On 25 June 2020, Japanese ICMIF member Kokumin Kyosai Co-op (the National Federation of Workers and Consumers Kyosai Cooperatives (Zenrosai)) released the results of its survey on changes in awareness of community spirit and a willingness to help others, or “mutual help” as it is commonly known in Japan, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After rebranding from "Zenrosai" to a new brand "Kokumin Kyosai Co-op" in June 2019, with the slogan of “Promote Mutual Help Network in Society", Kokumin Kyosai co-op has continued its efforts toward the realization of its philosophy of "building an affluent and safe society where people look after one another", through various activities centering on the mechanism of mutual aid called "Kyosai" which is the name for cooperative insurance in Japan.
This survey was conducted over the internet from 6 to 8 June 2020, with the aim of examining changes in whether or not people felt there was a spirit of mutual help, of community spirit and a willingness to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 3,000 respondents (1,482 men and 1,518 women) who live in Japan. The summary of the survey results is as follows:
- 69.9% answered that they had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially for teenagers, the result was high at 87.4%, due to the impact on their school life.
- The most changed factor in peoples’ behaviour due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was "travel & leisure" at 31.9%, followed by “work & school” at 21.5%. By age group, “work & school” was high for young and middle-aged people, and “contact with others” was higher among the elderly.
- 66.9% of the respondents said that the COVID-19 problems heightened their "awareness of community spirit and people helping others".
- In life during the state of emergency, the respondents appreciated the help from “family” (58.9%) and “essential workers” (31.6%).
- 46.1% of the respondents agreed that society demonstrates a good level of community spirit and people helping one another, which was an increase of nearly 20 points compared to the survey conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Regarding the change in community spirit and a willingness to help others, more than half (57.9%) felt that there was no change. However, 32.8% answered that it increased, which was higher than 9.3% who said that it decreased.
- 82.2% empathised with the concept of "a society that looks after one another".
- 90.2% agreed that society would need community spirit and people to help one another in the near future.
In response to this survey results, Kokumin Kyosai Co-op said: "By experiencing ‘community spirit and a willingness to help others' during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is widely recognised that Japanese society will need ‘community spirit and people to help one another’ in the near future, and it can be seen that this has increased individual awareness from this survey”.
“Even though people are feeling they have benefitted from help and support under the influence of COVID-19 and they are taking actions in consideration for infection prevention, it is possible that this has not yet been clearly recognised as ‘community spirit and a willingness to help others’. So, it may be necessary to promote the vision of a sense of mutuality to build a society that demonstrates a good level of community spirit and people helping one another, or as we call it – mutual help".
With the idea that "we may be able to live more comfortable life and create a human-friendly society if we can make helping one another both easier and more enjoyable", Kokumin Kyosai Co-op has implemented the "ENJOY TASUKEAI (Mutual Help)” project (see image) since October 2019.
In addition, as social unrest spreads due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cooperative insurer is developing the "Ima-Dekiru-Tasukeai” (Mutual Help in Difficult Times) initiative to try to prevent infection and to promote “community spirit and a willingness to help others”.
Based on the results of this survey, Kokumin Kyosai Co-op says it will continue to work on the dissemination of “a sense of mutuality” through Kyosai and other various activities toward the realization of "a society that looks after one another".
Click here for the details of the survey.