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Nikkei Woman Announces the Winners of its Woman of the Year 2016 Award:
Grand Prize Goes to Facilitator behind “Furusato Nozei” Donation Boom

Tokyo – December 7, 2015 – Nikkei Woman, a women’s career and lifestyle magazine published by Nikkei Business Publications (President & CEO: Kohei Osada; Tokyo) announced the seven winners of its Woman of the Year 2016. The Award is to honor accomplishments of women who showed outstanding performance in various quarters.

The Grand Prize went to Ms. Tamayo Sunaga, the 42-year-old President of TRUSTBANK, who launched “Furusato Choice”, the nation’s first portal site for the so-called “Furusato Nozei (hometown tax)” donation program, and played a key role in creating the popularity of making donations to rural governments.

The Furusato Nozei donation program was originally started in 2008 as a national program for raising cash to supplement the decreasing tax revenues of local governments facing declining population. Non-residents can make donations to support the rural municipality of their choice, and the donated amount minus 2000 yen will be deducted from the donor’s income and inhabitant tax payments (income limits apply). Many local governments participating in the program provide a “gift of compliment”, such as their local specialty, for the donors.

In September 2012, Ms. Sunaga unveiled the Furusato Choice portal site covering information on almost every “gift of compliment” offered to the donors from 1788 local governments across Japan. Following the launch of this portal site, the annual amount of contributions to the Furusato Nozei program increased drastically, from less than 10 billion yen. According to the statistics released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the donation amount surged to JPY45.3 billion for the April-September 2015 period alone, and the annual total for FY2015 would reach JPY100 billion.

As soon as the start of this portal site, Ms. Sunaga provided suggestions and support for the local governments on gift choices and promotional campaigns. From the end of 2013, she also implemented an online system for making donations via credit card from the portal site. As of December 2015, donors can make contributions to 625 municipalities across Japan via credit card on the Furusato Choice portal site. Promotion of the “Furusato Nozei” program led to see many successful cases; for example, a local municipality with the annual inhabitant tax revenue of around JPY200 million raised over JPY 1 billion within just a year.

The Furusato Choice portal site also offers a system fulfilling the original purpose of Furusato Nozei, which allows “an individual to choose how his/her tax money is spent”, as well as communicating the benefits of receiving gifts. In September 2013, the Furusato Choice portal started a Government Crowd Funding program for recruiting donors to support a specific project promoted by a local government. In July 2014, the portal site further launched an Emergency Relief Donation service through which a donor can send money via the Furusato Nozei program and directly to the region affected by a disaster. This service is available to local governments for free of charge, which enables them to raise donations continuously for recovery from disasters which are not widely reported or not anymore reported in mass media.

Through the Furusato Nozei program, Ms. Sunaga created an opportunity for rural governments to boost their tax revenue collections by proposing an attractive plan. Her achievements in making the donation culture to take root in Japan were evaluated highly and awarded with this year’s Grand Prize.

The Grand Prize winner of the Woman of the Year 2016, Ms. Tamayo Sunaga

This Year’s Award winners were;

Grand Prize
Ms. Tamayo Sunaga, President, TRUSTBANK
Ms. Sunaga established the Japan’s first portal site for "Furusato Nozei (hometown ‘tax’ donation)" program and created the trend for making donations to rural communities. She has spread the donation culture in Japan, and revitalized local governments.

(Mega Hit Maker Category)
Ms. Mariko Asai, Editor of “Bungakukai”, Bungeishunju
The novel “Hibana” which she persuaded the comedian Naoki Matayoshi to write, won the Akutagawa Literary Award. She was the driving force behind the giant hit of 2.4 million copies sold despite recession in the publishing industry.

(Next Generation Monozukuri Category)
Ms. Yuko Nakazawa, CEO, UPQ
Ms. Nakazawa started up a consumer electronics company on her own, and unveiled 24 products of seventeen categories in just two months. She has revolutionized the consumer electronics industry.

(Best Marketer Category)
Ms. Kaori Fujiwara, Manager, FRUGRA Division, Marketing Group, Calbee
Ms. Fujiwara expanded the sales of “FRUGRA (fruit granola)”, which had been stagnant for many years, to post the annual sales of approx. JPY10 billion in two years. She has created a new market for "breakfast alternative" following rice and bread.

(Future Creation Scientist Category)
Ms. Masayo Takahashi, Ophthalmologist, and Project Leader of Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology
Ms. Takahashi performed the world’s first operation to implant iPS cells into a patient suffered from severe eye disease. She is a pioneer who has contributed to a great advancement in the clinical application of regeneration medicine.

(Passionate Business Leader Category)
Ms. Noriko Ishizaka, President, Ishizaka-Group
Through commitment to intensive staff training and environment-friendly management, Ms. Ishizaka changed the beleaguered industrial waste disposal company into a business gathering attention from around the world.

(Change Maker Category)
Ms. Maki Muraki, Leader, Nijiiro Diversity
Aiming at creating a work environment friendly to sexual minority, Ms. Muraki gives over 100 lectures and consulting services every year. She has exerted great influences on pro-LGBT measures of Japanese companies.

The Woman of the Year aims to contribute to;

  1. Present a role model for working women
  2. Highlight an individual’s achievements that are often buried within an organization
  3. Capture the edge of changes of the times through accomplishments of outstanding women

It is an annual award presented since 1999 and now is in its 17th year. Nikkei Woman has been supporting working women since it was first published in 1988. Through its Women of the Year Award honoring the accomplishments of outstanding women in society, the magazine will continue to support and motivate working women for the next generation.
The profiles of winners and details on the screening process and results are posted on the January issue of Nikkei WOMAN on sale from December 7, 2015.

For further details, please contact:
Global Business Division
Phone: +81-(0)3-6811-8311
Fax: +81-(0)3-5421-9804

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About NikkeiBP

Nikkei Business Publications is part of The Nikkei group, which has newspaper publication as its main business and three additional business divisions of digital media, publishing and broadcasting under its umbrella. Covering a wide variety of specialized areas including business, computer, electronics, construction, services and medicine, Nikkei Business Publications, in July 2008, merged with its sister company, Nikkei Home Publishing, to also bring consumer magazines into its portfolio.

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