The Partnership between Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and Japanese Corporations

  • JOCV (Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers) is one of the programmes of the JICA aimed at providing technical assistance in developing countries. In principle, JOCVs (aged 20 to 39) spend two years involved in cooperation activities, living and working with people in the community.
  • JICA is building a partnership with Japanese corporations that value JOCV graduate skill sets.
The problem addressed by the campaign: 
  • Volunteers who join JOCV just after graduating college or university have difficult adapting to the corporate world upon their return home.
  • Many Japanese private companies do not see the value of the JOCV experience in the corporate world, thus it is not easy for JOCV graduates to obtain the jobs they want.
  • Living in developing countries can make JOCV graduates change their sense of values and some feel uncomfortable adapting to Japanese corporate culture
  • JICA has increased connections with Japanese corporations. In 2008, it created a new department for partnership with Japanese corporations.
  • JICA has increased support for returned volunteers through career support services and facilitating networking sessions between JOCV graduates and private companies.
  • As of 1 April 2010, the number of local government authorities and boards of education that had introduced special employment quotas for returned volunteers reached 31 (20 boards of education and 11 local government authorities).
  • Japanese corporations (like Sumitomo Chemical) are now hiring JOCV graduates to develop new business opportunities in developing countries.
  • Japanese corporations now donate new products (e.g., solar lanterns) to JOCV for their volunteer work. They then receive feedback from JOCV, which gives businesses an advantage in expanding to these new markets.
  • Volunteer members can serve in developing countries without worrying that it will have a negative impact on their career trajectory.
  • Local communities, government, educational fields and corporations in Japan have placed increasingly high expectations and value on JOCV volunteers. 
  • Over 20 JOCV graduates now work for Sumitomo Chemical (2010).
  • Over 30 Japanese organizations support JOCV for growing global talent.
Why has it worked?: 
  • Since the financial crisis in 2008, Japanese corporations have been focusing more intently on business in developing economies.
  • Japanese corporations recognize JICA as a partner for doing business abroad because JICA offers subsidies for establishing foreign subsidiaries of Japanese companies in developing countries.
  • Japanese corporations now recognize the mutual benefit of employing JOCV graduates as a gateway to expansion in developing countries
Conclusions and Recommendations: 

To create a meaningful partnership, public organizations must appeal to the business needs of the private sector and align with their growth model and goals.

Foundational Issues: 
Critical skills gaps
Level of Collaboration: 
Level 2: Collaboration across organizations within a country
Global (all of the above)
Economic and political context: 

Established in 1965, JOCV is one of the programmes of JICA aimed at providing technical assistance in developing countries. In 1966 JOCV dispatched its first batch of volunteers to the Philippines. The dispatch of JOCVs is in line with the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan. The Philippines is one of the countries with the largest number of JOCV assignments worldwide, with 1,378 in cumulative total as of September 2009.

About the Author(s): 

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is a Japanese governmental organization for international cooperation. JICA aims to contribute to the promotion of international cooperation as well as the sound development of Japanese and global economy by supporting the socio-economic development, recovery or economic stability of developing regions.