Strengthening US-Japan NGO Partnerships on Humanitarian Responses—Lessons from 3/11

Japan Center for International Exchange

Hundreds of Japanese and overseas organizations teamed up to respond to Japan’s 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown, and their work together demonstrates the tremendous potential of deeper cooperation between Western and Japanese NGOs involved in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. Realizing this potential, however, requires us to learn what worked in the 3/11 response, what failed, and what must be done to create a more supportive atmosphere for international partnerships between Japanese NGOs and their overseas counterparts.

With this in mind, the Japan Center for International Exchange conducted a two-year study to assess how well these NGOs’ international partnerships actually worked and what needs to be done to ensure they can collaborate effectively the next time disaster strikes around the world. Based on interviews with a wide range of senior staff from Japanese and Western organizations and three seminars with key figures from Japanese and Western NGOs, donors, and government agencies involved in the disaster response, JCIE’s report proposes nine measures to strengthen US-Japan NGO partnerships. 


Deepen mutual understanding between Japanese and American NGOs
1. Strengthen personal networks linking Japanese and US humanitarian NGOs
2. Support innovative personnel exchanges
3. Fund joint studies by US and Japanese NGOs

Strengthen institutional capacity for cooperation
4. Launch consultations on hiring and staff retention policies
5. Support capacity building for Japanese humanitarian NGOs
6. Better align communications approaches

Create a more supportive environment for US-Japan partnerships
7. Make encouraging partnerships a priority
8. Modify restrictions on government funding
9. Create a US-Japan Partnership Fund

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