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About Agape

Agape International manages The Japan Helpline, The World Helpline, The Japan Emergency Team, The Volunteer Hotline, and The AIDS Hotline.

We are the only non-governmental, non-profit organization in Japan which offers advice and emergency assistance on a 24-hour, 7 days a week basis.

We are a founding member of the Association of International Community Providers Organization (AICPO) which coordinates non-governmental and non-profit groups in Japan. Additionally, we are members of the Japan NGO Association, the Japan Association of Christian NGOs, the American Chamber of Commerce and the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan.

Our History
Agape International started in 1975 when four students who were raised in Japan returned to the United States to attend university in Los Angeles. Bi-lingual and bi-cultural, they were quite a rarity in their dayãand their willingness to help the local Japanese community gained them recognition throughout the city. Informally, they began taking phone calls and helping Japanese in emergency situations.

The name Agape was born out of a 2:00am call from a desperate Japanese family whose car had broken down in central Los Angeles. One of the students hopped out of bed and drove to meet them. Rather than greeting the volunteer with gratitude, the father of the family angrily asked "What took you so long?!" From that point on, the students realized their work may be taken for granted and unappreciated. Hence, as a group they called themselves "Agape", the Greek word for "unconditional love."

The World Helpline
As Agape’s reputation grew, so did the number of phone calls. Japanese in need of assistance were soon calling Agape from all parts of the United States, and a toll-free line was installed in 1980.

Agape "went international" later that year when The World Helpline ãa toll-free "around the world, around the clock" helpline for Japaneseãwas established. Its network of global volunteers is made up of native Japanese and non-Japanese who have experienced living in Japan and are fluent in the language.

Twenty-years down the road we found ourselves at a turning point. The Kobe Earthquake struck the morning of January 17, 1995 and we received an overwhelming amount of calls from non-Japanese overseas worried about friends and relatives in the devastated area. It was at that time that we received our first non-Japanese calls on The World Helpline due to the broadcast of our number on CNN, BBC and NHK.

Since then, we have expanded our service to non-Japanese as wellãall nationalities are welcome to use The World Helpline.

We now can offer help in 18 languages and in total our registered network of volunteers is in the thousands. If you would like Agape International to send you The World Helpline Card (free-of-charge!) containing our toll-free numbers for 55 different countries, please go to The World Helpline for more information and an application form.

The Japan Helpline
The Japan Helpline originally was an affiliate of The World Helpline which assisted Japanese returnees (those who have lived abroad for an extended period of time and then return home) with readjusting to Japanese society. It was extended to the foreign community in Japan in the fall of 1987 when The Japan Helpline was notified that a Thai student living in western Tokyo had died of starvation. The youth had feared arrest after his visa expired and therefore didn't call the authorities or medical services when he fell ill. Unable to care for himself and frightened to contact others, he died alone in his apartment.

After this incident, The Japan Helpline decided a non-governmental organization managed by non-Japanese and dedicated to the international community was needed in Japan. Hence, our nationwide, 24-hour, 7 days a week toll-free telephone service was established. We answer all types of calls, from simple questions about living in Japan to emergency situations and have a network of volunteers who can assist in more than 18 different languages.

We also distribute The Japan Helpline Cardãa wallet-sized card listing emergency and helpful telephone numbers which answer in English that can be used throughout Japan. To further assist travelers or residents in Japan, a set of essential expressions in both Japanese and English has been included on the card. Please go to The Japan Helpline if you would like to order The Japan Helpline Card (also free-of-charge!) as well as view more information, read frequently asked questions about life in Japan, and access a list of useful numbers and websites.

The Japan Emergency Team
The Japan Emergency Team began in 1989 when 38 students from Chuo University went overseas to help in the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake, thus representing the first non-governmental international relief effort made by any Japanese organization. Since then, that core group of students has grown more than twelve times its original sizeãmaking our team close to 500 volunteers. Students from thirty different universities as well as young workers throughout Japan now make up the foundation on which JET operates.

Since its establishment, the JET has responded to almost every man-made and natural catastrophe around the world. Our efforts include sending food, medical and other need-specified supplies, and volunteers. JET usually cooperates with organizations already at the point of disaster and provides ancillary and/or direct manpower support. For more information about JET and to learn about our past and present activities please go to The Japan Emergency Team.

The Volunteer Hotline
The Volunteer Hotline began in 1991 after The Japan Emergency Team sent 120 Japanese students to work in Kuwaiti refugee camps in Jordan. When the operation ended, many of the students wanted to continue doing volunteer work back in Japan. Agape International therefore branched out further to put together interested Japanese volunteers with projects or organizations (whether in Japan or internationally), and conversely to match organizations with volunteers. If you are in search of an organization where you can be a volunteer or if you are an organization looking for volunteers, please go to
The Volunteer Hotline for more information and to fill out an application.

The AIDS Hotline
The idea of The Aids Hotline was first considered as a separate toll-free line for foreigners in Japan in reaction to the overwhelming amount of phone inquiries The Japan Helpline was receiving concerning Aids. However, The Aids Hotline became reality after a young British man applying to a Japanese university discovered he had Aids during a routine physical required by his school. Consequently, the university retracted their placement offer and the man was forced to leave the country by the authorities. The Japan Helpline provided him with a place to stay until his departure and paid for his transportation to the airport.

Today, The Aids Hotline works in cooperation with Aids Project USA from which we receive up-to-date information on the latest treatments and trends.

For more information on Aids testing and hospitals in Japan, as well as a monthly update of the most recent research in the area, please go to The AIDS Hotline.

Copyright 1996-2005