Liquitous Inc. is cultivating a democracy where each individual can voice their opinion , and it matters


<Interviewee Profile>
Liquitous Inc.
Representative Director and CEO-Hiroyuki Kurimoto

Born in 1999. He has been active as a consultant for local legislators. Being directly involved with general incorporated associations and NPOs-related associations with active citizens’ participation in society and politics. Based on his own experiences and the voices of those in the field, he established Liquitous in February 2020, convinced of the need for a “new way” to connect citizens and government digitally.

This article is copyrighted from Life-Tech KOBE.

SDGs Challenge – Since 2021, we support business development and overseas expansion of startups that take on the challenges of solving global-scale SDGs issues to create systems and products that create global social change pivoting from Hyogo Prefecture and Kobe City. The SDGs The “SDGs CHALLENGE” is a co-creation program that aims to solve global SDG issues. We will introduce the startups selected for this program one by one in the Stories category of this website.

<Service Introduction>
Liqlid” is a participatory consensus-building platform based on dialogue and discussion, with the concept of “talk carefully and decide firmly. It connects citizens and the government, allowing citizens to generate ideas, co-create projects, and conduct surveys on their intentions simultaneously. Municipalities across Japan, including Kamakura City in Kanagawa Prefecture and Kisarazu City in Chiba Prefecture, are using “Liqlid” as a mechanism for formulating plans and concepts, understanding administrative needs, and as a foundation for smart cities.

Liquitous website , also available for smart phones

I want to fill the gap between the government and the citizens

-Please tell us how and why you started your business.

When I just turned 18  I started helping various congressmen and local assembly members with their elections and policies, this was a big factor in why I started this as a business. Among them many said “the voices of citizens are important and it must be heard.” However, I noticed and got very concerned about the lack of a digital bridge between citizens and the government, even at this digital age. I felt that there was no tool for the government and the citizens to exchange dialogues. The realization of lack of a platform motivated me to make this company, a platform where our voices can be heard by the government, especially in local communities where our daily lives take place. So I created this company three years ago, with the aim to create a system not only to get our voices heard but also to create a mechanism for dialogue between the government and citizens.

-What made you become involved in politics and government initiatives?

My starting point was when I joined the student council in my Junior Highschool. I was actively involved in student council activities throughout my time at an integrated junior and senior high school.  In student council activities, we would host a collective event and discussions from various Highschool across Japan would gather to discuss school issues and local issues. And when there were issues and challenges that could not be solved or come to a conclusion within ourselves, we would take the matter to the Ministry of Education, and the Principals’ Association. In addition, when I was in my first year of high school, the right to vote for 18-year-olds was enacted, and since I was involved in the movement as an extension of my student council activities at the time, I was able to observe it from a very close angle, and it gave me the first hand experience of the power of voice, knowing that we can also help initiate the creation of laws and regulations. After learning the fact that we are able to be a part of change, rather than being interested in political and administrative initiatives, I became more interested in creating a system where people can actively participate in government initiatives and have a say. Because of all the experiences of direct involvement through student council , I wanted to stay involved in politics and its administrations even after my graduation.

-I think that if participation in politics and government becomes more accessible. People’s awareness will change drastically from what it is now.

That is what I am aiming for. We want to create a society where people are born with a sense of self-efficacy that allows them to recognize their power to change their country and society while participation in the government will not interrupt their lives. The Nippon Foundation’s research shows that the percentage of people who have a sense of self-efficacy at the age of 18 is 18.3%, but I think it is not just particular to the young generations, Japanese people in general have a very low sense of self-efficacy. Therefore, we hope to create a system that makes it easier for people to participate in politics and government, so that more people can experience a sense of their power and gain confidence.

A society where individuality is celebrated

-What made you decide to participate in the SDGs Challenge?

There are still only a few similar services in Japan, and we were struggling on how should we develop our business in the future through trial and error, so we needed to go abroad and learn from the similar companies. That is when we came across the SDGs challenge and knowing that they would support marker research abroad. We also learnt that the supported of this challenge are well-versed in social enterprises. Therefore we decided to participate because we thought that this program offers various support including the market research overseas which is vital for our business development.

-Citizen participation in society is closely related to the SDGs, isn’t it?

Our initiatives fall under Goal 16 “Peace and justice for all” and Target 16.7 “Achieve participatory and inclusive decision-making at all levels” of the SDGs. Goal 16 is often considered as issue of war because of the word “peace,” and especially from the perspective of people living in Japan, it is often thought to be not directly related but that is not the case. We believe that Goal 16 is quite significant and to be worked on in Japan as well, and is equally important as all of the SDGs. We have always wanted to promote the importance of working on Goal 16 and one of the main reasons we decided to participate in the SDG Challenge was that we saw the SDG Challenge’s efforts to support projects that strive for the SDGs, and we agreed with the message of the SDGs Challenge. It was also one of the main reasons why I decided to participate in the SDG Challenge.

-What kind of value do you hope to provide to society in the future?
I would like to create a system that allows everyone to never feel helpless. If you ask whether our efforts are essential for people to live, I think they are probably not essential, more like a bonus. But at the same time, for people to live better and raise their living standards environmentally, socially, and spiritually, a variety of public support, and access to public things are essential. I believe that it is crucial to have a platform where citizens can participate in government, where the needs of citizens are adequately conveyed to the government, so the needs of citizens are further explored in depth. Through a new system that allows all citizens to proactively participate in government, the needs and wishes of each citizen will be realized and heard, and that is when we will be able to feel that we are working for society, that we are not mere beneficiaries of services, but that we are living in a society with a sense of ownership and autonomy. We believe that the value we can provide is the realization that we are not mere beneficiaries of service but living within society with a sense of ownership and that is democracy indeed.