Published in: ICSEM Project
Cited as: Makino, M. and Kitajima, K. (2017) “Social Enterprise in Japan: Community-Oriented Rural SEs”, No. 28.
In this paper, as part of the ICSEM (International Comparative Social Enterprise Models) project, we describe the notions, institutionalization processes, and typologies of Japanese social enterprises. Especially, we focus on work integration social enterprises (WISEs) for the disabled (i.e. persons with physical disabilities, persons with intellectual disabilities, and mentally disabled persons) because many of those organizations promote the social inclusion of those people who—in the Japanese society—represent the most excluded group. Unlike many countries, Japan does not have specific policies for social enterprises yet, due to a lack of recognition of social enterprises among both the general public and policy makers. However, in the case of WISEs, three policies affect those organizations and influence their social goals, strategies, and means in terms of social inclusion, management, and governance style. Specifically, policies on service providers for the disabled—namely the Act on Services and Support for the Disabled—have contributed substantially to the financial sustainability of WISEs. At the same time, this Act has had a negative impact on those organizations by promoting among them a commercialization of their practices which goes against their natural mission of spreading democracy and solidarity. In this paper, we also stress the important role played by Japanese social enterprise academics in promoting a sustainable social inclusion of marginalized people.