AC Japan (Advertising Council Japan) was born as Kansai Advertising Council (AC) in Osaka back in 1971, the year following Expo ‘70 in the same city, when Japan was experiencing its economic boom. The exponent was Keizo Saji, the president of Suntory at that time.
Mr. Saji, the first Chairman of the Board of Directors, studied the U.S. Advertising Council and thought of establishing the same system in Japan. He was deeply concerned about the problems that started to arise in the wake of the unprecedented economic growth such as environmental pollution, the deterioration of public manners and the weakening of human relationships, and attempted to raise public awareness of such social distortion. The activities of the present day AC Japan originated there.
He approached business enterprises for their sponsorship of publicity messages designed to improve our future. He tried to utilize the medium of advertisements to make a social contribution. Some companies, mass media and advertising agencies responded to his request and thus Kansai AC was founded with 114 members. Its first-year advertising budget was the relatively modest amount of 170 million yen.
In 1974, it was approved as the corporate juridical person, Japan Advertising Council, and started to expand its activities nationwide. The regional offices were set up and the present organization was thus established. Since then, over the long period of forty years, it has conducted more than 700 public advertising campaigns. In July, 2009, it changed its name to AC Japan. In the FY2019, the Board has 68 directors at its highest policy-making level, and the present (fourth) chairman is Sadayoshi Fujishige.


1078 organizations (as of March, 2022) from three business categories, i.e., general companies and bodies, mass media and advertising agencies, have joined AC Japan. The annual membership fee is 120,000 yen per lot, and this raises the operational fund for its activities. The membership fee income reached 157 million yen for the FY 2021.
The member organizations have also dispatched more than 300 of their personnel in total to various committees operated by the AC Japan offices.
It has 8 regional offices in Tokyo (the Kanto and Koshinetsu area), Osaka (the Kansai area), Sapporo (the Hokkaido area), Sendai (the Tohoku area), Nagoya (the Chubu area), Hiroshima (the Chugoku and Shikoku area), Fukuoka (the Kyushu area), Naha (the Okinawa area), each of which has an operating committee consisting of staff from the member organizations. The regional operating committees have developed collaborative activities using the nationwide network.

The system of activities

The most striking feature of AC Japan’s system is the provision of complimentary advertising space by the mass media. In addition to 4 major mass media, namely, TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, it has member companies related to Internet advertisements, traffic advertisements and digital signage. The number of TV, radio, newspaper and magazine member companies are respectively 189, 96, 100 and 29, and the total value of free advertising space provided by those companies was estimated to be worth 53.3 billion yen (calculated on the basis of its standard fees) at the market rates for the FY 2021.
Another feature is the cooperation from the creative sector in its planning and production. At present, 49 advertising agencies nationwide get involved in the planning stages of its presentations, and the agencies selected to produce the advertisements will be paid the production costs by AC Japan.

*The Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011

After the earthquake, regular TV and radio programming was replaced with news and information about the disaster.
On March 14, the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan allowed ads to be broadcast again, but the vast majority of advertisers refrained from placing ads. As a result, the TV and radio airwaves were flooded with AC Japan commercials which replaced the withdrawn ads. The advertising placement fees for FY2010 came to \282.0 billion.

The types of campaigns

The campaign year of AC Japan starts on July 1st and ends on June 30th of the following year. Its campaign activities are of several types.
  1. Nationwide campaigns

AC Japan creates advertisements based on the social issues common to much of the public and uses mass media throughout Japan to communicate the messages. The themes should be non-political, non-religious, non-sectoral and non-commercial as well as being top priority issues for the Japanese people. For the last several years, it has developed two or three campaigns nationwide each year, and set annual subjects, communication problems, the improvement of public morale, and environmental issue, and so on.

  1. Regional campaigns

Each of the eight regional offices selects its own theme and produces advertisements based on it. They are presented to the public via mass media within the region.

  1. Support campaigns

AC Japan supports non-profit organizations involved in public welfare activities so that they can utilize its advertising system. The number of supported organizations each year has been 7 or 8 for the last several years.
The following seven organizations are supported in the year starting July, 2022 : Japan Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals, Japan Marrow Donor Program, The Kidney Foundation,Japan, Japan Association for the World Food Programme, Ashinaga Foundation, Japan Ophthalmologists Association, Plan International Japan. The supported organizations will pay the costs of materials, document transmission and advertising production to the advertising agencies via AC Japan.

  1. Special campaigns (on an irregular basis)

When disasters occur, emergency campaigns are organized to request support widely.

  1. International collaborative campaigns (on an irregular basis)

AC Japan conducts collaborative campaigns with organizations that are expanding public activities abroad. It has engaged in a Japan-U.S. collaborative campaign for the conservation of water quality between 1993 and 1997 and Japan-Korea collaborative campaigns for the improvement of the communication between parents and children in 2005 and for the conservation of the global environment in 2008.

  1. Other campaigns

In addition to the above-mentioned activities, AC Japan has developed collaborative campaigns with Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK: Nippon Hoso Kyokai) and also provides students with opportunities to create public advertisements through its Student Commercial Award campaign.

Annual schedules

In June, AC Japan organizes a web questionnaire survey of public citizens. The survey polls 3,000 people to assess the previous year’s campaigns and gather their opinions to help select the themes for the coming year. In September, based on the results of the survey, it selects the themes of the campaigns for the next year and also the organizations that will be supported then.
In October, it conducts orientations nationwide and announces the themes of the nationwide and regional campaigns. Regarding the support campaigns, taking into consideration the requests from the supported organizations, it creates and announces the orientation briefs.
From December to early February, plans are selected after undergoing several steps as stated below.
First, in December, after receiving presentations by local advertising agencies, each regional operating committee makes its first selection. About 900 plans are submitted from all over Japan for 20 or so campaigns. The examiners consist of the regional member organization staff and the plans for the regional campaigns are selected at this point of time.
After undergoing another two selections in February and March in Tokyo by the national committee consisting of the regional representatives, the plans for the nationwide campaigns, regional campaigns and support campaigns are selected.
In the ordinary general meetings in June, the advertisements are introduced to be approved on the spot, and then the new campaigns are started in July.