Activism in Japan has seen a resurgence in recent years as citizens seek ways to effect change in their society. The country has undergone many dramatic changes since the 1920s, including the rise of new technologies and the globalization of the economy. The tradition of activism in Japan dates back to the Meiji period (1868-1912), when citizens formed activist societies to improve their quality of life.

During the postwar period, the government began to implement economic reform measures which led to social unrest. Protest movements emerged in the 1970s to demand better conditions for the Japanese people. In the 1980s, the rise of Japan’s new social movements, such as the environmental movement and women’s rights movement, forced the government to address a range of social issues.

In the 21st century, there has been a resurgence of activism in Japan. This is due, in part, to the widespread awareness of the impacts of globalization on the Japanese people. Additionally, the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has led to a heightened awareness of the dangers of nuclear power and the need for measures to reduce the country’s dependence on nuclear energy.

Activism in Japan has traditionally been driven by a desire for social justice and the improvement of the quality of life for the Japanese people. In the 21st century, the focus has shifted to addressing issues such as climate change, energy security, and the protection of the environment.

In my 42+ years of living in Japan, I am astounded at the overall political and social apathy which prevails here. In 1980, the building of nuclear plants was a rubber-stamp event and the visiting of nuclear weapon American warships was done with an implicit wink meant to dupe the public. Nowadays, there are numerous Japan NGOs and NPOs doing good deeds, but community support is only strong in the event of a major local catastrophe. The SIJ Activism Directory for Japan is a thorough starting point for connecting with dedicated people and causes in Tokyo, Osaka and other more obscure locations in Japan.


21st Century Public Policy InstituteAfrica-Japan ForumAnimal Refuge Kansai, Anti-Vivasection Action Network, Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center, Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research, Ask, Association for Aid and Relief, Association of School Aid in Cambodia


Bee Sig


Care The WorldCenter for Global Partnership, Church World Service Japan, Citizen Activism in Japan, Citizen’s Centre for Diplomacy, Citizens’ Environmental Foundation Council for Pet Bottle Recycling, Countermeasures Against Pollution by Agricultural Chemicals




Earth Vision, EcoLeaf Environmental Label, Energy Conservation Center, Energy Conservation and Homecare Network, Engineers Without Borders, Environmental Management of Enclosed Coastal Seas Center, Environmental Partnership Organizing Club


Following the Sun Association, Forum for Wood Architecture


Gara-bo Aikokai, Gender Equality BureauGeo-Environmental Protection Center, Global Environment Centre Foundation, Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute, Green Business Practices in Japan, Groups to Support in Japan


Habitat for Humanity Japan, H-Japan Discussion Network, Hiroshima Marrow Donor Support Federation, Hokkaido University Center for Ainu and Indigenous People, Hope International Development Agency, Human Rights Practices in Japan, Hundred School Networking


Infrastructure Development Institute, Ivy Japan


Japan’s Action Plan Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, Japan Association for Refugees, Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Japan Center for Climate Change and Actions, Japan Center for Conflict Prevention, Japan Center for Sustainable Environment and Society, Japan Center for International Exchange, Japan Childrens’ Rights Network, Japan Civil Liberties Union, Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Suffers Organizations, Japan Containers and Packaging Recycling Association, Japan Environmental Education Forum, Japan for Sustainability, Japan Forum on International Relations, Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Japan International Volunteer Center, Japan Judo Therapist Association, Japan Lesbian Resources, Japan Library Association, Japan National Group of Mentally Disabled People, Japan NGO Directory, Japan Offspring Fund, Japan Overseas Christian Medical Cooperative Service, Japan Platform, Japan Press Weekly, Japan Red Cross Society, Japan Rescue Association, Japan Small-Type Whaling Association, Japan Society on Water Environment, Japan Tropical Forest Action Network, Japan Water Forum, Japan Wildlife Conservation Society, Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union, Japanese Organization for Deaf Blind People, Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning, Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers, JEN, JHelp,  Kitakyushu International Techno-Cooperative


Learning and Ecological Activities Foundation for Children, Limex


Médecins Sans Frontières


Network of Asian River Basin Organizations, New Japan Women’s Association, NICCONippon Foundation, Nomura Foundation


One Asia, Oomoto, Overseas Vocational Training Association


Pacific Resource Exchange Center, Peace Winds Japan, People to People Aid, Plan International, Prop Station


Rain Forest Foundation Japan, Ramsar Center Japan, Refugee Assistance Headquarters, Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth, Results Japan


Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Save the Children, Second Harvest, SEEDS Asia, Shanti Volunteer Association, Shaplaneer, Shae


Toda Institute, Tokyo Community News, Tokyo Progressive, Tokyo Voluntary Action Center, Tono Magakoro Net


United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, United Nations Centre for Regional Development, Utsumi Recycle System


Water Re-Use Promotion Center, WHO Kobe Center