Japanese Musicians Establish Eco-Friendly BankThree popular Japanese musicians, Takeshi Kobayashi, Kazutoshi Sakurai and Ryuichi Sakamoto, recently established a bank in Japan, known as the AP Bank Co., to provide low-interest financing for activities related to renewable energy, energy conservation and environmental protection.
In 2001, a project called Artists' Power was launched at the suggestion of Mr. Sakamoto. The aim of the project was to mobilize the influence of musicians to promote renewable energy sources. About 30 people got together to learn about environmental issues through a series of study sessions. In the process, they learned about the Mirai Bank (Future Bank), launched and headed by environmental activist and writer Yu Tanaka. The Mirai Bank accepts funds invested by citizens and offers low-interest loans for environmental projects or citizen-based activities that the bank wants to encourage. Inspired by the Mirai Bank, Kobayashi and Sakurai decided to establish a bank of their own. Mr. Sakamoto joined later by providing startup capital.
In 2003, the bank was approved as a non-profit incorporated organization and registered as a money-lending business. On May 1, 2004, it started accepting loan applications mainly via the Internet, and received 75 applications within the month. The bank plans to start extending the loans in July, while also introducing ongoing financing plans and environmental projects on its Web site.
Initially, the bank will operate only on the founding members' capital, and will not accept investments from the general public. If this new initiative takes off, however, requests for investment from the public will be considered in the future.
The "AP" in "AP Bank" stands for both "Artist's Power" and "alternative power." Several loan applications were received every day throughout May and staff are still receiving a strong response, including inquiries and messages of support.
Posted: 2004/07/29 11:45:56 AM
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