of the mechanism. It is usually the case in Japan to have new legislation be initiated by the administration, but regarding this mechanism, a suprapartisan group of Diet members with a strong passion led the initiative and enacted the legislation at the end of 2016. I heard that some parliamentary members insisted on the allocation of the funds as national revenue, but the enthusiasm and outstanding leadership of this suprapartisan group and support from diverse parties engaging in the solution of social issues led difficult negotiations and eventually enacted the legislation. The law is subject to review in five years' time. By then, we are required to develop and radicate this mechanism and achieve results to have people broadly understand the benefits.

After the lapse of a two-year preparatory period since the enactment of the law, the scheme of utilizing dormant deposits for grants was finally commenced in fiscal 2019, which started in April 2019 and ends in March 2020. In January 2019, JANPIA was designated as the only organization to select organizations to distribute funds and oversee operations of such organizations. The Chair of JANPIA, Mr. Futamiya, will join us at Panel 2 later. JANPIA, which handles dormant deposits, or people's assets, is expected to provide grants fairly and neutrally taking the high moral ground. At the same time, JANPIA intends to work closely with Japan Business Federation, labor unions, as well as the financial industry and social sector, with total cooperation and participation, and is expected to have a significant potential to spur a momentum towards the solution of social issues in Japan. JANPIA also intends to provide grants to traditional NPOs well-rooted in local communities that have steadily made efforts, as well as to activities that will promote social innovation. The scheme just launched in Japan is open to anyone, covering highly motivated social entrepreneurs and local traditional organizations working passionately, as well as corporate employees and workers who have had no particular interest in social issues and people without experience as volunteers.

Not only in Japan, but also globally, utilizing diverse funds and human resources in the private sector for solving social issues, thereby stimulating social activities has become recognized as a challenge. Against such background, utilization of dormant deposits can be considered as a global initiative worth working on. We have invited speakers from countries and regions where dormant assets are already used for solving social issues. We hope to discuss and share their experiences, such as the backgrounds and mechanisms of introducing relevant schemes, successful cases and future challenges. This will provide a hint for further improving their mechanisms and also a hint for making use of dormant assets to countries that have yet to introduce a scheme or are currently allocating dormant assets as national revenue. I am sure that many suggestions will be provided to the attendees here who are engaging in solving social issues in various ways.

We have received a video message from Minister Davies from the UK. We here have guests from national governments or organizations in charge of distributing dormant assets from the UK, Ireland, British Columbia in Canada, and the UN. They have come to attend this symposium to share with us their experiences in utilizing dormant assets and deposits. Once again, I would like to thank them for their deep understanding and cooperation. It would be a great pleasure for me as a host if today's symposium turns out to be mutually informative and triggers new actions for solving social issues and achieving the SDGs. Thank you very much for your attention.

Closing Remark Mr. MITSUHIRO MIYAKOSHI/Minister of State

Thank you. As a host of this symposium, I would like to thank all the panelists who have come from abroad to join us and I thank everyone for being here today. The whole world is working hard toward sustainable economic growth, correcting inequality and trying to solve issues of poverty reduction, social inclusion and the achievement of a society with a high degree of wellbeing. Efforts for achieving the SDGs driven by the UN and has been spreading worldwide, and for solving various other social issues have become an important agenda shared throughout the world. National and local governments, including those of G20 countries, international organizations, private companies and NPOs are seriously required to work together to solve social issues through utilizing diverse funds, human resources and expertise.

As one new initiative, Japan has worked to make a scheme of utilizing dormant deposits for the purpose of solving social issues for which the national government cannot make responses one by one. The scheme is to be put into operation this year at last with the participation of diverse NPOs and other organizations. Japan will join a group of countries that operate such pioneering and innovative schemes. Today's international symposium was a very informative one and we were able to share diverse expertise and experiences of pioneering predecessors. Based on what we learned today, the Government of Japan will endeavor to develop a better environment so that concrete results can be made and this scheme will be firmly rooted in Japanese society.

I firmly believe that today's international symposium will facilitate utilization of dormant assets in respective countries and regions and global dissemination of relevant schemes, thereby making a contribution to the stable and sustainable development of the international community as a whole. I would like to reconfirm the potential and significance of schemes for the utilization of dormant assets together with all of you here and would like to conclude this international symposium. Thank you very much.