JCIE, in collaboration with Japan Platform (JPF), has launched a new project to offer grants utilizing funds that were recovered from dormant bank accounts in Japan. The project is entitled “Humanitarian Aid to Marginalized Immigrants: Building a Support System to Prevent Social Isolation,” or Humanitarian Aid for Marginalized Immigrants (HAMIS) for short. Through this initiative, 6 to 10 organizations are being selected to receive grants ranging from ¥10 million to ¥25 million (for a total of ¥150 million), to be carried out between May 2021 and February 2022. Eligible organizations include those providing humanitarian assistance, supporting self-reliance among foreign residents, and improving support capabilities.

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, hundreds of thousands of foreign residents in Japan are facing a variety of issues without access to adequate support, including prolonged housing insecurity due to difficulties returning to their home countries, problems in receiving information due to language barriers, unemployment and declining income, and a lack of contact with support groups. In particular, due to restrictions on movement and face-to-face interactions, coupled with their limited Japanese language ability, many foreign residents are extremely isolated. Furthermore, many people are facing an abrupt decline in living conditions—some have been kicked out of company dormitories after losing their jobs or have had trouble paying for rent due to shortened working hours and have been forced to move. This has made it difficult for even those organization that aim to provide support to foreign residents to fully grasp the severity of the situation.

In response to these challenges, JCIE is cooperating with JPF, an organization with experience in providing humanitarian aid both within Japan and overseas, to implement this new project that combines emergency humanitarian assistance with the creation of support infrastructure. The objective is to ensure that the vulnerability experienced by foreign residents in terms of labor, education, and social security, does not lead to further social isolation.

Since the language, labor, and legal issues facing foreign residents do not lend themselves to rapid solutions, this project will provide grants to organizations that provide emergency humanitarian support, such as safety nets for helping to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, or that support self-reliance and allow foreign residents to live their lives with dignity and peace of mind. Grantees will also be expected to develop a system that can effectively and efficiently provide ongoing and expanded support by using the information and experiences they gain through this project.