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CSR Report 2014

Third Party Opinion/Independent Review

Third-Party Opinion

Itaru Yasui

Itaru Yasui, PhD
Former Vice-Rector of United Nations University and Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo (Professor of the Institute of Industrial Science; former Director of the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST)). He has been working for the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE) in the areas of inorganic material chemistry, environmental science, and industry-university cooperative research since April 2009. Dr. Yasui is currently a member of the Central Environment Council, the Ministry of the Environment, and an expert panel member of the Council for Science and Technology Policy, the Cabinet Office.

When I receive the CSR Report, the first thing I do is read the Executive Commitment. Because of its logical consistency and sophisticated writing style, the message is very clear and easy to understand. President Koshiba’s main topic this year was lithium-ion capacitors, a product that has been positioned as a strategic business since last year. It appears that the business has finally entered the expansion stage. President Koshiba asserts the importance of bringing greater excitement to its employees, which I think is the correct policy, and the company seems to be making tremendous efforts toward that end. This is one of the many impressions I had from this topic.
The priority issue expressed by President Koshiba is how to assure the safety of plant operations, which has recently become a serious challenge for the chemical industry. This is a very important issue. On a later page of the report, there is an article explaining the details of how the company is working hard on the issue. Mr. Nakazawa, the Yokkaichi Plant Manager, calls on workers to“act professionally with high level of awareness and responsibility for safety assurance.” In my personal view, I suspect that the reason why many accidents occurred recently in chemical plants is because many experienced workers who knew all about the complexities of the plants and understood that they behaved like a living creature have retired and been replaced by younger generation workers who simply look up information in a manual on what to do after something takes place. Judging from the measures taken by the company, I suppose that this personal view I harbor may be correct at least to some extent.
Dialogue between experts and the company’s executives appears on some of the earlier pages. The heading of the article immediately attracted my attention:“Doing Business Involves Consuming the Earth’s Resources, But We Aspire to Become a Company that Does Business in the Best Way Imaginable.” This is what I mentioned at last year’s dialogue meeting. This may even sound offensive, but I thought would be “cool” if I could say this line. The company takes this message seriously, and from this I can gather how open-minded the company is.
I am truly glad that the dialogue appears in the report. The dialogue tells me what the attending executives have in mind and what they focus on when implementing CSR. It seems that lifecycle assessments, for which there were no sufficient explanations until now, are significantly advancing. After making preparations steadily and energetically, the company has finally brought their lifecycle assessments to a level that they can be proud of in the CSR Report.
I personally had an opportunity to give a lecture to those who had just attained managerial positions. I told the audience that the key to becoming managers respected by young workers is to be open to change themselves and retain flexibility to bring out what their staff have in mind. This is the way they should enhance the ability of the entire team and increase team staff satisfaction. From this year’s dialogue and President Koshiba’s remarks on the need to increase excitement among employees as mentioned above, I assume that JSR is aware of the importance of maintaining the open and flexible attitudes of managers toward young employees.
By the way, for whom is this report intended? I found the answer in the Editorial Policy, which states that it is intended for all stakeholders. This is correct, but stakeholders as referred to here should also include employees. The most important yet unstated purpose of the CSR Report is to increase the number of young employees who are proud of their company by showing them top management’s philosophy and the company’s achievements. Despite its compact size, this year’s CSR Report will once again likely fulfill this purpose.

Independent Review

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