ap bank is a non-profit organization that provides lending for renewable energy and a variety of other environmental projects. It was established by seed money provided personally by Takeshi Kobayashi (one of Japan's top music producers), musician Kazutoshi Sakurai (lead singer of Mr. Children, one of Japan's top-selling rock bands of all time), and Ryuichi Sakamoto (legendary composer and originator of the concept of Artists' Power, a project by various artists to promote renewable energy). The "ap" in ap bank stands for both Artists' Power and Alternative Power. Its lending capital and funds for activities come from the profits of events organized by a band named Bank Band (led by Kobayashi and Sakurai), events joined by many other musical artists, revenues from CDs, DVDs, and other releases, and so on.
The catalyst for ap bank was a series of seminars on the environment for members of Artists' Power. At the seminars, organized by Kobayashi in 2002, members learned from experts about citizens' banks (money is used according to depositors' wishes to benefit the environment, society, and so on), in contrast to typical banks (depositors never really know how their deposits are used).
One of the presenters, Yu Tanaka, executive director of the Mirai Bank (a non-profit organization; "Mirai" means future), suggested that the members create their own "citizens' bank." Inspired by this idea, we launched ap bank in 2003 as a non-profit organization to provide lending for environmental projects.
Besides its lending program, the ap bank conducts a variety of activities today based on the idea of "eco-resonance"—fostering eco-awareness in ways that are appealing and up-beat. One example is the ap bank fes, an outdoor music festival where people "resonate" with environmental awareness while enjoying music and organic food. Another is the "AP BANG! Tokyo Creators' Meeting," an all-night club event where artists, musicians, and other creative types make people think about the environment, through creations and performances for the younger crowd and audiences who might typically have less of an interest in the environment. Profits from these events are used as capital for ap bank lending to environmental projects, for funding ap bank activities, and for supporting and promoting environmental projects.
We also operate eco-reso web, a web magazine that communicates from a broad perspective about events in Japan and around the world relating to the environment, by means of news articles, video, illustrations, etc. In addition, we provide conceptual input for kurkku, a project in Tokyo with several shops where people can think about "future-oriented living that is comfortable and good for the environment" through consumption of food and other things. We also organize ap bank dialogue "talk events" that communicate about complex environmental issues in layman’s terms, and hold ap bank workshops where participants consider what they can do about the environment and realize that they can really take action to solve problems.
In July 2007, the Niigata Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake rocked Japan’s Niigata Prefecture, at the same time as we were holding the ap bank fes'07 music festival, which itself was cut from three days to only one day due to a typhoon. The intensity of the typhoon at the festival venue and the news of the earthquake made us realize the need for a fund to provide disaster relief and help other worthy causes, and that these funds should be separate from our regular lending operations. Thus, the ap bank fund was created in September 2007. In June 2008, it provided relief funds for victims of the Niigata Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake, a devastating cyclone in Myanmar, and another major earthquake in Sichuan, China.