Japan: Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa attempts a “social experiment” by giving out 9 million US$

Japan: Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa attempts a “social experiment” by giving out 9 million US$

Japanese enterpreneur Yusaku Maezawa, enfatuated by the idea of a basic income, is giving out, unconditionally, 9 million US$ to 1000 randomly selected people from his Twitter followers group. This initiative was launched on January 1st 2020, on his Twitter page.

Maezawa is hoping this “social experiment” will have an effect on his recipients happiness, as other (basic income related) experiments have already shown (ex.: Finland, India, Canada). The payment of 9000 US$ is to be done to each of these 1000 recipients, with no strings attached, who will be monitored through regular surveys to check on how this money impacts their lives.

Senior economist Toshihiro Nagahama, from the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, has said that “basic means a regular minimum amount offering a sense of security, [but] what Maezawa is offering is totally different”, referring still that the automation fears that have spurred interest in basic income have still not materialized in Japan. Maezawa, howecer, is hoping his initiative will kick-start more debate over the basic income policy in Japan.

More information at:

Sam Nussey, “Japanese billionaire Maezawa in $9 million ‘social experiment’ giveaway“, Reuters, January 8th 2020

Taipei to hold second annual UBI Asia Pacific conference

Taipei to hold second annual UBI Asia Pacific conference

The second annual Basic Income Asia Pacific conference will be held in Taipei, Taiwan on March 17 and 18. This year’s theme is “Asia Pacific’s Economic Future.”

Keynote speeches will be delivered by Enno Schmidt, the Swiss referendum leader, and Dr. Sarath Davala, the lead researcher for the UNICEF basic income trials in India.

“The focus on Asia is necessary to understand how we are going to interpret the idea regionally – given Asia’s own specificities and peculiarities. This conference is going to open this much needed conversation. This event is yet another milestone achieved by the UBI Taiwan, one of the most dynamic national groups,” Davala said.

Leading thinkers in academia, government and NGOs from Taiwan, mainland China, India, Bangladesh, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States will join the conference to discuss the challenges facing the Asia Pacific and potential solutions, such as basic income.

Dr. Hermann Aubie is a lecturer at Aston University in the United Kingdom. His research specializes on comparing basic income movements in East Asia and Europe.

“This conference offers a rare and precious opportunity in the Asia Pacific region to build upon the wave of renewed attention that Universal Basic Income gained in recent years to discuss actively how we can create a wider consensus and concrete initiatives that build upon existing basic income designs and pilot implementations across the world,” Aubie said.

The entire conference will be live-streamed on UBI Taiwan’s Facebook account, including both English and Chinese audio simultaneous translations.

Taiwan has recently lowered the threshold for referendums, which has opened the possibility for a UBI referendum in Taiwan. This will be a topic of particular focus for two of the presentations at the conference, including Schmidt who will present on how Taiwan can lead Asia with a UBI referendum.

“With the introduction of Direct Democracy this year in Taiwan, the UBI Taiwan proponents have the same chance and political tool to turn UBI into a nationwide discussion and to push it to a people’s vote like the Swiss have done,” Schmidt said.

The conference coincides with increased discussion of basic income in the Asia Pacific, with the UN Development Program holding roundtable discussions on basic income in Beijing, China last October and December, as well as Korea discussing designs for a a pilot program.

“With the second annual UBI Asia Pacific regional conference approaching, we have expanded into two days, allowing us to share our ideas of how to improve society through implementation of Universal Basic Income,” said Ping Xu, co-founder of UBI Taiwan and UBI Asia Pacific.

The conference will examine the economic and social challenges facing the Asia Pacifc region, and will assess what a basic income policy can do to address these issues, such as inequality, automation, globalization, demographics, and environmental issues.

Last year’s conference attracted 100 participants and thousands of online viewers. The conference helped bring attention to basic income in Taiwan, with the formation of a UBI summer fellowship program and discussions with the Taichung Social Affairs Bureau about a potential pilot program.

The event is organized by National Chengchi University’s (NCCU) College of Social Sciences, and NCCU’s International Master’s Program in Asia Pacific Studies. It will be held at NCCU on March 17 and NTU on March 18. The event’s volunteers and coordinating team are part of UBI Taiwan.

“At this juncture of history where poverty and inequality are rising rapidly, I think we urgently need a “new universalism” of the kind UBI promises. There’s a long road and a lot of work ahead of us to make it a reality, but as more and more people place their hope in UBI’s emancipatory potential to protect their livelihood, human rights and dignity, we just can’t afford to disappoint such expectations,” Aubie said.

Writing Assistance from: James Grant

Japan: National TV will show a short program about UBI on 27th July

Japan: National TV will show a short program about UBI on 27th July

NHK, Japan’s largest broadcasting organization, is going to air a short program on UBI. The program will be broadcasted around 7.20 am during their morning news program called ‘Ohayo Nippon (Good morning Japan)’.

The program is based on a director’s recent visit to Finland and his interview of professor Toru Yamamori, a member of BIEN.


TV Asahi, another national TV network, also had a short program on UBI on 13th July. In a program that focused on economic policies alternative to the current governmental economic policy called ‘Abenomics’, Toru Tamakawa, an anchor of the program, visited two economics professors. Professor Eisaku Ide proposed a Swedish style social and economic policy, while professor Toru Yamamori introduced an idea of UBI.

Reviewed by Kate McFarland

Yokohama, JAPAN: Rutger Bregman on UBI

Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists is translated to Japanese. Marking the publication, Bregman is coming to Japan and giving a talk. He will speak in English with a simultaneous translation to Japanese.


Date: 16 May 2016

Time: 19:00-20:30

Veneu: Kyoseikan 4th Floor, Hiyoshi Campus, Keio University, Yokohama.


The detail of the event can be found here (in Japanese).


Credit Picture CC Fougerouse Aenaud

Kyoto JAPAN: Kyoto Basic Income Weekend, 22-23 April

Kyoto JAPAN: Kyoto Basic Income Weekend, 22-23 April


In Kyoto during the April 22nd -23rd weekend, local artists, community activists, students, architects, academic, etc are hosting two events for discussing on ‘what would you do if your income were taken care of’. Enno Schmidt from Switzerland and Ping Xu from Taiwan will be joining.


22nd April: DIY festival ‘Basic Income Garden’

venue: Honmachi Escola (a community and residence space for artists )

time: 11.00-17:00

The venue is located on a very old alley which creates the impression of a half century ago. The following workshops are held in a Teepee, a garden, and a hut. They cover such subjects as:

  • ‘one week with a basic income’
  • ‘a town with a basic income’
  • ‘basic in curry’
  • ‘making a zine and a wall newspaper’

Film screening, music instrument making, etc, are also planned.


23rd April: Symposium ‘Art, Commons, Feminism and a Basic Income’

venue: M1 lecture room, Meitoku-kan, Imadegawa campus, Doshisha university

time: 13.00-17.30

13.00- Enno Schmidt, Ping Xu, Toru Yamamori ‘Lessons from Switzerland and Taiwan’

14.50- Enno Schmidt, Kaori Katada, Akio Sasaki, Jun Yamaguchi ‘Art, Commons and Feminism’

16.30- Parallel sessions: ‘Shrinking Society with Basic Income’ (moderator: Kimio Ito) / ‘Taiwan and Basic Income’ (moderator: Ping Xu and Kaori Katada) / ‘How we go forward to Basic Income gradually’ (moderator: Shinji Murakami and Hayato Kobahashi)


Kyoto Basic Income Weekend is a newly formed collective with local artists, community activists, etc. It is hosting this event with BIEN Japan, The Forum on Shrinking Society, Students at Toru Yamamori Lab, Doshisha university.


Reviewed by Cameron McLeod.