The State of Nonprofit Sector Research in Japan
Aya Okada, Kanazawa University, Yu Ishida, Miyagi University, Takako Nakajima, Osaka University of Commerce, and Yasuhiko Kotagiri, Tokushima University
Despite a long history, the organized field of research on voluntaristics in Japan has emerged only in the past two decades. This article presents a comprehensive review of voluntaristics research in Japan through an overview of past studies and recent hot topics. Nonprofit sector and voluntary action research, now termed voluntaristics (Smith, 2016), is reviewed here using four approaches: organizational, economic, employment, and charitable giving. Discussion of recent changes in the political-legal environment for nonprofit agencies and associations as well as of collaboration among nonprofits, governments, and businesses are presented. The article also covers some of the key topics in recent years, including rising social movements and advocacy, social impact bonds, social capital, and information and communication technologies (ICT) and social media.
In discussing the emergence, expansion, and diversification of nonprofit research in Japan, the article makes two main arguments. First, we argue that studies of voluntaristics are rather recent in Japan, still in pursuit of their own originality. Second, we argue that nonprofit research in Japan is constantly looking for an ideal relationship with practice. Research appears to have not fully caught up with the changing landscape of nonprofits in action, and research has not been able to guide practice into the best next steps. The article highlights characteristics of nonprofit sector research in Japan as well as suggesting key questions for future research.