Mayumi Hayashi: A video-interview concerning the Fureai Kippu

(International Journal of Community Currency Research https://ijccr.net/)

ABSTRACT

Japan’s Fureai Kippu (‘Ticket for a Caring Relationship’) refers to mutual support networks of members of all ages, targeted at providing care for older people through exchanges of time credits, sometimes supplemented by cash payments (‘time-­‐banking’).

This has attracted increasing attention as a potential contribution to the ‘Big Society’ with an ageing population.

However, despite its pioneering role and scale, relatively little is known about the details and outcomes of Fureai Kippu, and meanwhile simplistic and optimistic generalizations predominate.

This article, using historical analysis and empirical evidence, seeks to address these gaps by examining the origins of Fureai Kippu, its early expansion, post- 2000 slowdown and responses.

It considers the practical contributions and varied benefits potentially offered by the system, along with its operational difficulties. The conclusion is that Fureai Kippu is so complex that not only is evaluation difficult but also no universal panacea can be expected from it.

Read the whole article: https://ijccr.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf

mirror / backup: Mayumi Hayashi Kings College London – JAPANS FUREAI KIPPU TIMEBANKING IN ELDERLY CARE ORIGINS DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES AND IMPACT ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf

Fureai Kippu

Fureai Kippu

Introduction

The Fureai Kippu (literally ‘ticket for a caring relationship’) refers to a variety of Japanese national schemes and networks of mutual support dedicated to providing elderly care through the exchange of a complementary currency 1. The schemes enable individuals to earn time-credits by providing care to elderly people or people with disabilities. Those credits can then be transferred to relatives or friends in need of care, or be saved for the future when sick or old.

Of the two most prominent models of Fureai Kippu, one stands close to traditional timebanking, whereas the other enables conventional money transactions alongside time credits in exchange for the service provided. In the latter, volunteers can decide whether to receive a combination of national currency (yen) and time credits or either one as compensation for providing services 2.

The Fureai Kippu schemes can be considered as the Japanese versions of co-production through timebanking. The term Fureai Kippu has been in use since 1992 3.

Purpose

The Fureai Kippu aims at developing and strengthening mutually supportive networks of informal elderly care in a country increasingly facing challenges related to a rapidly ageing population, decline in the capacity of family to care for the elder members and sky-rocketing healthcare costs 4.

Community Overview

Japan is a nation of approximately 128 million people 5. The country has the longest overall life expectancy at birth of any other nation on earth (UN, 2006). It is estimated that people born in the period 2010-2015 will live 83,5 years 6. After the post WW2 baby boom, Japanese population is rapidly aging, following a sharp decline in birth rates. In 2009 roughly 22,7% of the population was over 65 and following the trends, in 2050 almost 40% of Japanese will be 65+ 7.

Organisation and History

The Sawayaka Welfare foundation is a non-profit organization launched in 1991 that acts as the umbrella body of the local Fureai Kippu schemes in Japan. Similarly to Time Banks UK, it promotes best practices and assists local initiatives grow 8. Tsutomu Hotta, who also coined the term Fureai Kippu, launched the organization.

Japan has a long tradition of voluntary help and reciprocal assistance dating back to the post WW2 period. The world’s first time bank, named Volunteer Labor Bank, was founded in Osaka, Japan in 1973 9. This was a voluntary network of people providing assistance to each other through the exchange of a time-based complementary currency, named ‘Love Currency’. 10 This example was not part of the Fureai Kippu system, but paved the way for its widespread application in Japan.

The Fureai Kippu emerged in the 1980s, a period in which to overcome the limitations of family-based care, hundreds of grassroots groups of mutual help emerged across the country. The predominant model of Fureai Kippu evolved within these groups, after introducing a rather different reimbursement arrangement compared to conventional timebanking schemes already existing in Japan at the time. Under Fureai Kippu, volunteer members could decide to combine monetary remuneration with time credits: they could choose between earning conventional money (yen), time credits or both in exchange for the service provided. 11

According to data of 2012, 38% of Fureai Kippu are run by small grassroots groups; 21% by local government or quasi-government bodies; the remaining 41% are run by two non-profit organizations. 12

Impact

Research on Fureai Kippu suggested that overall the schemes have had a positive role in improving both physical and psychological health of volunteers and recipients of services; helped improve the condition and social relations of vulnerable people; and finally helped to establish more equal relationships between volunteer members and recipients due to the exchange of money (where applicable). 13

Overall, the Fureai Kippu has settled as an effective supplement to conventional professionalized health care resources in Japan. It is perceived to be less top-down and a more humane than the national healthcare service. 14

Currency Details

a. The system in numbers

A research of 2012 suggested there were 391 Fureai Kippu branches in Japan 15. Currently, no data is available on the number of volunteers involved neither on the number of recipients.

b. Function and Unit of Account

The function of time-credits under the Fureai Kippu schemes is to act as a medium of exchange. As the name suggests, the unit of account is time (hours).

c. Issuance

Issuance mechanism vary across the different instances. Typically, notes and tickets are used as the medium of exchange, with very few electronic systems as yet.

d. Software

The Japan’s biggest Fureai Kippu organization, Nippon Life Active Club, introduced customized software to record transactions of time credits in its 130-odd branches across Japan, thereby enabling it to produce its collective data as well as compare and analyse data between branches. However, issuing and redeeming time credits among members are done manually, based on paper-based record keeping.

e. Taxation and Compliance

In general, neither time credits nor cash payments (yen) in Fureai Kippu schemes are considered taxable [Ref needed], the latter (cash) usually being regarded as “donations”, thus exempted from taxation.

f. Funding – Business Model

The majority of Fureai Kippu schemes are run by non-for-profit organizations and communities of mutual-help, all of which are independent from government. Thus they receive few grants and instead self-fund through the membership fee and private donations, supplemented by user-fees for service recipients who do not have time credits to redeem.

How does it work in practice?

A Fureai Kippu branch in Los Angeles has some 100 Japanese immigrant members. One member, Tanaka-san, takes her neighboring older member food shopping by car once a week for about two hours and earns 8 to 10 time credits every month, based on a one-hour-one-credit formula. Tanaka-san then presents her accumulated credits to her frail older mother living in Tokyo where her mother uses the credits to buy weekly home help from her neighboring volunteer member in a Tokyo branch. Since her mother is living alone and has mobility problems, she looks forward very much to these visits, expressing that ‘She is like my daughter whom I can see only once a year when she comes back from Los Angeles’. Tanaka-san is also very happy to see her mother happy and be able to help her in an indirect, small but significant way. She also stresses the importance of an informal and humane relationship between her mother and the volunteer member through time credits, which are hard to get in commercial services provided by professional care workers.

Further readings and videos:

Nakagawa and Bovaird (2011), Hureai Kippu – lessons from Japan for the ‘Big Society’. Available at http://www.jlgc.org.uk/en/pdfs/Hureai%20Kippu%20-%20Lessons%20from%20Japan%20for%20the%20Big%20SocietyCESedit17March2011.pdf

mirror / backup: Hureai Kippu – Lessons from Japan for the Big SocietyCESedit17March2011.pdf

Nippon Life Active Club (NALC) (http://nalc.jp).

References

  1. Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 30-44. Available at http://ijccr.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf
  2. Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 35
  3. Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 36
  4. Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 30-44. Available at http://ijccr.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf
  5. National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 2012. Available at http://www.ipss.go.jp/site-ad/index_english/esuikei/gh2401e.asp
  6. United Nations World Population Prospects, 2006 revision. UN. Available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2006/WPP2006_Highlights_rev.pdf
  7. (Japan Statistics Bureau, 2010
  8. Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A). Available at http://ijccr.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf
  9. Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 33. Available at http://ijccr.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf
  10. Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 33. Available at http://ijccr.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf
  11. Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 35. Available at http://ijccr.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf
  12. Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 33. Available at http://ijccr.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf
  13. Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 37. Available at http://ijccr.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf
  14. Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 37. Available at http://ijccr.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf
  15. (SWF, 2012; Hayashi, M. (2012) ‘Japan’s Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (A) 37. Available at http://ijccr.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ijccr-2012-hayashi.pdf

Related:

http://community-currency.info/en/

http://www.innovationunit.org/blog/201404/inspiring-healthcare-fureai-kippu

 

 

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