In September 2021, Japanese ICMIF member Kokumin Kyosai Co-op launched a new educational programme for “Junior Eco-Club”, a children’s environmental activity group, which is organised by the Japan Environment Association (JEA), to disseminate disaster prevention and mitigation information to young people. This learning programme is available free of charge to members of the Club throughout Japan.
In this programme, children can simulate the situations where lifelines are disrupted due to disasters, such as large earthquakes and typhoons. Through the programme, they safely learn how to survive in such disastrous situations whilst inside the houses. This is also aimed at helping families spend meaningful time together in their home during the Covid-19 pandemic period.
This programme provides children with various tips on what to do in emergency situations where there would be neither electricity, gas nor water supply. They learn many skills, such as how to improvise survival essentials coverings for their feet (similar to slippers) to avoid injuring their feet from the scattered debris that would be found in rooms caused by the earthquake, household lights, toilets, warm food and so on with minimal materials. Also, through recording and sharing their experience with other children, they can learn the importance of preparedness. In addition, thinking about natural disasters encourages children to be aware of everyday energy use and other environmental impacts, to voluntarily try something by themselves that helps the environment, and to live in an eco-friendly way.
JEA, a Kokumin Kyosai Co-op partner, manages the “Junior Eco-Club”. Any Japanese youngster between three to 18 years old can join the club. The Club’s aim is to foster understanding, knowledge of and commitment to environmental problems. Approximately 100 thousand children participate in the Club every year, and the number of club members so far totals over 2.7 million.
Kokumin Kyosai Co-op financially supports JEA activities through its Fire Insurance for Eco-friendly Houses programme. The cooperative provides fire insurance with discount premiums for eco-friendly house owners, such as those using all-electric houses and solar-powered houses. Based on the number of these policies and its financial outcomes, Kokumin Kyosai Co-op also made donations (JPY 24 million, over USD 210 thousand, in the 2020 financial year) to environmental organisations every year since its 2008 financial year. JEA has been one of the organisations supported by this fire insurance project since 2015, and has collaborated with Kokumin Kyosai Co-op on many events. For example, at Junior Eco-Club Japan National Festival (environmental activity exchange presentation), which is an exchange event for club members all over the country, the cooperative has an exhibition booth to inform people about the system and benefits of the Fire Insurance for Eco-friendly Houses programme. Kokumin Kyosai Co-op also supports children engaged in environmental activities by awarding them the Kokumin Kyosai Co-op Prize at Junior Eco-Club Japan National Eco-Activity Contest, which honours newsletters and picture diaries that share good news from the Club and which summarise the results of the club members’ environmental activities.