...As always with these things, new concepts from elsewhere are eventually copied in Japan. And there are currently more than 10 Japanese-language crowdfunding services like Kickstarter. Campfire (camp-fire.jp) and ReadyFor (readyfor.jp) are the leading two.
Some sites focus on a specific genre, such as independent movie-making or NPO support. However, there has recently been some controversy surrounding a specialized crowdfunding platform that seeks to raise funds to cover tuition fees for struggling students.
On May 17, Kazuma Ieiri, a well-known entrepreneur and Tatsuki Yoshinaga, a popular blogger, launched a new crowdsourced-tuition service called Studygift.net. The first student was Aya Sakaguchi, a female student from Waseda University in Tokyo, who was known as the "most followed" non-celebrity user on Google+, Google's social network. Because her Google+ popularity had previously been covered by the online news site nanapi.net, many people remembered that she gained followers internationally with her scenic morning photos. On Studygift.net she posted photos of herself and said that she needed about ¥1 million to continue her studies at Waseda, which she said would be possible if many people assisted her with "small" amounts — although the minimum was ¥5,000.
The agency behind Studygift.net is Liverty, which has at its center Yoshinaga and Ieiri, who took his first company public when he was just 29, started Campfire in 2011 and now also has several highclass cafes. The pair boasted that Studygift.net was developed in only a few days of hard work.
With the slogan "Save those poor students who are ineligible for standard scholarships!" the site attracted a lot of attention — raising ¥3 million from 195 individuals and 26 companies in only 55 hours.
However, since the moment of its launch — in parallel with the team and supporters' delight at the success of the first case — critics on Twitter and the anonymous bulletin board 2-channel flamed the site. People were particularly suspicious about several points that began to emerge...
Full Story at The Japan Times Online