Leaders November 2012

Books for Smiles

Supporting Japan’s disadvantaged youth

To build on our record of executing impactful social responsibility (SR) initiatives, the BCCJ is creating a simple yet effective multi-stakeholder programme.

Our Books for Smiles project invites firms of all sizes and across all industry sectors to support the professional development of Japan’s disadvantaged youth by donating books.

Proceeds from the sale of second-hand books will be allocated to Bridge for Smile (B4S), a not-for-profit organisation certified by the National Tax Agency.

There are about 31,000 children and young adults living in 590 social welfare facilities in Japan. With most facility residents suffering from issues related to self-esteem, only a few are in tertiary education: 20%, as against the national average of 80%.

The low rate leads to a vicious cycle of poverty and social disadvantage.

Bridge for Smile teaches individuals, who are about to become independent, how to build social skills, manage a budget, find accommodation and get a job.

Through Books for Smiles, whereby cash raised from the sale of books donated by our member firms and supporters will be allocated to the project, disadvantaged youngsters will be given financial support to begin vocational training.

For example, support could be given to help an individual attend nursing school, where tuition for one year costs ¥600,000, and a three-year diploma course costs ¥1.8mn.

“Books for Smiles will enable us to focus not solely on fundraising, but also on our core mission: supporting those leaving care to establish independent living and working arrangements”, said Noriko Hirata of B4S.

In July, to confirm the Books for Smiles framework and logistics, the BCCJ formulated and conducted a pilot programme with B4S and third-party project partner Value Books, a Japan-based second-hand book retailer.

On 12 September, details of the programme were shared with the BCCJ Executive Committee, who gave the green light to conduct a soft-launch with five member firms.

We are now collecting feedback from these firms and reflecting on lessons learnt, in preparation for a fully fledged roll-out of the programme in December. We hope to involve as many firms as possible during the festive season.

We will arrange to collect your books and take them to Value Books. Proceeds from the sales will be donated to B4S.

The BCCJ will track cumulative donations from its members, and highlight participating firms on the BCCJ website and in BCCJ ACUMEN.

By involving as many BCCJ member firms and supporters as possible—especially those with limited access to SR opportunities—we can leverage our combined might to reinforce the UK’s position as a stable and committed partner to the local community in Japan.

From a sustainability perspective, the programme has the potential to create a solid foundation for second-tier SR activities for BCCJ member firms. Those possibilities include internship opportunities for those leaving care, as well as further tie-up projects that can utilise member firms’ skills on a pro bono basis.

Thank you very much in advance for your support.

Taking part in the programme is simple. Send an email, in English or Japanese, to: