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White Paper on Sport in Japan

1-I. The Acts on Sport (Sport Policy)

White Paper on Sport in Japan 2023
June 14, 2024

This article highlights the following points;
1. The Basic Act on Sport
2. Sports Promotion Lottery Law
3. Act on the Japan Sport Council etc.

1. The Basic Act on Sport

 In June 2011, the Basic Act on Sport was enacted with the comprehensive revision on the Sport Promotion Act for the first time in 50 years. The Act consists of 35 articles and supplementary provisions, and declares in the preamble that “Sport are a universally shared human culture.” It defines sport as athletic competitions and other physical activities performed by individuals or groups for the purpose of “sound development of mind and body”, “retention and promotion of health and physical strength”, “acquisition of mental satisfaction” and “cultivation of the spirit of self-sufficiency or other mentalities”. Furthermore, the Act defines sport as “crucial for citizens to lead a healthy and fulfilled life in terms of mind and body throughout their lifetime”, and clearly states that living life happily and fruitfully through sport is the right of all citizens.

The Act also states that sport not only have an impact on individuals, but can also develop a sense of unity or vitality of an area, and contribute to recovery of the regional society. It places an emphasis on the importance of Japanese athletes achieving the great success in international competitions. In addition, the Act identifies sport as a key element in the improvement of the international status of Japan. It states that sport can create vitality in our society, contribute greatly to the development of the national economy, and promote global mutual understanding through international exchange, which will contribute greatly to international peace.

The major provisions of the Basic Act on Sport that have been newly established or revised, are as follows:

  • Paragraph 5 of Article 2 (Basic Principles) prescribes the promotion of sport for people with disabilities, stating that “sport shall be promoted with due consideration according to the type and degree of disability so that persons with disabilities can play sport voluntarily and proactively.” Articles 3 and 4 clarify the responsibilities of the national government and local governments, respectively.
  • Under Article 5, sport organizations must “protect the rights and interests of those who play sport”, “ensure transparency of management” and “endeavor to resolve disputes concerning sport in a prompt and appropriate manner.”
  • Under Article 9, the Act requires the Minister of Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to formulate a “Sport Basic Plan”, and Article 10 requires local governments to formulate a plan concerning the promotion of sport (a “local sport promotion plan”) making allowance for the Sport Basic Plan and in the context of the actual situation in the area.
  • The roles to be played by the sport industry are also defined in Article 18, mentioning the importance of coordination and cooperation between sport organizations and business operators for dissemination of sport and improvement at competition level.
  • With regard to sport for people with disabilities, Article 26 states that in order to ensure the smooth holding and operation of the National Sports Games for Persons with Disabilities, necessary support should be provided to Japanese Para-Sports Association and to the prefectures of the venue.

Furthermore, Article 2 of the supplementary provisions refers to the establishment of a sports agency as the administrative organization that comprehensively promotes sport policies.

2. Sports Promotion Lottery Law

 In 1998, in order to secure financial resources for sport promotion, the “Act on Carrying Out, etc. Sports Promotion Vote” (commonly known as the “Sports Promotion Lottery Law”) was enacted through legislation drafted by the nonpartisan Federation of Diet Members for Sports. One of the reasons for the enactment of this Act was the necessity for structural reforms in the sport system.

Article 21 of the Act specified how lottery revenue should be used and allocated to local government bodies and sport organizations. The allocation of subsidies from the Sports Promotion Lottery is determined in accordance with the “Basic Policies for Subsidies from the Sports Promotion Lottery Profits” formulated by MEXT. An amount equivalent to 50% of lottery ticket sales is used as prize money for winners, then two thirds of the remaining profit (after deducting management expenses) is used as subsidies for the promotion of sport, while the remaining one third is paid to the national treasury.

In May 2013, the Act on the Sports Promotion Lottery was partially revised to expand the type of football matches that could be bet on (which had previously been limited to the Japan Professional Football League “J. LEAGUE”). The Act now allows betting on football matches that are held by overseas professional leagues designated by MEXT such as the English Premier League, and the matches which conform to the standards specified by an ordinance of MEXT. A further revision in 2016 raised the percentage of lottery profits that are used as subsidies for local governments and sports organizations to three-eights (3/8) from one-third (1/3).

In the 2020 revision, professional basketball league “B. LEAGUE” was added to the list of applicable sports. The revision also allowed the sale of lottery tickets that predict the result of each match and the winning team of a competition. In September 2022, the “WINNER” lottery was established in which people try to predict the results of each match, and a portion of the lottery profits is used to support clubs and other organizations by improving the environment for players and strengthening club management. Further, this revision expanded the projects that contribute to furbishing equipment that contributes to the safety of people engaged in sports, including air-conditioning systems and lighting, as well as those that contribute to the stability of living in the event of a major disaster, infectious disease and such like.

3. Act on the Japan Sport Council

Based on the “Act on the National Agency for the Advancement of Sports and Health (NAASH), Independent Administrative Agency” promulgated in 2002, NAASH was established in October 2003. NAASH succeeded to all activities previously allocated to the National Stadium and the School Health Center of Japan, such as the administration of school lunches, school safety and the operation of the National Stadium. In 2012, NAASH has changed its organization name to the Japan Sport Council (JSC) and the Act above is thereby called the “Act on the Japan Sport Council”.

This law defined the purpose of establishing the JSC and the range of its activities; it was revised in 2013 to allow up to 5% of sales proceeds from the Sports Promotion Lottery overseen by the JSC to be applied to the costs of bidding on international sports events or to the maintenance of sports facilities required to host them. This limit was increased to 10% by a 2016 revision, and part of this is currently being used to develop the New National Stadium.

4. Act on Special Measures for the 2019 Rugby World Cup

In July 2009, Japan was selected to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup. In Addition to the event’s national significance as well as its close connection to the preparation and management of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the “Act on Special Measures for Rugby World Cup 2019” was enacted in June 2015 to ensure that preparations for the event would go well and that it would be run smoothly. These measures include activities such as issuing charitable postcards and dispatching government officials to the organizing committee. This Act was partially revised in June 2018 to make the organizing committee exempt from the provision of the Radio Act, which stipulates the fees for registering and operating radio stations and applying for related permits.

5.  Act on Special Measures for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics

In September 2013, Tokyo was successful in its bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Considering the significant impact hosting the Olympics would have on Japan, the “Act on Special Measures for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics” was enacted in June 2015 to ensure that preparations for the event would go smoothly. These measures include activities such as issuing charitable postcards, dispatching government officials to the organizing committee, establishing an Olympic Promotion Office and making government assets (the JGSDF Asaka Exercise Area, Kokyogaien National Garden and Kitanomaru Garden) freely available to use. As a result of the partial revision of the Act in June 2018, special exemptions were added to the Act on National Holidays for 2020 only: the Marine Day observed annually on the third Monday in July was moved to July 23, the day prior to the Olympics opening ceremony; the Sports Day observed on the second Monday in October was moved to July 24, the day of the Olympics opening ceremony; and the Mountain Day observed on August 11 was moved to August 10, after the Olympics closing ceremony.

In conjunction with the one-year postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games, the Act was partially amended again in 2020 to include a name change to the “Act on Special Measures for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games”, a one-year postponement of the deadline for the establishment of the Promotion Headquarters, and special measures to change the national holiday again in 2021 in connection with the postponement of the games.

6. Act on the Promotion of Anti-Doping Activities in Sport

In October 2018, the Act on the Promotion of Anti-Doping Activities in Sport enters into force and is intended to boost future anti-doping activities across the country. The Act was passed in accordance with the contents of the Basic Act on Sport enacted in 2011 as well as the International Convention against Doping in Sport adopted by the UNESCO in 2005. The UNESCO convention, a global agreement between governments on anti-doping activities, is the first shared international standards for anti- doping. In addition to formulating basic principles related to anti-doping activities and clarifying the role of the national government, the Act aims to comprehensively promote anti-doping policies and contribute to the sound development of sport.

The Act is comprised of 16 total articles. The Article 3 establishes fairness in sport as well as maintaining and improving the mental and physical health of athletes as basic principles, stipulating that: (a) the inspections conducted within anti-doping activities must be fair and transparent; (b) anti-doping activities must be implemented in a way that ensures the independence and autonomy of the organizations that manage sport competitions; and (c) diversity in sport must be considered when implementing anti-doping activities. Based on the basic principles stated in the above article, the article 5 clarifies the responsibilities of the national government with regard to formulating and implementing policies for antidoping activities. The article 6 defines the role of the Japan Sport Council (JSC) in anti-doping activities. The JSC coordinates with the Japan AntiDoping Agency (JADA) and serves as a central organization for antidoping activities.

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