Friday, November 15th was a packed day for us as we rushed around Tokyo hearing from different organizations and companies. We first heard about the United Nations Global Compact Network and its involvement in Japan. The United Nations Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles. These ten principles deal with a respect for human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption. By agreeing to this compact, business can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.
We also heard from a representative of the Kirin Group, a company best known for its beverages, especially its beers. Now one may ask why it was that our group, all underage, was hearing from a representative from this company, but of course there is a reason. The Kirin Group has been committed to the recovery in the Tohoku area and so we heard about its efforts in that regard. The representative, Mr. Shiraishi, is the General Manager of the Kirin Group’s “Corporate Shared Value” department, which looks to improve the competitiveness of the company while simultaneously creating value for society by addressing social issues.
I found this presentation to be especially interesting. The Kirin Group makes about 2,186.1 billion yen a year, which roughly equals 21 billion U.S. dollars, so having the opportunity to meet with someone who works with such a large corporation was special to me. The Kirin Group is also one of the largest sponsors of the Japanese soccer league, and of course, I like soccer. Because of the Kirin Group’s large involvement in the Japanese soccer community, one of the ways through which the corporation gives back to the Tohoku region is by running soccer camps and workshops in the area. However, what I found most interesting was their support of Tohoku through their “Hyoketsu Wanash” alcoholic beverage. This RTD (ready to drink) alcoholic product is special in that it uses the Japanese pear (Wanashi), a product of Fukushima. According to the Kirin Group, due to misinformation, Fukushima’s agricultural products have suffered from falling prices and declining sales. By selling this drink, Kirin hopes to portray the Fukushima area, and its products, as not only delicious, but safe, thus revitalizing the area’s economy.
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