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In short, airline miles have become a corporate ‘scrip’, a complementary currency with a specific commercial objective (customer loyalty). They mobilize the otherwise unused resource of an empty airline chair to achieve that aim. Many other complementary currencies have a social purpose, rather than a purely business one.


Creating Social Wealth


One example from Japan is directly relevant for the healthcare field. The Japanese has the fastest aging population in the world. Today over 1.8 million Japanese need daily care, and it is estimated that the number of such dependent people is going to double over the next decade. Simultaneously, the younger generations have moved away from family homes in much greater numbers than any previous generations.


Enter the Japanese Fureai Kippu (literally “Caring Relationship Tickets”). These electronic “tickets” are paid in a computerized savings account to individuals who help elderly or handicapped with any aspects of their care that the Japanese national healthcare system doesn’t cover: services in their own homes for food or the daily bath (a ritual in Japan), help in shopping or food preparation so that they can stay longer in their own home, reading to blind people, etc.


The unit of account of the Fureai Kippu is the hour of service. There are different rates applied to different services (e.g. one hour of shopping or reading is credited with one Fureai Kippu, but help in body care is valued at two Fureai Kippu for each hour of service). These Fureai Kippu can be saved for the individual’s own use in the future, or transferred to someone of their choice, typically a parent or family member who lives elsewhere in the country and who needs similar help.

ふれあい切符の会計単位は、介護時間です。異なった種類の介護に対しては異なったレートが適用されます(例: 買い物補助や視覚障害者向けの朗読は1時間あたり切符1枚であるのに対し、入浴などの世話は1時間あたり切符2枚)。これらのふれあい切符はその個人が将来必要になったときのために貯めておくこともできますし、国内の遠隔地に住んでいる家族(特に両親)に送付することもできます。

Currently, some 374 non-profit organizations in Japan are issuing and participating in exchanging across the country Fureai Kippu through two computerized clearing houses, the whole being loosely coordinated by the Sawayaka Healthcare Foundation. Because the elderly now have a support system at their own home, the time when they have to be moved to expensive retirement homes can be significantly postponed, and the period they are spending in hospitals after a medical problem can also be much shorter.


All this reduces dramatically the costs to society of elderly care, while actually improving the quality of life of the elderly themselves. Finally, this system creates a resource flow that does not rely on government subsidies or bureaucracy, expensive insurance, or even national currency to function. The transferability of the Fureai Kippu makes them a form of elderly care medium of exchange, a specialized complementary currency that functions in parallel with the national currency.


1 See a full development of this approach in Lietaer, B. The Future of Money (London: Random House, 2001) and Lietaer, B & Belgin, S. Of human Wealth: New Currencies for a New World (Boulder, CO: Citerra Press, 2006).

このアプローチの全貌を知るには、B・リエター「マネー崩壊」(日本経済評論社、2000)やLietaer, B & Belgin, S., Of Human Wealth: New Currencies for a New World(Boulder, CO: Citerra Press, 2006, 英語)をご覧ください。

2 訳注: 2007年1月現在実際に存在するのは、スターアライアンス(全日空、ユナイテッド航空(米国)、エア・カナダ、ルフトハンザ・ドイツ航空、アシアナ航空(韓国)、タイ航空、シンガポール航空などが所属)、ワンワールド(アメリカン航空、ブリティッシュ・エアウェイズ、キャセイ・パシフィック航空(香港)、カンタス航空(オーストラリア)などが所属、日本航空も2007年に参加予定)、スカイチーム(ノースウェスト航空(米国)、コンチネンタル航空(米国)、エールフランス、KLM(オランダ)、アリタリア、大韓航空などが参加)の3つです。

3 Total volume of outstanding Frequent Flyer Miles is estimated at 14 Trillion, worth about US$ 700 Billion. See Jenni Roth “Die schlummernde Weltwährung: Fluggäste haben 14 Billionen Bonusmeilen angesammelt” Der Tagespiegel (Jan. 17, 2005) . The Federal Reserve estimates that there are 650 Billion US$ circulating in bills, two thirds of which are circulating outside the US.

発行されたマイレージの総量は14兆マイル(7000億米ドル相当)と見積もられています。Jenni Rothの“Die schlummernde Weltwährung: Fluggäste haben 14 Billionen Bonusmeilen angesammelt”(Der Tagespiegel紙、2005年1月17日)をご覧ください。米国の連邦準備制度の推測によると流通している米ドル紙幣の総額は6500億ドルで、そのうち3分の2が米国外で流通しています。