January 6, 2005


Ministry to Support Model Local Currency System

Keywords: Government Local government Money NGO / Citizen Policy / Systems 

The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has started to develop a model of a local currency system, as part of its support measures for regional revitalization, which utilizes information technology (IT) equipment such as basic resident registry cards and cell phones. The ministry also plans to conduct demonstration testing in three areas for about two months from November 2004. The final version of the system will be distributed, free of charge, to local governments that show an interest, next fiscal year (starting in April 2005).

Of the three municipalities chosen for the testing, Kitakyushu City in Fukuoka Prefecture (southern Japan), plans to develop the "Environment Passport Project." Aiming to become an eco-friendly community, the city plans to mobilize the new system for the city-wide utilization of its electronic eco-money based on resident registry cards.

Ichikawa City in Chiba Prefecture, a suburb of Tokyo, plans to improve its community-based service to support child rearing, welfare and nursing care of the aged by introducing an IT-based community currency.

Oguni Town in Kumamoto Prefecture in southern Japan, plans to promote working holiday programs and green tourism in the town by introducing its local currency. In the town its local currency is used to exchange the costs related to city-dwellers' stays at this town, and the payment for their agricultural works and forestry works.

A local currency, different from a legal currency such as yen or dollar, is based on agreement between the parties concerned, which can be used only within a certain area or community. As of 2004, more than 300 varieties of community currencies reportedly existed in Japan, many of them being used to pay for mutual assistance among neighbors and participation in volunteer work.

The number of local communities considering a local currency system is estimated to be greater. The introduction and expansion of local currencies are seen as valuable ways to promote community activities and to boost local economies.

Posted: 2005/01/06 04:58:06 PM
Japanese version