January 30, 2004


Mirai Bank: Citizens Financing Their Own Future

Keywords: Money NGO / Citizen Policy / Systems 

Japan's Mirai Bank ("mirai" means "future" in Japanese) is a credit union with a vision. With funds invested by members, the Mirai Bank makes loans at the low interest rate of three percent. But the loans are limited to three areas (environment, citizen-run projects and social welfare), and are only provided for initiatives that benefit society. Since its establishment, the credit union has made loans, for example, for the purchase of environmentally friendly products such as solar panels, and for projects by non-governmental and non-profit organizations.

The Mirai Bank was established in 1994 to create a new financing system that could contribute to environmental protection, in contrast to the founders' view that the government's huge Fiscal Investment and Loan Program (funded primarily from the nation's postal savings accounts) indirectly supports environmentally destructive activities and businesses. As of April 2003, the credit union had about 340 members, capital of 116 million yen (about U.S.$1.05 million), and cumulative loans since establishment totaling 481 million yen (about U.S.$4.33 million).

The credit union also supports citizens' enterprises financially, with the belief that innovation in today's financial distribution channels and the empowerment of local economies will help to solve environmental problems. Yu Tanaka, the president of Mirai Bank, says that he is not interested in turning the credit union into a large institution, but rather, is hoping that similar credit unions run by citizens will be established throughout the country to fund citizens' non-profit initiatives. The Mirai Bank pledges to support them, he says.

Gaining in popularity and prospective funders in recent years, the credit union solicits investors not by inviting them to join, but by encouraging them to support their own communities with their own money. Today, new Mirai Bank-funded citizens' initiatives to revitalize local communities are appearing across the country.

Posted: 2004/01/30 09:19:43 AM
Japanese version